As our first story feature from Minneapolis, design director of Mpls.St.Paul Liz Gardner can’t stop raving about the city’s creative scene: “The music scene is the fashion scene is the food scene is the design scene. Go to any event and all of the worlds will collide.”
After growing up in a small, rural Minnesota town, I was ready to move on to the hustle and bustle of the city. My first impression of Minneapolis was that it was highly creative. It was simultaneously daunting and exciting to go to school for advertising in a town that birthed some of the best campaigns. Ever. I am still overcome by the power of the work of Fallon McElligott Rice in the ‘80s – they were pioneers of powerhouse art and copy.
A few years into my career, I realized how fortunate I was to land in a city that was so open to collaboration. There isn’t really a barrier to entry here. If you have an idea and the guts to reach out to fellow creatives, you can make it happen. People are generally nice and supportive of each other’s endeavors. Competition is low; collaboration is high. Taking the job of Design Director for Mpls.St.Paul seemed like a perfect evolution after working at advertising agencies and city magazines like METRO. I love that I get to help tell the story of our city every day. This town is home to some of the best design minds in the country. I can see their work in a magazine, campaign or award annual and feel inspired – but then literally call them up and grab a coffee. And this idea extends beyond design, too. It’s chefs, shopkeepers, bloggers and writers. Worlds overlap here: The music scene is the fashion scene is the food scene is the design scene. Go to any event and they all collide.
I spend a lot of time at Urban Bean Coffee on Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis. It’s the epitome of community. The regulars include musicians, writers, chefs, designers, photographers and architects. The space is minimalist and classic in its aesthetic. The coffee is top-notch. It isn’t until I travel to other cities I realize how lucky we are to have a place like Urban Bean.
Minneapolis is ideal. Because I’m not wasting energy on unnecessary barriers to entry, I can focus on my essential goal: Making beautiful things with creatives I respect. In other places, there’s a high price to pay for that – whether it’s financially, energy-wise or emotionally. That’s not the case here. It’s a lovely place to create.