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How This Author's Life-Changing Head Injury Unlocked His Creativity

How This Author's Life-Changing Head Injury Unlocked His Creativity

By Johnny F. Kim

“Get the ball rolling and stop slacking.” That was me talking to myself a few weeks back. Did I listen? Not really. I still decided to Netflix and chill and enjoy the moment. I spent more time with my daughter and just concentrated on being an adult—more specifically a dad. Which some of you might have noticed with my short hiatus on the site and every recent social event known to mankind. Then I got a copy of I Was an Awesomer Kid, the follow up book to Dads Are the Original Hipsters by Brad Getty.

We were all awesomer kids back then. We were stress free and did not care about what people thought. I was the king of doing shit wrong and not giving a shit. Now, we feel pressured that every move we make needs to be well-thought out and play it safe at all times. The impression I got from the book was: Just break your routine and simply enjoy. Well I did that, I broke my routine and went for a chat with the author of both these books, Brad Getty, over the weekend.

The self proclaimed king of awesome or even better “the shit dodging” tactician Brad Getty has come a long way to where he is now. He still managed to get two books under his belt and a fist full of advertising work with companies such as UFC, Visa, adidas and many more. 24/7, 365 ain’t got shit on him. Call him the “Intercontinental Champion” of advertising, or as I know him: “Guy that just enjoys a plate of Beef Orange in Chinatown.”‘

JOHNNY F. KIM: We have had many opportunities to talk seriously, but every time our conversations got lost in childish, immature jokes and drunken nonsense that we forget the next day. Every time we talk, I get bits and pieces of who Brad Getty really is. One of the things I am curious about is your journey from the 8 mile to the 514—by that, my fellow readers, I mean by Montreal. How did you end up here?
BRAD GETTY: It’s an ass backwards journey where I keep saying yes to the adventure and throwing caution to the wind in pursuit of something new. I left Michigan, lived in Cleveland until I realized it didn’t rock, went to grad school in Richmond Virginia, moved to SF for a crazy two years living on the wrong side of the Mission, and made my way up to Montreal to work on adidas. Once there, I swore I would leave after a year, but ended up meeting my wife and I’ve been here since. I’ve never had a plan for life. Every adventure I’ve had has happened because I’m open to them.

“EVERY ADVENTURE I’VE HAD HAS HAPPENED BECAUSE I’M OPEN TO THEM.”

I remember the night of my 30th birthday, we spoke about [the] creative side of [your] brain, how it kinda developed in an unusual way. Would you care to share with us?
Everything stems back to a moment in my life. A point in time that put me in a direction I can only see now. For me, this was a pretty catastrophic head injury. I don’t remember much from that time, and even less from before that moment, but as my brain healed, the wires reconnected in a way that changed the course of my life.

Before the accident, I was great at math, engineering, and building. I always planned on heading in that field when I grew up. After the accident, I lost math. It was erased from my brain, and I was left with a speech problem. I recovered and along the way, learned how my brain worked. My creativity was unlocked. This led me into writing and creative advertising (because obviously every math-based career was out). I never look back and wonder what would be if I didn’t have the injury because I know I wouldn’t be where I am today. Things happen and you make the best of them.

A submitted photo from the Dads Are the Original Hipsters blog.

So, first of all, how did you come up with the idea for your first book Dads Are the Original Hipsters?
It was just after November had ended and I was traveling home to see my family. I still had the shittiest mustache ever grown because I thought it was funny—that and I was single so nobody was trying to make me shave. My dad picked me up from the airport, and when we got out of the car, I saw that he had grown a mustache for November too. He gave me a hug and said, “Just remember, whatever you do, I’ve already done, and I can still do it better.” It was like a brick across my head. The rest of the trip, I kept looking at all of my dad’s old stuff and photos. I left thinking, “Holy shit, my dad was the original hipster.”

Photo: urbancasita.wordpress.com

Your dad knew how to rage before you did and his friends are still afraid to give him whiskey because of it. At about half past tipsy, the quiet giant bear child awoke from his sober slumber and became a shit ripping, F5 party tornado. Blacked out and filled with mistakes, he went down in party history each night his alter ego was released. His actions became party folk lore, making him the Johnny Appleseed of getting gnar balls. So hipsters, next time you’re recanting a tale of intoxicated past and bragging about how awesome you were the previous night, remember this… Your dad is the patron saint of partying and the reason the term “that guy” exists.

An excerpt from Dads Are the Original Hipsters.

Now with two books under your belt—the first one being Dads Are the Original Hipsters—your second book, I Was an Awesomer Kid, seems to be a easy sequel to the first. The first book telling us, “Hey you think you are cool now, but we have all seen it done before by your dad.” Now, the second one seems to be a response to the first book. How was the process of writing the second one? Did it differ from your first experience?
This book was more introspective. I felt like I was trying to motivate myself. It felt like it had an importance that the first book didn’t have. I think this could be because I’m growing older and I can see/feel myself slowing down compared to the wild man I once was. I’ve been trying to live the book for the past few years, doing things the way I want to do them, and really trying to just always be happy instead of settling in and waking up at 40 miserable.

Do you think that both books—but maybe more the second one—are meant to be motivational book more than humorous? That  was my feeling on it. I actually felt like if you were shouting at me and telling me, “What are you doing, you loser? Live!”
Definitely, I especially tried to make the second book more of a motivational book. I think it stems back from me trying to motivate myself to be the best I can be because it’s easy to fall into the slippery slope of living a comfortable life and relaxing instead of striving.

How was your work process for writing these two books? Was it long to gather all those photos and where did you get them from?
The process is the same. I gather the best images I can find or that are submitted to me, then craft their place within the book. It’s a balance of searching and submissions because I’m looking to create a story through sections that touch on a variety of living life. It’s not so much of a science as it is an organic process. It changes constantly as I’m writing it.

Now an apparent thing to me is that the main reason anyone’s kid was awesome is all due to dad. How was it with your father growing up?
My dad always gave us the tools to get hurt. We had bikes, plenty of property, and just enough lack of supervision to start some shit. He was a bit of a wild man too, so I guess we get it from him too. He was jumping off rooms into pools and generally doing stupid shit his whole life too.

Can you tell us about your new upcoming venture with the New Jersey Devils?
I’m going to be the new Executive Creative Director for the New Jersey Devils and the prudential center. I will be working on branding the team and trying to sell a ton of tickets for shows.

Was hockey something you planned on being part of as a career and was it ever a big part of your life?
I actually still have a Devils poster that was on my wall since I was a kid. Again, it just happened.

Do you have anything cooking up in the near future?
I’ve got some thoughts. There will definitely be a follow-up book. I think the process has been so much fun and I love creating these things that people connect with and love. I think each one has a fun tone and a pointed point of view, so I will keep making things until I run out of things to say.

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Find out more about how to get a copy of I Was an Awesomer Kid and Dads Are the Original Hipsters at bradgetty.com.

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