We had the good fortune of connecting with TJ Jones and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi TJ, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
i was working for a major VFX and Creative Content Studio in New York City back in 2015 – 2017 and I saw how everything was ran. Everything. Coming up, I started out as a Runner. A Runner was the first person a client would see or hear on the phone. We were named Runners because we were always moving and delivering top tier client services. We were taught how to present things down to the smallest detail. We were also taught that if client services were spectacular on top of the creative work being top tier…the client would be a loyal client and bring in more work to us. This was a studio dedicated to many forms of entertainment from animation, emerging technology, production, visual effects, editorial, and colour that would attract the likes of commercial ad work, music videos, gaming, films, fashion and beauty campaigns. I was a sponge at every moment and held on to my own creative pursuits. I originally came to the studio in hopes of pursuing animation. I remember receiving my first assignment to animate on a PROGRESSIVE commercial. You know the commercials with the white progressive package box that talk? Even though I was excited to be finally animating, it felt like something was missing and I wasnt passionate about the process of animation. In school, I always thought this feeling was connected to the chore of completing schoolwork. But, I realized I loved the end result more than the process of animating. I expressed my realizations to the recruiter and mentor there and moved on to production coordinating for the Emerging Tech team. Production felt more natural because I was never solely chained to my desk to create. I was and still am a people person, so in production, its all about your ability to communicate and organize projects. BUT, i still had the feeling like it wasn’t my passion. All the while, I had taken up the hobby of photography via my iphone since moving to NYC. I found myself always snapping photos or grabbing footage and editing cool videos together of my day to day. That eventually led to where I am today. I found my passion. *sniffles and wipes tears from eyes* Cut scene. Hustle and nap was my personal mantra back then when I was a runner to stay the course and conitinue to learn and make improvements in my personal and professional work life. Resting was a key factor. I knew that if I could learn all that I could from several departments , I would reach the point where I started to see my work and my business get better. Thus became my LLC and business practice today in Creative Directing and Visual Art, HustleandNap.
What are you most proud about in your work?
Im most proud of my storytelling and imagination in my works. After a few years of creating what I thought people wanted to see or what I thought would get me into certain rooms in this industry, Im finally at a place where Im crafting stories that I want to see from myself. Being an “underground artist or art student” for so many years I think I took for granted the artistic freedoms that came with being fresh. I lost sight of those freedoms and mainly was creating for other people in the industry. Even though it grew my clientle and was a great feeling to be helping brands and businesses…I felt a little TOO comfortable and like my own projects were second to none. Maneuvering through that discomfort I grew my style and focused on the stories that I wanted to tell. This was the most difficult thing because I had to wear so many hats to get projects off of the ground. I think when people see imagery in the world of film and photography we often are unaware of the struggles that may have taken place for the image to have even been captured. So many things can go wrong in production AND post production. Having a support system of fellow creatives in various fields of artistry has always helped me overcome these challenges. Ive had to learn the lesson that it’s ok to ask for help.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I think what’s so great about ATL is the art and food industries and how they play a significant role here. I would most likely take someone to Krog St Market on the first stop. Its like a hip variety cafeteria with the best foods Atlanta has to offer with individual resturants inside – with an open public seating area. It’s a cool place to try different plates and catch up with someone. The High Museum in Midtown is the next stop! I’m a huge art nerd and there’s always a great number of exhibitions that you can walk through and continue conversations. I think i’d end the day with a drive thru movie at Starlight Drive In
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Im always in awe of creatives who lead in business practices especially here in Atlanta. Whether its to teach or offer opportunites for other creatives to create – The Experience Studios was recently opened locally by a collective of black photographers who are all forces in their indvidual aspects of image making. The Cricket Gallery has been a big part of my growing as an artist and businessman. They are worldwide distributors of highly sought after original 2D Animation art from the likes of Disney, Nickelodeon, Warner Brothers and more. I first interned with them while in college, doing restoration work. Jackie and Michael Halbreich are certainly forces in the art collectors world and have been great friends and mentors for over 10 years.