While Colin Christie was pursuing his degree in theater, he never imagined he’d end up working in the advertising business. From his childhood home of Woodland Park, Christie left to attend St. Olaf College in Minnesota before stints living in Tennessee and Chicago exploring his artful passions. Then, in 2012, he came to work for the Mining Exchange hotel and was given the opportunity last year to create his own dream job as the company’s first advertising director. Christie, 29, spoke to the Business Journal this week about finding his true passion for graphic design, coming home to Colorado and growing alongside the boutique downtown hotel for which he works.
Can you begin by telling us a little about yourself and your background?
I grew up in Woodland Park and went to high school there. After I graduated, I wanted to get out of the small-town environment and go to a liberal arts college, so I got out of state and went to a small school called St. Olaf College in Minnesota. I ended up discovering and majoring in theater, which was a passion of mine for a few years. That exposed me to all sorts of different things, especially within the arts realm. I think the theater major also really prepared me for where I am today, believe it or not. From there I moved to Tennessee and worked for a regional theater there for a little while. … After that I moved to Chicago and lived there for about two and a half years. In Chicago I really discovered a passion for visual arts, specifically graphic design. When I think back on it, I really had been studying graphic design since I was a little kid in elementary school and I discovered that to be my true passion. … Ultimately, I wanted to move back to Colorado Springs and I eventually did in 2012 — with a full head of steam to start a career as a graphic designer and work in the advertising arts.
You said your theater degree prepared you for your career. Can you explain that?
Well, a lot of people might think, “What are you going to do with that?” But I think you can do a lot with that. … With any liberal arts degree, you’re gaining a lot of knowledge and experience that make you a well-rounded person of the world, and you learn how to apply yourself in many different ways. … Any time you go into a new play or a new production, you’re delving into a new subject matter and a new world, and I think that has helped in my advertising because it has helped develop a broad interest and renaissance mentality when it comes to thinking about the world and about the arts.
Why did you decide to return to Colorado and live in Colorado Springs?
It’s really home. I really love Colorado and I always have. I knew I wanted to live here in the long-term, but I wanted to get out and explore and see if it was possible for me to love a place more than I love Colorado. I did really enjoy living in those other places, but I do really love Colorado the most. I especially love Colorado Springs … and I think there is a lot of creativity and culture that is really just about to explode onto the scene. I love it here.
Did you ever imagine you would go into advertising?
I guess not. I knew I wanted to be an artistic director of some sort; I wanted to use the things I learned to apply across all genres of arts. … The whole world is about show business … so I think that when you study it, you’re able to apply it to many different things. … I didn’t ever think that I would be a creative director in advertising specifically, but I knew that I wanted to be involved in the creation of art. I do find a lot of art in advertising — more than most, probably.
How did you get started with the Mining Exchange?
When I moved back to Colorado Springs, I needed a job. I had heard about this great boutique hotel that was about to open downtown … and I got a job serving in Springs Orleans, and also got to help with some banquets at the Mining Exchange. … The advertising director position did not exist when the hotel first opened. … I told them that if we were going to be a four-diamond hotel that strives to be a world-class boutique property, we’ll have to have our graphic design and our printed collateral reflect that level of service that we’d like to provide. They asked me to design a welcome card … then a menu … then design and write copy for an advertisement. Eventually it hit critical mass, so they told me to write a job description. I basically wrote my dream job description at the time and they went for it. I started this position April 1, 2014.
What do you do in your spare time? I understand you’re a freelance artist?
With the requirements of this job, I’m not able to do a ton of freelance work, but I do maintain some freelance clients. I think the most unique and probably the most fun I have is doing chalkboards, which is really an extension of my graphic design career. Hand-painted signs are also something that have been a passion of mine and something that I’m pretty decent at, so I’ve been fortunate enough to gain some clients through word of mouth in Colorado Springs. That has been wonderful. I’ve done work for Josh & John’s Ice Cream, the Concept Restaurants chain, Odyssey Gastropub and the Cowboy Star restaurant at University Village.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I think that the design community in Colorado Springs is really thriving. There is a bustling world here that is really great.