Patrick Lara is not your everyday graphic designer and video editor. On the surface, Patty may put on a good show, humbly pushing through one project after another. But, dig a bit deeper, beyond Patty’s unassuming demeanor, and you’ll find a powerhouse of creative invention: A technical artist whose many talents coalesce in a rare combination of inspired imagination and efficient productivity. Patty possesses the focused intensity of a hobbyist and the efficiency of a Gigafactory worker. Simply put, Patty is a creative machine.
In a recent conversation, Patty opened-up about his young career as an artist—everything from his professional experience in digital marketing to his college work at the Art Institute, to the future of graphics technology. Spend some time talking with Patty, and it’s not long before the discussion reveals the breadth and scope of his diverse creative and intellectual interests. Our conversation soon turned to artificial intelligence and machine learning, and the emergent innovations in computerized design that, even today, remain still hard to fathom.
“In 20 years, being creative is going to be the only way to survive. The robots are going to start taking over, so you have to either design the robot or get creative,” he said, pondering the human role in the workforce and design community of the future. Automation has often been associated with eliminating human jobs, but even with the proliferation of artificial intelligence, Patrick’s natural, artistic intellect reflects belief in the singularly human capacity for creative leadership.
Patty’s background in art reads as one might expect. Growing up, he was the artist and photographer whose imaginative disposition tended to break with conventional trajectories. In school, he would disappear into a world of hand-illustrated Marvel, Pixar and Dreamworks characters. When speaking of his childhood, Patty jokingly mentions that he is mysteriously absent from family photos—because he was always taking them, often with an old Canon camera, the non-digital kind, that belonged to his Grandfather.
He grew up in Lubbock, but accelerated his pursuit of the graphic arts at The Art Institute of Dallas, enrolling in classes on an Animation track. Not from the big city, Patrick is quiet, even shy. And the mass of students, talented at that, was at first daunting. Their work, however, was motivating.
“When the whole class would be talking about someone’s work, I realized I was more competitive than I thought; my first thought was ‘I used to be that guy.’”
Patrick quickly found his niche when the curriculum turned to 3D.
“That was my turning point. It just kind of clicked. I was having so much fun, and it was special. I was helping my classmates, 3D just came naturally.”
He would get so immersed in the work that he would forget to enter contests for awards. His prize was always the process.
Speaking with Patty, you’re reminded of those computer commercials where artists and musicians effortlessly illustrate, compose, photograph and otherwise maximize the creative possibilities of their computers in ways that reveal the potential new technologies. Apple has a particular knack and fondness for this kind of campaign: Ads that de-familiarize our routine perception of technology, compelling us to consider the mundanity of our habitual engagements with computers—our tendency to use an iPad for little more than a convenient means of checking email and surfing the web for restaurant reviews. Today’s artists, reveal a newly creative synergy between people and machines—a bond so magical it seems more like the stuff of science fiction.
Patty is just this kind of artist.
Patrick was recently asked to complete a 3D photo-real architectural environment—the kind where it’s tough to distinguish the real from the artificial. This kind of realism requires careful attention to the messy details of the world around us—the unexpected refractions of light and shadow that cannot be reduced to predictable, algorithmic patterns. Only hours after the initial request, Patty delivered an entire 3D world. What some people do full-time, Patrick picked up in an afternoon. And his willingness to dive into the project did not reflect some arrogant pretense to mastery; rather, Patty’s enthusiasm for the project reflected his genuine passion for the challenges and intrinsic rewards of the creative process: A love for experimentation, a desire for the new.
In his young career, Patty has accepted the importance of purpose in design. Working with Patty, you get the sense he’d happily do all of this for free—save for the satisfaction that comes with seeing the impact of his work: As Patty says, powerful creative design “changes the businesses we work with, changes lives.”
For Patty, autonomy is another essential reward of his work: “A lot of success in working with creative people is to let them be themselves, I have that environment here at MarketScale,” he says as designs dance from one window and monitor to the other—another B2B video animation underway.
The business world as we know it—and as marketers know it—is often one of benchmarking, of researching trends, of staying up on the competition through what essentially amounts to an ongoing imitation game. We believe this even as the pioneers before us educated us on the critical importance of creativity. Peter Thiel speaks of it in his book Zero to One in a very practical sense—to create is to innovate, to make unique and perhaps to monopolize a small corner of the market. Competing does the opposite.
The concept of true differentiation is unnatural to most of us—even counterintuitive to those educated to employ logic and common sense in decision making.
It’s not until you collaborate with an artist like Patrick Lara that you truly find the soul of profit. There is no profit in copy and paste. The creativity that will lead the future requires cultivating a fusion of talent, autonomy, hard work, and opportunity.