The third tenant here at Originator Studios is Wise Visuals. Wise Visuals does everything from motion graphics to post production for a variety of clients. The brightly lit office is populated with art books and the personal style of Jon Mayo-Buttry. Jon is a soft-spoken personality with a workhorse attitude, and over the course of our conversation he taught me about not only the philosophy of Wise Visuals, but the importance of remaining flexible and making every moment count.
Where did your journey with video begin?
I lived in Detroit and I always did things that I guess you could consider creative. I played a lot of music, recorded music, made little music videos and skateboard videos. I never thought that you could get a job doing stuff like that. I went to a small community college in Detroit to do the adult thing, get some kind of job fixing air conditioning or trading stocks or whatever adults are supposed to do. I took a figure drawing class and it blew my mind. I started looking into more of those electives from the art department. I was totally down the rabbit hole. I went into the graphic design/visual arts/digital illustration field of things, and then within a year I had my first entry level job at a marketing company. I climbed the agency ladder, moved to Atlanta, went to Savannah College of Art and Design for motion graphics, and then started a broadcast department at a little boutique agency in Atlanta, did a lot of tv commercials for three years at that kind of agency level. Then I had my fill of the agency world and moved to Texas to work on technology companies and that’s been an awesome wild ride since I moved here five years ago. Just doing really fun stuff mostly for products or tech companies, and we have an awesome network of people where we all kind of compliment each other’s skill sets, work on new projects, go on adventures…
What brought you to Originator Studios?
Strangely enough, I knew about Originator before it was Originator from a guy named Dan Powers, who is a local video guy. When I first moved here, the guy I moved here to work for recommended that I meet Dan, so the first week I was in Austin I came by the studio with Dan. Later I met Derek and heard he was in the studio, and then when Derek and Willie and their group took over the studio and started working on it, I just worked with him on and off on projects for quite a while.
I loved the studio, those guys are great, the neighborhood’s great, I live just right down the street, so my kind of ultimate scenario would be working there. So I saw on instagram that they had a room available for rent and I went ahead and rented out the space. The group that I work with now, they’ve actually grown enough to where they can help cover the space. It started off as me kind of running on my own, and then working with them, and now it’s like a remote office for that company.
What was your biggest learning moment while working on a project?
Oh, pretty much all of them. I kind of subscribe to the idea that no matter what you’re doing, there’s an army of people out there that can do it better, and that’s a very inspiring and humbling thing. Thanks to pinterest and instagram, you can stand on the shoulders of giants and see all this amazing work that’s been done and pull ideas in terms of scale or color composition or typefaces that might apply to your project and borrow bits and pieces and create something that’s uniquely your own. And that’s just one layer, and each project has many layers. So there might be someone out there who’s the best type designer, and if you can get some inspiration or some guidance just on the type, and then you have all these other layers, you’re the unique person pulling all of that together for your project that’s not like anything else, but you learn at all those levels at every stage for pretty much every project.
One project that comes to mind where I had to learn a lot was when I first moved here. I moved here to work for an electronic firearms company, and four days after I moved down here they laid off a third of the company including myself. So I was down in Texas, I just moved here, it was an expensive move, my wife had a broken finger from a party the night before, our apartment wasn’t ready so we had to temporarily take an apartment until ours was done because it was being built, I’m in a state where I only know two or three people, don’t have a job, like… what are we doing?
The one guy who was left at the company, in the marketing department, I think he felt bad for me or he needed work done or something, but he gave me a temporary contract for two months. He was like “Do you know how to shoot video?”. I had done a lot of photography, I had done a lot of post, and I had a little camera so I said “Sure”. I figured that you just push the red button instead of the shutter button. So I showed up and with zero preparation he was like “Okay, we’re going to film a teaser video for our new product that’s coming out”. No planning, no script, no storyboards, no meetings to kick it off, I just showed up with a camera, and there’s this big guy dressed in camo fatigues with this gun, and we’re like “Just go make something out of nothing”.
I think a lot of people who do creative stuff tend to respond well with challenges, and so that’s the stuff that lights me up. What we filmed came out really well. We did all kinds of post-production where we were like making it feel like a war zone, and adding all this stuff and the guy that hired me was super happy with it. I actually put out a behind the scenes thing that broke down like all the stuff we did, and I think when he saw that he was able to kind of get a really good idea of what I was doing in front of a computer in my own little sphere, and because of that he gave me a year contract. Basically the same job I was hired to move down here to do, but now I was able to do it from home because I was a contractor and take on other stuff as well. So that’s the type of project where I learned a lot and had to really pull some magic out of thin air, but that person is still somebody that I work with very closely to this day.
Where do you find inspiration?
Not to cop out, but inspiration comes from everywhere. For design, almost everything can come from nature. You see how things move, how things grow, the color things take on, the purpose behind them… there’s infinite inspiration there. When it comes to more pointed design work, we’re lucky enough to live in a time where information is free and at your fingertips at all times, so that’s what I use instagram and pinterest for, to follow certain artists who do certain things. I think instagram’s a good one. You can curate your own feed based on who you follow, so my inspiration comes from there, following different artists, seeing what they do. After setting up a company and trying to do that, there’s the whole layer of inspiration that doesn’t have to do with work. How you have work/life balance, how you achieve a good place that works for you, what’s too much, what’s not enough, and finding those balances. That inspiration is a whole different thing, like surrounding yourself with people that are positive and make you happy and contribute to like your own little sphere and keep them in your orbit and learn from them.
Where do you see Wise Visuals going in the future?
Part of the reason why I don’t plan for the future is, especially after moving here and going through all that, I honestly think anything further than six months is just a mental exercise for what you might like. This is hard to explain if you haven’t lived it firsthand, but when I was in Atlanta working for an agency, I’d show up, there was a job to do, I was around some really great people doing some really great work. But three years, five years, seven years can just kind of tick on by and you’re just living and doing the thing. The density of what you’re able to do and experience and live and the people that you meet is so rich and so robust that rather than looking six months, five years, ten years down the road, I am 100 percent focused on just trying to put myself in a situation where I can contribute in the moment and be present in the moment and basically just trust in those relationships and those projects and those people to be fully present, so I am done planning. Life is going to bring you a lot more surprises and opportunities if you just make yourself present and open to them. I’m not saying that this is the right way to live, but it’s the way that makes sense for me.