We had the good fortune of connecting with Greg Gunn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Greg, how do you think about risk?
The biggest risk in life is not taking one. Because if you’re not risking something, then you’re probably not gaining much either. Which is why I like to look at life decisions through the risk/reward lens. If I risk this to potentially gain that, is it worth it to me? Before starting my junior year of college, I took on a summer internship at a motion design studio. They were at the top of their game, creating boundary-pushing and award-winning commercial work. As a young, green creative I was awestruck. And learning heaps of new things by the day. I would intern there for two Summers, prove my value to the team, and eventually earn an invitation to join their staff. Complete with a signing bonus. Which for a broke college student is akin to winning the lottery. So there I was: about to graduate, thousands of dollars in student loan debt, with an offer to work my dream job that would pay me a healthy (and consistent) salary. What could possibly go wrong? Risk is what. Shortly before I would start my full time job, my friends and I got an email. It said something along the lines of, “We saw your work. We love your work. Would you like to direct commercials?” What. Did someone just email us the opportunity of a life time? After a few meetings with the emailer and among ourselves, my schoolmates and I decided to take up this offer to direct and formed our own studio. No salary, no guarantee of work, no signing bonus. Also, no time to work that full time dream job. Fortunately for me, the risk was well worth it. We established ourselves, created some of my favorite work, and made a decent living doing so. For a while at least. But had I not taken that risk, and turned down my dream job at the time, I would not be here responding to this interview question. I would not have met all the wonderful people I did, nor offered the incredible opportunities I’ve been given.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Okay, this is like seven questions disguised as one. Other than be nice, one of the best and deceivingly simple lessons I’ve learned is to be yourself. Sounds easy. Sounds obvious. It’s neither. The more you try to be something or someone else, the further away you get from knowing yourself. And subsequently, your personal success. That goes for work, subject matter and who you are. But to “know thyself” is difficult. I still struggle with this. Mostly out of irrational fear. For instance, I am a huge metalhead and have been since I was a kid. But when you look at me, I’m like the opposite of metal. I love bright colors, friendly drawings, and comedy. But I also enjoy brutal death metal. That’s just who I am.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If you visit Los Angeles and do not eat excess amounts of Mexican and Korean food, then you’re doing it wrong. Get the delicious mole sampler from Guelaguetza with a Cadillac margarita, and be sure to visit Kobawoo for their fantastic bossom and doenjang jjigae. Afterward, head to Mashti Malone’s for your choice of ice cream. I suggest the rose water or pistachio. As much as people will poo poo it, a hike at Runyon Canyon is beautiful. Yes, it’s like a caricature of LA and you may spot a celebrity, but it’s also a delight. And the view is worth it. Lastly, and if we’re ever allowed to again, go to a show at The Greek Theater. It is the best venue in Los Angeles.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are far too many people who I owe a debt of gratitude to. Let alone the ones who have supported or helped me along the way. If I had to whittle that immeasurable list down to two people, it would be my mother and my grandfather. It sounds weird to give my mom a shoutout, but without her tireless support, nurturing, and unknowingly comedic demeanor I wouldn’t be who I am today. Literally. And my second shoutout would be to my grandfather. He taught me the value of a strong work ethic, attention to detail, and challenged my young mind to think about concepts beyond what I could see and understand.