Vincent Keane is a creative professional based in NYC and one of the founders of Bubbles & Brews, a vintage mobile event vehicle company.
Portrait Photographs by Matt Carr
Vin has spent over a decade at the helm of Bigbully Creative, where he was founding partner and creative director working on FOX Japan, Sony Europe, Crown Publishing, Doral Bank, Scholastic Inc. and other consumer and business-to-business accounts. We recently sat down with Vin to talk to him about his creative process, inspiration, and how his long for Italian design & lifestyle inspired him to start up Bubbles & Brews.
How did you get started as a creative professional?
I went to the School of Visual Arts after a brief stint in the US Navy. I found that I really loved being creative, harkening back to my roots as a skateboarder and BMX rat. I wanted to do things like zines and stickers and t-shirts and hats in a more professional manner and hopefully get paid for them.
Can you tell us more about some of the zines you made back in the day?
In the early days, BMX, Skateboarding, Snowboarding, Punk Rock, and Hip-Hop culture completely shaped my experiences and approach to design. One example of this is that during the time I worked at a skate shop and along with other very talented people we put out a zine called Snowgun which focused on East Coast snowboarding. It was the only one of it's kind in NYC as far as I know and it was a lesson in publishing that seemed to stick with me.
How did publishing this zine inspire you and your career?
Watching somebody’s face when you hand them something that you’ve made, something that speaks to them in terms of their scene or their interests, it really lights you up. It’s almost like a rush. I gave you something that you didn’t even know you wanted, and now that you have it, you love it. Once you do that a few times it’s like wow I can actually create something that someone really enjoys and connects with. It’s addictive. I knew I wanted to do more of that.
What can you tell us about your creative process?
For me it all starts with vacuuming. The immediate sense of accomplishment it brings me makes the creative mountain I’m going to climb later way less daunting. Once the vacuuming is done and every last free-range dust bunny has been sent into exile, I move on to what’s most important: the dishes in the sink. You can’t leave the scrambled eggs sitting on a dish too long or else you’ll have your whole day ruined by scrubbing. So, once that’s completed and out of the way, I will get started on my room. I’ll go to my closet and make sure I have the right pants for the season, see if I have some clothes to donate. I’ll clean out my closet and, you know, sometimes I’ll notice a couple of smudges on the mirror that will drive me crazy. So I’ll get those taken care of, get those nice and clean. I’ll make my way downstairs and by then it’s about mid-afternoon and I’m ready for a nice, four o-clock espresso. Once I hit that espresso, I’m ready for a nap. I relax on the sofa, look through a magazine, search around for inspiration, and voilà! Genius is accomplished. I go to bed. It’s usually the next morning in the shower, as cliché as it sounds, when the idea or inspiration hits me and I get to work immediately after that. But I have to go through that creative process. It’s cleansing, it’s cathartic, it’s completely compulsive, but if I don’t go through all these little steps I can never get to an idea. So there you go, just follow the instructions!
Sounds like housework and clearing out clutter really frees you up creatively?
As funny as it sounds, it’s actually true. If you ask a lot of creative professionals they’ll run you through the same process. I think it stems from the idea that work begets work. When you are working in a creative field you’re starting from a blank piece of paper almost every time. It’s not like an accountant where you have a bunch of numbers in front of you and you can add those up and subtract and work with budgets and actuals. By doing all these tasks I mentioned you are actually working. You are getting out of your head through physical activity and it opens up space. That creative space happens when your mind isn’t solely focusing on a problem that maybe you can’t see past. So maybe you are in the middle of a shower or vacuuming or hammering a nail in a wall, whatever it is that you that gets you out of your head, that’s where the magic happens.
What inspires you?
For me it’s people. It’s always people. I absolutely love people. I wish I had one of each. They are just the best. I draw inspiration from human interaction. Figuring out what makes people tick. It really informs my creative process and decision making because I put a lot of time into really connecting with a person. Design and creativity and art, it’s all about connection. I’m inspired by watching people’s reactions to their environment. And trying to emulate as smoothly as possible that connectivity and communication. It’s got to be a real visceral thing or else it just comes off as fake and you are disconnected from it and it doesn’t help you. Art should be helpful.
Let’s talk Bubbles & Brews. Where did the idea come from and how did you get started?
Bubbles & Brews is a vintage mobile event vehicle company. It came to life with my partner and I, Kieran Patten, and from our love of traveling in Italy. We both have travelled extensively in Italy, and we’ve fallen in love with the culture and Italian sense of design. This effortless style and design comes out of Italy. It really inspires me. Also, we both love drinking and going out and having a good time and entertaining and being social, so when the opportunity arose Kieran was actually in Siena and he called me and he said “You know, I have these things, these vintage apes and what do you think? We keep talking about doing something on the bar side or on the creativity side for a little Bacaro or something like that?” Immediately, I said yes without even knowing the details of what he was talking about. We just have that connection. We decided when he got back, that we would just do it. So when he got back from Italy we had the truck brought over and worked on by a company called Get Cozy. They are awesome people with a great vision that really helped us get off the ground. Now we have several vehicles that not only serve beverages, but also function as mobile pop-ups for brand activations and sales. It's exciting stuff.
How many vehicles does Bubbles & Brews currently have?
Right now, we have three vehicles. One is just a pop-up with no beverages choices. It has a flat screen monitor and is used for customer acquisition and product space. The other two have products. One of the vehicles has seven different taps and the other has two taps. They are vintage and beautiful and they make people smile. They really make events just shine. It’s wonderful to be a part of it.
The concept sounds brilliant. Almost like an ice cream truck for alcohol.
When you put it that way, like an ice cream truck for alcohol, that’s pretty awesome right? It really does evoke the exact same smile that bubbles up on a kid’s face when they see an ice cream truck. Our trucks have a really cool build. It’s beautiful and vintage and stylized at the same time and people just light up with they see it. They walk over and giggle and laugh and smile and there first question is “What is it?” It’s a beautiful thing to watch.
Talk to me about the process of getting Bubbles & Brews online. What was that like?
We knew we wanted something that we could work with on the fly. That was #1. As a designer, I can be somewhat scattered sometimes. I’ll have ten ideas and I’ll want to get them all out. I shift gears really quickly. A lot of traditional formats for the web didn’t really offer that. So, I was at a stalemate for a bit because I wanted something that would allow me flexibility and control and could evolve. We are a new business and we need to be able to adjust and change literally by the minute. I could get an email that sends us in a completely different direction. Which actually happened. I got an email about more business to business work. And it wasn’t even on our radar. It totally changed the direction of our business and I was able to change directions smoothly because of the malleability of the Logic platform.
What part has Logic played in getting Bubbles & Brews online?
Logic has played an incredibly large part. It has enabled us to present our company the way we would like to be presented as if we were in person. I can literally make our company as up to date as my time allows, which is incredible. You have so many services and systems that have a lot of boundaries and barriers to making changes and iterations. Logic is different. I can make changes on the fly and have a real live working environment that is relatively accessible to just about anyone. My partner is completely tech opposed and even he loves Logic. He’s like “Ok I get this. I understand this.” We can go back and forth and work through challenges and layouts and presentations in real time and have those results pushed out live immediately. So, the Logic platform has absolutely changed our workflow and how we interact with the world through the web.
Where can we connect with you and Bubbles & Brews?
You can find us at bubblesandbrewsny.com and you can follow us on instagram @bubblesandbrewny. That’s the easiest way to find out about what we are up to. I’m there all the time. Message me, say hi, let’s have a drink or party. I’m ready!
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