Creativity never goes off the clock.
This blog series delves into the creative work our people do when they’re “off the clock.”
By JD Sutherland, Senior Copywriter, TMA
Inside the TMA hallways you’ll find the typical agency titles: account executives, copywriters, creative directors, operations managers, and more…but behind the scenes, those same folks double as photographers, artists, screenwriters, novelists, singers, actors and a plethora of other creative roles.
At TMA, we pride ourselves on creativity that matters — both inside and outside the office. In this blog series, we take a closer look at the creative endeavors our people get into when they’re “off the clock.” We recently sat down with Experience Design Director Cole Keeton to talk about his experiential art gallery, Sweet Tooth Hotel.
Creativity That Matters demands the courage to take risks. It’s not just having an idea but also seizing opportunities and chances to bring bold ideas to life. When Cole Keeton and his wife and creative partner, Jencey, had the idea to bring an experiential art venue to Dallas, they went to work and opened Sweet Tooth Hotel.
The creative venture began five years ago when Jencey creative directed 29Rooms, sponsored by Refinery29 in New York City. The project inspired the couple to bring a similar experience to the growing North Texas market.
The Dallas market has always had an obsession with entertainment, and the metroplex has grown exponentially over the past few years, as any local can tell you. With the changing demographics, we’re seeing an even bigger demand for entertainment and unique art experiences like the ones you would usually find in Los Angeles or New York City. The Keetons jumped into action and began reaching out to experiential exhibits like the Museum of Ice Cream and eventually applied for a small business loan to get the venue off the ground.
Museums and art galleries are one thing, but experiential installations are a completely different ballgame. The ability to interact with art that stimulates all of the senses allows audiences to escape in new ways and can attract crowds in surprisingly large numbers. Plus, let’s be honest, snapping pics next to an oversized donut or inside of a television can work wonders for anyone’s Instagram.
Sweet Tooth Hotel’s first show was only supposed to run for a couple of months, but the first month sold out in a matter of weeks. So they extended the installation for six months. The creative duo was right — Dallas was craving more local entertainment and welcomed Sweet Tooth Hotel with open arms.
After the first run, Cole and Jencey had the idea to do something really different with every installation, and more importantly, they wanted each installation to be about the artists. It’s rare to find a venue that truly supports artists 100 percent. Sweet Tooth Hotel is just that.
The venue is a platform for the artists they curate. Each artist is contract-to-hire, so they’re paid before they start, they own their artwork, and the venue hosts auctions at the end of every installation to help sell the artwork. Sweet Tooth doesn’t take any percentage of sales from the artists. Absolutely nothing. They don’t believe in it. The first two installations worked off of ticket sales, and they’ve worked off the combination of bar and ticket sales since adding a bar for the third installation. Not a lot of galleries and art venues can say they support local artists like Sweet Tooth Hotel can.
This blog series is rooted in the belief that “creativity never goes off the clock.” Cole Keeton is a prime example of that belief. Not only do Cole and Jencey run Sweet Tooth Hotel, but they also create music as the popular Dallas band French 75, writing, recording, performing, and directing all of their own songs and music videos— some even filmed inside the Sweet Tooth Hotel venue.
The year 2020 is shaping up to be big for the Keetons. French 75 will be pushing out more music and content, and over at Sweet Tooth Hotel, the pair have gone back to their roots and have had a little more fun with their upcoming installation, Intangible. Emphasis on the word “fun.”
We don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say it offers a three-dimensional world of colorful yarn art and is already on track to set a new Guinness World Record.