Highland Hall Alum Marcello Grande is Executive Creative Director and Co-founder of First Person™, a San Francisco based creative agency where business strategy, communication, design and technology converge. Their list of clients includes Google, Yahoo, Golden State Warriors, Adobe and GE Renewables.
Marcello recently returned from the AWEA Windpower Conference in Orlando, Florida, where his company helped launch GE's Digital Wind Farm, the biggest innovation to renewable energy the industry has ever seen. Their client, GE Renewables, hired First Person to help craft and share the story of the Digital Wind Farm. "Our goal was to strategically and creatively communicate the information with the world." First Person crafted and animated the keynote address for GE Renewables CEO, and created several showroom engagements including a virtual reality experience, a gesture-controlled multiscreen video game, and the Digital Wind Farm story told using a holographic display.
Marcello's career in the digital media industry began two decades ago. Originally a street artist, Marcello found that his talents weren't exactly appreciated at Chaminade High School, so he decided to transfer to Highland Hall at the beginning of 11th grade. "At Highland Hall they had respect for developing each student's potential. For the first time, I was encouraged to speak up in class and share my opinions." As part of an after school program, Marcello commuted long distances to attend animation classes under the mentorship of veteran Disney animator Phyllis Craig. "Highland Hall gave me a boost in confidence, and encouraged me to seek out my career path. At my other school, I was told that I was wasting my time."
While at Highland Hall, Marcello was twice honored as a California Art Scholar in 1994 & 1995. This award enabled him to spend two summers at CalArts immersed in the study of animation and design. Marcello later went on to earn a BFA in Experimental Animation from CalArts. After graduating, he foundwork producing music videos, album covers, and ad posters for a variety of record labels and television studios. In 2001, he moved to Sindelfingen, Germany to take on the role of Creative Director at a hip hop and skateboard clothing company. While in Germany,he also designed sportswear for brands such as Hugo Boss, Jockey, Claiborne, Es Shoes, iPath, Osiris, and Fubu.
Returning to the US, Marcello and his brother Brandon Grande founded Westernized Productions which specialized in visual effects and animation. For ten years the company successfully produced digital content for advertising agencies, post production houses, etc. until they decided that it was time to make a change. "I was tired of executing other people's ideas and I had a strong desire to communicate directly with decision makers and CEO's," Marcello says. In 2013, the two brothers along with another partner founded First Person. "It wasn't easy to shed our old skin," he says. "We had to start fresh with an entirely new business model and philosophy." In the process they lost many of their customers who didn't fit with the new company paradigm. "Although it's taken about two years, it's been worth it. We're now doing what we set out to do." First Person clients now include Cisco, Google, Yahoo, GE, Golden State Warriors, VMware, Kimpton, NetApp, as well as many other well known companies. To see some of their work, please visit www.firsperson.is.
Marcello lives in Oakland, CA, with his fiancé Elina Ring, who is an art director at Stella & Dot, and his two American Bull dogs, Title and Pandora. He still enjoys painting, drawing and printmaking along with admiring and collecting mid-century modern furniture and design artifacts.