Mike Gibboney & Jason Snell, 35 & 36
Chief strategist & Chief creative, We Have Become Vikings
Why We Love Them: For turning their passion into a career. And using the word “viking” in their company name.
After working for a variety of different creative agencies in town, Jason Snell decided he wanted to strike out on his own so he started a design shop out of his dining room. Eventually outgrowing his home-based business, Snell launched We Have Become Vikings, an OTR-based creative agency that does everything from motion graphics and illustration to branding, with one of his best buds, Mike Gibboney.
“We’ve worked together on creative projects ever since we met each other in college,” Gibboney says. “So we just kind of chose to do it together professionally.”
The duo currently has their hands in all aspects of the business, from project management and client services to creative development and copy writing, which they’re able to manage because of their breadth of experience. Gibboney, who has a master’s degree in business, has worked in higher education in financial aid and marketing, and Snell, with his creative abilities, has always had a passion for the hustle — especially when he realized no one was hiring when he graduated from college. “It was like you kind of had to learn how to be a freelancer,” he says. “Like you take whatever comes along. And that helped me with my work ethic.”
Now, with the daily freedom to be creative and manage themselves, the pair is thrilled with the challenges each day brings.
“I like that [work] changes every day,” Gibboney says.
“Every client is different, every project we do is different. It’s never the same thing twice.”
How do you define passion?
Jason: Passion. It’s not even the will or want to do what you’re doing, passion is like you have to.
Mike: Passion is when you would do something for free. And its also something that you love so much that it would hurt without it.
What do you love about Cincinnati?
Jason: [Washington Park] is pretty special. … I was one of the first persons to propose to my fiancé there, which was awesome.
Mike: I like that people underestimate Cincinnati. I think it’s a better place to be than being in the cool city of the moment. I was thinking about this earlier. Like, if you read an article about Portland and you saw that they have solar-powered ice cream trucks, you’d be like, “Yea, of course they do.” But if I read that about here, I’d be like, “Whoa, that’s cool.” I think we have a long way to go, but we’re getting there.
Name someone that you love: role model, best friend, inspiration, etc. And tell us why.
Jason: Pat Renick. She was my professor in DAAP. She was amazing. She’s got the big, huge round piece of sculpture on Central Parkway [in Brighton]. She’s got pieces in the Smithsonian where she would weld helicopters and VW Bugs together and she was like a 100-pound, little old lady. ... She didn’t take any shit from anybody. She just had a really cool attitude that was like, ‘Go for it.’ And when you’re 19 years old and you see someone doing that, you’re like, ‘I got to do that,’ you know?
Mike: I would probably say my grandfather. He was a very social guy and loved Cincinnati; started at the bottom and worked his way up. He was able to balance everything.
What’s the best lesson life has taught you about love?
Jason: Well, god, this is going to sound so cheesy, but don’t ever give up on it. It’s out there for everyone.
Mike: It’s not always easy. That it takes work. It takes patience.
What phrase or motto do you live your life by?
Jason: As simple and dumb as it sounds, maybe, “Work hard, play hard.”
Mike: I guess what I always say is “We’ll figure it out” — like if there’s something you don’t know how to do or don’t know how to navigate. Pretty much there’s only one thing that’s like rocket science and that’s rocket science. Everything else you could probably figure out.