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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

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Scott Starr, owner of Rev Pop, works in web design, photography and video production.

Rev Pop cultivates Milwaukee's creative class


As a company, Rev Pop's multimedia base works in web design, video art and print. But as a concept, Rev Pop produces much more than an incredible product. Encompassing the vision and approach of owner Scott Starr, Rev Pop conveys the remarkable ability and intelligence of Milwaukee's creative class.

The re-emergence of Milwaukee's creative class is what keeps Starr local. The growth of Fever Marlene, his highly successful Milwaukee based band, allows Starr to travel the nation's metropolitan circuit, working in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Despite the exposure to these centers of vital artistry, Starr proudly calls Milwaukee home as he solidifies his place in the city's creative culture.

"I don't want to be too corporate and I don't want to be too ambiguous. My main objective is to bring about design awareness," Starr explains.

Rev Pop, founded two years ago, began as Fever Marlene's method of circumventing label restrictions and agency control. An avid artist, Starr wanted creative control to remain with the band; allowing Starr and band mate Kevin Dunphy to visualize their band's image in addition to creating its sound.

Fever Marlene repeatedly surfaces as Starr speaks about his design company confirming that the two are inextricably linked; the imagination of one infuses the other in a mutually beneficial manor.

"Fever Marlene is only 10 percent of my life. Through Rev Pop, I design for companies like Planet Propaganda and Mathematic Arts. Through those opportunities, I've done stuff with Tanqueray, Gary Fischer and the Wisconsin Film Festival," Starr explains.

Artists have always wrestled with the paradoxical dynamic of commercial art. Likewise, Starr is directly aware of maintaining his creative expression and although he attributes much of his success in advertising / marketing to a bachelor's degree in psychology, he insists Fever Marlene foster his creative outlet.

"I fell in love with corporate art and the psychology of it. How to successfully alter people's minds through art," Starr explains.

A company of one, Scott Starr is Rev Pop. Outsourcing a small portion of clients to other local artists, Starr, who is completely self-taught, does more than most in a day's work.

A former employee of Madison's forward-thinking communications company, Planet Propaganda, Starr carries a delicate balance of art, culture and commerce into Rev Pop. What began as Starr vehemently distributing political posters during college has become Starr's incredible talent for music, website and video design.

"I want a reaction. I want controversy and I want acceptance, just like everybody. I like being critiqued and I like being critical," Starr explains. "There's no reason to do something if you aren't causing a stir or provoking a reaction. That's where I get my kicks."

It's hard to imagine more of Starr in Rev Pop. The owner's ideals infiltrate every aspect of the company's website; fluidly detailing Starr's thoughts on design, entrepreneurial passage and worldly inspiration. Starr's words echo the rhetoric of his site and confirm the inspiration and passion of his work.

"I don't want people to think I'm just an advertising firm and I don't want people to think I'm just a design company. It's more of an art movement that I want to build that deals with things across the board," Starr explains.

As Starr aptly reminisces, the Milwaukee of today is quite different from the Milwaukee of 10 years ago and the city's re-development primes artistic expression and creative opportunity.

"This is a beautiful city. There are amazing people and incredible artists. We've got radio stations and papers that are in the scene and down to earth and humble about it. The change in Milwaukee has really kept me here," Starr explains. "It's a small city. If you're good at what you're doing and you make some noise, it can really make an impression."

Starr sought opportunity in Milwaukee's size and as he refers to it, the ability to make something as a "big fish in a little pond." Starr represents the newest creative class; a class successful at blending artistic collaboration with entrepreneurial endeavor.

"For me, the business side is all about sharing. You're going to make more friends if you are giving other people work and if you're exposing something about yourself. It's inspiring to take a step back and realize there are other people that might deserve more than you," Starr explains.

Candidly aware of the burgeoning design scene in Milwaukee, Starr knows his direction in the market. His latest collaboration, working with Scott Schwebel of Hansen Dodge Creative, produced the Web site for the Okobos Music Festival, a charity event to launch the socially-responsible global brand Okobos Footwear.

The duo is also collaborating on an online store for Schwebel's new clothing line, Motorcycle City Milwaukee. Schwebel, also a musician, is drummer for The Gufs.

"Design is an art. Typography and use of space, it is such an art. People don't think of web designers as artists but it's using your own concepts and creating something that is all you. It's exactly what Rev Pop is," Starr explains.


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