2 Minutes With ... Richards Group GCD Terence Reynolds

Keeping the beat of creativity, from Hyundai to Wonder Bread

After trying every musical instrument under the sun, in retrospect it's no surprise that Terence Reynolds mastered the drums. Multiple independent rhythms? Multiple independent limbs? Multiple duties leading the band and pushing the players and driving the song? Yeah. That's exactly Terence.

A talented and driven business leader, Terence served as founder of The Richards Group's early guerrilla spin-off, Pyro. He was founder and CEO of its cultural arm, Shift. And he's spent the last two decades stewarding work for national and international brands like Alfa Romeo, Jeep, Charles Schwab, Flowers Foods and Metro by T-Mobile.

Terence came to Richards from Southern California, where he honed his chops at Foote Cone & Belding. Before that, he worked at GSD&M on behalf of Southwest Airlines and Walmart. When he's not making agency work sing, you can usually find Terence steeped in product design, cinematography and architecture. Or working up a sweat chasing glory on his drum kit.

We spent two minutes with Terence to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations, and recent work he's admired.


Terence, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I moved to Fort Worth, Texas, when I was 6. So I guess one would say I really grew up there. I now live in Dallas.

How you first realized you were creative.

My father played Dave Brubeck Quartet's "Take Five" every morning as our wakeup call for school when I was a kid. I loved that drum solo. My parents finally bought me a drum kit for Christmas, because my mom was tired of replacing dented pots and pans. At the age of 6, when I sat down and improv-ed a beat straight from the heart, I felt that I might be creative. When I continued to improve with music, words, sketch pads and canvases, I eventually believed I was creative.

A person you idolized creatively early on.

My mother. She taught me more than how to draw. She taught me how to see through the lens of creativity. She taught me where to find beauty and craftsmanship, and what it takes to cultivate an idea.

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

There were only three Black students in the entire advertising art program at the university I attended. I'm sure there were other reasons why the number was so low, but a lot of it had to do with exposure. The career choice didn't have much in the way of exposure in the Black community. You can't be what you can't see. If it wasn't for God's intervention through my high school art teacher, Jeanie Chapel, I wouldn't be writing this.

One day, a fellow student told me there had never been a Black graduate in the history of the university's advertising BFA program. I didn't even research it. I just used it. I already had the fire to finish—that was simply fuel to finish first.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

That's such a ridiculously difficult question, especially for someone so truly into music. Sometimes, I challenge people with this question: If you could have your dream concert with only 10 musicians or bands, dead or alive, who would be on your playlist? And an artist who has left a band can only perform songs from their original band or their solo career. Then I just sit back and watch them spin. Seems easy at first, till they realize they forgot to include Prince, or Sting, or John Lennon, or Legend, or Nirvana—no, wait, Foo Fighters or Chicago. Did I say Earth, Wind & Fire? They can barely narrow it down to 10, and you're asking me for one?

Okay: Stevie Wonder. Mastering one instrument is impossible enough. Mastering a multitude of instruments, including your vocal cords, coupled with the soul of a poet? That's whatever comes after genius.

A book, movie, TV show, or podcast you recently found inspiring.

My God, there are so many excellent choices these days. One that immediately comes to mind in light of Black History Month is the HBO documentary Black Art: In the Absence of Light. The representation struggle that challenged the Black fine artists of America is a reflection of what our industry faces. It's an incredibly insightful film that really breaks down the prison of comfort zones and why it's so important to subjectively unlock, explore and accept what's beyond. The realized progress and success of those pioneers bring promise to the diversity efforts we're witnessing in our industry now.

Your favorite fictional character.

I grew up loving Spider-Man. Mostly for his style points. His strength, wit and swag were superpowers enough. The introduction to the power of intuition via Spidey-Sense just sealed it for me.

How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.

It's reinforced how vulnerable we can be. How billions in military might can't defend against an enemy too small to see with the naked eye. It's also taught me how resilient and invincible we can be. How guts, determination and, most of all, love for humanity can be so fiercely victorious.

Professionally, it's taught me how truly creative we are. Not just in what we build but how we build it. The industry simply refused to roll over. Refused to let clients down. Instead, we rolled up our sleeves and reinvented ourselves to do more than merely survive. I remember the rounds and rounds of congrats after our first virtual pitch. Now, it's just another day at the office, outside the office.

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.

The spot called "Life Shapes" for Hyundai is perhaps my favorite piece of work. Mostly because it scared the hell out of me. There wasn't a "get started" guide. We knew Pilobolus could conform and merge their bodies to create recognizable shapes, but nothing that reflected the activities of an SUV buyer. They had to be grand, fluid and quickly recognizable.

During the first rehearsal day, we realized what we were up against. None of the shapes were working. But no one panicked. Everyone just kept pushing and brainstorming and collaborating sans ego. The director created shapes, the agency created shapes, the troupe director and the dancers all created shapes. Eventually, it all just clicked.

Hyundai | Life Shapes
A recent project you're proud of.

Wonder Bread commercial. My drawing teacher told me that everyone has great creative in their head—the hard part is getting it from their head onto a piece of paper. I love the challenge of re-creating things that mostly exist in our imagination. Creating a scene in outer space, while done before, is still challenging. I love challenges. I also love aspirational messages, like the message in the diversity of the astronaut.

Wonder Bread | Astronaut
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.

It's not so much a person as it is a collective: the Bauhaus movement. Hearing the tenet "Form follows function" pretty much set it off for me. It defined my entire perspective on creation and completely governed my taste. It went further than design. It became my GPS for style and conceptual thinking. If a car had a scoop that served absolutely no purpose other than to look fly, I wasn't buying it. I can totally appreciate and frequently applaud style that's dripping with elaborate embellishments, but there always has to be a true north of conceptual purpose for me.

Someone else's work you admired lately.

I'm not sure if 2017 counts as recent in an industry that changes at the speed of light, but I love the Samsung commercial where the ostrich learns to fly. It's just so incredibly well done and so seamlessly, tastefully executed. It's one of those simple ideas that probably took major mining to get to. Elton John was just icing on the cake. Some seriously delectable icing.

Samsung Official TVC - Ostrich
Your main strength as a creative person.

Things like a love for details or taste or the ability to visualize certainly play a role. But my biggest strength is my passion for what I do for a living. My father told me to do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life. I took it to heart.

I love art, music, storytelling and history. All of which come into play many times simultaneously. I love storytelling, whether it's storytelling with a conclusion or storytelling left to evolve organically. Sometimes, I'm so completely into a project that I lose all sense of time. Skipped dinners go unnoticed. Late nights turn into early mornings, because I'm just loving whatever I'm working on.

Your biggest weakness.

That pursuit-of-perfection thing.

One thing that always makes you happy.

Live music. Doesn't even have to be great. Good will do just fine. It doesn't matter how tired or "not in the mood" I am. One song, and I go straight to happy.

One thing that always makes you sad.

Evil.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.

That's too easy: playing drums. In a perfect world, playing drums alongside Herbie Hancock.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a senior broadcast journalism student at the University of Colorado Boulder and a contributor to Muse by Clio.

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