It’s a word HenkinSchultz founder Kirby Schultz uses a lot. It’s a hard word to define. But then again, Kirby’s career path has been hard to define, too.
For the last 30 years, he has been at the helm of HenkinSchultz. But far before that, he was making his creative mark in a number of ways, powered by curiosity and exploration.
Kirby makes rock-and-roll artwork from Doritos, remodels his dream home to his exact vision, shoots photography and plays guitar, even composing original music. On any given weekend, he may wake up and go to Menards to buy supplies for a sculpture he sees in his head.
That’s moxy, not in a showy way, but in a curious way. And much of that moxy explains his success in the advertising business. A proclaimed workaholic, Kirby has been one of the state’s most prolific commercial artists for over 40 years.
Mentors and Marketing Fundamentals
Kirby is quick to credit the many creative mentors he has met throughout his early career. But he doesn’t rest on those experiences. He maintains a child-like view of wonder about the world, and is always seeking ways to improve in both business and creation.
As the advertising business has evolved the past three decades, Kirby looks back to marketing fundamentals.
“Pretty pictures aren’t enough,” says Schultz. “Understanding the ‘why’ of why we do things is more important.” That’s why Kirby regularly strolls throughout the office and pokes his head in on a designer at work and casually asks, “Why you doing that?”
He does that not just to inspire design, but learn as well. “You have to listen,” says Schultz. “We all learn from each other.”
Kirby says he became a better designer and creative when he understood the importance of storytelling. “If you can tell a relevant story, that’s when people take notice.”
And Kirby has an abundance of stories to share. Whether it be the airport delay that forced him and a colleague into a day of putt-putt golf, posing as golf inspectors or taking business calls at an arcade he frequented to refuel his creative juices, stories are essential to his work.
The HenkinSchultz story dates back to a couple red beers with Joe Henkin and a small office on Phillips Avenue. When asked why he started HenkinSchultz, Kirby says, “We wanted to communicate honestly.”
And honestly, 30 years in business tells a pretty great story, too.