The Las Vegas strip is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. According to the Las Vegas Sun, on average, 17,700 people are walking on the Strip at any given hour on any given day. A man by the name of Dan Strong plans to go on a bold mission of hitting the Strip every single day of the year 2010, wearing a different shirt every day to promote different companies. I interview Dan about his upcoming journey as the Las Vegas Stripwalker.
MC: What made you decide to follow in the footsteps of Jason Sadler (of I Wear Your Shirt) and become the ‘Las Vegas Stripwalker’?
DS: When I first saw IWYS this summer I was so thoroughly impressed with Jason’s idea and I kept thinking about how cool it would be to try something similar. Besides, I am always looking for some clever and fun way to supplement my income. I currently jog about 9 miles a week and have for years, and I was born and raised in Vegas, so it all came to me one night while watching TV — why not combine all of it and get paid to do stuff I enjoy? And thus Las Vegas Stripwalker was born.
MC: Do you know Jason Sadler personally? If not, do you plan on meeting him soon?
DS: I do not know Jason personally, but when I launched Stripwalker at the beginning of September I emailed him and introduced myself. I let him know that while I am basically copying his idea, I did add a unique twist to it and had every intention of giving him all due credit as the originator (which I do on my FAQ page, and also whenever I am asked about the idea). He said that he appreciated how I set things up and asked only that I do not go after his clients (which apparently others before me have tried to do). I never had any intention of doing that and I assured him that I was a copycat, not a thief He wished me success and offered a little advice on selling to the Vegas market. As for meeting him, sure, I’d love to. I told him to give me a shout if he’s ever in Vegas.
Being seen as a copycat was one of the main obstacles I wrestled with when deciding to launch Las Vegas Stripwalker. I have been an artist since I was a kid (drawing and painting) and have worked in advertising and marketing on the creative side for 17 years, so I am painfully aware of the challenges associated with positioning “copycat” brands. But after thinking about it, I realized that Burger King and McDonalds co-exist, as does Coke and Pepsi and countless other brands. In the end I decided that I could live with being called a copycat as long as I was actually adding unique value to the idea (which I am). It helps greatly that Jason is as cool as he is and gave his “blessing”. I have nothing but mad respect for him and his brilliant idea.
MC: Were you involved in the t-shirt industry, in any way, prior to starting Las Vegas Stripwalker?
DS: I have been doing graphics since 1992 and in my time have done my share of t-shirt designs, mostly for clients. While I have never personally printed a T-shirt with my own bare hands I have worked with many T-shirt
shops and am well-versed in the process.
MC: How do you promote your “human billboard” services? Do companies come to you through your marketing tactics, or do you contact other companies directly about it?
DS: Both. The majority of sales at the moment are coming from Twitter and Facebook, as well as word of mouth from my own contacts. I am currently in the process of ramping up direct contact with potential clients so I expect that effort to start bearing fruit any time now.
MC: What challenges do you expect to face, once you officially start wearing other people’s shirts and walking the LV Strip?
DS: I am looking forward to the creative challenge of taking the same basic premise (The Las Vegas Strip) and spinning it differently 365 times to promote my sponsors. My wife is pretty creative, as are many of my friends and colleagues, so I already have some good ideas and good people to bounce them off of to get me started. Beyond that all other
challenges are purely logistical (i.e. scheduling, technology, weather, etc.), but I am pretty scrappy and resourceful, so it basically comes down to controlling what I can and improvising the rest.
MC: How long do you plan on being the Las Vegas Stripwalker? Are you going to continue beyond the year 2010?
DS: For right now 2010 is the goal. Obviously if there’s enough interest for 2011 then I’ll keep it going, but for now my focus is on 2010.
MC: What tips do you have for other people who want to make their ideas come to reality?
DS: Persistence. Persistence. Persistence. Did I mention persistence? My art teacher in high-school told me that if I felt strongly enough about an idea that it was my duty as an artist to express it, if only to get it out of the way for the next idea. They can’t all be gems and that’s okay, but the key is to just keep going. Also, keeping a positive attitude is
paramount, since you will inevitably run into opposition and resistance to your ideas. I have a quote from Einstein above my desk that says “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre
minds.” That’s not to say that I am necessarily a great spirit or that people who disagree with me have mediocre minds, but it helps me to keep in perspective the fact that being creative is all about taking risks, which is something not everybody is willing to do.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with a quote an artist friend of mine, Jayson Warnock, told me many years ago regarding the creative process: “When asked how he was able to create such an exquisite sculpture of a dragon, the sculptor replied, ‘It was easy. I just chipped away everything that didn’t look like a dragon.'”