IPR College of Creative Arts Alumni Sam Kovar is an Executive Creative Producer at Don’t Blink, a video experience company based in the Twin Cities. Don’t Blink focuses on social, adventure, narrative and experiential content. Sam’s work has taken him across the country to work with high-profile clients, and he even had time to help his alma mater’s marketing efforts.
We sat down and spoke with Sam about his experiences at IPR and how his education impacted his successes since his graduation in 2007.
IPR: Tell us about your job at Don’t Blink?
SK: We work with clients on all aspects of content creation from ideation and strategy through execution. We’re a flat organization. An all hands on deck, team of creative doers and problem solvers. My role requires a lot of different hats. Everything from new business, account management, and project budgeting, to creative direction, all aspects of producing, and hanging on for dear life in a Polaris RZR through the Glamis Sand Dunes.
IPR: What are some of the roles that you have had prior to your current role?
SK: Previously, I’ve been an independent creative freelancer, an executive producer on a corporate marketing team, a partner in a recording studio, and a co-founder of a real estate company, among other endeavors. Everything I’ve done up to this point has required being an entrepreneur or intrepreneur to be successful. This eclectic experience has taught me to make things happen. The worst thing someone is going to say is “no.”
IPR: What are some key projects you have worked on so far?
SK: I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work on all kinds of amazing projects, with all kinds of talented people, all over the country. One project close to IPR would be helping lead the creative team that re-positioned IPR’s brand from an audio production school, to a “college of creative arts.” Proud moment as an alumni to see the billboards go up as the campaign launched.
IPR: Do you feel that your education at IPR helped you get to where you are?
SK: The classes and the facility at IPR were one thing, but the staff and faculty are where I really focused my experience. All of these amazing people, who had done (or were doing) amazing things, who were willing to listen and mentor in and out of the classroom. That was priceless to me. Over 10- years later, and I still connect with some of those people on a regular basis.
IPR: What specific things about your time at IPR did you enjoy most?
SK: What I enjoyed most at IPR was the faculty and their willingness to sincerely listen to and mentor my ambitions.
IPR: Which classes or teachers did you find most helpful for your career?
SK: It’s been ten years, so most of the faculty I had exposure to are no longer at IPR. The most helpful class for me was actually graphic design. Design and design thinking have been a part of all my endeavors.
IPR: Are there any new and upcoming things we should know about you or Don’t Blink?
SK: We’re working on a new campaign for MPR that we’re pretty excited about.
One of my favorite projects is a commercial video I produced and directed in my hometown for Bartling’s Manitowish Cranberry Co., a fourth generation family farm in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin.
IPR: What do you think it means to be successful in this industry?
SK: I would never define success with another’s measure, but if you can make a living pursuing work that matters to you, that’s a woods worth getting lost in.
IPR: What advice would you offer to students who are either just getting ready to graduate or who are wondering how to find their place in this industry?
SK: Take in everything, and take on anything. Always be creating. Leverage the tools and people around you to constantly create new work outside of what’s assigned to you. Stop, listen, and absorb from those with more experience, then work harder. Carve your own path. You have to make things happen for yourself. The work will constantly change, but you are the common denominator.
IPR: Was there anything that you had to wait until you were out in the industry to learn—that couldn’t be taught?
SK: I believe that we’re all constantly learning, but like a lot of young ambitious people, I had to learn that the real world is hard. Relationships are the most important thing.