Creative Chimps: Owners Spotlight Edition
Authored by: MonkeyTag
In celebration of founder’s week, and our 7th glorious year of impacting businesses through meaningful design and marketing strategy, MonkeyTag wanted to highlight the people who made it all possible. Co-Founders, Anthony Bearden and Gary Pedroza along with Co-Owner, Paul A. Tafalla share insights on the marketing industry and how MonkeyTag is changing the typical agency mold.
Why was MonkeyTag started?
ANTHONY: MonkeyTag was started for many reasons but most importantly because we believed we could do something different in this industry.
GARY: I once had someone I used to work for tell me; “not every job needs to be award worthy.” That day, I quit my job and decided to live at the opposite end of that statement. At MonkeyTag, every job is an opportunity to design and create a unique service experience for our clients.
What makes MonkeyTag stand apart from other agencies?
ANTHONY: At MonkeyTag, we want to change the perception of traditional marketing by using a more humanistic point-of-view, accounting for both the physical and psychological impacts and/or impressions our work could have. Our work has to have meaning but also encourage a genuine, sincere, and authentic connection to its intended audience. Everything we create is meant to stimulate a conversation which happens by way of making a connection and telling a story.
GARY: MonkeyTag has always been about two things: our craft and our way of life that together form the MonkeyTag work philosophy. From day one we knew we wanted to be different in our creative, business approach, and internal culture. We knew we wanted to form a team of young creative thinkers, and empower that team to take ownership of their projects and clients, as well as investing in their personal development through continued education and by sending them to top design conferences. One of the pillars of our company is a work-life balance with flexible schedules and remote working. It is very important to me to be able to work from home at any given point, and we wanted our employees to have that same privilege. We molded MonkeyTag around not following the same steps of a traditional agency and it has been a huge advantage for us.
PAUL: Transparency. At MonkeyTag, if we cannot do something, we aren’t quick to say, “yes we can do that” with clients and then white label vendor work as our own. For projects that fall outside of our arsenal of services, we enlist the help of our trusted vendors and bring them to our clients as a MonkeyTag partner. We also go as far as eliminating all percentage markups for vendor production work to provide an even playing field for our clients. That is how confident we are in our work and our vendors. This is turn builds an unbreakable trust with our clients, and it lets them, as well as our vendor partners, know that we truly have their absolute best interests in mind.
What is your favorite part of your job?
ANTHONY: The endless challenges. Each day is a full plate, ranging from discussing new business opportunities, adjusting financial models, to working with the creative team on design ideas. It’s always an endless list, and even as a self-professed workaholic, it keeps me on my toes. I love it.
GARY: Knowing that tomorrow I will be doing something I have never done before.
PAUL: No day is the same. I have been blessed and afforded the opportunity to work in an industry where every day challenges me in different ways. It keeps me sharp, and it keeps me from falling into the pitfalls of monotony and status quo.
What advice would you give young professionals/designers?
ANTHONY: There are many traits that can serve as good advice, such as being humble, a good listener, or even observant. The fact is, everyone is different and some of those attributes may even hinder a designer’s freedom to truly express themselves, but the one trait I value the most and encourage others to have, is patience. Patience for me relates directly to experience and from there to quality craftsmanship. The more time spent on honing one’s craft, means a designer can approach a project in a multitude of ways even if the timing to complete it is not on their side.
GARY: Always tell a story with your creative no matter how minimalistic the approach. Keep up with trends and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. And create your own opportunities.
PAUL: Focus on working smarter, not harder. The idea that to excel in your career one needs to put their nose down and power through there day easily leads to getting burnt out. Hard work builds character, but leadership and critical thinking (the ability to problem solve and foresee potential threats in certain scenarios) can truly separate you amongst your peers. Tackling problems with brainpower vs. throwing “more muscle” at them is something I learned in my career and could have benefitted from knowing much earlier on.
What quote inspires you most?
ANTHONY: “Design is one of the few disciplines that is a science as well as an art. Effective, meaningful design requires intellectual, rational rigor along with the ability to elicit emotions and beliefs. Thus, designers must balance both the logic and lyricism of humanity every time they design something, a task that requires a singularly mysterious skill.” -Debbie Millman (How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer)
GARY: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churchill
PAUL: “The only way for you to soar is that you got to jump. You got to take that gift that’s packed away on your back and you got to jump off that cliff and pull that cord. That gift opens and provides the soar. You can play it safe and deal without the cuts and the tears. You can stand on that cliff of life forever safe. If you don’t jump, your parachute will never open. You will never know. Just jump.” -Steve Harvey