It would not be a stretch to assume that thousands of individuals hope to someday make a living selling their artwork. However, the belief that one must first be a starving artist before he or she can be well fed keeps many from pursuing their professional desires. The intimidating image imposed on us by the proverbial starving artist not only discourages creative folks from doing what they love for a living; it also severely limits their future earnings and impact on others.
Aaron and Jared Scales, owners of BroCoLoco, a design company based out of Lexington, Kentucky and Washington, D.C., have magnificently divorced the concept that art must be synonymous with poverty. They don’t have time to entertain limiting beliefs; they are too busy transforming communities with their artistic abilities. They’ve worked their design magic on Consulates, Embassies, war-torn cities, bars, and every place in between. They are using art and architecture to change the way people perceive their lives. They’re making a difference in several continents. These siblings are full-time artists and businessmen whose ultimate goal is to unlock humanity’s imagination, tell people’s stories and support orphans around the world. To say the least, Aaron and Jared are living what can only be described as a philanthropic artist’s dream.
Has it been by sheer luck that the Scales brothers have achieved crazy success before the age of 30? They think not. In a too-brief interview, Segmation had the chance to pick the brains of the Scales boys. Read on to find out how they got where they’re at.
1. Where did you get the idea for BroCoLoco, and how did your business ultimately come together?
Aaron was working in architecture in international development, and Jared was a chef. After creating art for several years as a hobby, our space in D.C. looked more like a gallery than an apartment. A new friend saw our space and flew her cousin out from LA to shoot a mini-doc about us. The idea (for BroCoLoco) had been slowly developing through many chats, but that documentary filming was the call-to-action we needed. The name BroCoLoco is actually a play off of a coffee house/hostel we had been dreaming up. In the weeks during the documentary’s post-production, we scrambled to document all of our collective work and brand it under a single name. We quickly created a website to capitalize on any hype.
2. Have you two always wanted to be artists, or did the profession just sort of choose you?
We actually never wanted to be artists! We had both come to similar conclusions regarding art. The term ‘starving artist’ was always burned into our brains as associating poverty with art. Artists seemed to be challenged in communicating a tangible value in their work. We had both ended up in careers that sought to provide quantifiable services infused with the artistic realm.
While Aaron does have a 5-year degree from the University of Kentucky (College of Design), a lot of our abilities are based on observations of the way things work. Our tenacity to pursue new experiences has opened the door for different opportunities across the entrepreneurial and corporate world.
4. Tell me about the first time you got paid to create art.
Aaron won a statewide competition at age 6 as a young author and illustrator, while nurses lined up for Jared’s doodles as a suckling babe.
5. It seems like travel is a big part of your business. Do your travels trigger your out-of-the-box artistic ideas?
We absolutely rely on travel in order to maintain a heightened sense of creativity. Aaron alone has logged 30 visits to 22 countries. Jared has attempted to travel, but based on his ever-changing facial hair styles, he is almost always stopped by Immigration. As a result, he has embraced his daily walk to the mailbox as the pinnacle of excitement.
6. Tell me about some of the locations you’ve traveled to for your clients.
We’ve travelled to Japan for a campus design, worked on the U.S. Consulate in South Sudan, consulted in Scotland, and were part of a long-term research development project in Germany.
7. So far, what has your favorite BroCoLoco project been?
Without a doubt, it was our Ding Dong Ping Pong video promo project that required us to vacation in the Dominican Republic. Aaron’s favorite was conducting research by going to bars in Berlin and then collaborating with a friend in Amsterdam afterwards. Despite mind-numbing working conditions, Jared’s highlight was traveling to Berlin for the second phase of the project, which included painting a massive mural.
8. You’re young. Do you just naturally have confidence to go after such big things?
I think we are the harshest critics of our own process and product, which drives us to always be striving for the next level. The more that we’ve pursued our personal growth, the professional aspect of our lives has continued to flourish.
9. Do you (or have you had) a business mentor, or did you figure things out for yourself?
Our family has always had different business ventures that taught us diligence, perseverance, self-management, and people skills. That, combined with learning to work with bosses as well as being in leadership positions prior to starting our company, has given us the tools to succeed in our venture.
10. What is your favorite color?
Note: all photos were taken from brocoloco.com.
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