Gabriel Shalom takes a “Creative Risk”
By Alixandra Rutnik on Jun 05, 2020
Young Guns 10 winner hosts a new podcast featuring talented and diverse industry creatives
Brooklyn-based artist, director and Young Guns 10 winner Gabriel Shalom is the Head of Content & Creative Director at image collaboration platform Picter, a position that has given him the opportunity to dip his toes in the wonderful world of podcasting. This has led to him developing and hosting Creative Risk, with the goal of featuring artists from a wide spectrum of disciplines.
Three episodes in, the conversations and stories that have happened already on Creative Risk are riveting and thought-provoking, and we are excited to hear all future discussions coming down the pipeline. We spoke with Gabriel about his foray into podcasting, and what he hopes to acheive.
A podcast seems like a really big undertaking. When did you decide that you wanted to start one?
It all started when I joined the team at Picter. I was drawn to working with them because of their unique position in the world of startups. In addition to building creative review software, they run DER GREIF, an organization for contemporary photography involved in exhibitions, events, and print publications. I saw there was potential for greater content development thanks to the investment the founders were already making in curating original work.
After exploring various production options, podcasting seemed like the obvious choice, both in terms of staying on budget, maximizing my talents as an audiovisual producer, and leveraging our mutual networks in service of the Picter brand.
“There’s a lot of risk-taking in our industry, but the people that really go out on a limb do more than simply write provocative copy. They live brave, daring lives that hold universal truths about what it means to persevere in the face of adversity.”
We wanted to contribute to the cultural conversations happening in the creative community. I saw this as an opportunity to highlight the stories of underrepresented members of our industry– women, Black people, queer folks– because at the end of the day, there are systematic advantages afforded to white male creatives. I see the podcast as a way to use my position of privilege to orient towards a more diverse and inclusive future in the industry.
There’s a lot of risk-taking in our industry, but the people that really go out on a limb do more than simply write provocative copy. They live brave, daring lives that hold universal truths about what it means to persevere in the face of adversity.
How do you know who you want to feature on Creative Risk?
With an interview-based format like this, it’s all about the casting process. We’re working hard to make sure we’re highlighting exemplary professionals with unique stories to tell. These episodes are intended to be a source of inspiration and courage. So far we’ve had Molly Gottschalk, Nate Nichols, and Tasneem Alsultan on the show– covering everything from jumping headfirst as a young woman into the flashy world of celebrity photography, to building a production company from scratch as a Black man, to overcoming gender bias as a female photographer in Saudi Arabia. We’re only just getting started.
What is the main goal of Creative Risk?
The primary goal of Creative Risk is to amplify a diverse group of voices in the industry. We are working to change the narrative around what groundbreaking work looks like and who does it.
It's deeply satisfying to be able to create a platform for other talented people. There’s nothing I love more than the feeling of booking a new guest for the show or calling up our audio engineer to work on a new episode. I’ve played many roles in my career, but creative production like this is particularly rewarding. I like to imagine it feels similar to what running a miniature TV show would feel like, except audio-only and with a much faster pipeline.
As a writer and editor in podcasting I can jot down lines, jump in the vocal booth, toss the voiceover into the mix, and before I know it, the written word has been transformed into the end result in a matter of hours. It only gives me more respect for the complex operations of established shows like This American Life and Radiolab.
“The primary goal of Creative Risk is to amplify a diverse group of voices in the industry. We are working to change the narrative around what groundbreaking work looks like and who does it.”
How has your podcast been received so far?
We’ve had a number of influential people take note of what we’re doing, from art consultant JiaJia Fei to Alessia Glaviano of VOGUE Italia. By the end of 2020 we should have our first season of eight episodes released. It’s also an evolving format– we’re already toying with the idea of alternatives to solo interview and profile style episodes. Don’t be surprised if you hear something unexpected by the end of the season.
The funniest feedback I’ve received so far is, “your voice sounds like baby Jesus in velvet panties.” Kidding aside, it’s been great hearing how people are connecting with the show. The most common feedback is that it’s unlike anything they’ve heard before.
Keep an eye out for Episode 4 in late June featuring award-winning executive creative director Jayanta Jenkins. We’ll talk about his career in advertising and tech, as well as his work as a co-founder of Saturday Morning, an agency working to shift perceptions on racial bias and injustice. Given the state of race relations in the U.S. right now this episode could not be more timely or relevant.
You have an extensive background in the creative industry. How has your expereince helped you with making this podcast?
At the end of the day, production — whether audio or otherwise — is always a team effort. I’m a world builder by nature. In my free time, I write screenplays with my wife and writing partner Leah Lubman. We’ll talk through the beats, I’ll build up the action and she’ll do the dialogue. Collaboration makes the work so much stronger.
With the podcast, my primary creative collaborators are our guests and audio engineer Alberto de Angeli, who also composes all the original music for the show. Alberto is my essential partner on this project, helping to elevate the episodes to commercial-grade sound quality with his mixing and musical talents.
We have also been fortunate to have Emmy-award-winning audio engineer Cory Choy capture our sessions at his studio Silver Sound before the quarantine, and Cory has also helped us maximize the quality of our remote interview sound. I have made every effort to bring the full weight of my network as a director and producer to the table for each episode.
I’ve interviewed over 100 people for video essays, documentaries, and community storytelling projects, including data artist Aaron Koblin, cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling, advertising legend John C. Jay, video game artist Mary Flanagan, and blogger Régine Debatty. In addition to this storytelling work, I’ve edited audio and video for twenty years, often in the capacity as a hybrid creative for brands like Sephora, Shure, and MINI. In many ways, podcasting is an ideal collision of my skills, given that it is both audio-postproduction-heavy and has an editorial angle.
Young Guns winners always go on to create really cool work. In what ways did Young Guns help you and your career?
At the time I was one of the only video artists and directors in the ranks of the Young Guns. I know that’s changed over the last decade, but at the time it felt very special. I’ve built my creative career on the edges of the industry– as an independent entrepreneur/producer/director/creative director– the fact that I wasn’t coming to the table with an ambitious roster of big agency internships and still received recognition from the industry meant a lot to me.
Another one of our award shows, Next Creative Leaders just launched for 2020 entires. I understand that you will be joining this year's jury...
It is an honor to have the opportunity to help Next Creative Leaders gain the recognition and attention they deserve. The creative industries suffer from the patriarchy just as much as any field in society, and I’m so happy I get to participate — however modestly — in helping shine a light on womxn and non-binary folks doing great work.
“The creative industries suffer from the patriarchy just as much as any field in society, and I’m so happy I get to participate– however modestly– in helping shine a light on womxn and non-binary folks doing great work.”
Next Creative Leaders Call for Entries Deadline is Friday July 31, 2020– enter below!