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Inspiration Boards

Objects of Their Affection - three creatives let us go behind the scenes to see tools of their trade.

Randal Ford | Photographer

Randal Ford is always in motion. An avid cyclist and father of two, the high energy, Paleo eating, and always smiling Ford is quickly becoming a rising star in the competitive world of photography. But he didn’t always know this would be his path. He started college with the intention of entering in to a traditional career in business, and it was during his junior year of college that he knew he had to follow his passion for photography and permanently trade in his briefcase for a Canon. It’s been just 10 years since he made that decision, and in that time, he has landed major advertising campaigns for the likes of Frost Bank (he shot over 10 print ads and directed commercials for their 2013 campaign for McGarrah Jesse) and Valspar paint, as well as covers of TIME and Texas Monthly. Ford strives to bring a cohesive feel to his work—a real challenge since he shoots everything from cows to chameleons, with hundreds of striking portraits of people in between. “I want to be a photographer that is able to tell a story with my work, so I try to make my images beautiful, but also to let people in on a narrative,” he says. “There is a technical complexity, but also a complex story to my images.” For 2014, the hard working A&M grad hopes to do one thing: “Take on even more challenging work.” To learn more about Ford, visit randalford.com.

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Veronica Koltuniak | Interior Designer, VEROKOLT

When Veronica Koltuniak sits down for a kickoff design meeting with a new client, she does all the listening. “Then, I sleep on it, wake up, and start to create a world around the person who will be experiencing the dream,” she says. She has created these “dreams” in Austin spaces we all get to enjoy—24 Diner, “a fresh approach to the 1950s greasy spoon,” Easy Tiger, “the bespoke bakery and beer garden,” and her latest, Arro, which was inspired by “laid-back French Dadaism.” Her career started in LA as a set decorator, and then she focused in on interiors. Her first real design job was Courtney Cox’s bedroom, when she was seven months pregnant. That led to some guest designer gigs on Cox and David Arquette’s TV series “Mix It Up.” She worked with other celebrity clients like Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Jeff Goldblum, and Matthew Perry, and left Hollywood for Austin in 2001. “Austin has been the perfect blend of happening and mellow,” she says. She is currently working on designs for a punch house and an apothecary. “I’m always on the lookout for that unusual castoff piece I can re-imagine into something unexpected,” she says. “Sometimes I create a story about the space or character as a way to give the design soul and direction. I don’t always know where the process will end up, but the uncertainty is where the magic happens!” To learn more about Koltuniak, visit verokolt.com.

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Bryan Jessee | Founder, McGarrah + Jessee

It was 1985 at the Richards Group in Dallas. The account man (Mark McGarrah) walked in to the creative director’s (Bryan Jessee) office with a pink slip, which meant a new job and Jessee needed to get to work on ideas. Jessee remembers, “I told him that better not be a new client…I am too busy to take on anything else. McGarrah turned around and walked out the door…I thought to myself that I would just apologize to him later. Two hours later, McGarrah walks in with an ad idea he had laid out to help take work off my plate. In that moment, I thought…I am going to work with this guy the rest of my life.” The two friends left the Richards Group to join GSD&M and it was there that they decided to start their own company. Today, McGarrah Jessee has 105 employees and works from what is quite possibly the coolest space in downtown Austin, in the historic American National Bank building. But what the firm is most known for, besides the brilliant creative work and straight-shooting client relationships, is the special office culture they have created. “There are a lot of egos in this business, so when Mark [McGarrah] and I decided to start a company, we decided we never wanted to hire any assholes,” he says. “We want a building full of great human beings.” Potential employees interview with 10-12 people working in all different departments before getting hired. And with a stellar lineup of clients like Shiner Beer, Whataburger, and Frost Bank, business is thriving. But no matter the growth, the partners have decided never to exceed 150 employees, in order to keep the company feel they have worked so hard to create. Jessee says: “It’s just a real pleasure to get to work with these people every day.” To learn more about Jessee and the agency, visit mc-j.com.

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Credits

Photography by Bill Sallans and Andrew Chan

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