It takes a village. That basically defines Paul Lipsky’s hankering to unite Long Island’s creative-tech community. A digital animator with 25 years of professional experience, Lipsky is the CEO of MindYolk, a Plainview 3D animation studio, which he runs as a solopreneur with a healthy roster of freelance artists. He’s also founder of Long Island Visual Professionals, not a networking organization, per se, but a mutual-support group for entrepreneurial creators wielding digital tools. The LIVP is flush with the success of its April 18 show, Art Bytes, a one-day showcase at LaunchPad Huntigton featuring some of Long Island’s top digital and traditional visionaries.
FOUNDATIONS: I’ve been a creative 3D animator for about 25 years. Most of that was spent in Manhattan, working in the advertising world. I did post-production on a bunch of television spots for products like Visine, Huggies, Neutrogena – if there’s a feminine hygiene product out there, I probably had something to do with it.
CITY EXIT: I dealt with the Madison Avenue crowd for years, but when my kids got older I thought there has to be a better way to live. So I started my own company as a freelance TV animator in the late 1990s, and then got into education, teaching as an adjunct at NYU and St. John’s. I decided to incorporate, but instead of dealing with Madison Avenue and the USA Network and stuff like that, I focused more on B2B – that’s how I wanted to define my company. So I created MindYolk.
BUILDING SOMETHING: Most of my clients are manufacturers here on Long Island. Most manufacturers have a technical story to tell – a product that’s hard to describe in words or in print. I use 3D animation and CAP, computer-aided design, to show how things work.
COME TOGETHER: After I graduated from the School of Visual Arts and moved to Washington, I wanted to meet more people like myself. I caught the organizing bug and started a group. We met once a month and I really enjoyed it. When I moved back to New York, I ran into the people at LaunchPad Huntington and realized this was exactly what they were trying to do: create an IT ecosystem. So on a whim I opened a Meet.com account. It took off so fast, my head is spinning.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: We’re up to 240-something members at the six-month mark. We get anywhere from 50 to 125 people at our monthly meetings. People get to show their work and see what others are doing. It’s not about networking, although some networking does happen. It’s just fun – a community of like-minded people letting each other know about the talent that exists on Long Island.
STRONG ATTRACTION: I’ve been approached by a lot of different organizations interested in what LIVP is doing: CEWIT at Stony Brook, LIFT, the Marketing Association of Long Island. I’m doing something they struggle to figure out. Thirty years ago, it was easy to get a bunch of suits in a room to have breakfast and network. That model doesn’t work anymore. This works because I have no ulterior motives. We’re just building a community.
EVENT PLANNING: I was also approached by the Huntington Arts Council through their group Sparkboom, which is basically the millennial version of the council, attracting younger people to the council’s mission. So my group and LaunchPad Huntington and Sparkboom decided to create this event, Art Bytes. LaunchPad was really the conduit for this, through Phil Rugile, who loves putting people together.
BURNING DESIRE: Art Bytes is a creative happening patterned after Burning man, an annual event in the desert in Nevada. Basically, a bunch of artists from different walks of life build a city and live in the desert for a month. I love the idea of getting all these creative people together and walking around to see what they do. This is a miniature version – Long Island’s Burning Man.
SEPARATION ANXIETY: We have issues on Long Island. Everyone thinks they live in a freaking silo. They don’t see what could happen if they pooled their energy and resources and worked together.
INNOVATIVE THINKING: I like to reference the Diamond District. How can one street in Manhattan survive with all this competition right next door? Because everybody knows where to go to get a diamond. We don’t have that mentality on Long Island. We need to forget about “the competition.” I don’t care if I lose a job to you someday. This is about being a community. With LIVP, there’s one place people can go to learn about Long Island’s creative community. That’s my goal: I want this to become Long Island’s Diamond District.