Exclusive interview with ATL designer James Martin!
The Burger Coalition, a monthly meet-up with the intention of connecting people with people (and awesome burgers). The coalition will hopefully spark progressive conversations amoungst local innovators.
We were lucky enough to be able to interview James Martin, one of the two founders of The Burger Coalition. James is an Atlanta-based designer that has been the brains behind numerous projects that really exemplify simple and unique ideas.
1. Why Atlanta? You're here by way of Ohio, what inspired and influenced the move?
James: I moved to atlanta in June 2010 to open up a design agency with two other dudes. They both lived here already, so once conversation went from a little idea to oh shit, it's happening, I threw as many things as I could fit in a ford ranger and made the drive down. It wasn't until the following lyrics played en route to Atlanta that I realized that I was committed to this little idea we all had: I'm gonna take me that south-bound, all the way to Georgia now. It's interesting reflecting on it now, nearly two years later, the idea of transplanting your entire life to a new city. I let things unfold and was met with such support in Atlanta.
2. Now that you've been here for a bit, what makes Atlanta Atlanta?
James: Atlanta is such a wonderful place for me. Personally, it opened a new and very wild chapter in my life. I had just started an agency and was working for myself and collaborating on some pretty awesome projects at Cardinal & Company (c&c). I remember so vividly being constantly in awe of the neighborhoods. They truly inspired me and motivated some of my biggest self-initiated projects. Whenever I wasn't at the studio, I was exploring through them. Local food was a big deal for me, too. Where I'm from, the dinner options were chain restaurants. Now, all of a sudden there are countless places to dine that offer good food and excellent stories. The beautiful thing about many of the restaurants in Atlanta is that they invite conversation and are accessible to the neighborhoods they call home.
3. Is there a specific hide-out (ie coffee shop, museum, park etc.) you go when you need a jolt of inspiration? What's your regiment?
James: First of all, coffee is a big part of my routine. I appreciate the expertise that baristas and roasters in atlanta give to their craft. As a designer, I soak in the vibes at coffee shops and utilize that positive reaction to assist in my work. Sometimes, I'll sneak away to Condesa or the Old 4th Ward park and just sketch. Usually for a project, but sometimes just to get some floating ideas out of my head. The spring in Atlanta is such a wonderful time to visit the parks, with the breeze and the changing foliage. The murals in atlanta, the hidden nooks, the festivals, the people, but mostly the neighborhoods with all of their happenings inspire me. Wherever I may be standing or driving when those things confront me, that's my secret hideout.
4. You've curated several projects involving creativity in the South; what do you suppose is the biggest thing that we've got to offer?
James: I admit that living the South was never on my radar growing up. I had these blinded goals of going to New York or Chicago and living happily ever after. The second I moved to Georgia, I was engulfed in so many different wonderful emotions. The sense of being a part of such history, being supported creatively by a welcoming community, being introduced to wonderful food and art, having the neighborhoods around me be so beautiful and truly understanding what that whole southern hospitality deal is all about. This place is home.
5. Many of your projects seem to be self-initiated, which is incredibly admirable. How do you find time/ funding to do it? Do you have any advice for young, awesomely naive creatives?
James: I don't sleep. I can't sleep when I become passionate about an idea or project that I've started. I love collaborating and creating things that people find useful or that are supportive of the community. I'm so fortunate to be in a city with a very good collective of makers, which constantly motivates me. I get so excited about ideas when I talk them out with fellow creatives that they usually evolve in to more focused projects. Most the time, though, I'm doing projects that I'd love to be a part of if someone else created them.
For example, I'm a cofounder of TripLingo, a foreign language learning guide to help travelers assimilate while abroad. I traveled internationally a lot and the tool that TripLingo offers is the exact tool that I'd utilize as a traveler.
Additionally, I am designing an iPhone app for The Disloyalty Card, which reinforces the idea of exploration around the city, shopping local, and supporting the vendors in our city that have passion for coffee.
I also just launched The Burger Coalition with this guy in Birmingham that we're completely bootstrapping, although we're slowly reaching out for sponsorship to help support some of the logistics. These sorts of projects are all self-funded, with the exception of TripLingo which is investment and revenue supported. For bigger initiatives such as Something in Particular, the documentary about Southern creativity and The NeuYear calendar, funding was needed in order to see the project through. In that regard, Kickstarterwas used. The need for funding is dependent on the resources needed to get the idea out to the world.
6. And last, but certainly not least, if you were an animal, what would you be?
James: I'd be a squirrel. I fucking love them. (See photo above)
Check out James' portfolio here.