My name is Mike Pitzer, and I’m a working Creative Director, Copywriter and aspiring Pop-Realism artist.
God wanted me to be an artist. But, no, I had to go into advertising to be an Art Director, and then a Creative Director, Copywriter/Producer, and Design Director. 35+ years later, I’m working at being an accepted Pop Realism artist inspired by pop artists like Warhol, Ramos, and Hockney, with the detail of Realism artists the likes of Campos, Close, and Hendry. I’m not trying to trick the eye into believing my art is a photograph, but I do try to take it beyond being just a highly rendered drawing.
The subject matter is not about location or setting like a traditional still life. The drawings are about the actual object and what that object meant to me as a kid. These drawings are about childhood memories growing up in Algonac, Michigan. We lived on the St. Clair River in a small, 3-bedroom, 1-bath home, with one 19-inch black and white TV that all seven of us would gather around and watch every evening. There was no cable. No satellite dish. There was just ABC, NBC, CBS, and channel 50 on UHF.
Back then, it wasn’t about all the things a “thing” could do. It was about all the things you could do with a “thing” — mostly using your imagination. I think that’s why when people see my art on social media, they talk about their childhood memories as well. It’s actually very cool to see the discussion go from, “I like that…(the art)” to “I had that…(the subject of my art)” to “We had so much fun…(the childhood memory shared)”. If art is supposed to make you think or feel something, my Pop Realism art seems to be encouraging people to share memories.
It’s these shared childhood memories that inspire me to draw.
My career in advertising & marketing
As for advertising, my inspiration comes from the challenge of getting many clients and surprisingly, a number of account people, to understand the power of a concept and how that concept needs to be visualized — art directed. I do that with the “circle and square.” It’s a visualization of not being ordinary. It’s also a participatory demonstration that took decades to develop and only seconds for participants to understand the point of it.
Esoterically, it’s that “creativity” is the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, and relationships, or the like and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc. There may say they do this, but I can actually demonstrate what makes me different artistically different (possibly better) as an Art Director/Creative Director.
I can also demonstrate the power of media fundamentals using a simple formula:
I can do similar exercises for branding and its emotional connection, and the fundamentals of communication using two more demonstrations.
Those are a few ways I can show how I’m different, but in traditional terms, I am a classically trained Art Director having attended ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California where I studied Advertising & Design. I also come from a family of working artists. So the “creative thing” is in my DNA.
My parents met at J. Walter Thompson in Detroit. My Mom went on to write 29 cookbooks (possibly my writing DNA) and appeared on Phil Donahue’s show twice before she retired. Both my aunts are working fine artists who’ve taught, shown, and been collected nationally for decades. One uncle is a highly respected sculptor while another opened a Southern California animation studio where he created Elsie the Cow for the Borden Dairy Company before his studio was acquired by Hanna-Barbera. Growing up, I got brushes, paint, and canvas every Christmas and birthday. I won my first art competition in 3rd grade. My first architectural competition as a sophomore in high school and my first college art scholarship as a high school senior. I won my first Belding Bowl (Los Angeles advertising awards thing) shortly after leaving college to join Dailey & Associates as an Art Director on the $65 million Honda Motorcycle account. Over the years, I’ve won local, national, and international awards for all types of clients in all types of advertising categories. I’ve won for Art Direction, Design, Creative Direction, and Copywriting.
I’m also passionate about the entire creative process. From concept generation to seeing beautiful art direction come to life, from creating incredibly clever headlines to writing succinct body copy. I eat, breathe and live this stuff. Simply put, I love what I do and the clients I do it for. I always have, and hopefully always will.
Just for the record, I have 30+ years of experience as a senior creative lead with extensive expertise in traditional and digital advertising – delivering award-winning concepts for local, regional, and national brands. I’m industry recognized for leading the development of multi-level campaigns in destination retail, travel & tourism, gaming, food & beverage, builders & developers, financial and automotive marketing, that continually meet advertising objectives and exceed client business expectations. AND, I still have a hell of a lot of fun doing it.
I have extensive experience managing small, medium, and large teams of diverse personalities and talents in deadline-driven environments, establishing employee career development programs, leading cross-functional team collaboration and developing production processes, and supervising freelance and offshore/back-end developers and coders.
I not only write copy and content I also write code. I design for mobile first, followed by desktop, and finish with the tablet. I’ve built, staffed, mentored, and trained three digital groups in three ad agencies where I was ECD. Lots of fun. I quadrupled the number of digital projects and agency wins and made each group profitable in the first 12 to 18 months.
If you look at my portfolio and you like what I do, we should really talk because I’d love to help you if I can. On the other hand, if you don’t like my work, I’m not offended. There are a lot of copywriters out there to choose from. I wish you tremendous success in your search to find the one whose talent and style you’ll love. In the meantime, if you need freelance help, we could date for a while. We don’t necessarily have to get married.
THINGS I’VE LEARNED:
- 1.) Timesheets are the most creative product of any ad agency.
- 2.) Art Directors don’t hover, but they do have an Adobe action figure that does.
- 3.) Tweaking will never be as exciting as twerking.
- 4.) No matter how hard you try, you can’t polish a turd.
- 5.) Two wrongs don’t make a right, but three lefts do.
- 6.) There’s a clear difference between homage and plagiarism.
MICHAEL PITZER (ADVERTISING & DESIGN)
Fresno, CA | 10/2017 — Present
I am a boutique, creative-driven ad agency. But, I also freelance for agencies around the country. I’d just finished a 2-year stint at a Fresno ad agency where I’d work on 20+ casinos, a few travel and tourism accounts, and some local AG businesses, so it was only natural that my first freelance calls were from other ad agencies with casino accounts. From there it was regional medical clients wanting a professional copywriter to add clarity, interest, and a little creativity to their marketing. With over a decade-and-a-half crafting ad, fliers, websites, and radio spots for builders and developers in California and Arizona, it was only natural that I’d be asked to jump in and find some prettier words to create interest in a few of the most beautiful developments under construction along our coast.
- Guglielmo Winery — Morgan Hill, CA
- LA ads — Los Angeles, CA
- Legacy Construction — Fresno, CA
- Red Square — Mobile, AL
- SmartWatt — New York, NY
- SweetLeaf Stevia Sweetener — Gilbert, AZ
- 5 Creative — Fresno, CA
CATALYST — JSA — CATALYST
Fresno, CA | 4/2011 to 4/2013, then 10/2013 to 4/2015, then again 9/2015 to 10/2017
Before leaving the agency to start my own business, I managed the development and execution of all traditional creative products for the Fresno, Costa Mesa, and Hawaii offices of one local Fresno ad agency. I went in as the “Digital” CD, but I ended up writing everything for multiple CSS3 & HTML5 websites, hundreds of banners, along with dozens of TV and radio spots. My responsibilities grew to include; presentation and pricing for web projects, development of IA/UI/UX design, off-shore team management, assets, and content development as well as HTML/CSS refinement, website installation, and WordPress training.
- Educational Employees Credit Union
- Table Mountain Casino
- Black Oak Casino & Resort
- The Mill Casino
- Sierra View Medical Center
- Fresno Department of Public Utilities
- Central Valley Air District
- Visit San Luis Obispo County
- Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau
Fresno, CA | 2000 — Present
On the “traditional” side of being a freelance Copywriter, I’ve written and produced TV & radio campaigns for casinos, credit unions, public utilities, home builders, CVBs, and Ag-related clients. For some, it has been web content, long-form videos, brochures, and sales sheets. You know, pretty much anything an agency copywriter was “too busy” to take on.
- Catalyst Marketing Company — Fresno, CA
- CISCO Systems — San Jose, CA
- ClearInk — Bay Area, CA
- Design Ranch — Clovis, CA
- EH+Y — Santa Barbara, CA
- 5 Creative — Fresno, CA
- J. Walter Thompson Technology — San Jose, CA
- Jeffrey Scott Agency — Fresno, CA
- JP Marketing — Fresno, CA
- LAads — Los Angeles, CA
- Lozano Smith, California’s Premier Education Law Firm — Fresno, CA
- Northwest Pediatric Medical Group — Fresno, CA
- PointBlank Marketing — Silicon Valley, CA
- REDLine Marketing Co. — Phoenix, AZ