How many people ever have the opportunity to meet the leader of their industry? The “Steve Jobs” of what they put their heart and soul into? Well #thesavageway had the opportunity to do just that this past weekend. We (Torrie & Paula) headed to Nashville, TN to meet the European “Godfather” of reverse graffiti, Jim Bowes.
Jim Bowes , Sustainable Advertising Pioneer, has been practicing natural media in the Netherlands and throughout Europe for over a decade with his company Green Graffiti. They offer a huge range of natural techniques including sand stamping, moss graffiti, milk paint, reverse graffiti and more!
When #thesavageway started doing Clean Graffiti over two and a half years ago, we did some research online to see if other people were doing this around the world. Sure enough it was an established art form in Europe . There were not many companies to be found, but one of the biggest and most active online was Green Graffiti. We would see Jim comment on articles and give his insight ANYTIME reverse graffiti came up in an online post. He was obviously knowledgeable and had a voice in this “green” movement. Seeing natural media from his perspective was very insightful from our location in Charlotte, NC.
Finally, after admiring his work from afar we decided that we were going to reach out. We said, “Screw it, let’s email him and see what happens.” Sure enough, he emailed back, we set up a Skype session and Jim started interacting on all of our social portals. We were blown away at how receptive he was to what were doing here in Charlotte.
Oddly enough, Jim, who is based in the Netherlands, was going to be in the States at the end of June – Nashville, TN to be exact. There was not even a question for us; we were about to take a road trip! We were going to meet the “Godfather.”
7 hours outside of the Queen City, we get into the heart of Downtown Nashville and settle in for what was sure to be an experience. It felt a little strange to be in another state, meeting a person that we did not know nor did we ever think we would have the opportunity to meet. Imagine meeting Richard Branson or Bill Gates – that just doesn’t happen everyday. He lives and operates on the other side of the world! Regardless, we knew that we were there for a reason and that we were going to embrace whatever knowledge this man was about to drop on us.
The Meeting of the Minds.
We met in a suburb of Nashville called Franklin (think what Ballantyne is to Charlotte). The hustle and bustle of this little city during lunch rush did not stop us from grabbing a cold beer at a local brewery.
The conversation flowed really well. We talked dirt, concrete, city laws, billboard waste – the topics were endless. We discussed #thesavageway, Clean Graffiti, our experience and challenges and he did the same. It was nice to chat with someone who has walked in our shoes. Someone who sees Clean Graffiti as we see it – a HUGE asset!
It is not often in life that you are given an opportunity to sit down in a business conversation with a person who is not only a competitor but also a cheerleader. To sit face-to-face with a guy who BELIEVES in Clean Graffiti the way that we do was a pretty awesome feeling.
After the Dirt Settled.
We walked away from our meeting with the “Godfather” more confident and assured that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing in this life. We felt proud of our Clean Graffiti journey knowing he has gone through some of the same things and has come out stronger and more innovative in the end.
Jim brought up a fact that we have continued to reflect upon. He said, “It takes a brave soul to do what we do.”
We agree! Non-traditional marketing is not suited for everyone. It takes the right person for Clean Graffiti to succeed: it takes ethics, long term vision, a passion for sustainability, a little bit of risk taking, and most importantly gusto!
Who knows if we will see Jim again or what collaborative projects may be in our future – be we do know that we went to good ole Music City in order for our path to cross with the Godfather’s. That reason may not be perfectly clear just yet – but we do know that we will continue to live our lives with gusto until we figure it out!