We sat down with cSPACE’s newest tenant, Michael Dargie, of Make More Creative. We hopped on his thought train, and documented the journey. Here are the highlights!
Michael Dean Dargie is a lot of things. As an independent artist, he has spent time as a director, writer, actor, improviser, and commercial artist. You may have watched Dropbear and Panda as they save the world. You may have learned something cool from his entrepreneurial Rebel Rebel Podcast. You may have attended a workshop or an event through his company Make More Creative. You may have even seen him play in a band. You can regularly find Michael in his happy place, on stage improvising at the world famous Loose Moose Theatre in Ramsay. Michael Dargie can’t sit still. He is a creative dynamo.
What’s your motto?
“Some Assembly Required. I like creating things and helping people create things, but I’m also a work in progress (as much as I’d like to think I showed up on this planet fully formed and ready to roll, I didn’t). Every day is for learning something new, making improvements, and being better than before. #kungfugrip.”
Where it all began
Michael graduated high school with a dual focus in acting and fine art. As someone with a savvy business sense from the get-go, Michael quickly saw an opportunity and pivoted into commercial art where he was able to make a living, serve others with his skills, and keep the creative juices flowing. Years later, as the desire to create something new struck again, Michael and his partner, Jennifer, met a talented storyteller who needed a leg up to get noticed. Calum Lykan’s Scottish Bedtime Stories struck a chord with the pair. They decided to take Calum on as a project.
“We loved the guy and he had no exposure, and I guess part of the art of it was to help him play bigger.” We produced his very first CD… and gave him a big CD release party, and gave him a product that he could then go and sell at his fringe shows and other stuff. Part of the art is helping others: using the things you’ve learned along the way and helping other people grow.”
Michael’s company, Make More Creative was born. It was also a solution to a problem – how to make art, and also help other artists. They do short films, music videos, corporate talking head videos, audio productions, and more. As if that isn’t enough to work on, Make More Creative also donates a lot of time and resources to local theatre when and where it’s possible.
Although Make More Creative is a successful business, it also scratches an itch. “It’s not always about money. Money’s important. Sometimes you just do [stuff]…because you need to create something… One of my proudest moments was when Jennifer MacLean and I (as Dropbear and Panda) wrote, produced, and performed an original one-act play for the One Act Play Festival — the adjudicator called it, “the perfect little play.” That was an amazing creative experience.”
Michael and Make More Creative currently produce and record podcasts out of his funky skylighted studio at cSPACE Marda Loop. Dropbear and Panda Save the World just finished their 73rd episode and is enjoyed in 80 countries around the world.
The Rebel Rebel podcast is for creative rebels and entrepreneurs which can be heard in 55 countries around the world. The podcast features interviews with amazing Canadian creatives like graphic novelist Michael McAdam, (Gloaming), Patrick Lore (founder of iStockphoto), and Toni DeRosiers (founder of beeswax food wrap sensation Abeego).
And now a new series is on the horizon — cSPACE Sessions, featuring interviews with the super cool creatives who form the central community here at cSPACE Marda Loop. As part of the Rebel Rebel podcast, cSPACE Sessions will give insight on what it takes to be a working artist, entrepreneur, and creative spirit here in Calgary. Episode 1 features a discussion with our own creative rebel, President and CEO, Deeter Schurig.
The other branch of Make More Creative is Brand Jitsu, a methodology that Michael created in order to help companies tell better stories about themselves. Brand Jitsu helps companies find, shape, and share their stories with the world.
As you can probably guess, Michael sometimes takes on more than he can chew. As any artist knows, this can easily lead to burnout. How does he manage to keep his multiple plates spinning successfully? The answer might be on the white board in his new studio on the fourth floor of cSPACE Marda Loop.
“On my white board here, I’ve got all these post-its, and if it goes on the board it’s something that I have to do, and I have to plot it on this matrix. On one axis is professional satisfaction, on the other axis is personal satisfaction. I can check in and be like, okay, so this is something that I am doing just for fun. I don’t expect to be making any money or have any professional growth out of it, it’s just because I want to. And then there’s stuff in there that I really have to do this professionally because it’s going to take me to the next level, or it’s going to put money in the bank. And then there’s the sweet spot where you get all the things. I’m very careful about what I put up there.”
What do you love about Calgary?
“Calgary is the biggest small town in the world. I love the people, the neighborhoods, the music, the art, the personalities, the river … especially the river.”
What do you love about cSPACE?
“It’s a creative mecca — having a space that is steeped in creative energy and filled with compassionate and caring humans is huge. Every day is a gift here. And the kitchen. And the boardrooms. And the hallways. And the art. And the people. And the brick… I’m always looking forward to the next adventure — whatever that happens to be. My reason for being is to share stories and help others find and share their stories. If I can do that and entertain people in the process my dreams are being realized.”
What else do we need to know?
“I run and dive into oceans; I’m not a slow-wading type of person. I’m either in, or I’m not.”
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