BBDO hosts last 3 Creative Salons in present offices

Jason Seiler’s creative caricature of Tom Hanks

Two internationally known Chicago artists and a national TV and movie star from Chicago’s vibrant creative arts community are scheduled to speak the next few months at Energy BBDO’s regular Salon Series in its 410 Wrigley Building offices.

So far, Jani Westcott, the agency’s VP/planning who initiated and spearheads the Salon Series, estimates the agency has hosted about 20 Salon evenings since she introduced them in mid-2009. 

The upcoming guests will be iconoclastic digital artist/caricaturist Jason Seiler, on Aug. 16, who will demonstrate how he creates his magazine and interior pieces by painting in Photoshop.  On Oct. 7: cartoonist Ivan Brunetti, who is best known for his New Yorker cartoon covers.  Then the Nov. 1 guest will be actor/comic/writer/actor Bob Odenkirk, known for his many years writing for “Saturday Night Life” and more recent roles on “Breaking Bad” and “How I Met Your Mother.” His satires are often found in The New Yorker.

The reason why the focus is entirely on Chicago, says Westcott with unmistakable passion is the great mass of talent we have here.  And being in the Midwest, we have greater access to them.   The creative community here is very generous in spending time with like-minded people.”

Salons bring creative community together

Jani Westcott, Salons originatorWestcott’s concept of a creative salon began to take shape after chief creative director Dan Fietsam returned to Chicago in 2008 after a year’s stint at Publicis West in Seattle.  “I listened to him speak about where he got his inspiration, about his passion for music and his idea for the agency to be part of Chicago’s creative community,” Westcott recalls. “And I got to work.”

“I’ve lived here since 1993 and had connections” from her previous life in the retail music business, says Westcott, who moved here with her husband from a Philadelphia suburb.  She started her advertising career in Chicago with Abelson Frankel and worked at Element 79 before joining Energy BBDO also in 2008.

“I reached out to friends and people I admired in the Chicago’s creative community and they were responsive to the idea of speaking about their work, the inspiration and process, to a group of like-minded people,” she says.

Self portrait of Ivan BrunettiAs such, the Salons are not limited to exclusive, invitational guests, but are open to the public, “To anyone who shares these artistic interests,” she says.

Lining up guests for the Salon starts during the agency’s year-end holiday vacation, when Westcott has time to personally invite the artists on her list, some of whom were suggested by agency colleagues.

Whenever Westcott invites an artist, she is pleased and delighted “when they understand the rationale and consideration behind the request.  More often than not they say ‘yes,’” she says.

Odenkirk last Salon guest at the Wrigley Building

The Salon takes place in the agency’s ninth floor intimate (i.e., no mike) “open space” that seats up to 70 persons and SRO is not uncommon. Speakers take their place at the rostrum at 4 p.m. and the evening ends at 6 p.m.  Light refreshments are available throughout.

To attend on Oct. 16, RSVP here.

Odenkirk’s appearance will bring down the curtain on Salons held in the Wrigley Building, BBDO’s home for 80 years. Come Jan. 2, Energy BBDO’s address will be 225 N. Michigan, where architectural plans are in progress.

A doubling of the agency’s staff necessitated a larger office that could accommodate their currently needs and further evolution, a spokesperson explained.

Hopefully, the Salon series will continue in the new space to bring together and strengthen Chicago’s art community outreach that Westcott initiated and Fietsam inspired.