#WFH Diaries: David T. Jones of Third Street

As confinement continues in most parts of the world, we're checking in with creative people to see how they're faring. Here's an update from David T. Jones, cartoonist and chief creative officer of Third Street in Chicago.

Give us a one-line bio of yourself.

Co-founder and chief creative officer, Third Street. Occasional Ad Land cartoonist. 

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

At home in Clarendon Hills, Illinois, a suburb west of Chicago. I'm ensconced with my wife, Dawn Rao, who is a director's rep, our twin 4-year-old daughters Eloise and Olivia, and Burt the cat.

What's your work situation like at the moment?

My shop Third Street has operated virtually for over a decade, so we were fairly well prepped for this.

It has come to my attention that I have quirks that are distracting in close quarters, so my wife and I have workspaces in the house that are strategically placed as far apart from each other as possible. But really, every room in the house is now a "slash office," as in kitchen/office, dining room/office, laundry room/office. The other day I worked out of the little book nook my daughters had created under the basement stairs.

No day these days feels like an "official" work day, but like we're all on one of those "I'm taking the day off but still checking in" situations. Everything is melding together.

Business-wise, some clients are on hold, but others are, thankfully, busier than ever. We're lucky to have some clients that want to partner with us for smart solutions during this time. This is a tough time for agencies, but a great time for ideas.

Describe your socializing strategy.

Let's face it, with those twin 4-year-olds, I wasn't getting out much anyway.

How are you dealing with childcare?

We are beyond blessed to have a great nanny who comes in every weekday. Without her, we're screwed.

What are you reading?

I don't have time to read much, but I am working on Pete Holmes' book Comedy Sex God. And to get a travel fix in virtually, I just re-read copywriter Scott Balows' book Tales From Tanzania.

What are you watching?

We've caught up on Better Call Saul (my wife represents Bob Odenkirk) and all assorted zombie shows. We watched A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (I'm not crying, YOU'RE crying) and finally saw Knives Out. It's smartly funny. Or funnily smart.

What are you listening to?

I like the music of necessity coming out of these at-home demo recordings. Michael Stipe and Bryce Dessner from The National have a lovely new song. And that new Stones song is pretty good—although Mick sounds a little auto-tuney.

Otherwise, podcasts. Marc Maron's WTF is standard listening for me. But I'm loving a podcast called Dead Eyes by Connor Ratliff. He's an improv guy from UCB, but the podcast is all about how he got fired from the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, by producer Tom Hanks, for having, as Connor was told Hanks said, "dead eyes." He goes to great lengths to unravel the mystery and meaning of that moment. It sounds bizarre, and I suppose it is, but Connor is a great storyteller.

How are you staying fit?

My home gym game is strong. I had an elliptical at home before all this. When things started to go down, I ordered some TRX resistance bands. Those body weight workouts are not to be underestimated.

Additionally, I have a lot of homemade stuff. Gallons of water and portfolio cases full of hardcover books for lifting. I'm one exercise bike made of bamboo and coconuts away from a full Gilligan's Island gym.

Have you taken up a hobby?

I took a home beer brewing kit out of storage that I'd had for years and decided THIS was the occasion to finally do it. I have not done it. But I did take it out of storage, so that's a start.

Any tips for getting necessities?

We have a local grocery store that does curbside pickup, so that's helpful. But the trick for online ordering is to find stuff where you might not normally think you'd find it. Amazon had been out of hand sanitizer for weeks, but I ordered a case of it from Paper Source, of all places.

And I have to say, this would theoretically be a GREAT time to buy beer as a teenager. Everyone is wearing masks and nobody is checking ID. Not that I would ever condone such a thing.

An awkward moment since all this started.

I had the classic moment on a Teams call of thinking I was on mute when I wasn't. I was heard saying some flip and sarcastic things about my co-workers. Thankfully, most of it was the same flip and sarcastic stuff I say to their faces.

Best work email you got since all this started.

We had a team virtual happy hour scheduled for 4 p.m. I get a note from our project coordinator that we are going to start a little early because, and I quote, "Sean [our agency president] has already started drinking."

An aha! moment since all this started.

On a serious level, that chaos theory is very, very real. Seeing the virus and the vast repercussions, mostly bad but some good. Nature returning, the environment healing—all the while, the fabric of our economy and lifestyle falling apart. And somehow, in the middle of that, finding inspiration that just as one bad thing can connect and affect that many things, so can one good thing, one good deed, one good idea.

On a fun level, after hearing every single brand talk about … "in these uncertain times," I came up with a font to match, Times Uncertain. The font is distressed, widely kerned for social distancing, it is inconsistent and has two punctuations, a question mark and an exclamation point.

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

Eventually.

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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