Continuing our Staying Home, Rising Up series we dropped into Melbourne and spent some quality time with Jeremy Wortsman founder and director of The Jacky Winter Group! Grab some Jeremy gold, as he generously shares his experience surviving lockdown 1 and now 2.. focusing first & foremost on his team and supporting their artists. Having the ability to step into other’s shoes, be relevant & helpful has provided Jeremy with a solid ground and renewed sense of purpose to navigate this challenging year.
Read on for more from this super star human, from balancing work & life, changing pace, mastering the synthesizer, starting book clubs and taking all the silver linings in his stride!
Jeremy Wortsman is the founder and director of The Jacky Winter Group, a leading creative services agency with offices in Melbourne and New York City. He also heads up its associated gallery space, Lamington Drive, and related artist residency, Jacky Winter Gardens. An active figure in the creative community, you’ve most likely seen Jeremy host the Melbourne chapter of Creative Mornings, and so much more!
2020 has been a challenging experience for everyone so far! What keeps you focused, inspired and productive?
That’s a great question, and to be honest it’s not something I’ve really had too much time to reflect on as the whole situation has been so dynamic. In some ways I think we dug into that energy as a team to just keep our heads down and stay in motion. For me personally, I was really focussed first and foremost on trying to ensure we could provide some stability for our team and our artists, so I doubled down on a lot of our marketing efforts. Knowing that everyone was going through a pretty scary time can actually be very motivating, especially when you approach things with a sense of compassion. Our job is to be helpers, so to be able to really tap into that and know that we can perhaps play a small part in helping our clients and artists navigate this new reality gave our work a renewed sense of purpose.
Knowing that everyone was going through a pretty scary time can actually be very motivating, especially when you approach things with a sense of compassion.
How has your business been affected during this time, and how have you managed to navigate, support your staff and pivot where necessary?
Knock on wood we were incredibly lucky on many fronts here. The illustration and animation industries have always operated remotely, and if anything business picked up while photography and live-action shoots were cancelled. We also were running a jigsaw puzzle side-business that was set up in 2014 and had a huge surge, and of course there has also been amazingly generous government support to help pick up the slack where other avenues of the business sagged. Of course we put in a great deal of hard work here in terms of trying to establish and maintain our office culture across two continents and shift to a pure digital workflow, but at the end of the day it once again comes back to putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and figuring out how to actually be relevant and helpful. So many people are burned out by remote work and video calls so a lot of what we did was just common sense in terms of adjusting our offerings and processes so that they were making everyone’s life easier in some small way and not adding to the noise.
What has been the silver lining in all of this?
I think the rise in Zoom and remote video as a viable means of connection has been really encouraging. I have attended events and connected with some amazing communities of other people both professionally and personally in all corners of the globe that I don’t think would have happened before. Of course we always were connected with the internet, but this feels much deeper and genuine. I think people are no longer feeling location is a barrier in a much truer sense, and the creativity that has come out of it has been amazing and I think it’s here to stay.
I think people are no longer feeling location is a barrier in a much truer sense, and the creativity that has come out of it has been amazing and I think it’s here to stay.
On a deeper level, the global reckoning with systemic racism has also been an incredibly sobering moment that was a huge wake-up call for us, and it definitely re-energised our existing commitments to the First Nations people of Australia. Among other things, we have been working for some time on a new venture to represent First Nations artists which would leverage our existing systems and knowledge, and I hope we can make that a reality in the coming years.
What are you currently reading, watching or listening to?
For some reason I think my mid-life crisis will revolve around synthesizers, so I spend a lot of my spare time watching review videos and tutorials. It’s been a nice change of pace to try learn something new, that’s definitely helped with my overall mental health. I am also running a Buddhist book club and we are currently re-reading one of my favourite titles; ‘In Love With the World’ by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. Podcasts are always on heavy rotation – Pete Holmes is doing a great series with his wife alongside his normal podcast which I am loving, as well as the pandemic-specific episodes of ‘How I Built this’. Musically I am obsessed with the new Fontaines DC record as well as the most recent Duster. This all changes day to day to day though – There’s a lot of input happening at the moment!
What are some words of advice you have for artists and other small businesses trying to survive and thrive this season?
It’s so hard right now for so many – especially here in Melbourne where everyone is in lockdown and under curfew and being faced with so many new challenges. At this very moment, I think the best advice it to try and go gentle on yourself and just give yourself space to be however you are. I think just surviving and coming out of the other side of this in one piece is going to be a pretty great accomplishment. At the same time, there is still a lot of ripe opportunity there to reinvent yourself or take a risk on trying something new, so do whatever you can to try to strike that balance in a way that feels right!
..there is still a lot of ripe opportunity there to reinvent yourself or take a risk on trying something new, so do whatever you can to try to strike that balance in a way that feels right!
Get to know Jeremy and Jacky Winter Group at the following: