Ahead of the Curve

Ahead of the Curve

Creative content designed the ABC way

By Sonia Duggan

For the past decade, Barton Damer has been the creative visionary at the helm of Already Been Chewed, a design, motion graphics and 3D animation studio.

Damer and his team of artists have helped build businesses, launch products and create immersive visual experiences for some of the most iconic brands in the world using a variety of mediums including digital, print, broadcast, web and live events. 

The client roster for ABC reads somewhat like a listing of a who’s who of brands. They’ve worked on product releases and campaigns for Star Wars/Lucas films, Marvel, Disney, DC Comics, PepsiCo., Nike, Under Armour, Adidas, New Balance, Patagonia, Casio’s G-Shock, Dallas Mavericks, Tiffany & Co., and many more. 

“We also produce the broadcast packages for the UFC, The NFL Network, Dew Tour, Street League Skateboarding and The Burton US Open as well as multiple MTV shows,” Damer said. 

Unlike many other creative studios, ABC isn’t located in LA or New York. Instead, the company has been making a name for itself out of its Wylie studio at 109 N. Ballard Avenue for four years now. 

In March, Damer moved his growing business to a building he purchased and renovated at 113 S. Birmingham. 

The interior design reflects the artist’s personal style and attention to detail. It has a modern, creative vibe with a mixture of textures including concrete, brick, wood and steel. Dallas graffiti artist Hatziel made his mark throughout the studio giving it an urban feel. 

Other features such as modern industrial art, custom furniture, skateboards, a large display of shoes from footwear campaigns, and a basketball hoop with a backboard that doubles as a moveable screen add to the atmosphere. 

Damer says his creativity comes from all different sources, life experiences and interests. 

“My biggest influences have been skateboarding, basketball, hip hop and my faith,” he said. 

It’s evident that the ABC owner not only has the gift of creativity and innovation, but business acumen as well.

 As ABC grew from Damer’s Allen home to offices in Allen to where he is now, he’s been very strategic about not only about bringing people on to help him with the workload, but in choosing his location and real estate investment opportunity as well.

To date, Damer has moved eight of his 11 employees to Texas from out of state.

“Wylie’s location is close enough that if someone wanted to live in the city, they could have a loft in Deep Ellum or Richardson and have a pretty standard 30 – 40 minute commute against traffic,” he said. “But most of our team has chosen to live here in Wylie and be close to the studio. Wylie allows them to choose between a very nice suburb lifestyle with excellent schools to raise a family.”

The entrepreneur, a Fairfax, VA transplant, claims he and his family are not Texans by birth but by choice. Damer, along with wife Sandra and children Koben, 19, Selah, 17, and Brantzen,14, have called Texas home for the past 13 years.

Damer’s success didn’t happen overnight. He’s been honing his design skills and style since graduating from Pensacola Christian College in 1998 with a major in commercial art. He’s quick to point out, though, that most of the software learned in college is obsolete after about three years. 

He advises high school students who are interested in graphic design to focus their efforts on developing their craft. 

“Try a lot of different things (photography, graphic design, video editing/shooting, 3D animation, 2D animation). Eventually, you’ll want to get really good at one or a few of them,” he said. “But it’s great to expose yourself to all of it to find out what you are best at or what you enjoy the most.”

The artist got his start drawing patent illustrations after graduating college in 1998, a job he described in an earlier interview as “terribly boring.” Damer eventually landed a job working for his church doing graphic design and motion graphics.

In 2000, he started a skateboard ministry out of his church gym that ran for four years. 

“It was during that time I met a lot of people that would help me get my foot in the door at action sports industries for design projects that would help to form the foundation for launching out on my own to start ABC in 2010,” he said.

He began making a name for himself freelancing for brands like Nike, LRG Clothing, Supra Footwear and DGK while working for a media company in Texas. As a freelancer, he won awards, and in 2009 Damer was named Digital Artist of the Year by Computer Arts magazine. In addition, his work has been displayed in galleries in Berlin and London as well as the U.S.

After launching ABC in 2010, Damer has focused on new business development and says awards have not been part of their strategy.

“Our goal is to win clients, not awards,” he said.

The ABC founder and creative director has earned a reputation for his cutting-edge work. He’s journeyed from print design to web design to animation to 3D. He promotes the importance of artists putting a virtual portfolio of their work on all types of social media and a website, because it plays a big part in getting noticed. 

Such was the case for Nike – the first “big” client he landed. 

“I landed them via Twitter, he said. “A guy who worked at Nike was a fan of my work and asked me to fly out to Portland and he’d hook me up

with some meetings from key people. I went out, had several  meetings, and ended up landing the first Nike project while there. I extended my stay after landing the project so that I could be at a video shoot that was part of the project.” 

Over 10 years, ABC has gained a reputation for its work and Damer is somewhat of an industry celebrity.

Currently, ABC has a staff of 11. Eight of them, including Damer, are involved in the design aspect and many are award-winning artists. He’s proud of the clients and the team he’s built and says it makes for a very enjoyable and creative atmosphere.

“Motion graphics and 3D animation are the bread and butter for the studio,” he says. “The design/print aspect is usually part of the complete campaigns we offer but is not the focus.”

Although most of ABC’s work is completed remotely, the founder says they are attentive to the client and make sure they are meeting their needs and they are part of the process.

“Sometimes the creative is well defined and other times they need us to solve that for them,” he said. “Either way, there’s collaboration in the way we interpret their needs and the solutions we come up with for them.”

One example is Malibu Boats. After years of doing print and digital for the hi-tech ski boat manufacturer, ABC collaborated with them on a new digital campaign to promote the brand and reveal the company’s new M240 performance towboat. The end result, which can be seen on YouTube, is a great example of what ABC can create – a jaw-dropping 1 minute 30 second video that highlights the boat’s sleek qualities in a very dynamic way.  

 “We always try to design with purpose and really tie in to a story behind the product itself,” Damer said.

Pre-COVID-19, ABC was planning a big 10-year anniversary party at the new building, but like many celebrations planned in March and April, the pandemic altered plans and business.

“The uncertainty of the virus has affected us for sure,” Damer said. “Some brands went on spending freezes. Some went on spending sprees to plan for the upside of the virus being gone. We’re kinda caught in the middle – losing projects but also gaining new clients at the same time.

To grasp an understanding of the level of work that can be accomplished
marketing a product using motion graphics and 3D animation, look no further than Already Been Chewed at alreadybeenchewed.tv in Wylie,Texas.

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