Jason Gaboriau has been an Executive Vice President and Executive Creative Director of Los Angeles Office at Doner Company since March 2015. Most recently, Jason served as Vice President and Executive Creative Director at Crispin, Porter + Bogusky LA, where he grew the agency from a small production outpost with one client to a fully integrated agency with over 100 employees and several clients such as Paddy Power, Turkish Airlines and NBA 2K.
Here is his take on bravery.
What is your first memory of bravery?
My first memory of bravery was when I was 4 years old and my family moved mid school year to a new kindergarten.
I was so scared walking in and seeing all these other 4 year olds staring back at me with their smug judgmental gaze. But I was brave. I didn’t let that stop me. I walked in confident and with swagger clutching my Trapper Keeper and CHiPs Lunchbox.
All was going well until I was afraid to tell my new teacher I needed a bathroom break and ended up peeing myself and soaking my OshKosh B’Gosh corduroys.
They sent me home on the early bus. Which is another example of bravery.
How would you define the relationship between bravery and creativity?
My professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology used to say, “Everyone wants to go to Heaven but we are all afraid to die”.
I still love that quote. To me it speaks to all the risk and reward of creativity.
Creativity is about taking risks and doing what has never been done before, obviously. There is so much pressure now and so much at stake. Going out on a limb and being brave with some new out their creativity can be scarier than a Scientology ice cream social.
What do you think is the number one roadblock to bravery?
For me it’s about failure to deliver for a client who is paying you fuck tons of cash to solve their problems.
For clients I think it’s The word “Brave”
We just had a meeting with a top search consultant and they were evaluating our pitch materials and they said, “We love that you aren’t saying we want clients who are “Brave”. Clients don’t like that word because it makes it seem like it’s on them to like whatever you give them. Take it or leave it.
I agree with that assesment. I don’t presume to know more about my clients business then them so I don’t want to shove work down their throats. The best work I have done in my career has come through collaboration.
Maybe that is my idea of bravery. Trusting the process. And Trusting collaboration can lead to better more breakthrough creative solutions.
What are your thoughts on being brave /fighting personal fears to become a complete artist/creative professional?
This question makes me want to cut my ear off.
I have no personal fears about becoming a complete artist. It is just advertising after all. I love creative problem solving. I do think advertising can rise to the level of pop culture but I have a hard time imaging it as art.
That being said I was voted “Wicked Good Drawer” in high school.
What is the biggest risk/bravery you took for the sake of being creative?
Leaving one of the most creatively award winning agencies in the last decade and starting my own agency, Amalgamated, when I was just 29.
What is the biggest fear you overcame in your career?
My biggest fear is growing old and becoming irrelevant. I try overcoming that every day by not resting on my past success. By staying humble. By busting my ass. By immersing myself in Art, music, TV, Film and all things cultural.
I am also trying to grow a man bun.
What are your tips on how to be brave for young professionals?
My tips for young creative is to… Embrace the Slaughter.
There are gonna be those days where you’re frustrated, tired, pissed, and doubt your abilities because all your shit keeps getting killed. And to those days, I say this:
You are good. You have what it takes to be fucking great. But you don't know what that means yet. So love getting your ideas killed—live for it. Because it's a chance to show you always have more. Until you’re great, it's all you have: a deep well of ideas and writing and art direction.
So go ahead, be frustrated. Just don’t give up. Show your ACDs that they can brutalize all your work, but you'll be right back with even more for them to kill.
Because right now, the point isn’t about proving how good you are. It's about proving you are tough, proving you can think, and proving you can rebound. And somewhere along the way of proving you have ideas over and over, you'll get better. And you’re on your way to greatness.
And then the world explodes and it's glorious.
What are the things you are not feeling that brave about?
Taking my shirt off at the beach in front of a bunch of Eastern European supermodels.
An instance where you believe a brand acted more cowardly than brave?
I never feel good criticizing brands or other peoples work in this business. It’s a hard job. I just don’t feel right doing it. It’s not right. It’s not me.
Do you have a favorite work of art / ad/ person/ anything that has inspired you by its/his bravery?
Too many to list but I will try to name a few:
Krone. Chiat. Bernbach. Draper. Young Picasso. Old Picasso. DuChamp. Dali. Koons. Pierre & Gilles. Ralph Lauren. Ronald Reagan. Ozzy. Tool. Iron Maiden cover art. Patrick Bateman. Steve Jobs. Trump 2016. NYPD. The Marines. FDNY. Michael Winterbottom. Tom of Finland. Evil Knievel. Sinatra. Seinfeld. Warhol. Elvis. Kanye. Santa Klaus. Bert Bacharach. Bob Fosse. And, Of course, I don’t know where I would be without Steve Martin.