Words // Sadie Williams
Jim Noble has produced an incredible portfolio of influential works. His pieces don’t hang on the walls of galleries, rather, they fly across television and computer screens and gleam from the pages of magazines. Noble, who has lived in Shelburne since 2008, is a freelance copywriter and creative director whom his former clients applaud as a creative storyteller, strategic thinker, and a tireless worker. His resume includes well-known brand names such as Kia, Buffalo Wild Wings, Cisco Systems, Toyota, Lucas Learning, and many more.
Noble has an energy that’s hard to ignore, and that translates effectively to his work. Whether darkly humorous, as in a print ad for Alcatraz Island that reads “Solitary confinement. Barbed wire fences. Shark infested waters. Bring the in-laws,” or heartwarming, like a tear inducing, family centered Thanksgiving television ad for Publix, Noble consistently hits the mark. From copy to color choice, and page to screen, his final products always tell a story, and they tell it well.
As for his own history, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Noble describes his dad as “Don Draper,” referencing the hit series “Mad Men,” set in the cutthroat advertising jungle of 1960s New York. John Noble was “a tall handsome big shot in New York,” a well-respected copywriter for the equally respected advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach. Noble’s two younger brothers also work in creative fields. One is a producer in Hollywood, the other a creative director in Boston. As for Noble’s kids, his son Oliver is studying auto mechanics at Sierra College, and his daughter Rebecca is studying film at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, one of the most prestigious and challenging film schools in the world.
Rebecca may have picked up her love of film from her dad. When Noble isn’t working, he has a lot of downtime. “I go to the Palace 9…I see almost everything, it helps me in my career. It really is a twofold thing, loving movies: editing, music, film styles, [they’re] crucial when you’re creating stuff.”
Noble devours media, whether it’s music, film, or literature. His voracious appetite speaks to a desire to never become complacent, to always be up to date, and to have the knowledge necessary to compete in a constantly changing industry. It’s that appetite, and intensive work ethic, that has given him the opportunity to work around the world with some of the most exciting names in media.
Noble has filmed on every continent except Australia, and between January and August of this year spent 97 nights in Florida hotels while working on the Buffalo Wild Wings ad. Not to mention, he has worked with Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres, Charlie Sheen, Kirsti Ali, and George Lucas to name a few. For fans of Lucas and his work, Skywalker Ranch is a commonplace name. For the uninformed, the 4,700 acre ranch in Marin County, Calif. is where Lucas, best known as writer of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies, often works. Noble found himself at the ranch when he was working on special effects for Owens Corning. He was concepting with the team in the living room when Lucas himself casually descended the stairs in his bathrobe to get a glass of milk. He had been upstairs writing “Star Wars Episode I: Phantom Menace.” If that anecdote does nothing to raise the hairs on your arms, or accelerate your heart rate, replace George Lucas and Phantom Menace with Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence, Beethoven and Symphony No. 9, etc. Noble’s casual brush with greatness in that living room is one to be envied, to say the least.
When he’s not meeting George Lucas, admiring the landscape of Vietnam, or eating phenomenal steak in Buenos Aires (all for work, of course), Noble also works with Place Creative in Burlington. He has assisted them with advertising for large local accounts such as Darn Tough Vermont and Lake Champlain Chocolates. Continuing in that vein, he’s hoping to do more work with companies close to home. As much as he loves his big clients, “travelling is hard,” especially when you spend close to a third of the year living out of hotels.
It’s hard to imagine that a man with a portfolio as versatile and successful as Noble’s, not to mention his infectious energy and charisma, could want for work in Vermont. So here’s to swapping a sleeper seat that “feels like your living room” on a flight to Seoul for a lounge chair next to the fire.