Jason Clark of VIA Studio: Lover of Mysteries and Believer in Hope
Guest C. Jason Clark, El Conquistador of VIA Studio, joins Ivan for a wide-ranging chat that includes talking about his love of mysteries in the world, the enigma of Banksy, his work with refugees in Kentucky, and his side gig dropping sweet jams DJ-ing.
- Growing up in Kentucky
- How drum machines led to graphic design
- Jason’s first project at VIA was reputation cleanup
- His complementary relationship with his co-owner
- What VIA means
- When your company is humming along so well all you can do is aspire to finish faster!
- Electronic music doesn’t make money for Jason, but it feeds his creative juices
- From Airbnbs to bourbon to participating in Louisville design week, Jason is a Louisville hometown booster!
- Collecting art and the mystery of Banksy
- Jason’s “mild protest” work in Kentucky, and his company's work with refugees
- Jason’s brief Kentucky political career
- Politics on the podcast (rare!)
- Have we gotten soft since WWII?
- Louisville AIGA Design Week September 2019 Thursday night event (where Jason is going to play a live set)
- Pest Control (Banksy authentication company)
- Kaws (artist)
- Dismaland (a faux amusement park installation by Banksy)
- Kentucky Refugee Ministries
- Fund for the Arts (Louisville)
IVAN STEGIC: Hey everyone! You’re listening to the TEN7 podcast, where we get together every fortnight, and sometimes more often, to talk about technology, business and the humans in it. I am your host Ivan Stegic. My guest today is C. Jason Clark, CEO of VIA Studio, Digital Craftsmen and Communicators from Louisville, Kentucky. He’s been in this industry since 1990. And as El Conquistador of VIA, he’s the one responsible for their unique and professional image. He’s the company's visionary. Also, an art collector, world traveler, cook, musician, Another one of those people I met at Owner Camp. Jason, it’s a great pleasure to have you on the podcast.
C. JASON CLARK: Ivan, it’s my pleasure. Thank you so much.
IVAN: Let’s start with C. Jason Clark. I just noticed that it’s actually "C" in your email signature. What does that "C" stand for?
JASON: The "C" stands for Charles, and for whatever weird reason, all the men in my family on my dad’s side go by their middle names. No idea why that happened or how, but that’s just the way it is.
IVAN: It’s a great way to make yourself stand out from the crowd. C. Jason. I love it.
JASON: [laughing] Fantastic. Thank you.
IVAN: Let’s start at the beginning. I think you’re a native to Louisville, Kentucky, aren’t you?
JASON: Yes. Born and raised.
IVAN: So, tell me about where you were born and what that was like growing up.
JASON: Sure. I grew up very solidly in the lower middle class in Louisville. We went to South Carolina until I was about five when my dad was in the Navy, and then came back. So, for all intents and purposes I’ve been in Louisville my whole life. I grew up fairly poor, lower middle class, very redneck part of the country that was difficult for a weirdo like myself. Luckily, I found a way out.
IVAN: [laughing] Why were you a weirdo?
JASON: It’s hard to say that without introducing a lot of redneck and racist tropes into the conversation. But the part of town that I grew up in was not very kind to people who were not gun-toting racists.
IVAN: [laughing] So, you are not gun toting and not a racist. Okay. Check. [laughing] So, you spent time visiting South Carolina, and you said your dad was in the Navy. Did you go to college in Louisville? What did you study?
JASON: I actually started in graphic arts. In high school there was a vocational program when I was in high school that did graphic arts. This was before the Mac came around, so it was a more interesting version of what we do now, if you will. Printing presses and machines, light tables, big cameras the size of a room. Lots of fun, lots of fun there. So, in that program in high school they actually got me a co-op position at the university here in town where I worked my senior year of high school, after lunch. So, I was fairly lucky to get introduced into that program, and it really set off my career as a designer and creative person in high school.
IVAN: And after high school, did you train as a professional designer? A graphic designer?
JASON: I took classes at what’s now Bellarmine University and the University of Louisville, but I never graduated. The internet came rolling down like a tidal wave when I was taking classes and there was no program for that. So, I really made the decision to go in that direction instead of the academic path.
IVAN: And you have an affinity for music, and that’s sort of related, or maybe that’s how your design career got started?
JASON: For the most part, yeah. I played in various bands in high school and out of high school and then moved over to the electronic music scene a little bit after that. But, yeah, there was a lot of self-promotion, DIY kind of ethic around the music scenes that I was involved in. So, you designed your own flyers, you promoted your own shows, and that piece of it was just as interesting to me as the music itself. So, I think that definitely influenced my career.
IVAN: What instrument do you play, Jason?
JASON: At this point it’s all electronic. So, I’ve got a little studio in my home with a bunch of synthesizers and samplers and drum machines and random assorted equipment. I started with drums, but when you grow up and you move out of your parents’ house, a drum set’s not a real good place for apartment living.
IVAN: [laughing] No, it’s not. I could imagine that.
JASON: [laughing] So, yeah. I traded in my drum set for a drum machine so I could have a volume knob, and it was all downhill from there.
IVAN: [laughing] And at some point, you started working as a developer in the late nineties, didn’t you?
JASON: Yeah, in the beginning of the web design and development, what we call now, "frontend" development, there was not much of a distinction. I think those disciplines have crystallized now that we’re a little bit more mature as an industry, but learning HTML, knowing how to do a little bit of PHP development, I did a lot of action scripts, working in Flash, animation and programmatic kind of stuff earlier in my career.
IVAN: So, eventually you end up at VIA Studio. What’s the origin story with that?
JASON: Sure. My old business partner Kelly McKnight started the company in 1996, and he worked at one of the bigger agencies in town as a copywriter. And the story he’ll tell you is, he went to a conference, and he was listening to somebody from Coca-Cola talk about their ad campaigns and whatnot. And apparently this person only talked about the internet, and how much it was going to change marketing and advertising. And he tried to boot up a department within that bigger agency, that focused on digital work, and it didn’t really succeed. So, he carved off and took a couple employees with him. Apparently, I think he got sued because of a non-compete [laughing], but eventually it worked out, and I met him in 2003 when I was more on the hunt for my next thing, and we partnered up.
IVAN: So, you were there right at the beginning of VIA?
JASON: No. He had VIA from 1996 to 2003.
IVAN: Oh, I see. It was much earlier. I see. Okay.
IVAN: And so, then you joined VIA. What are the first things you did there?
JASON: It was a lot of cleanup. The reputation of the company was not very good. I had questions from some friends in the industry of why would I choose VIA. But in all honesty, Kelly was a wonderful business development person. He was a great relationship person. He taught me a lot of the soft skills needed to do what I do now. He just didn’t have someone who knew how to execute on his team. So when we partnered up, he knew how to bring in the prospects, I knew how to get the work done well, and had lots of good ideas. So instead of hiring me, we essentially became business partners.
IVAN: That’s a great complementary relationship to have with a partner like that.
JASON: Yeah, it was really nice to let him retire and buy out his half of the company when it was time. It was a real honor to be able to, kind of, see him off well.
IVAN: And did that happen recently?
JASON: No, it was about six years ago.
IVAN: Okay, so you’re not brand new to owning the business. You’re about halfway through your tenure at VIA and you’ve been an owner for half that much?
JASON: No, I’ve been an owner the whole time. I bought in as an owner.
IVAN: Oh, I see. I got it now. You bought the rest of the shares? You’re full owner now?
JASON: Exactly. Exactly. So, yeah, we were 50/50 partners for a long time and then when it was time for him to retire, I bought out his share.
IVAN: What does VIA mean? I mean, I know what it means, but what does it mean in your context?
JASON: His idea is the name of the company was you’re going to get what you need via the internet. So, that was a good starting point. The letter forms and the word look good together; it’s concise. So, that’s the origin of VIA. I was fairly intent on changing the name when I first landed at VIA because obviously, I knew everything and wanted to change everything [laughing].
IVAN: [laughing] What was the name you were going to change it to?
JASON: I don’t even remember. Probably nothing as good. But the name’s memorable. People know us really well, especially in this region, we’ve got a great reputation. So, it eventually became one of those, if it’s not broke don’t fix it, situations.
IVAN: What do you like about your job that you’re doing right now? What’s the best part?
JASON: Right now, it’s the team that we’ve got and the impact, specifically in the community, that are super exciting. We’ve got a very senior and well-developed development team, design team, account service team, and a strategy team. So, we’ve kind of hit this really wonderful part where every discipline serves the other one, and the teamwork is just great. So, the other piece of this is our client list and the types of work that we’re doing right now that’s super exciting for me. We’re in the middle of a rebrand and a relaunch for the big performing arts organization in town that’s about to launch, probably next week. So, I’m just super, super excited to show the world the work we’ve been doing for the last year and a half with that.
IVAN: Wow. Last year and a half, that’s a long time to do a project, and to get a brand and relaunch everything. It takes that much time these days when you want to do it right, doesn’t it?
JASON: Absolutely, and that is the blessing that we’ve had with the team on the client side is, they knew how much work this was going to be, and we had the space and the collaboration to do it well. So, I keep looking for things that I think I would want to change, and I can’t find any, except maybe finishing faster. [laughing] Always, right?
IVAN: [laughing] Always, yeah. You always want to do that.
JASON: But, yeah, it’s lovely work. Everyone here has gotten to participate in some way, shape or form, so it feels like a true collaboration.
IVAN: You guys are based in Louisville, Kentucky? All of your employees are in Louisville? Or do you have some remote employees as well?
JASON: We’ve had remote employees over the years, we don’t have any right this minute. So, we’re all in one building here.
IVAN: And, the building as I understand it from our conversations in Bend is actually part of the business as well? You own the building, right?
JASON: Right. My wife and I bought the building about six years ago. It was just a little bit after my business partner retired, and we had been looking for a building to purchase for about two years, and this one came on the market. It was in the right part of town, it was the right price, and it’s been another one of those amazing timing mechanisms, because the whole area in this part of town is booming. There’s hotels being built, a distillery came in next door to us. If you know anything about Louisville, we’re all about the bourbon. We’re in the middle of all the best restaurants, all the best walking tourist kind of things. It’s wonderful, and it’s even better for property values.
IVAN: Of course. Do you have to act as a landlord as well?
JASON: In certain ways. We try to keep a clean break between maintenance of the building. We have a separate LLC that controls the building that my wife and I own, and we also have four Airbnb's that my wife manages, one of which is attached to our building. So, just trying to keep a clean break between all of those things, for accounting purposes and also not annoying the staff with weird building issues that we have, like the roof is leaking. That’s a different responsibility.
IVAN: [laughing] Indeed it is. And do you get a chance to do or to flex any more of your creative and design muscles these days, like you did early on?
JASON: Not as much at the office. It’s more, to the intro there, it’s more about the vision of who we are and our values and how those work their way into the creative team—to the entire team in general, honestly. But my time is better served in the business with business development and, tuning the gears, if you will, of the business. So, I’ve carved off and kind of fired up my music hobby in order to feel like I’m staying in a creative place.
IVAN: Tell me about your music hobby. What is it? Are you a DJ? [laughing]
JASON: So, I wouldn’t say I’m a DJ, but I’ve DJ-ed since about 1992 or 1993 in various forms, played all over the country, especially back when the rave scene was a big thing. So, I still do that from time to time. We’re doing an AIGA Design Week event in September, where I’m going to play a live electronic set. So, I’m going to bring out all my synthesizers and keyboards and everything and see if I can do it live.
IVAN: When is that happening, so we can make sure we link to that?
JASON: The date of the event is September 12th, but that entire week, the week of September 9th is Design Week here in Louisville, so we’re actually hosting three or four events at our offices, and then there’s the Thursday night event, where I’m going to do a live set.
IVAN: What’s your DJ name, Jason? [laughing]
JASON: [laughing] There were a few. It was Strange Loop for a while, and I actually just discovered that there’s a Strange Loop now that signed to a record label that I really like, and I was like, “you stole my name.”
IVAN: Oh, no! [laughing]
JASON: [laughing] And then we had kind of a group, like electronic band for a while, that was called SKL, which stood for Spiritual Krack Laboratory. We were a little weird.
IVAN: And what do you go by now? What is the name that’s going to be on the Louisville set list?
JASON: At this point, it’s just Jason Clark. The music hustle is not what I need to be doing in life, you know? I call it my train set, because it’s a great hobby, it’s good release of creative energy, but it doesn’t need to achieve anything financially. So, trying to get back into that hustle of having a DJ name and getting booked for shows, that’s not interesting to me.
IVAN: No. But it keeps those creative juices flowing which is so important.
JASON: Absolutely, yeah. I mean, it’s so much fun to write a song and to put it out in the world, and again, the whole live thing, trying to figure out if you could play it live.
IVAN: That’s cool. As I said in the intro, you’re also an art collector, which I did not know when we first started talking, and I’d love to find out more about this art collection you have in the office.
JASON: Absolutely. So, yeah, you found the article that LEO Weekly wrote about me?
IVAN: I sure did.
JASON: Right. So, yeah, you saw that I have a Banksy in my office, so, yeah.
IVAN: Let’s talk about that. How did you get that Banksy? What was the story behind that?
JASON: That whole lane of modern/pop/street art, whatnot, I’ve been into for a long time now.
IVAN: Beautiful, isn’t it?
JASON: Oh, yeah. I love it. It goes along with the aesthetic of the whole do-it-yourself, punk rock, rave scene aesthetic. That inspires me. I come from fairly humble roots, so I think it really strikes me the right way, other artists and other scenes that kind of cook up themselves, they’re not supported by anything else, and that’s kind of one of the stories of my life is this.
IVAN: Counter-cultural too. It’s kind of punk, like you said.
JASON: Yes. There’s a punk aesthetic, which is really just, you know, question everything, and you can do it yourself. I’ve always known, in my entire career, I’ve always known people that start their own businesses, that make a sacrifice either as far as time or money in order to have more control over their life. So, this art aesthetic feels the same way, and it’s exciting to see that it blossomed.
IVAN: Which Banksy do you have?
JASON: It’s called either Trolleys or Trolley Hunters. If you do a web search for that you’ll see the image. It’s the image of some natives holding their spears, looking at a shopping cart, not really knowing what it is. If you ever saw the movie the The Gods Must Be Crazy, it kind of reminds you of that Coke bottle that falls, like “What the fuck is this?”
IVAN: [laughing] Exactly. What in hell is this?
JASON: Right. Yeah.
IVAN: I’m just looking at the piece now on the internet. Yeah, it reminds me of the bushmen that were in the wild and that Coke bottle fell down, and man alive. Yeah. So, how did you get your hands on that? What happened when you saw it? Where did you get it? Was it an instant purchase, impulse buy?
JASON: No. It’s one of those things, and I think this may be one of the things that I’m good at in life, is kind of setting a goal and working towards that goal. The business has been that way. The building that we own has been that way. My art collection has been that way. But you have to figure out how to get there, right? I couldn’t just go find $40,000 to buy a Banksy print with, [laughing], and I didn’t pay that much for it. I actually found this one, luckily. The two things that happened in 2008/2009 because of the recession, we actually bought the house that we’re in, our home, and I bought this Banksy print. So, the art market’s very much like the stock market. If people panic, they sell things a lot cheaper. [laughing]
IVAN: Right, and if you’re on the right side of that you can invest in it, right?
JASON: Right, yeah. Buy low and sell high. So, that’s kind of the rule for stocks and property, and that kind of thing. So, yeah, I don’t know if you want to talk numbers—and it’s not about the money really, for the art collection—but somebody sold it to me for $3,500.00 on eBay in 2008.
IVAN: Oh, wow.
JASON: Yeah, and it’s worth at least 10 times that, if not more, at this point.
IVAN: And, I’m going to ask the question. Do you know that it’s real?
JASON: Yes. When I was in the process of buying it, I sent it into Pest Control, which is Banksy’s authentication service. You pay them a little bit of money, and they do the research on the number of the print and will send you back a signed Banksy certificate of authenticity.
IVAN: So, I want to spend a little bit of time talking about this, because I happened to read about this a few weeks ago in an article. And it struck me as the most brilliant implementation of an anonymous, private, public key cryptography that we’re so used to on the internet, that we’re not even paying attention that it happens. And here it’s happening in an analog format with an artist that wants to remain anonymous. Right? So, nobody knows who Banksy is. He's totally anonymous. So, anyone could theoretically print something and say, “Oh it’s Banksy’s.” You have to have some form of authenticity, and so that’s what this Pest Control is that you talked about?
JASON: Right. Mm-hmm.
IVAN: And, so, basically what happens is, you have to request a transfer, I think, from the person you’re selling it from. And they have to send a picture of the print to Pest Control, and then Pest Control, who represent Banksy, validates that it’s actually real, and then sends you a certificate. And, apparently on the certificate there is a fake 10-pound bill with Lady Diana’s picture on it, and it’s torn in half, and there’s some script on it, like there’s written a number. And nobody actually knows what’s on the other half of it. So, they’re the only ones who can say, yes, this is real or not. Do you actually have that certificate as well?
JASON: I do, yeah.
IVAN: Is that framed and also a piece of art, somewhere? Because it could be right?
JASON: No, it’s actually in a safe deposit box.
IVAN: [laughing] Okay.
JASON: I have a few art pieces that have certificates of authenticity in providence, the ones that are worth a lot of money, essentially, the galleries and the artists themselves try to keep track of that providence. Any art print that I’ve got that’s worth that much money has some kind of clear line of ownership. So, they can say, “Hey, yeah, print number 82 was sold to Janet, and she sold it on eBay to Jason,” and so, they can track that stuff. Which I think is brilliant.
IVAN: I think that’s brilliant too.
JASON: So, there’s a lot of counterfeit. I don’t know if you know the artist, Kaws?
IVAN: No, I don’t.
JASON: He’s one to research. I’ve got probably three or four prints of his that are equally amazing and valuable. He’s being counterfeited a lot, though, so making sure you’re purchasing prints, or, he does a lot of vinyl sculpture toys. But especially in that world, there’s a ton of fakes, so just make sure, if you buy on the secondary market, you’ve got that providence.
IVAN: I think Pest Control is a service, so he could theoretically use that to deal with authenticity as well, I suspect?
JASON: Yeah. I don’t know if it’s true, but I heard a rumor that Banksy’s not really doing any more prints, like screenprint-type of work, because his audience is too big now. Part of this is its scarcity, so doing a run of 150 signed prints, you’ve got the entire world going crazy for those things. So, I don’t think he’s released a print in an affordable category in probably five or six years.
IVAN: Who do you think Banksy is? I have my suspicions, but I wonder, who do you think he is?
JASON: [laughing] I’m sure he’s aligned in some way with the folks from Massive Attack. There’s enough circumstantial evidence about where they are and who they are. But, honestly, my guess is that Banksy is probably two or three people. Maybe there’s one figurehead visionary that is Banksy, but the work requires a team that he does. You’ve gotta have lookouts, you have to have the stencils ready if you’re doing street art, and the more elaborate productions that he does, or they do or she does, it’s too much. Like, Dismaland had all these crazy sculptures, the Walled Off Hotel is an entire freaking hotel, so yeah, my guess is that it’s a very small collective.
IVAN: So, actually, that is consistent with my guess. I never thought that they were a collective. I thought that it was one person, one of the members of Massive Attack, I would guess. But it could be the whole Massive Attack. I mean, if you think it’s a group, maybe it’s all of them. I read this one article on the internet that compared Massive Attack tour locations and times and with the existence of Banksy art, and the time of when they were first spotted, and there was a great deal of correlation between the two on the map and in the time. So that was evident that someone claimed that maybe this is how we can prove that it’s actually Massive Attack. I mean it’s great data, but I don’t know if I believe it. The style of Massive Attack's work is very similar, I think, to some of Banksy’s work. They’re both activists—I think they are—and so, I don’t know. I’d be sad to hear that it was not Massive Attack, I guess. [laughing]
JASON: [laughing] Well, honestly, not to diminish that, but I really don’t care. I love the mystery of it. It’s like crop circles, it’s like who cares if it’s a math department in some university coming up with cool shit that they’re pressing down into fields, or if it’s aliens? Either way, it’s beautiful, it’s good stuff. Like, let the mystery be a mystery.
IVAN: Yeah, that’s a good attitude. Maybe I should stop thinking about this. [laughing]
JASON: [laughing] Well, there’s not enough mystery in life, in general, especially in this day and age. It’s like people aren’t content to just not know things, and I think that’s dumb. That’s part of the wonder of life. You lay out in the outdoors when you’re camping and look up at the stars. You don’t have to know what’s out there, whether it’s God or aliens, or nothing. Like, who cares? It’s beautiful. Enjoy it.
IVAN: Enjoy it. Yeah. Oh man. So, you mentioned that you need more than one person doing the street art that Banksy’s doing, made me thing of Shepard Fairey, and the fact that he did a lot of his work on his own, and then started working with his wife, and had a lookout as well. And you have a Shepard Fairey in your office somewhere as well, don’t you?
JASON: Oh, I’ve got a few. [laughing]
IVAN: Do you have one of the big Obama prints?
JASON: Yes, I’ve got the Hope print, and it’s beautiful and it’s up in the office, and I’m super proud of it, and people offer lots and lots of money for it, but I don’t know if I’ll ever sell that one. That defines a moment in our history now, where hope was actually a good thing.
IVAN: Yeah, I remember those days as well, quite fondly, and how awesome that you have one of those prints. That’s just great. What other work of his do you have?
JASON: I’ve got one that’s called Lotus Ornament, and it’s one of the bigger pieces that he does his collage paper technique on, and honestly, that’s the thing that I like the most now about Shepard Fairey is, the fine artwork that he does. Lots of layering, lots of wheat paste type of look. And, so, I’ve got two prints like that, if you will, that are part of small runs, like one of 10, one of five, and I’ve got a lot of screen prints of his.
IVAN: His [Fairey's] attitude towards the establishment is consistent with Banksy’s, and what you’ve been describing is something you like as well. It’s like EFF the establishment, right, we’re going to do what we feel like doing, and we’ll make art and try to bring joy to people.
JASON: Yeah. That’s important in life, and in art and in business. I attribute our success in part because of the fact that we give a shit. Our work with nonprofits, and . . . we’ve done some mild protest stuff, here at the office, that I’m super proud of.
IVAN: What kind of protest work? Tell me about that.
JASON: I don’t know if it’s protest or advocacy, but one of our clients is Kentucky Refugee Ministries, and, as you know, there are a certain contingent of folks in this country now that have a platform and don’t necessarily like immigration. So we’ve done a lot of work with them. One year I rented a bus and drove folks in that immigration program to a restaurant that was hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, so they could get there and back. So I played bus driver for a day on Thanksgiving, which was really fun.
IVAN: Good for you.
JASON: A lot of our staff have become mentors for refugees as part of that program, so they just fall in love with the people. So, we’ve been at the state capital to advocate for immigration support. That kind of thing. So, that’s one of those things that I’m super proud of.
IVAN: And so, you should be. This is good work that you’re doing, and, again, a part of do something for everyone. So, this is Kentucky Refugee Ministries, and that’s kyrm.org for our listeners, and we’ll make sure we link to it from our webpage as well. Now, we kind of started talking about Obama, and we usually don’t talk politics on this podcast, but I kind of want to talk a little bit about politics with you. [laughing]
JASON: Yeah. Let’s go there. [laughing]
IVAN: [laughing] Let’s go there. Let’s go there. You’re a blue Democrat, living in the South, in Kentucky.
JASON: Save me. Get me out of here. Moscow Mitch.
IVAN: Moscow Mitch is there. But you actually ran for office in 2014. What made you do that? Are you insane? [laughing]
JASON: [laughing] I realized I was insane very quickly after I had filed the paperwork, yes.
IVAN: Oh, my God. Let’s be serious though, why did you run? What was the real reason?
JASON: Oh goodness. I guess I’m an opinionated person. I’m fairly well connected in the city. There’s a lot of waste in government. So, in general, digital transformation is a big buzzword in our industry right now. So, on a practical level, I felt like I could help push things forward from an efficiency perspective. If you ever look into city governments, there are people, they probably still have their Blackberrys or big car phones, the size of whatever. So, that was one piece. Another piece is I really give a shit. What’s the next thing I could do to be of service to our community, and I thought I had the time, and now that I know the person that actually won that seat, I know that I don’t have that time. It was just a bad idea. [laughing] I’m not close enough to retirement to dedicate that much time and energy to a public office.
IVAN: And what office did you actually run for?
JASON: It was Metro Council. So, Metro Council is everybody from a specific piece of the city gets together, in a kind of, mini Congress for a city, if you will.
IVAN: And when you ran for it, you said you don’t have the time for it now, you didn’t have the time for it, is it a full-time job to then be a council member on the Metro?
JASON: I don’t think the expectation is that it’s full time. But the subject matter that they deal with is a lot more day to day. It’s real estate, property issues, and to be completely honest, it’s a lot of stuff that I wasn’t really qualified for.
IVAN: Well, that hasn’t stopped politicians lately. [laughing]
JASON: [laughing] Isn't that the truth? Yeah, but in my free time—if you call it that—call it my volunteer time, I’ve spent that time sitting on boards for nonprofit organizations and just trying to use whatever influence that I have in the city, and name recognition to help move things forward.
IVAN: Probably have more of an effect that way than you would’ve winning the seat.
JASON: Yeah, I hope so. I was on a steering committee for what’s called The Fund for the Arts, here in town, just trying to elevate the arts in the city and as part of economic development, as part of culture in the city, trying to elevate those things, and I was on that steering committee for three or four years. I rolled off just a couple months ago.
IVAN: When you ran for Louisville Metro Council in 2014, so about five years ago, did you have to go through a primary process and then run in the general election?
JASON: No, there’s no primary/general with Metro Council. I was on a ballot with 14 other people running for that seat. To be completely honest—and I don’t know if people in our city will listen to this—but very early in the race, our Mayor, who I respect quite a bit, endorsed someone else, Bill Hollander, who actually won that seat, and I realized very quickly after that, there was no way I was going to win this with the Mayor having endorsed somebody already. So, it wasn’t worth putting the time into, and as you’ve seen probably with the Democrat debates with 20 people trying to win one seat, it’s a lot of noise, and I just don’t have the patience for that. [laughing]
IVAN: Man. Yeah, there’s a lot of people in the Democratic run for President now, isn’t there? You’re right. There’s a ton of noise. I don’t how to feel about that? On one hand I feel like it’s good that there’s so many people who are interested in unseating the current President, but on the other hand I really wish there was a candidate that was clear, and this is absolutely the person that is going to bring it home.
JASON: Right. I do think, it’s good to have a lot of voices in there at first, to let the most qualified person elevate to the top, but there are some people that are clearly doing it just for self-promotion and PR purposes. If you know you don’t have a chance to win, you’re getting in everybody’s way. So, please for the love of God, Hickenlooper, find another way to get some attention, please.
IVAN: [laughing] Okay. So, I guess Hickenlooper isn’t on your short list? [laughing]
JASON: [laughing] No, I will support any candidate that runs against Trump, let’s lay that out. But if I had to pick, Elizabeth Warren’s my person.
JASON: Yeah. She’s my person.
IVAN: You know, I think I agree with you. She has a lot of good ideas. She’s well-spoken, she has policies that make sense, she cares about everybody. She’s also a woman, another great thing about it. Why? Why another man, right?
JASON: For someone like Sanders or Biden—who again I’ll vote for in a heartbeat if they win— but if your platform isn’t much different than a woman, let her take it. This is the age where we should step back. If we don’t need that power, give it to a more diverse range of human beings, please.
IVAN: I agree with you. Well, we’ll see what happens. I wonder when the first few members of that 20-person team start dropping off. Right? Is it the beginning of next year? How many more months of this do we endure?
JASON: Well, let the process play out. If some of these bozos want to stay in the loop and try to get a talk show afterwards, I guess that’s okay. But as people who follow politics, it’s a little exhausting right now.
IVAN: It is.
JASON: I can understand why the majority of people wait until there is one candidate.
IVAN: Yeah, it’s a whole lot easier. I can’t believe we actually got into politics on the podcast. I think this is the first time we’ve done that.
JASON: Sorry. Not sorry. I’ve been talking to friends about this, and I think, the fight between good and evil always exists, and as human beings the last two generations after WWII, we haven’t had to fight for our beliefs. I think we’ve gotten soft. I think everyone needs to take a stand for what they believe in. Not that we need another Civil War or anything crazy like that, but we have to be diligent. That’s part of our jobs as human beings, is to be diligent and speak up when we see power dynamics at play or racism at play, or misogyny at play. It’s our job.
IVAN: Or misinformation that’s at play.
JASON: Yeah, exactly. I guess this is another piece, I enjoy a good debate. I live in Kentucky, so I’ve got a lot of friends and family that lean right, or lean fascist, and I still love them as people, and I’m going to engage with them, right? I’m going to have these debates. And, we might never agree, but if you could lay eyes on somebody, they have a lot more ability to empathize.
IVAN: Yeah. Well, I don’t envy that position. It’s a little easier up in the upper Midwest here, but there are still debates that happen up here as well, so it’s not all hunky-dory as well. Well, I think on that note, we’re going to bring it to a close. Thanks Jason, so much for spending your time with me today. It’s been so awesome speaking with you.
JASON: Yeah, it’s been super fun. Thank you so much.
IVAN: You’re welcome. Thanks for being on. Jason Clark is President and CEO of VIA Studio, and you can find them online at viastudio.com. And, of course, you could find Jason in most places online as clarkster. You’ve been listening to the TEN7 Podcast. Find us online at ten7.com/podcast. And if you have a second, do send us a message. We love hearing from you. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time, this is Ivan Stegic. Thank you for listening.