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March 04, 2016

Meet Our Studio Manager

A Q&A with Studio Manager, Erica Meryl Thomas. 

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Think Joule : Where were you before you came to Think Joule? What were you doing?
Erica: I have a really widely varied background, which I think is why I'm great at strategic thinking and managing projects. Over the years I've learned to be adaptable, constantly seeking new projects that challenge me and give me new skills. In my early career I produced video and multimedia projects in an agency environment, but I felt that my full creative potential couldn't be met with this type of work, so I took a leap of faith and went back to school to get my MFA in Contemporary Art and Social Practices. During this time I began producing experiential, collaborative projects without a set end-product in mind. Freeing myself from thinking about what the tangible outcome was allowed me to focus on the more interesting "why" and "who" questions. Who is this work for? Why should they be interested in it? What will cause them to want to engage with the project? Learning to be really thoughtful about these types of questions has helped me tremendously in my creative and strategic work.

TJ: How did you hear about Think Joule? How did you find yourself here?
E: I'm a relentless networker but not in a forced way; it's just something I naturally am doing all the time. So, I found out about the position at Joule the way many people get jobs, I was referred by a friend

TJ: What projects have you been working on here?
E: There are some projects that we are always working on, like the refinement of our own Joule voice and brand. It's especially nice to revisit how you represent yourself when there are fresh perspectives in the room, so Jennifer [Bryan] and I have been doing some strategic thinking about how we position ourselves to our clients and in the creative agency marketspace. Our client work has been heavily real estate related, which is great since I have a background doing that type of branding. Fun fact, I recently acquired my real estate broker's license. I love Portland, and feel a sense of responsibility and ownership over its future, and this is one way I see us being able to have an impact on the shape of our city over the coming years.

TJ: What's your favorite thing about Portland?
E:
 It's really the whole package that makes Portland great. It's big enough that there are great cultural activities and hidden gems, and yet I can run into a friend in any part of town. I talk about this a little bit in my bio on our Studio page, but it's really about the people. I am so grateful to live in a city with such a rich and active community of ambitious creatives. I really feel like I'm part of something; I can't ever imagine leaving.

TJ: What do you do off the clock?
E: The short answer is that I keep myself very busy. I have an active art practice, in which I'm often collaborating with others, so I have a lot of working sessions and meetings after hours. You might catch me on XRAY FM, giving a talk about something I'm interested in. I love to cook, and I'm also extremely committed to fitness, so I run or do strength training most days. This is often when I get my best ideas or arrive at the solution for something that I've been thinking about. In my mind all of my interests and activities are connected and feed into one another.