I got the strangest message. The email mentioned a pony, Melinda Grimac and Chris McAdoo. Melinda is a friend. I’d first written about Chris McAdoo nearly five years ago when he presented at the first Pecha Kucha. He stood out in a great night of presentations. At the time I wrote, “It was Chris McAdoo . . . who stole the night. Presenting more like a slam poet than a design artist, backed by pictures of Johnny Cash, John Prine and Tom Waits, he flew through an onslaught of verbiage about design, family and art. I caught about 25 percent of what he said, but he said it so impressively he brought the house down.”
But a pony? After watching a video shoot (we’ll get to that later) I met Chris to find out exactly what was going on. Turns out it’s a creative mash-up between Best Behavior Creative Club, Chris’ design company and a fun promo for Shangri-la Theraputic Academy of Riding. It’s a way to showcase what the company has to offer while turning the spotlight on a non-profit which could use your support.
Chris started the company under another name in 2009 and has assembled a creative and motivated team including Art Director Courtney Hendricks, Writer/Social Media Strategist Kate Spears and Lead Developer and Designer George Middlebrooks. Additionally, they work with frequent collaborators Larry Jones (videography, editing, special effects) and Gene Priest (videography, music production).The y offer branding, design, marketing and content services. Mostly, they want to have fun and collaborate with clients who like to do the same, while simultaneously helping market the serious side of their business.
Chris is an east Tennessee native who spent his younger years in Sevier County before attending Jefferson County High School and Carson Newman where he obtained an art degree with a focus on painting. From the beginning he says, “I was drawing and making things since I was four-years-old. I have to make things.”
His mother is a professional horse photographer and both parents owned and operated a business. He says he always assumed that’s what grown-ups did: Go out and start a business. Paired with his mother’s creativity, he called his father, “The hardest working person that I know.”
So, start a business, he did. After graduating in 2000, he bought a letter press within a month and got to work. “It didn’t occur to me to get a job,” he said chuckling. He simply thought of a way to take what he knew and turn it into a business. As a result, Revolution Letter Press worked with artists such as Wilco and Wide Spread Panic. While the company ended after about five years, he still enjoys carving.
Around that time he met and married Robyn, now a Project Manager at Barber McMurry Architects and their son, Carter, was born. He confessed that he still didn’t look for a job, somehow believing that “making stuff” would work out in the end. But he was ready for a change.
He fell into a position as Art Director for the Chamber of Commerce, which he describes as, “the only real job I’ve ever had.” He helped them re-brand and in the process, “learned a lot about business.” Most importantly, he “learned to talk to business people about creative goals,” perfecting a focused ninety-second pitch because they are busy. He described this era in his life as the time he, “tucked in my shirt for about twelve months.”
Then Ruby Tuesday called. They put reproductions of his art in every Ruby Tuesday restaurant world-wide. He used the financial wind-fall as an opportunity to become a full-time artist. A highlight of that period of his life was an exhibition of his work at the Emporium in 2008. It was also during this time that he realized he enjoyed collaboration and started doing some design work and co-founded what eventually became Best Behavior Creative Club.
Courtney joined the company in 2010 and the team has grown from there. They take clients through the entire process, writing, shooting, recruiting talent, playing the music and doing animation and special effects as needed. They take the idea from concept to finished product, working hard, creating and collaborating with their clients. It’s not your mother’s design group.
And he’s grown passionate about the business side of it, realizing, “If we do our work well, it will mean jobs or people who can get into a home. All of our decisions revolve around productive goals for the client. It can be cool and pretty, but it needs to work.” Their office is in the Arcade Building, which is owned by Melinda and Kevin Grimac, but most days will find them out working on various projects.
Chris said, “We want to be judged by the quality of our work. He feels he has assembled a team of, “like-minded people who are creative, talented and responsible, getting work done and meeting deadlines,” while operating autonomously. “People are important,” he says, “more important than a project or our company.”
Which brings us back to that pony on Gay Street. The fun video shoot is to draw attention to Shangri-la Theraputic Academy of Riding, which is full circle in a way for Chris rode horses there and loved the place when he was a teenager. It also connects back to the horses he grew up around, but mostly it’s a fun way to give a shout-out to a great group. Melinda was pulled into a starring role and you’ll see cameos by Roger Harb and Mike Cohen. Check them out.
For the twelve days of Christmas Best Behavior is giving away cool things like screen savers and mp3s, which you’ll find on their website. Give them a “like” on FB if you enjoyed what you’ve read here and consider them for your design needs. But for now, let’s take a look at that video, right?