Employee Spotlight – John Hewitt

“I’ve always had a fondness for words and images. Mix ‘em. Match ‘em. Collect them all. Trade them with your friends!”
Our Employee Spotlight this month features John Hewitt: Creative Director. John has always had a knack for creating. Whether it’s creating storylines, creating ideas, or creating humor, he’s your guy. With almost 25 years under his belt at Mills James, John has legacy knowledge mixed with innovative thinking that is forward looking, making him an expert in our industry (even if he does have bad handwriting). Check out the full interview with John below!

How long have you been at Mills James and what roles have you had while being here?

A coworker recently introduced me as someone who has been with Mills James since “Before we had a building”…technically, I’ve been here since 1999, just before we moved into our current building. I was hired as a Writer/Producer/Director just after Ken and Cam stopped working out of the trunk of their car…For a time, I was the Marketing Director, but currently, I’m a Creative Director in the Design Group.

Where were you before Mills James?

Before MJ, I worked at a couple of television stations. The last position I held was Director of Marketing and On-Air Promotion; producing on-air, radio, print and outdoor ads for the station. The first job I had in television was doing cue cards for a Columbus television legend: Flippo the Clown. Flippo wasn’t happy with my handwriting (rightfully so) and wondered aloud “Seems like a fella could lose his job for that sort of thing?” I didn’t lose my job, but I was never asked to write another cue card. Funny aside, some years later, I was driving on 315 when I was passed by a fast-moving car. Flippo the Clown – in full Clown costume – was at the wheel. Life is funny and stranger than fiction…

What is a project that you’ve worked on that sticks out to you compared to the others?

We were on location in Aruba, shooting and editing a video that would playback as part of an incentive trip. We traveled there with a package of animated graphics we could use for the edit. But on-site, I decided that we should take advantage of the sand and surf that was all around us to make some DIY graphics. The client’s theme for the event was a nautical flag-inspired design that featured a star at its center. Rather than just carving a star shape into the sand, I asked the man who was ferrying us around the island by boat if he knew where I could find a star fish. I don’t know how, but he knew exactly where we could find one and steered the boat out to where I got to dive down, about 16-18 ft, to get the star fish. The client and their guests loved the video and no star fish were harmed in the making. It wasn’t the most impressive, high-profile project I ever worked on, but it definitely stands out.

What led you to a career in this industry/creative field?

A fondness for words and images. Mix ‘em. Match ‘em. Collect them all. Trade them with your friends! I didn’t go to film school, wasn’t a movie-buff, and don’t kid myself that I’m a frustrated artist. I just always loved words and grew up on a steady diet of photography, tv, and magazines. I went into television on my dad’s advice. He was a photographer and thought that television would be a good career choice.

Where do you find inspiration for your creativity?

I think my creativity comes out of everything I’ve ever seen or heard or done. It also comes out of listening to what we’re being asked to do. Working with really talented people – people who went to film or art school and are artists – is a big help. The truth is that a good idea doesn’t count for much if you don’t have people who can execute it.

How have you seen the industry evolve over the years?

Globalization. Commodification. Democratization. These are all themes that I cover on my Podcast “The Idiot Savant”. I’m making that up. I don’t have a podcast. But I could! Along with everyone else in the world. That’s not necessarily a good thing. That’s just one way things have evolved. We have new technologies, new tools, new ways of doing what we do. But what hasn’t changed is what our clients need us to do with those tools: know how to put them to good use telling their stories, sharing ideas, building their brands, etc. Tune in next week when The Idiot Savant takes on Text to Image AI …

What do you like to do outside of work?

I always wanted to have a set of drums and to be a drummer, so, I recently got a set of drums. I now know I’ll never be a drummer. But I do like to bang on them. I’m thinking I may get some “sleeves” tattooed on my arms to help scratch the drummer itch… I also love to cook. Also love to swim (not laps) and kayak. Hands down, my new favorite thing to do is to play with my two (not yet one year old) grandkids.