2 Minutes With ... Steve Gorski, Head of Strategy at Forsman & Bodenfors

On Missy Elliott, Seagram's and Polestar

Steve has proven himself invaluable in connecting Forsman & Bodenfors with brands. He helped secure and grow a longstanding relationship with Diageo, further developed the agency’s collaboration with Crocs, and played a pivotal role in winning Inkbox, Feeding America, YouTube, Saucony and iRobot. Right now he's coming off a successful Seagram's campaign with Iliza Shlesinger.

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

Steve, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, watching MJ and eating deep dish pizza. Now, I finally made the move to Brooklyn after a decade in Manhattan.

How you first realized you were creative.

I've loved creating art since I was young—drawing anime characters in my school notebooks and playing with chalk on the driveway. Most of my friends were from the sports I played, and they all hated art class. But I really looked forward to it, and I think a lot of my creativity stems from there.

A person you idolized creatively early on.

Missy Elliott. Have you seen her videos? Every single one is iconic. You could find me glued to TRL, counting down until her songs came on. To this day, her music still feels fresh. It has a way of transporting me somewhere else. Everything she does is dripping in style and swagger, from her fashion to her album artwork. You can still see her impact in today's pop culture.

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

My volleyball team in college was pretty decent. We got third at nationals one year, and that proved to me that a bunch of individuals can do anything with the right mindset. That's really what I took away—a mindset can change everything.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

Gorillaz. Jamie Hewlett is a legend. The band blends media so well in concert and in the stuff they release. Imaginative characters in a rich and expansive world. I consider them to be some of the best collaborators on the planet too, able to experiment with many genres and bring out something special in whomever they work with.

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

The podcast Dissect. It breaks down albums "beat by beat, line by line." The seasons that cover any of Tyler, the Creator's work blow me away. His attention to detail, his use of symbolism, his unique musicality, his character and world-building. It inspires me to see the density of his projects. 

Your favorite fictional character.

Jiraiya from Naruto. I'm a big fan of anime, and Naruto is basically required viewing for anime fans. Jiraiya doesn't take himself too seriously but is still a badass when he needs to be.

Someone or something worth following on social media.

@utopia.us (TikTok and IG). I think this designer is going places. He breaks down his process in his content and talks like someone you want to know. I got one of his early product releases—a grenade bag—mainly because I wanted a piece of what I hope for him is a storied career. 

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

After living at the pace of NYC, the slowness of the pandemic felt like it brought life to a screeching halt. Now, I feel less pressure to always be doing something or going somewhere. I found out I really enjoy painting. It was a medium I hadn't dabbled in much, but is my favorite now.

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

"Big Ink Energy" for Inkbox tattoos. As a music junkie, getting to shoot a music video for a brand was a blast. Our creative and production teams really brought it, and so did all of the partners we worked with. There's a transformative power in tattoos. As a strategist, I really enjoyed exploring that.

"No Compromises" for Polestar's Super Bowl commercial last year. We wanted to make a statement in an unexpected way, and I think the team got to a really interesting place that stood out while staying true to the brand's understated qualities. Seeing the headlines, tweets and reactions to the jabs at Elon Musk showed that a lot of people got what we were trying to do.

A recent project you're proud of.

Working on spirits is always fun. Our recent Seagram's 7 work for Diageo was no exception. We were able to bring a simple insight to life and get in a lot of laughs along the way. I've worked on that brand for a few years now and almost every campaign has celebrated something that normally goes unappreciated—from the quirks of dive bars to the inside jokes between friends. It brings a certain charm to the brand.

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.

"D Rose Jump Store" with Adidas. D Rose is a hometown hero for me, so I love seeing his fandom grow. The activation was simple and clever. And the whole thing had a feel-good, underdog quality that I find inspiring. The music in the case study video hits so hard, too.

Someone else's work you admired lately.

"The Greatest" by Apple. It feels cliché to name an Apple spot, but I guess there's a reason for that—they consistently hit the mark. The spot made me want to be best friends with the photographer they cast. This is the type of spot that can shift the way people view others, which is quite an achievement for an ad.

Your main strength as a creative person.

I'm pretty blind to the limits of my technical abilities. That naivety results in ambitious projects that take a long time. But from it, I've surprised myself by creating some pieces I really like. I think if I started from a place of what I could make, I wouldn't enjoy it as much.

Your biggest weakness.

In a way, this is connected to my strength. I tend to start and stop my personal projects a lot. I have a ton of almost-finished paintings I need to pick back up. More often than not, I dive right into something difficult and learn as I go. If I have a hard time realizing my vision. I start something new that gives me energy and leave the things I'm working on tucked behind another canvas.

One thing that always makes you happy.

Ramen. My favorite dish. There are so many variations, and every spoonful is different from the last. It takes a while to make well, but I enjoy cooking, so I don't mind. I think I know what I'll be having for dinner tonight...

One thing that always makes you sad.

Reading comments on social media. I'm constantly reminded of the troubles that plague the world, and seeing strangers' hot takes online often drains my hope.

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

For a long time, I wanted to do something in the music industry. I'm not sure what role that would be. Ideally something with the artists. If I could come back and live anyone’s life, it would be Rick Rubin's. He's worked with some of the most brilliant creative minds ever, and he still seems like a down-to-earth guy.

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.

Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a contributor for Muse by Clio. She's also a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder's College of Media, Communication, and Information.

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