How Scottsdale Got a New Yorker’s Creative Juices Reflowing

April 26,2018

Resorts. Golf courses. Tumbleweeds.

That was pretty much my perception of what existed in Scottsdale. I started my career in advertising in New York, then married a California girl and found myself living in beautiful Orange County. Although I couldn’t get a slice of pizza in the middle of the night or a decent bagel, we enjoyed our life in OC and our family began to plant roots on the West Coast. Professionally, I was able to rise to the level of creative director at a great agency where I contributed for more than a decade (longer than I ever thought I’d stay anywhere). After some time, I realized that I needed to push my boundaries and take on a new challenge. As far as Orange County goes, while we were happy there, we felt that it was time for a change of scenery and a new adventure.

Over the years, I’d been to the Phoenix area routinely for work. Many of our clients are in the pharmaceutical industry, and Arizona plays host to countless sales, launch, and planning meetings for these types of clients. My relationship with the area was this: fly in, see inside of hotel, leave. For the most part, my visits took place in the winter, although once we interviewed a patient in June for a video series showcasing the sight-saving effect of one of our products, and I could swear that we conducted the interview on the actual surface of the sun.

Needless to say, I did not expect to regain my creative spark in Phoenix. 

And then I met Fingerpaint.

Through a recruiter, I was introduced to an agency in Scottsdale called Fingerpaint. This is an organization that I’d had my eye on. Whenever I’d see unique solutions and forward-thinking creative work in the healthcare field, it seemed that this agency was attached. Not to mention, many people I respected in the industry were now “Fingerpainters.” So, after some convincing from my wife that humans actually can live in the desert and my skin wouldn’t melt away during the summer months, I got on the phone with the Fingerpaint.

What I found was an incredible leader in Andrea Kretzmann. When she shared her vision for the agency and what she needed in a creative leader, I knew there was no turning back for me. Next thing I knew, I was on a short flight to Arizona with my portfolio in one hand and a “good luck” painting my daughter made me in the other.

To my surprise, I wasn’t kicked by a mule on the way to the interview and actually found the office to be in a hub of activity near Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall. Meeting the team at Fingerpaint was transformative. I was introduced to every person in the small (but growing!) office, and each team member was clearly talented, passionate, and ready to do anything they could to help make the Scottsdale arm of this agency a force to be reckoned with. My favorite interaction came from our jack-of-all-trades production artist Donna, who simply said, “We have a small office, this is a family, and I need to make sure you’re not a jerk.” Somehow, I fooled her.

So, here we are.

Before you could say “melting like a snow cone in Phoenix,” we were packing up our house in OC and making the rather dull five-hour drive to our new home in Scottsdale. We’ve been here three months now and so far, this city has been good to us. The community has welcomed my family. My son thrives in baseball and my daughter is inspired to use cartwheels as her main mode of transportation by her amazing cheer instructors. We’ve been exploring Scottsdale, hiking all we can before the heat arrives, and we are consistently amazed by what the area has to offer.

I was fortunate enough to attend the ADDY awards recently at the Phoenix Art Museum. What I found there was a vibrant community of advertising professionals who take pride in their work and their hometown.

That pride permeates every project at Fingerpaint. This is advertising with a chip on its shoulder. Our team is looking to prove that we are ready to do work that exceeds expectations. Not for the West Coast. For the country. That’s right my New York friends, we’re coming.

The perfect setting.

To put it mildly, I’m inspired. I find that our weekend hikes and the opportunity to be out in nature refresh me for the week ahead. As an absolute baseball nerd whose happiness often depends on another grown man’s ability to hit a ball, spring training has been a joy. I think Scottsdale is a great environment to do your best work.

With easy access to clients on the east and west coasts, a tremendous scene of fantastic restaurants, and a thriving artistic community, this is an area to watch. At least in our office, there’s a growing energy that won’t be contained much longer.

Scottsdale, you’ve exceeded this cynical New Yorker’s expectations.


Craig Mattes, who is part of Fingerpaint’s creative team in Scottsdale, Arizona, brings with him over a decade of experience in developing creative and engaging content shaping brands and markets. Mattes’ robust career has seen him use his unique skills in creative direction and brand planning to grow clients’ business, shape strategic direction, and direct workshops on customer mind-set and positioning.

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