#WFH Diaries: Alex McClelland and Adam Crouch of Wieden + Kennedy NY

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt everyday life in unprecedented ways, we're checking in with folks in the creative industry to see how they're faring. Here, we chat with art director Alex McClelland and copywriter Adam Crouch of Wieden + Kennedy New York.

Give us one-line bios of yourselves.

Adam Crouch: I am a Midwestern All American Farm Boy who somehow accidentally became a copywriter at Wieden + Kennedy. 

Alex McClelland: I'm an art director from Florida, working at Wieden+Kennedy New York. I'm cold, even in the summertime. 

Where are you living right now, and who's with you?

Adam: I am living in my Bushwick apartment. My girlfriend, who lives in a much smaller East Village apartment, has sheltered in place here with me also. My roommate is currently upstate with his boyfriend's family, giving the two of us much more space for all our favorite daily activities, such as but not limited to "sitting around all day" and "occasionally moving from the couch to the chair." 

Alex: I live in Bed-Stuy with my boyfriend Chane and my two cats, Noodle and Bear.

What's your work situation like at the moment?

Adam: We're very, very busy with work—a bittersweet and strange thing to experience in a time like this. Alex and I were in California shooting when the news of corona spread got crazy. It didn't feel real at the time. All that felt real was the work we were doing. And now, doing an entire post-production process while completely remote, the tables have turned. The pandemic feels very, very real now. And the work itself feels more like a weird video game that I play for 12 hours a day while I sit on the couch in my underwear. I'm currently a level 43 Paladin (and leveling up fast!!). I'm in search of a pair of mythical armored pants to help me defeat the dragon of the Eldenwood Dungeon. My username is TheHoshuah. Add me to your questing guild.

Alex: I don't think I've ever been busier at work than we are right now, which, given the current circumstances, I'm very grateful for. Here's my standing desk. It's built from a bin of art supplies, and two of my favorite puzzles. 

Describe your socializing strategy.

Adam: I'm an extrovert, so this question sucks! Luckily, many of my friends already exist mostly inside of my phone. But I have doubled if not tripled my activity in all Twitter group chats. My primary Twitter group DM, "The Treehouse," is a constant source of joy. But past that, I'm a member of many other group chats. I'm a member of a chat called "Cool Chair Chat" where we share photos of cool chairs and then discuss them. Then there's "Big Chair Chat." This is a chat where we share and discuss photos of chairs that are particularly big. "Normal Chair Chat" is another chat I'm in. It's likely exactly what you'd expect it to be. It probably seems like this is some sort of really strange joke. It's not. This is how we must respond to these circumstances! Everything must be more social than ever. Not less. We cannot allow this virus to strip us of the one thing that separates us from the animals: Mundane Small Talk. 

Alex: For every human interaction I've lost, like a coffee date, or a cocktail hour, or a desk drive-by, I'm filling the void with Zoom hangouts. I've also spent a lot of time sitting on our front stoop so that I "accidentally" see my upstairs and downstairs neighbors walking their dogs. 

How are you dealing with childcare, if applicable?

Adam: This is not applicable to me, but I'd just like to use this opportunity to deliver the following message to those that do have children: I don't care if your kid is in your Zoom video. In fact, that's preferred. Do NOT say sorry for that. You know what, you leave the screen and let little Rebecca talk for a while. Let her show me her new firetruck. That shit rocks. Way better than ads. 

Alex: I don't have kids! Just two large cats! So I get very excited whenever I hear my co-workers' kids on the phone or get to see them on Zoom. They are tiny celebrities to me and should speak up more in creative reviews. Did I mention yet that I have two cats? Here is a photo of my cats.

What are you reading?

Adam: To be honest, since this pandemic began, I haven't read anything other than my various newsfeeds and a couple paragraphs of articles I don't understand. I probably would have lied about this answer and said I was reading something really heady like the dictionary or Dr. Seuss, but my girlfriend will likely read this and she'll know that's not true. Accountability changes things! Even in a pandemic.

Alex: Here is my Safari history and my nightstand.

What are you watching?

Adam: Tiger King. Gotta do it. I'm sure everyone already is. But if you're not ... you've gotta do it. I also started The Sopranos. It's cool so far. I like when they say Gabagool. My friend Sean recently pointed out to me that there is a lot of art on Google that shows ants relaxing. Look it up. It's pretty fun. My friend Karl recently showed me a video of a frog dancing. It looks realistic, but I suspect VFX. It has brought me joy. Hit me up and I'll text it to you. Alex and I absolutely love this amateur Photoshop contest website called freakingnews.com. It has helped us through these, and many other, troubling times. It's also a great place to go for creative concepting.

Alex: I love High Maintenance and rewatch old episodes all the time. And now that I have more time with my television, I've decided it's time for me to embark on the journey that is Love Island (U.K.). Also, birds. 

What are you listening to?

Adam: One of my favorite comedians, Meg Stalter, just released a podcast called Confronting Demons.

Alex:

How are you staying fit?

Adam: I am currently training to dunk a basketball due to a bet I made with my friend and co-worker Nik. So it's been lots of jumping up to touch my ceiling, followed closely by wall sits and calf raises. My girlfriend has been doing video classes that involve things like kickboxing and dancing. It's all very strange and intense to watch, and makes me thankful that my fitness goals and activities are normal and standard.

Alex: My cat, Bear, is a decent stand-in for a yoga instructor. 

Have you taken up a hobby?

Adam: I've had an Xbox for like two years and have played it a total of five hours. Four of those hours were this weekend. I am a gamer now. This is my identity. This is my lifestyle. I am the god of FIFA, and all that oppose me shall surely perish.

Alex: Afternoon "trash walks."* Admittedly, I don't remember as much as I'd like to from my college courses, but something that really stuck with me was an anecdote my Anthropology 250 professor told us. "If you want to understand a culture, go through their trash." I remember this time last year, there were Juul pods everywhere, all over the sidewalk. I wonder what next year's big trash moment will be. (*Disclaimer: These were all taken on my block. I very much want to throw all these away and clean up the sidewalk, but I think it's best these remain untouched for a minute.)

Any tips for getting necessities?

Adam: I would simply suggest that we all allow ourselves to learn at the grocery store. The grocery store is no longer just a place where you buy things. It's an Ivy League University and your new major is "What Do I Really Think?" You may have been sitting at home using your logical brain to explain to yourself that there's no reason to panic. No such false narrative exists in "How Scared Am I, Really? 101" as you pile the 20th can of vegetables into your cart, noting to yourself that it's non-perishable as you do. You've seen the photos of the toilet paper aisles being empty. You're delighted to see that there is plenty of toilet paper where you are. But will it stay this way? And so begins a new elective course called "Do I Really Trust Any of These People?" You have several more of these classes on various subjects as you carefully compile what is now your thesis called "Just How Bad I Think Things Will Get." You defend this thesis at the register. The cashier hands you your diploma in the form of a receipt. Just like school, it's a lot of money for one piece of paper. You feel remorse. You feel regret. Should you go back for more? Should you have gone in the first place? Congratulations, by the way. You've graduated. Now, apply what you've learned to your life. Whatever that means.

Alex: Luckily, Amazon still delivers necessities, for now. Buy in semi-bulk. And plan ahead.

An awkward moment since all this started.

Adam: My girlfriend walked in on my Zoom call wearing a sports bra.

Alex: I was cleaning my kitchen countertops while on a conference call. I accidentally sprayed Clorox in my mouth, so it sounded like I was disgusted by something personal my co-worker said.

Best work email you got since all this started.

Adam: I'm thankful that all of the production companies have emailed me to let me know they have remote capabilities.

Alex: This isn't a work email, but I can't stop thinking about it.

An aha! moment since all this started.

Adam: All we have is each other. Take care of people who need you. Let others take care of you when you need it. Your money is fickle and can go away easier than you thought. Even your "safe" job can disappear instantly. Economies can change overnight. All we have is each other. Take care of people who need you. Let others take care of you when you need it.

Alex: Why don't I video chat my friends more often? I've talked on the phone with people I haven't talked to in forever. Why? Because I can't go outside and physically talk to other people? Because we think this is the end? Technology and phones are cool things that work even when we're not in crisis, and I need to take advantage of them.

What's your theory on how this is going to play out?

Adam: At the end of all of this, I'm hoping for some bold fashion choices from old people. You know how when we were young, we started to have the realization that the people calling all the shots (our parents, teachers, etc.) didn't really know what they were talking about? For whatever reason, this manifested itself in the form of fashion. People wore skinny jeans and dyed their hair and wore clothes that didn't fit on purpose. It's becoming increasingly clear that the people calling all the shots right now don't really know what they're talking about either. I'm hoping for a re-realization of this among people much older than me. And I'm hoping that it once again manifests itself mostly in fashion. I'm hoping for old ladies with pink hair, and little old men wearing skinny jeans. 

Alex: The day we're all allowed to go back outside and socialize, it's going to be one of the biggest parties Earth has ever seen, whether that's a good thing or not. Hopefully we'll get some good albums and art. Hopefully people will be kinder to people. 

See the full #WFH Diaries series here.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and the founding editor of Muse by Clio.

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