When we named Denver design entrepreneur and cultural kickstarter Brian Corrigan to our first 100 Colorado Creatives list in 2013, he was in the planning stages of OhHeckYeah, raising money for the larger-than-life interactive summer street arcade that would use the Denver Theatre District's giant video screens. OhHeckYeah later reanimated in a variety of settings, from a booth at Coors Field to Red Rocks Amphitheatre with the Colorado Symphony...and beyond. Since then, Corrigan has moved on to many other ventures; we caught up with him via our CC Redux questionnaire.
Westword: How has your creative life grown or suffered since you last answered the CC questionnaire?
Brian Corrigan: Both! And by suffered, I’m likening it to working out, or growing muscle. It can be painful. It can be boring. Every minute can feel like forever, but you have to do it if you want to grow. After OhHeckYeah happened in the Denver Theatre District, there were growing pains related to monetizing something that was built to be free. I tried many different business strategies — some worked, more failed. I reached out to some smart businesspeople for ideas/guidance (lawyers, friends, family) and joined Denver Startup Week as co-chair of the designer track to learn as much as I could. I organized keynote talks about bridging impact investing with creative businesses; invited successful entrepreneurs in the creative economy to Denver to share their business journeys; organized workshops covering business basics for creatives; and even moderated a panel of drag queens, including Chad Michaels, who has the highest booking fee of the queens on RuPaul’s Drag Race, to talk about purpose-driven work and the revenue streams that support their businesses.
It paid off. OhHeckYeah has now worked with the Colorado Rockies, Denver Botanic Gardens, IKE Smart Cities, Northeastern University and Arrow Electronics. And for the cherry on top, OhHeckYeah was a 2016 finalist for a NewCities Global Urban Innovator award; 2017 finalist for the International Award for Public Art; and was published in Streets Reimagined: Inclusive Design for the Public Realm.
As a creative, what’s your vision for a more perfect Denver (or Colorado)?
That Colorado is a place where purpose-driven work empowers everyone to thrive.
It’s a challenging time for artists and creatives in the metro area, who are being priced out of the city by gentrification and rising rents. What can they do about it, short of leaving?
Do something that means something. Figure out ways that the market’s force can put wind in your sail. Build revenue streams, distribution channels and a network of support — and be sure to reciprocate that energy to your supporters, friends, colleagues, neighbors and family. Keep it local when you can, engage with people who see things in different ways, use your creativity (it’s a renewable resource), and let your fingerprint be your competitive advantage.
What’s your dream project?
Any project that sits at the intersection of creative economy, technology and community development.
How can the city better provide an interface between citizens and creatives?
I love the creatives and citizens who take agency over their places/communities/futures in a way that builds such a positive momentum that things change: Rules and policies are rewritten, people see things in new ways, and futures are improved for everyone. How do we empower more people to do this? It’s a question I ask myself very often.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
So many! Love these people for their character and creativity:
-Rick Griffith: Master of Typography, Design and Words
-Ginger White Brunetti: Denver’s Advocate for the Creative Sector
-David Ehrlich: Lawyer turned Creative Leader
-Katherine Correll: Champion for Colorado’s Rural Towns
-Dana Crawford: Colorado’s Jane Jacobs
-Dominick Sekich: B-Corp Expert & Architecture Aficionado
-Aaron Ray: Illustrator & Animator Superhero
-Katie Watson: Fabricator of Beauty
-Dominic Muttel and Jeromie Dorrance: Curators of the Best Music
-Lisa May: Master of Ceremonies & Colorado’s FIRST Woman Sound Engineer
-Suzi Q. Smith: Artist, Activist & All Around Awesome Person
-Derek Berardi: Urbanist / Slayer of Infographic & Data
-Justin Gitlin: Every (or should be every) Tech Person’s North Star
-Liz Orr: Crusader for the Built Environment
-Amanda Bennett: Leader of Geek Chic
-Arpie Chucovich: Partner in Trying New Things
-The Bonannos: Need I say more?!
-Paul Bindel: Co-op Housing Expert
-Castle Searcy: My Denver Startup Week Design Track Co-Chair
This list is definitely not complete. Denver and Colorado are full of talented people.
What's on your agenda right now and in the coming year?
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I’ve been working on a new project called Futures United Network, or FUN for short. FUN is a marketplace for products plus experiences and an accelerator for purpose-driven work. Over the holiday we operated out of Milk Market, located at Dairy Block, for a special FUN [at] Milk Market partnership. FUN is for people seeking meaningful experiences that are, of course, super FUN. We work with Colorado’s favorite (or soon to be favorite) artists, makers, chefs, organizations and locations to create unique, one-of-a-kind experiences that are designed to create new connections. Our first menu of offerings is scheduled to happen over the next three months. We’re planning the next round of offerings to launch in late spring and early summer 2019.
Who do you think will (or should) get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
Kirsten Blake for her Chapter Be, Charles Bloom for his amazing illustrations, and Nancy Bratton (she just moved here from Washington, D.C., and is a graphic designer and a great person). Hopefully anyone and everyone who has figured out how to thrive as a creative — from all zip codes and backgrounds — and turned what may appear as a liability into an asset.