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A familiar face at Fresh Produce

We first met Brianna Schreurs while she was attending South Dakota State University for a degree in advertising. She joined our crew as Famous’s 2019 account service intern, and in May of 2021, we hired her as a project coordinator. In her first few months back, we sat down with Bri to talk about her journey into advertising (and Fresh Produce), her interests and passions, and all the ways she lives an interesting life.

Bri, can you share what your journey to getting hired at Fresh Produce looked like?

It felt like a journey. After our internship, all three of us (Bri, Bailey & Tom) knew that we would come back to Fresh Produce. It was just a matter of when. So my entire senior year at South Dakota State University, that was the conversation. With COVID-19 and me graduating in May, the company could not hire me just because there was so much uncertainty. I had to find something else to do, so I moved to Rapid City and worked for KOTA Territory News and KEVN Black Hills FOX. And it was really fun and exciting. I learned a lot there, but I also knew that job didn’t have much longevity, so I approached Mike about revisiting that conversation and coming back to Fresh Produce. It took a few months to transition and figure out how everything would work, but now I’m here.

We’re so happy to have you back at Fresh Produce! How did you get interested in advertising?

I’ve always been interested in marketing, but I never had a name for it. Just because when you grow up in a small town, there isn’t really much talk about how you could do creative things for a living. Creative things were kind of looked down upon as something you couldn’t make a living around. When people asked, ‘What do you want to do after you graduate from high school?’ I had no idea and that was okay.

But my senior year, I really got freaked out about it. I remember that I really enjoyed my agriculture classes. I was involved with FFA, wore the blue corduroy and everything. I just had a lot of fun. My agriculture advisor was my favorite teacher, and he was just so vibrant, and he got to do a variety of things. So I told my mom one day that I would go to SDSU to be an agriculture instructor. My mom was like, ‘Why would you want to do that?’ And I said, ‘I don’t really know what I want to do with my life, so if I become an ag teacher, at least I can go anywhere.’ And then she said, ‘I think you should do marketing.’ So that’s what I did. It’s really funny the lack of thought I put into it. And I never even changed my major in college because majoring in advertising just worked.

Within the field, I think there’s a lot of ways to help people articulate ideas and get business. Marketing can accomplish a lot for any business and that’s always really intrigued me. I enjoy really good strategy, and there’s fun in it too. I love making connections and constructing a brand that relates and speaks to people. All of that is really interesting, compelling, and worthwhile work.

What experience or passion feeds into your interest in working at Fresh Produce?

I’ve always been attracted to strong communities in my life, and Fresh Produce is a strong community. I’m always interested in how we like to nurture our culture, support each other, and celebrate each other. I think all of that is why I like Fresh Produce. I’m really passionate about good communities.

I’ve always been a very relational person. In college, I was really involved in SDSU’s student-run newspaper the Collegian, and one of my favorite things I did there was create processes and celebrations for my staff that led to making a really good product. The process of that was really fun. I led a Bible study group throughout college and I taught sixth-grade girls this last year in Rapid City. Both were workshops in making an intentional community for learning and vulnerability.

Why did Fresh Produce’s creative approach appeal to you?

I think Ted has been the first person in my entire life that was like, ‘Hey, creativity isn’t something you just reach for in the dark and it comes to you. Rather it’s a muscle you have to practice.’ And so, learning about the creative process that we have in place was really attractive to me because Fresh Produce takes it so seriously.

What gives you energy and feeds your creativity?

A lot. That’s the answer ‘a lot.’ Haha, no, I can think of a few things. I really enjoy a good run. I’ve been running for a few years consistently. Every time I run, it’s really clearing and grounding, but it’s also very exciting because I accomplish something. The action of it can feel hard or easy but it’s all about how far you want to take it. Some days I don’t want to take it that hard, but I still find delight in it. I also just love being outside. I’m a really big hiker, which is one thing I miss about living on the other side of the state.

I also really like beer, and I really like food. I enjoy cooking, and I’m not great at it, but I’ve learned how to make coffee syrup, homemade pasta noodles, and pizza crust in the past year. But beer is always very fascinating to me. There’s an infinite amount of ways to brew a beer, and I just love how people can reverse engineer it or respect the history of a style. It’s also very full of camaraderie and curious people, so I really love the craft beer community.

What is your favorite Mystic Truth and why?

In Command and Out of Control just because that’s at the heart of what I do as a project coordinator. I am in command of the situation by making sure a plan is set, and there’s at least some structure for the team and the client. But also am out of control to make crazy big ideas for the team happen and delight our clients.

How do you live an interesting life?

I just surround myself with people that I love and that challenge me. A lot of the things that make me interested in my own life are setting goals and habits and seeing if I can do them. The act of trying to do something consistently for a month and creating structure in your own life is really interesting. I try to wake up early, so I can do good work and I try to go to bed at the same time so I can have enough time for the people who fill my life with joy.

If you’d like to welcome Brianna to Sioux Falls or want to send her a note, you can reach her at brianna@pickfresh.com

A Residential Advisor: Mike’s Nontraditional Path into Marketing

At Fresh Produce, our idea cooperative is filled with individuals who’ve had a clear path to the world of marketing and individuals who were called to advertising through human development, music, and gardening.

For co-founder and account executive, Mike Hart, being a residential advisor is what inspired him to move away from the pre-med program at South Dakota State University and graduate with a master’s in human development and family studies, all while dabbling in audio creative.

I loved the idea of helping people, but as I moved through college, the thing that probably precipitated the change was that I became a residential advisor. I started learning about student development and the fact that you can get a job helping kids grow and learn and become adults, and I was fascinated by it. I thought ‘I can still help people. I can just do it in a different setting,’ so I changed my major to human development and family studies.

When you connect the dots backward, it’s pretty funny, because when I was done being a residential advisor, I was walking across campus one day and on a total whim, I went into the Union thinking I was going to check out the campus radio station. I went down and met with this guy named Dan, who was the program director at the time. And he’s like, ‘Well, have you ever done this before?’ I was like, ‘No, but I really want to try it.’ And he tells me he literally had a guy quit just a few minutes ago, so I went to one training session and started doing a Wednesday show. Fast forward, now it’s like April or May and Sorenson Broadcasting is looking for people to be on the air. I got a call from them out of the blue and I went down to the station, had an interview, and got hired.
“I first met Ted in graduate school. I mean, I knew who he was, but it was then when we became friends through Capers. I introduced him to [Sorenson Broadcasting] and he became the intern there. When I became the program director, Ted pitched me Rock Garden Tour, which at the time was called Two Hours of Flower. It was the only show hip enough to combine gardening and rock ‘n’ roll, so I let him do it on the air.”
Eventually, I left in August of 2002 and Ted left in October of 2002, and we both ended up down here in Sioux Falls. Eventually, I interviewed for a position at Ten Cate Advertising, but they had just hired someone and were looking for a writer, so I introduced them to Ted and he was hired as a corporate copywriter.

“So, I had the interview, but Ted got the job.”

During that time we kept talking about ‘hey, what if we did this radio deal?’ and you know, without the connections Ted made at that job, it would have been really hard to start Fresh Produce the way it started—just doing audio creative. It would have been really hard to expand on the idea cooperative and become a full-service shop had we not known the people Ted met.

Marketing is very much for me a people-centered thing. We talk about being Energy Positive at Fresh Produce, and what gives me a wealth of energy is really getting to know people and really understanding who a person is and what motivates them.

While I certainly can’t say that every non-traditional path to marketing would work…I feel mine maybe set me up in a really, really good way because when it comes to resolving conflict or dealing with the really challenging parts of our business, I feel pretty equipped for that.

A chance connection and a move from Minneapolis

Designer Marvin Chang has been a part of Fresh Produce for almost six months now, and he’s brought with him a unique experience and vision that have filtered into the work that we do. We sat down with Marvin to talk about his journey to Fresh Produce, how he found his love for design, and what feeds his creativity.

Marvin, can you share your journey to Fresh Produce? How did it all happen?

It’s quite a journey actually. It happened selectively and randomly at the same time. So my plan after graduating from MCAD (Minneapolis College of Art and Design) was to apply for jobs locally in Minneapolis. And if that didn’t work out, I’d go a step further and think of places like Portland, Seattle, or the West Coast. So “randomly” because I didn’t think I’d relocate to the state right next to Minnesota. And what I mean by “selectively” is in regards to my connection with Tom (designer at Fresh Produce). We had both been selected for last year’s Command X design competition organized by AIGA. If it weren’t for this opportunity, I wouldn’t even know Tom. We just got along, had things in common, and had mutual friends.

So through Command X, I got to know Tom a little bit and he talked about where he worked. He talked about Fresh Produce’s history and work culture, and how he enjoyed it. So I got curious and visited him in Sioux Falls after the competition, and he gave me a tour of the office. I love that there’s an art gallery within the space… I also got a chance to meet a few members of Fresh Produce and all the conversations gave me good vibes and made me think this would be a good environment to work in. Later on, as I was applying for jobs in Minneapolis and the West Coast, I heard that Fresh Produce was hiring and I got connected with Mike and Ted. I had a few interviews with them and got assigned a small project to work on. I got hired, and soon after got an apartment, a new dog (Marco), packed, rented a U-Haul, and moved here from Minneapolis in early February.

We’re so glad you connected with Tom and he introduced you to Fresh Produce! We’re happy you’re here. So, how did you get into design and what do you love about it?

I heard someone say that a logo is the spirit or soul of a brand and I’ve remembered that line for quite a long time. Imagine a million dollar business where the actual logo did a lot of work for it—it’s just hard to believe that before you’re a designer. So I studied traditional drawing. I think I was in the sixth grade when my mom put me in a training school for traditional drawing, which is hand drawn and pencil drawing with watercolors or oil. So I was trained to be a traditional artist. I did a lot of hand-drawn stuff earlier, but later realized I didn’t see myself becoming an artist, selling the art, or being an art teacher. I was looking for an option that incorporated my creative mind or process while formatting my skills and inspirations together. So I realized that graphic design is something that would help achieve that kind of thinking.

Going back to that quote—I started practicing logo design. The very first logo I did was for my brother-in-law’s friend’s family. He had a media company and was looking for a logo. I’d never done one before, but I’d always wanted to try. He loved the logo and now uses it for everything. He even printed it out really big to put on a wall at his business. I was so proud to see my work out there.

Do you still draw in your free time?

I do draw occasionally. But I do more collage work versus hand drawing now. I find magazines and look for interesting shapes, type, or color, and put together collages, and I post a lot of them on my Instagram. That’s something I enjoy doing. Aside from designing branding or logos, collage work is part of my creative process.

What are some things that give you energy or feed into your creativity?

I get a positive boost of energy from general life things. For instance, my dog Marco. Walking my dog, playing with him, and exploring different parts of town where he can run around. That just makes me happy. Watching movies is another thing that gives me energy. I watch at least one movie every week. I’m a huge fan of films, and actually, one of my dream jobs aside from being a graphic designer is to be a movie poster designer. As far as creative energy, I get that from reading design books. In college, I used to go to my school library and spend an afternoon there. Seeing other designers’ work also gives me creative energy.

What is your favorite Mystic Truth?

My favorite is, “I just love it.” It’s that little word—”just.” It has such a tone and personality. I think that’s a good attitude to have, to not think negatively of things.

How do you live an interesting life?

Thinking positively and paying attention to the beauty of life. Paying attention to the details, who you’re talking to, what’s happening on a day-to-day basis. I believe that the most important person is the person sitting in front of you right now. The most important moment is this moment. The most important thing is the thing you’re doing right now. I always love living in the moment. I think one of the reasons I love dogs is because they live in the moment. I try to focus on what’s happening right now versus thinking too much of something else. That’s helped me see things from a different perspective as well when it comes to design. Treating every project not as what we’ve done similar to it, but instead as an opportunity to try a bunch of new things. That’s where the fun starts to happen.

If you’d like to welcome Marvin to Sioux Falls or want to send him a note, you can reach him at marvin@pickfresh.com

“I’m proud of us in the kind of way a dad is proud of his kids”

Growing up in the Sioux Falls punk scene, Fresh Produce writer, Brian Bieber, often found himself among the audience at Nordic Hall – a scene that would come to grow into its own culture, community, and economy by a group of unassuming teens. Eventually, that scene would also spawn a feature-length documentary filmed and produced by Bieber.

“As a teenager, you’re within the established structures that most people are in – sports, theatre, the school band, and all those avenues where a lot of people go. We didn’t really fit in any of those. We were buying our own instruments, booking studio time, and figuring out where to press records.”

The early stages of I Really Get Into It: The Underage Architects of Sioux Falls Punk was inspired by surfing the Rapid City punk rock archives.

“I started asking around for people to digitize records and tapes [from the Sioux Falls scene]. From there, the conversations I had with people got me thinking about how many artists from the punk scene were doing remarkable things.”

“You can say ‘Holy cow, we were 15 years old and not very good at playing instruments’ or you can say ‘Holy cow, we were 15 years old and we made a record’.”

The making of the documentary began in June 2018 with a dinged car and a $900 insurance check. Bieber used the insurance money to buy a camera, which was packed up in that dinged car and brought to Kansas City for the first interview with Kristin Conkright, who sang for the legendary Sioux Falls band, Switch.

“The benefit of having a community that encourages a do-it-yourself ethic is incredibly valuable, especially to young people, and this documentary is an example of that. I didn’t know how to do it when I started, but I taught myself as I went, and got plenty of help along the way. You never really just do it yourself. It’s more about understanding that you don’t have to wait around for permission, and I think that’s incredibly important.”

A few months later in October 2018, a four-week sabbatical from work gave Brian the focus to think about what he wanted the documentary to be, and by December 2020, I Really Get Into It: The Underage Architects of Sioux Falls Punk rolled out in a swatch of merch from pins, postcards, and cassette tapes to a DVD format and limited edition VHS tape.

“At Fresh Produce, there’s plenty of room to work on your own thing, but having a month off to only think about the documentary let me put all my creative energy into that.”

To purchase merch or a DVD format of the documentary, visit ireallygetintoit.com.

Read about what other Fresh Produce crew members did during their month-long sabbatical.

A 60-year-old painting found its way to Ipso this summer

Mel Spinar has been a favorite at Ipso Gallery and Fresh Produce. His works hang in our office space as well as the homes of our team members. There is this inexplicable energy to his works. They keep you. They attract an audience. They allow you to build stories around them. Stories that you get to share with others. They are mystical.

Chicago-native pro-football documentarian-historian-writer Joe Ziemba had been researching ways to get in touch with Mel Spinar—an artist based in South Dakota, a longtime painting professor at South Dakota State University, and his former art professor at Sioux Falls College in the late 60s. That’s when Joe came across Ipso Gallery and our 2013 exhibition, Mel: A Celebration of Mel Spinar’s Portraiture.

Joe sent us an email this summer asking about Mel and mentioned a painting that he was looking to find a new home for. Liz Heeren, our Gallery Director, sent him information on how to get in touch with Mel and a list of places that had Mel’s work in their collections. A week or so later, Joe reached out again and sent this email:

Liz–

Thank you again for your help with this project!

Mel did receive my letter and called me today. We had a great chat and he did remember me.

Anyway, he gave me permission to share the painting, and if your offer is still acceptable, I would love to send the painting to you.

It should be mentioned that it is a larger work, probably about three feet in height. I can measure it and let you know for sure.

Once I hear back from you, I’ll arrange to have it shipped safely to the Ipso Gallery. It is over 50 years old, but the original frame is still there and there is no damage to the canvas itself.

I am so very happy to have found a home for this wonderful piece–thanks to you!

All the best–

Joe

By the end of July, we received a large package from Illinois with Mel’s painting from the 60s, when he was a young art professor at Sioux Falls College. Joe later during a phone call tells me, “He taught me so much. The world really opened before my eyes as he would explain different forms of art, how they’ve been interpreted over the years, and what lies ahead and what the imagination might bring—I never encountered anyone like that.”  He had him as a professor for his first two years before Mel left for SDSU. “I came from the southside of Chicago to South Dakota to get my eyes open to the world out there, so it was fabulous.”

I asked Joe to tell me the story behind how he got the painting.

“Way back when, I’m thinking maybe 1970 in the summer, Mel’s painting that we’re talking about was hanging in the Student Union at the time. We came back from vacation and a lot of the paintings were not hanging anywhere. A couple of people asked questions and —I’m going to use a very gentle word—it looked like some of the stuff got discarded during the summer of 1970. I don’t know if it was intentional or not. But anyway, some of the students found the paintings and retrieved them. 

And we put the painting that you have now in the newspaper office. I was the editor of the school newspaper for a couple of years. And people really enjoyed it. Mainly it was oversized, as you can see, and it was just so completely different. You could have hours of conversation in front of it and look at it and try to figure out what the heck does it mean. I think that’s part of the attraction of it. 

So anyway when I graduated in ’71, I’m trying to remember who but I can’t, someone asked if they could take it. I had earlier asked the school, even though this painting had been discarded, and some others when we put it in the office. They said whoever wanted it can take it when they left, never thinking to contact Mel. So one of the students, when they graduated, took it home to their apartment. 

About a year or two later, someone was coming through Chicago and said, “Hey, would you like the painting” and I said, “Oh, I’d love it.” So they brought it and it took up most of the space in their car, I recall. When my wife and I got married, we had it in the front room for years. And the same thing, it’s a topic of discussion, comments. We had the painting in our house for years and years; we moved many times and kept taking it with us. 

Then a couple of years ago, we downsized and we have a lot of things we love, but we checked to see if maybe someone else could give them a permanent home. And one of them was Mel’s work. It was all kind of prompted by a little mini-reunion we had at Dr. Don Richardson’s [another former Sioux Falls College professor] home in Indianapolis three years ago. Some of the students I went to school with or a little older were there and I was asking about Mel, and they were telling me he had moved to Sioux Falls. Of course, it took me a while to get the courage to try and contact him and ask perhaps if he’d like it or had a spot we could consider as its new home. But yeah, we’ve had it for 49 years.”

This early painting by Mel has some similar links to his later works. While more abstracted in form and subject, we see it how his bodies of portraiture work grew from it. It’s been a special piece for Joe, and we hope that we can fix it up and share it through Ipso Gallery in the future.

“I forgot to ask him when I talked to him, but I guess I don’t want to know the intention behind the painting. We’ve gotten so many interpretations over the years; I think I’m going to leave it at that because I enjoyed that part,” said Joe.