When a longtime client and creative partner reached out to him a few months ago, Nick Wilson thought he might be offered some consulting work or, perhaps, just asked for his advice.
Wilson, a co-founder and creative principal of The Half and Half, the Five Points design and printmaking studio, had worked with the caller, Josh Higgins, during President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
And Higgins did have an offer for Wilson — a job offer, to run the Facebook Analog Research Laboratory.
The research laboratory, a printing studio and workshop, is one of the most visible spaces on Facebook’s sprawling, theme park-like Menlo Park, Calif., campus.
Higgins, the design director for Obama’s campaign, is now a communications design manager at Facebook. Many art observers will recall the portrait collage of Obama that The Half and Half designed and printed in 2008. Two years ago, the studio produced all the artistic print posters for the campaign.
Wilson wasn’t looking for another gig, but he was curious about Higgins’ offer.
“You’re always interested in what other people are doing,” says Wilson, who will start work at Facebook next week. “We had always talked about working on other projects together.”
The Facebook Analog Research Laboratory started modestly in 2010, when two members of the social network’s marketing team began making screen prints with hacker-approved slogans.
It’s since grown in influence and stature. The Huffington Post, in a 2012 story, referred to the lab as “the nerve center for the internal evangelism that shapes the company’s soul and a playground where Facebook’s employees can get offline and get messy with silkscreens, saws and soldering tools.” Wired wrote it was “Facebook’s secret propaganda arm.”
“We’re essentially a design firm that has one client — and that’s Facebook,” Wilson says. “It’ll be essentially The Half and Half inside another company.”
Wilson and Sara Thomas, both 2007 graduates of the University of South Carolina’s graphic design program, opened The Half and Half that year, operating briefly in north Columbia, then moving to Five Points. The company grew at a steady pace, producing posters for The Indie Grits Festival and the Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival, among other local events. The Half and Half’s following grew as it began to design for touring bands and national accounts.
The national work pays the bills, but The Half and Half continues to support local efforts.
“We just do it because we want to make the city grow,” says Wilson, 30. “It’s really selfish.”
The studio will continue its work with Thomas as the lead creative, Wilson says. Thomas Jennings, a fellow USC graduate, will assume Wilson’s former role. Wilson, who obviously won’t be contributing as much work, will remain a partner.
“Essentially an investor,” he says.
When reached for an interview last week, Wilson, who was raised in Easley, was going through his stuff. Luckily for him, though, he won’t have to pack.
“Facebook is sending movers to the house, and they’ll box up everything,” he said.
Wilson has already found an apartment in San Francisco, he says.
If a Facebook developer wants to print a poster or packaging for their team, the lab will create it. The lab also collaborates with national and international artists, operating like a traditional, multi-faceted art studio. The designers he will be managing, Wilson says, are unique.
Like Brian Singer, who runs the website twitspotting.com, a photography project that puts people who Text While in Traffic on blast. Singer has taken to plastering photos of offenders on billboards in the Bay Area.
Facebook being Facebook, Wilson has already been learning about his new co-workers — though not while driving, of course.
“It’s Facebook,” says Wilson, who announced his new path in a Facebook post. “You have to look up everybody on Facebook.”
The SCC is a column about interesting people in and around Columbia.
Bluegrass, Bidding, and BBQ
Join The Palladium Society Thursday, October 23rd from 7-10 p.m. for its 11th annual silent auction, featuring music by The Mustache Brothers and catering by Bourbon and The Oak Table. Tickets are $30 at the door and include admission, drinks, and food. Get yours online now!
King Lear in Finlay Park
October 16th-18th and 22nd-25th, the South Carolina Shakespeare Company presents William Shakespeare’s King Lear. All performances held at the Finlay Park Ampitheatre at 7:30 PM. For tickets and more information, click here or call 803-665-2000.
Four Miles, Twelve Doughnuts
Winston’s Wish aims to increase knowledge and understanding of children with autism, and you can help by participating in the 4.donut Race on October 25th. Start at Edventure Children’s Museum, run 2 miles to Krispy Kreme, eat 12 doughnuts, and run back! Registration is required and can be done here before October 23rd at 5 p.m.
The Other Place at Trustus Theatre
Juliana Smithton is a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. A mystery unfolds as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present and the elusive truth of Juliana’s mental health boils to the surface in The Other Place, running at Trustus Theatre October 17th through November 1st. There will be a talk-back following the matinee on October 19th. Tickets can be purchased here or by calling the box office at 803-254-9732.
3LAU on Sunday, October 26th and the Unofficial Skrillex Mothership Tour After-Party on the 27th. More information and tickets for both can be found here. VIP tables available.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Local business is searching for new associates who are looking for a fun environment to earn great wages. Great position for college students/recent graduates. Must be well-mannered with excellent customer service skills/work ethic/ability to lift heavy items/must have valid Driver’s License. Call 803-376-4884 or email resume: firstname.lastname@example.org.
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Cupcake now hiring a closing manager. Must be outgoing, customer service focused, able to work evenings and weekends. Apply in person. 1213 Lincoln Street, Columbia SC 29201. freshcupcakes.com
Currently seeking a friendly & detail-oriented individual for an Administrative Assistant/Data Entry Clerk position on our Administrative Office team. Primary responsibilities include: Data entry, process incoming & outgoing mail, good communication skills required. Contact: email@example.com.