Browsing By Design

Jason Schultz, 30, is the co-owner and co-founder of Ohm Creative Group, a two-year-old Royal Oak-based creative marketing agency specializing in Internet marketing campaigns
and documentary-style video production, among other services. Prior to
founding Ohm, Schultz worked with his partner and co-founder, Jesse
Cory, 31, for several years on marketing videos. Cory, a cameraman by
trade, gained experience on VH1 projects and the documentary film, Capturing the Friedmans while living in New York City. He filmed in Detroit, too, as a photojournalist at WDIV.

In 2006, Cory says, he and Schultz realized “the Internet was there
for the taking for us. There was so much potential there that we just
started to migrate our business to the web.” They supplied the start-up
with their own funds and connections. Cory brought equipment dollars
and relationships with Detroit’s media community, while Schultz,
a graduate of the University of Michigan’s film and video studies
program, had clients from his four-year-old company, Faceman
Productions, known for its camera and DVD work for bands.

A gallery of creative marketing

“Last year,” Schultz says, “we were in my living room in Hamtramck
with three computers. I had Dutch doors that divided our office from
where I watched movies.” Finally, in January the partners moved from
living room to showroom at 323 East 4th Street in Royal Oak. In April,
they opened the eclectic 323 East art boutique, which shares space with Ohm’s office.

Cory says that from 2007 to 2008, sales grew six-fold. Producer
credits, in addition to Cory and Schultz, also go to Mike MacKool, Dan
Armand, Ernie Guerra, and Shane Beliveau. Sitting in his vibrant green
and brown walled office, Cory says, “We had a huge explosion when we
moved in here. Having a physical location with an avenue to the public
has allowed us to really kind of grow at a rapid rate, even in a down
economy.”

All business stems from word of mouth, Schultz says. Ohm’s clients span the country, but most are in Oakland County – including Hansons,
the large home improvement contractor famous for its television ads;
and now, for web pitches. Ohm built the successful Hansons
“Sing-A-Jing” online video contest, an example of Web 2.0 user-generated
content, and also wrote and produced the television spot advertising
the contest. Additionally, as part of making product videos for the
company’s website, Ohm developed “Mohments” – a flash video spokesperson that greets visitors to a website.

Schultz explains, “Nowadays, with the web being a viable platform
for operating your business, it doesn’t make sense to just have it as a
destination for people to go to learn. You should make it a destination
where they can go and interact with that [business].” Accordingly, Ohm
can provide clients with data about visitors to their websites.

So successful was the Internet marketing program, Cory and Schultz recently attended the Home Improvement Management Summit,
a gathering of 40 of the largest home improvement companies in the
country, to discuss their work for Hansons on the web. The firm’s work
has garnered prospective interest from other major industry players,
Schultz says.

For another client, rap and heavy metal group Critical Bill,
Ohm produced a DVD, a music video, and prime PR. To create a public
stir for the video release, the firm filmed a hoax video and placed it
on You Tube.

“The
hoax video got everybody all hot and bothered about the video – like …
I can’t believe they’re doing this! Those are the kinds of things we
like doing for bands. We don’t want to just make someone’s video; we
want to make something that makes a buzz for the music video,” Cory
explains. Critical Bill got the bang it wanted from the buzz – its
video spread virally to the Suicide Girls
MySpace page.  “I’ve worked in mass media for several years and to make
something sticky catch on there has to be multiple factors to it,
multiple layers,” he continues. “You know, you can’t just write a story
about Ohm Creative Group and what we’re doing on the web. Big deal,
who’s not doing that? We’re selling mugs!” he laughs.

Video art to fine art

Those mugs are available online and on the shelf at 323 East, the
storefront with a tropical green facade. Mike MacKool, 24, who co-owns
the gallery with Schultz, Cory, and Armand, serves as full-time staffer
and collection curator. MacKool has an eye for primary colors; he’s
dabbled in photography and headed the kitchens at Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine and the Buzz Bar.

The gallery launched with an array of 30 artists, but now houses 90, most of whom call “the D” home. Works by painter Peter DeAngelo, stencil artist and metal sculptor Chris Turner, and clothing designer Angela McBride reside in its rainbow of paintings, sketches, sculpture, clothing, jewelry, and toys.

The artistic mediums are “limitless”, giving the boutique a unique
cache. “No one has as a wide spectrum as we do,” MacKool says. “As far
as our selection of different types of art, at any given time we can
have 10 different styles in here.”

Most galleries offer just a paltry palette of artists each month.
“If an artist goes up for a month, you’ve got to wait six months to get
into a show and then you have to have 20 to 30 pieces,” he points out.
“Here, since I have so many [artists] you don’t have to work out a
whole show. You can bring me work as you make it.”

This
philosophy explains the shop’s singular feel. You’re not buying number
788 out of 1,500 prints at 323 East. From dwellers decking out walls to
skateboarders looking to flaunt hand-painted decks, everyone will find
original, affordable, objets d’art.

“We still want people to be able to walk out with something,”
MacKool says. Items range from a $5,000 mosaic guitar showpiece by Los
Angeles-based artist Tiffany Miller to $3 Michigan mitten felt pins, but many are priced around $50, including works by Kill Taupe,
the boutique’s best-selling artist. He paints a circus of creatures,
many bearing food or battle scars. Look for chuckling cupcakes,
belligerent broccoli … and just about anything else you could – or
couldn’t – imagine.

Snazzy T-shirts for men and togs for women and kids dangle from
bronze plumbing pipes.

Always,
too, there are renderings of the inconceivable: Chewbaccsicles.  These
hybrid popsicle-Chewbaccas don’t melt. And they can’t be bought by the
box, either. Available in plastic and bronze, these fantasies on sticks
are molded by local artist Graem Whyte. Another of his pieces, the
striking “Saw Tooth”, a hand saw grinning with a mouthful of teeth,
gleefully garnishes the wall.

Says MacKool, “It’s something that I think all of us have personally
aspired to eventually have, some sort of storefront or gallery or
creative means of connecting with the public, something that brings you
out there and out front.” So, whether on a television screen or
computer screen or silkscreen, Ohm Creative Group and 323 East have
quite a display on show.


Tanya Muzumdar is a freelance writer and regular contributor to both Metromode and Concentrate. Her previous article was Learn To Earn: Internships Work.

Photos:

The Gallery has an eclectic collection of art and clothing by local artists

Ohm Creative Group coowner, Jason Schultz

Ohm Creative Group coowner, Jesse Cory
 
Production offices

The lime green painted building makes Ohm Creative Gallery a must see.

Local jewelery maker, Regina Pruss featured in the gallery

Bronze Chewbaccsicles

All photographs by Marvin Shaouni
Marvin Shaouni is the managing photographer for Metromode & Model D.