The Epic Beginning
“Why don’t we get one of our folk artists and have him hand-paint the billboard live?” Alicia blurted, her eyes gleaming with excitement.
“Haha. Good one. You’re joking right?” I asked between chuckles. I’ve sat in plenty of no-idea-is-a-bad-idea brainstorming sessions and have heard more than my fair share of ideas that we laugh and clap and cheer for but then never, ever go back to, things like oh let’s wrap an entire skyscraper with an image of a forest or mountain so it looks like we’re bringing nature into the city, or how about a motion-sensor display that will talk to you when you walk down the shopping aisle. No idea is a bad idea but there are ideas that we just would never be able to make happen. And this one, well, I could think of a million reasons why we won’t be able to pull this one off.
“No, I’m dead serious.” Alicia said, still smiling. Which wiped the smile off my face.
Now when your marketing manager tells you she’s dead serious about something, you figure out how to make it happen. I shrugged and figured, hey, instead of letting me be the Debbie Downer here and tell you all about the many ways this could go horribly wrong, I’ll let our Legal and our Risk Management experts play the bad cop here. Just you wait, this idea is NOT going to fly, and we’re going to get shut down sooner or later.
But that never happened! What did happen was that we totally pulled everything, and I mean, EVERYTHING off!
The Artist (and his fear of heights)
Andy Saczynski was our very first and only choice when it came to finding the artist who’d just be crazy, I mean, adventurous enough to take this epic project on. I met him at Slotkin Folk Art Festival in Atlanta about a year ago, and had bought two pieces of folk art from him, both of which are now featured on the packages of our new products – Organic All Purpose Flour, and Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cookie Mix. His choice and use of vibrant colors, and how he so brilliantly assembles drift wood and scrap metal and old instrument parts and, in his own words, turn all this junk into funk, were what caught my eye, and I knew Immaculate Baking absolutely had to have his work. We’ve always pride ourselves in making goodies that’s real, simple and from the heart, and these are the exact same characteristics that I see in the amazing artwork Andy creates.
Till this day, I’m still incredulous that Andy said yes as quickly as he had. Especially when I know now that he is afraid of heights, a bit of information he chose to casually share only after I had picked him up from the airport at Minneapolis. (gulp)
Despite his alleged fear of heights, Andy worked fast and furious, determined that nothing, not the scorching sun, not the lack of caffeine (though we remedied that right away), not even his flip flops, which most likely wasn’t OSHA approved footwear for billboard-painting, would get in his way. And he completed our 40′ x 19′ billboard in FOUR days! The only thing that made this feat even more epic was the fact that he added so many intricate details to the billboard as his way of paying tribute to artists who have inspired him, and bringing his family and friends along for this epic adventure!
I can’t imagine how freaky scary it must’ve been for him, going up and down the billboard on a window washer platform and being suspended 60 feet above ground. But I think Andy would agree that we have Roger to thank for being the steady rock on this project.
The Safety Enforcer
Roger was Andy’s coach and safety inspector, who made sure that Andy was properly harnessed in, who went up and down that window washer platform with Andy every single day, who drove his huge crane truck out when he didn’t have to because he wanted to make sure that everything would go smoothly.
“Failure is not an option,” Roger had said to me the very first day we met, as he was trying to figure out how to get power back up on the roof so Drew can work his magic and start setting up a bazillion GoPro cameras to capture Andy in action.
Roger was every bit as invested in our #EPICFolkArt as we were, so much so that he called me up the Wednesday before, and with a heavy heart, informed me, “Have you seen the weather forecast for next week? It looks like it’ll rain every single day…” In the end, our desperate hoping prevailed, and Roger said to me, “I really think it was you, it was your positivity.” It was all of us, Roger.
The Videographers Extraordinaire
Drew had pounced on this project within the first few seconds of our phone call, despite the fact that he was probably juggling ten thousand other videography projects.
“This is too cool for us to pass up!” Drew had said, “This is the kind of project Joe and I dream about doing!”
True to his words, Drew was there with us on top of that roof every single day, sweating bullets, getting sun burned, and overcoming his fear of heights. Drew’s partner in crime, Joe, actually skipped out on his vacation, twice, just so he can be a part of this epic project. Their only regret is not being able to get a permit in time to fly in their camera drone. How epic would that have been?
Real. Simple. Made from the heart.
These were the people who made this project epic. We set out to create an #EPICFolkArt that was real, simple (well…), and made from the heart. And we could not have asked for a better team to work on a cooler project that lived and breathed what Immaculate Baking is all about.
And if you haven’t had a chance to see our #EPICFolkArt, well, thanks to Drew and Joe, now you can watch it in all its epic-ness on YouTube. Over and over again. Enjoy!