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Monday, 20 August 2012 00:00

Q&A: George Bradshaw

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Q&A: George Bradshaw Courtesy photo
George Bradshaw was a modern day "Mad Man" in New York City, having worked on marketing campaigns for NBC's 2000-2008 Olympics programming and for Disney, before following his wife's career to West Michigan. Bradshaw consults on national ad and marketing projects — he contributed as a copywriter for the HBO series True Blood on its season two advertising campaign, consulted with Amway on a refreshing of its health and beauty products catalogs and managed creative projects for the likes of MTV and Spectrum Health. He also wrote and directed the short film, "Pubic Museum: A Collection of Artifacts and Idiots." Bradshaw works virtually on most projects from Grand Rapids, where he lives with his wife, Carrie Bradshaw — although not Sarah Jessica Parker's character from Sex and the City — and his golden retriever, Buttercup. Bradshaw talks with MiBiz about coming to Grand Rapids from New York City and what it's like to be a member of the creative class in a small Midwestern city.

You're a member of the so-called creative class. What does that mean and how does that define your profession?

I have been called worse. It means that I am a part of a socioeconomic group whose primary function is to drive creativity and innovation. It also means that I have been issued a pair of mod, black-framed Prada eyeglasses that I am required to wear at all times. Affecting an English or German accent to sound smarter is optional but preferred.

What's been your most satisfying or fulfilling career experience?

When I was vice president and creative director of GEM Group in New York City, we partnered with NBC Universal on their Olympic marketing from 2000 to 2008. That was a tremendous honor.

What were your first impressions of Grand Rapids, having previously lived in New York City?

On the first day that my wife and I were in Grand Rapids, there was an AC/DC concert at Van Andel Arena. The downtown was swarming with tattooed fans wearing black AC/DC T-shirts and Angus Young devil horns. A gigantic guy, who must have been 6-foot-6, came walking toward us on an area of the sidewalk that was squeezed due to construction. I immediately put on my tough "Brooklyn face," expecting a confrontation. Instead, he stepped aside, let us through first, and said, "Excuse me." We were surprised, delighted and impressed.

Thanks to technology, you could work from anywhere. What keeps you in Grand Rapids?

Firstly, I have yet to be presented with a compelling enough reason to leave. Also, there are many things that we really like about living here, such as: ArtPrize, biking at Riverside Park, downtown, friends, Fulton Farmer's Market, Grand Rapids Public Library, Holland, Kendall College of Art & Design, philanthropy, sailing on Lake Michigan, Saugatuck and the aforementioned "creative class." Additionally, my dog loves visiting her pals at (Hillcrest Dog Park).

What's the biggest barrier you need to overcome by the nature of working virtually from West Michigan?

I am a brand ambassador for Grand Rapids — it is a great place to live — but I did not know that before I moved here. In fact, I knew almost nothing about the city and my wife had never even heard of it. I find myself being asked to explain why I live here often to those who are unfamiliar.

What are two things the general business community should know about the film industry that they might not already know?

1) The general business community should know that it is incredibly hard to make even a bad film, not to mention a good one.

2) The general business community should also know that I have an amazing script that they should fund.

(See what I did there?)

Grand Rapids wants to be known as a community that's design-centric and friendly to the creative class. How would you rate its progress? Where does it need to do more work?

I would rate it very highly. This is a part of the country that has design in its DNA. That, coupled with the focus on the arts — (through) ArtPrize, the GRAM, Grand Rapids Ballet Company, Grand Rapids Public Museum, Grand Rapids Symphony, Kendall College of Art & Design, Opera Grand Rapids, Tic Tock Studios, etc. — has shaped a very dynamic community. Where it needs to do more work is in embracing all types of diversity.

Read 2190 times Last modified on Tuesday, 21 August 2012 11:55

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