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Meet Old Fourth Ward Creative Director: Eric Dewyngaert

Today we’d like to introduce you to Eric Dewyngaert.

Eric, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I attended Portfolio Center, a graduate-level art school in Buckhead. After completion, I headed off to NYC where I began my stint in agency life, working with clients such as American Express, Verizon & Sony. I worked for Momentum Worldwide in New York, and then returned to Atlanta to work at Ogilvy & Mather & Emerging Experiences of Razorfish. After years of agency life, I decided to stay out on my own to create a boutique design firm specializing in digital design & strategy. After 2.5 years of being in business, I am able to work directly with clients and bring their visions to life. I have to wear many hats each day. I have never experienced such a rewarding opportunity of setting a culture & tone for what I believe this business, and industry, should be.

Has it been a smooth road?
Entrepreneurship is never smooth, or it would be oversaturated with everyone. In this world, feast or famine is a common term. You get so dried up with no projects that you begin the self-doubt and “maybe I should go back into an agency.” Then before you know it you become overrun with so many projects that you have to begin hiring a team to handle it. I think the main struggle is being mentally ready for the different challenges that come into your business. The other struggle is knowing to handle the issues that come with the business. Non-paying clients, fluid scope changes, timeline alterations, work-life balance, contractors not living up to your expectations, and the list goes on. If you talk to anyone in this industry, these will all resonate with them.

When you look back, can you point to a period when you wanted to quit or a period that was really frustrating?
I think in anything that becomes a great hurdle, our minds tend to wander to “is this really worth it?” I’ve had the question come across my mind since taking on this venture, however, faith and patience are the main keys that helped me overcome that. It’s when you receive that phone call with a prospective client on the other line saying “so-and-so mentioned they had done business with you and you came highly recommended from them, so we had to come to you as well.” Those are the payoffs from doing this. And the tough times make it so much more gratifying.

What would you tell someone who is just starting out?
I teach sometimes at Portfolio Center, and I love teaching because I feel like I get to share secrets to help other’s paths become a bit easier learning from some of my mistakes. One of my big points is that it is not hard to do a good job. In a world where work ethic is slowly dissipating, people feel they are entitled to things without working for them, newcomers to this industry can find themselves making big impacts by showing respect to clients, being enjoyable to work with, keeping ego down but confidence up, making deadlines and under promising the delivery. These are the things that keep people coming back, and telling everyone else they know about the experience.

What are you most excited about these days?
This might sound funny, but what I am most excited about the future is the unknown. Not having everything figured out is terrifying and riveting. Bruce Mau stated once, “Process is more important than the outcome,” and I am deep in the process of building something. I’m not sure what it will shape up to be, but I want to continue helping clients’ visions come to life, creating jobs for others who have a passion for this field and want to work with me to make something great, and also creating a culture of enjoying life around work which I think is often missed in this country, but is so very important.

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