Gunnar’s career is one that has spanned a lot of places and a lot of time, but he discovered early on what his talent and strengths were and he focused on those.
“What i didn’t have was a plan of how to make a living at it. Being successful as a fine artist is like an athlete making it to the NFL or major league baseball or NBA To be successful and make a living at it, its staggering the odds are so low.”
FIRST STEPS – HOW IT ALL GOT STARTED
Academically trained to be a sculpture and print maker, Gunnar found himself at the end of his college term wondering how he was going to make a living doing what he was trained in. Like most post college graduates, he found himself waiting tables. Working a job, but looking for the right opportunity to come up so he could begin the career he wanted. “What i didn’t’ have was a plan of how to make a living at it.Being a fine artist is like an athlete making it to the NFL or major league baseball or NBA To be successful and make a living at it, its staggering the odds are so low.”
At the time his college girlfriend, a brilliant girl at the top of her graduating class had gotten a job in Boston. Her father suggested he apply for an opening in the Advertising Dept. at Filene’s Department Store in Boston. He did, and was rejected for the position but then they asked,
“We do happen to have an opening in our traffic department right now if your interested. It doesn’t pay much, you do a lot of running around, and you have to use your organizational part of your brain. Are you interested in that?”
Not wanting to turn down an opportunity and an “in”, he accepted. As could be expected in retail marketing, it was not an easy job. In arguably one of the hardest marketing industries you could work in, Gunnar found himself with the aptitude to collaborate, learn and juggle the tasks, deadlines, and internal struggles that happened within his department. Within six months he was promoted to production manager where he worked for almost 2.5 years.
Firsts steps often lead to better things. For many, it’s the chance to grow, improve a resume, or add to the knowledge bank. Gunnar’s first move came when he left to join a corporate identity firm that also worked in industrial design. Five years he worked on accounts for companies like Black and Decker and GT doing things he never dreamed of including occasional walks through the product designers space where he would find inspiration looking at the artistry and craftsmanship of product design.
There’s a lot of other twists and turns, but to sum up a career of passion for his work, Gunnar has managed to be many things along the way including titles like director of accounts, production manager, COO, Executive Vice President, business partner. In those positions he’s worked with accounts like Honda Engines, Ruby Tuesdays, Simon & Schuster, Vanderbilt University Medical Center & Children’s Hospital, TN Department of Transportation Genesco, and many others.
In his spare time, Gunnar rides up to 50 miles at a time and spends time with his son and friends.
Gunnar’s advice for someone wanting to pursue their career dream.
If you do get academic training or read books on the topic, find people who not only tell or write about it, but those who have done it successfully.
GET AN INTERNSHIP!
“There is no substitute for the real thing.”
Internships go a long way on the resume and will mean more to a potential employee when your stacked up against a pile of applicants who just want a job but have zero practical experience in the environment they want a job in. You should never feel bad being vulnerable to learning. The more you learn the more you grow. The more you grow, the more valuable you are to your employer and the more relevant your toolset will be.
BE A SPONGE.
“Go in and be a sponge.”
Soak up all you can about the environments, the interactions, the processes. Taste it all, smell it all, feel it all. Meditate on it. There is wisdom in all aspects of what people do. A lesson to be learned in the moments that surround us.