Greg Kelly:
Hey, Chuck.

Chuck Moran:
Hey, G.

Greg:
So let’s start with a simple one. What is it that you do?

Chuck:
I own a digital marketing agency called ‘Bald Guy Studio,’ and I’m happily ensconced in Studio IX.

Greg:
The feeling’s mutual. What exactly is a digital marketing agency?

Chuck:

The Westlawn Inn website is also mobile-friendly

Good question. ‘Digital marketing agency’ can mean a number of things. We create marketing solutions that elevate whatever our clients need elevating. If it’s sales, or awareness, then we attempt to do that through different channels. My background is in graphic design, advertising and marketing, and I started developing websites in the mid 90s. Building websites – and now responsive ones to meet the needs of our mobile society – has been the primary focus since I created Bald Guy Studio in 2004.

Just recently, in the last several months, I’ve decided to add in more agency-style services. I now offer search engine optimization through Emily Patterson (another Studio IX member), and social media marketing strategy and implementation (the posting side of things). We’re getting into writing blog posts for our clients and that goes hand in hand with social media and SEO. There’s a lot of coordination involved and I actually really enjoy that. I’ve got some great colleagues. Our services typically revolve around the client’s website, and we offer the ancillary services that help drive traffic to the website to increase sales and awareness.

Greg:
What are you most passionate about, as far as the work itself? What drives you?

Chuck:
I like helping people succeed. When it really gets down to it, and that’s a really good question, Greg, I think the essence of what I like about my work is helping people.

Greg:
That’s obvious to me.

Greg:
So as far as the industry goes … how has it evolved? I mean obviously in the last 10 to 15 years … I don’t quite know what my question is here. (laughter)

Chuck:
I’ll answer the one I think you’re fishing for.

Greg:
Cool. Yeah, as long as that makes sense.

Chuck:
I started in the graphic design field (it was called ‘commercial art’ back then) at a Long Island community newspaper production facility creating ad layouts. It was all about quantity. I did layouts for some 300 ads a week for about 10 newspapers. I did very fast scribbles on grid-lined paper saying ‘put your picture here, put your headline here. Here’s where the copy goes. Here’s your logo,’ and I was done.

The technology at that point was old school, but we did have phototypesetting in those days. It was incredibly cumbersome compared to what we do now. Typesetters would keyboard text written by ad salespeople and editors and their machines would spit out reams of paper tape. Think long linear punch cards. The paper tape would get fed through a computer at a very high rate of speed, and the letters would get exposed on a moving piece of photographic paper. Then, those galleys would get cut up, run through a waxer and then the paste-up artists would put the type and graphics like clip art down onto sheets of thick paper to create the ads that I had designed. Then the ads and newspaper copy would be placed onto ‘flats.’ The flats would go off to the printer and newspapers would come back the next day.

t-square-and-trianglesThings have changed quite a lot. In fact, I have a little collection of what I call the ‘How We Used to Do It Museum.’ It contains a hand waxer, a rubber cement thinner can, ‘he-man’ razor blades which were single edge razor blades that we used to cut things up, along with upright triangles and t-squares. I got my first Macintosh in 1985. That was really the beginning of the … not quite digital revolution, but that’s when it started for me. I still remember being completely amazed that you could stick a picture that was horrible looking in the middle of horrible looking type on a page, and then have it print out on a dot matrix printer. It was stunning … a stunning advance.

Since then, of course, we’ve just moved into much faster and more interesting and capable technologies. One thing that I think back on is that in the time that it now takes me to “airbrush,” or retouch a photograph in Photoshop, even if it is really complex and it takes me an hour. Those kind of jobs literally had to be done by airbrush artists back in the day. When I was in New York City, we would send those out to an airbrush artist to put a drop shadow in under a product, for instance. We’d get it back in four or five days along with a bill for three, four, five, six, seven hundred dollars. I literally can put a drop shadow on a picture of you, Greg, in ten … well, 20 minutes, and I’ll send you a bill for 700 bucks.

Greg:
Perfect. I was going to get some new brakes on the car, but I’d rather have that.

Chuck:
Yeah. A wise choice indeed. (laughter)


Greg:
Why Charlottesville? Was it serendipity? Or is it something about this community?

Chuck:
The serendipity of me being in Charlottesville had nothing to do with an original choice on my part. It was where my parents lived and where I was born. It’s really cool for me to be sitting here at Studio IX some eight blocks from where I first showed up on the planet in the old Martha Jefferson Hospital. I went through elementary and high school here, and got a studio art degree from UVA, and then went to New York to try to figure out what to do with my degree. After living and working there for over six years and starting a family, we decided to move our daughter out of the urban environment and so naturally, the thought was to come back here to Charlottesville to raise her. Another UVA grad, my daughter became a teacher and, after doing stints in New Mexico and Venezuela, she’s here now teaching music to elementary school kids in a county school.

Greg:
Yeah.

Chuck:
The draw for me is heritage. I have family that was in the Western part of Albemarle in the 1750s. I had relatives who lived on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains who fought and died up there during the Civil War. I have dozens of relatives who attended UVA. I just feel like I’ve got really significant roots here. Luckily, it’s an awesome town. It’s nice to be drawn to a place that’s awesome.

Greg:
Yeah, totally agree.

Chuck:
I love the creative community here. It’s attracting some of the best of the best. We’ve got some great creatives here, as well as planners and strategists … photographers, and architects and writers … the whole nine yards. Just terrific people. I think that lifts up Charlottesville, and it certainly lifts me up.

Greg:
Yeah.

Chuck:
Emotionally to be attached to a community like that.

Greg:
What about Studio IX? What’s the benefit of being here?

Chuck:
That’s a great question. I’ve actually got seniority here, the way I figure it. There was a guy here who came maybe three weeks before I did. I think the paint might have still been drying on the walls when I moved in. I took a dedicated desk going on two years ago, and haven’t looked back.

To me, Studio IX is kind of a microcosm of the creative community in Charlottesville. That’s a testimony to what James and Natalie put together, and what you continue to build, Greg. It’s a testimony, too, to the people that are here. It’s the feeling of the place. I love the nice old mill rehab vibe that’s going on here. I love the proximity to downtown, and the fact that we’ve got great parking and coffee. And food.

Greg:
Yes. Thanks, Chuck.

Chuck: 
You bet.