As I continue to meet people in my home city of Calgary, it’s interesting hearing stories about their careers, interests, and what makes them tick. This next character is no exception and comes from the advertising world. Covered in tattoos that would make any hells angel jealous and a beard to top it all off, Mike Meadus is as friendly as they come with almost every sentence ending with a laugh. I first met Mike a few years ago when I was making the rounds trying to meet every creative and art director in Calgary’s advertising world; we met after an impromptu Twitter conversation on what makes a good pie (pizza) and where to go; for Mike it’s Volos.
Mike has worked in advertising for 25 years and two months. He moved to Calgary on June 25, 1993, and landed his first job a week later at a local print shop called Metro graphics. His job? Tackling all aspects of production, sometimes illustrating by hand, darkroom work when customers asked for photography, and logo design. “We did it all, everything from A to Z”... “Working there helped me have an appreciation for design, I got to use my hands, and we even worked on some of Apple’s first computers before it was normal to have the latest and greatest software”. Mike grew up as most designers do, drawing at a young age, excelling in art, while loathing mathematics. “My father also loved to draw, he also painted and by trade was a cop, taking photographs for the forensics department”.
As I sat with mike over a coffee, he shared stories of his ever-growing tattoo collection, sidewalk chalk drawings with his daughter, the good and bad of his previous job, and how he navigated his way through the advertising world in the early stages of his career, applying for jobs with little or no knowledge of the title he was applying for. “I never knew what an art director was until I was hired as one. I usually applied not knowing what the job was, however, I assumed if you had a skill and could draw, you could apply anywhere”. Fast forward to 2016, Mike was at a top position for an international agency, doing big-budget work, winning national and international awards, and making a very good living financially. When I asked him were you happy during this period of your life, his answer was an immediate “No” and after a series of events, Mike decided he had enough and left the agency world, venturing out on his own.
Today, Mike runs his own company from home doing a variety of design work for his own clients. I asked him what that transition was like from years in the agencies to working from home: “It wasn’t difficult to move from the office to home. I do miss the people at the agencies and that’s the only thing I miss. My office now is 30 feet from the bedroom, I don't worry about traffic, all I need is my coffee machine and my mac, that’s it. I get to pick the music I want to listen to, there is cream in the fridge, I have a private bathroom, and I pick and choose what I want to work on. I think back 23 years ago and I never got to say no, because when you work for a big ad agency, it was always about pleasing the client and money. Being a business owner and decision maker now is important to me. Oh, and fuck I don’t miss pitching on work, sorry, I just wanted to say that. Don’t get me wrong some days it’s hard, but when you get in that zone and everything is flowing. I wouldn’t want it any other way”.
To see Mike’s work feel free to visit his website here -> mikemeadus.com
You can also find him on Instagram