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December 07, 2020

Community Spotlight: Dominic Phillips, Founder of DPEM

We get to know DPEM’s Founder Dominic Phillips as he shares his thoughts about slowing down, leaning into the creative process, and focusing on how creativity has universal impact.

If you’re at all familiar with our manifesto, you know one of our biggest intentions is to build community and “get to know each other, really.” So as we count down the weeks and days to our 4th (and first all-virtual) In/Visible Talks conference on January 14, we’re taking the opportunity to get better acquainted with some of the amazing individuals who rock our world.

Dominic Phillips is the founder of DPEM, which offers strategic consulting and production services for live and virtual events. An experienced maverick, Dominic believes in doing work that isn’t transactional. Instead, he puts clients’ needs before the agency’s ego and looks at event attendees not as a target audience, but as a community to which the company should bring value.

Dominic attended the first INVT conference, and he’ll be with us again for INVT21. But since we won’t get to sit down with him in person, we’re pleased as punch he answered—so thoughtfully—our questions for this post.

Meet Dominic.

What was your first experience with In/Visible Talks?

I went to the first one. There are some people that you meet in life that are just creators –not of things, but of experiences. They just visualize things differently, brilliantly, gorgeously. My friend Dava Guthmiller is such a gifted person. She could invite me on a car ride in rush hour traffic, and I would not miss the opportunity. I have learned not to let my perceived notions get in the way of the possibility she presents. So, to answer the question: She created In/Visible Talks, and I went.

How was In/Visible Talks meaningful or impactful for you?

At that first In/Visible Talks, I was mesmerized by the rich and tangential nature of design discussed. Through the eyes of the speakers, I saw creativity as a filter and encouragement of life. Even in pain, there was a depth of beauty.

Who was your favorite In/Visible Talks speaker?

Eek—one? Dia Bondi was the most memorable, I mean incredible, though there was also Jenny Odell’s walk through the rose garden. [Watch Dia’s talk on “The Art of Your Work—Knowing What Matters in Doing What You Do” and Jenny’s talk on “How to Do Nothing”, both from 2018, here.]

What is your relationship to the creative process?

I love it, though I am sad to say the growing urgency I feel from my environment makes me sense it does not get as much time and attention as I wish for it. I feel creatives are our social observers, so the more we lean into the creative process, the more thoughtful and beneficial our investment of energy.

How or where do you find inspiration?

Slowing down. I feel I can get it anywhere if I can make room. My favorite moments are when it rains, and the sounds and visuals are captivating, and there is little I can do but watch and listen.

What are you working on right now?

Connecting businesses trying to make sense of the virtual world of experience. Bringing wonder and excitement to this new opportunity of virtual events. I appreciate change is hard for most. We like our comforts, though that does not mean change is not ultimately worth the work. It takes a shift in approach, but the rewards are so positive, they are hard to resist.

In what other ways are you involved with the Bay Area design & arts community?

Open Studio is one of my favorite experiences of the year, especially at the Hunter’s Point Shipyard locations. I spend the day appreciating and being grateful, and when those special moments happen, I get to support an artist by bringing home a piece to carry on those emotions.

What is something you learned in the last year that you wish you knew when you started your career?

Don’t lose your “why” in the “how”. It is easy to do when there are so many pressures and expectations. But the why is my energy, and the further away it gets, the more exhausted I feel.

Who has mentored you or inspired you to pursue your creative passions?

Rothko and Radiohead. I can’t say what it is, but they both open a door to something irresistible.