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National magazine praises Holyoke resident for his creativity

Date: 5/23/2012

May 23, 2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

HOLYOKE — Steve Porter never anticipated that Fast Company Magazine would name him as one of "The 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2012."

"It was a total surprise," Porter told Reminder Publications in an interview conducted several days after the magazine made the announcement. He added he regularly picked up the magazine in the airport while traveling.

The magazine described the list as "business innovators who dare to think differently."

Porter's company, PorterHouse, is based in Holyoke.

You may not know Porter's name, but there is a good chance you have seen his work. A much in-demand club DJ for a decade, Porter now creates videos for a number of clients including ESPN, the NBA and Disney.

All of this came from a bit of a lark for him: the re-mixing of a commercial for "Slap Chop," an "as Seen on TV" kitchen device in 2009. With his re-editing the somewhat annoying commercial became something quite funny and popular. As of this week, his re-mix of the commercial has been viewed more than 13 million times.

How has Porter managed to create a number of videos that have gone viral? "I kind of equate it to baseball. I try to hit with a good average," he said.

For him a video can go viral when it's created in the right place and at the right time.

"If the topic is at the tip of everyone's tongue, you have a real shot," he said.

Whether it's creating a video about Jeremy Lin's surprise rise to stardom on the New York Knicks or Tim Tebow's popularity, Porter said that planning and anticipating a hot topic is important.

Porter has a successful career as a DJ, which included performing at shows not just around the country, but the world. He was ranked second on the DJ Times' "America's Best DJ" list in 2009.

He said the switch from life, as a DJ to a video producer was "a transition and a half."

"It was like changing the tires on your car on the highway without stopping," he said.

Porter explained he was touring every weekend, when he "stumbled upon" making the first video re-mix. The success "forced a difficult decision."

"My pay scale completely changed," he said. "It was kind of scary. It's not jumping from one job to another."

The success he has had, though, has put in him in a fairly unique niche.

"There's a sort of job security in that as well," he added.

At first Porter would just play with sound bites, putting them to music. Now his projects have "evolved to something more complex."

He said that assembling the images and quotes and making them into a video has "a songwriting element to it."

Porter has made Holyoke his new headquarters and said the Paper City reminds him a little of Brooklyn. Although he misses New York City — where he used to live — he said living and working in Holyoke allows him to be "totally focused."

He added, "I was very fortunate to find a really cool building. It's a great working environment."

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse congratulated Porter for this achievement.

"I commend Steve for the creativity, hard work and entrepreneurial spirit that won him this recognition. This is an acknowledgement that Holyoke is now home to some of the most creative minds in arts and business. Innovative and creative entrepreneurs are and will be successful here," Morse said.

Porter was reluctant to predict what his future businesses endeavors would be like.

"It's so unpredictable," he said.

He explained that his present job combines elements of music, video production and marketing and he would like to "break those apart" and "would like to try every one of those directions."

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