Jim Howard | Sr. Brand Story Specialist
I grew up in a family of book hoarders. Where most people had a living room, we had a library. That’s where I discovered Shakespeare and Beverly Cleary. It’s where I lay on the couch reading Kurt Vonnegut and a zillion National Geographics while recovering from mononucleosis in high school. It’s where our stereo was, too, and I spent hours reading the liner notes of a growing record collection, as interested in the lyrics as in the music.
Going off to college, I thought I was the next Elton John. It took majoring in music to learn that I wasn’t. I was better at writing (certainly not at life planning — I became a dad at 22). A story I wrote about the birth of my daughter (at home, ice storm, midwife arriving too late) won an award and helped convince Hallmark Cards to hire me. At Hallmark, I learned how to write from someone else’s point of view. My career there lasted 30 years, way longer than my first marriage. My second will soon equal that figure — I’m still married to the coolest person I met at Hallmark, or anywhere.
I’m an OK human, better on the page than IRL. Barkley helped me create a niche in Design as a Brand Storyteller. I collaborate with Strategy on brand identity, voice, naming and other brand-defining work. My favorite thing is writing a good manifesto and working with Barkley Films to bring it to life.
So much has changed since I started out, but writing is still how I learn what I think and feel. I’m lucky to get to do that at a creative idea company with its heart in the right B Corp place. I’m glad Barkley values diversity, because I’m older than the rest of the agency combined, held together only by twist-ties and five yoga classes a week. I’ll probably die on my yoga mat, or in mid-sentence, or maybe —
Five Questions with Jim Howard
What is one thing you can’t live without?
What’s one belief or mantra you wished everyone held?
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
What's an unpopular opinion you feel strongly about?
Blade Runner has only two things over Blade Runner 2049: Rutger Hauer’s famous speech, and a lack of Jared Leto. In every other respect, the sequel is better than the original.
Who or what is your creative muse?
My darling spousette, Penny Krugman.
What is something you never thought you'd be able to do, until you actually did it?
Anything else we forgot to ask you?
Q: Why Barkley?
A: Because the people.
(Or, my long answer):
I had a couple of freelance projects at Barkley after leaving Hallmark, and always loved coming into the office. The vibe was great. Everybody I worked with was cool. And I loved the physical space — the light, the openness, the wildflowers on the roof. So when Barkley made me an offer, even though it wasn’t even close to what I’d made after 30 years at Hallmark, I jumped in. It was hard, going from seasoned leader in one industry to muddled learner in another, but my co-workers have been some of the smartest, kindest, most creative people I’ve ever known. That includes people not even half my age, from whom I’ve learned more than I ever thought possible. And to see the agency come into its own, becoming a B Corp and helping clients find bigger, more inclusive, and more deeply responsible futures, makes it all the more worthwhile.
For more on the People of Barkley, check us out on Instagram: @barkleyus.
May 09, 2022
People of Barkley
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