Brendan Ciecko: Would You Let This Kid Save Your Town?
The Mick Jagger thing, like many things in the charmed life of Brendan Ciecko, just sort of happened. One day a couple of years ago, a record exec called Ciecko to say that the Rolling Stones frontman was in New York and "would love it if you could join us." So Ciecko [pronounced "see-EH-ko"] sped from his home in western Massachusetts to Manhattan to meet the rock legend.
At the Palace hotel, Ciecko made his way past the black marble pillars and the crystal chandeliers. He strode past the record executives, the hair and makeup people, and the security guys. Finally he entered the inner sanctum of Jagger’s suite, where he stood before the craggy-faced superstar himself and extended a hand. "It’s a pleasure to meet you, Brendan," Jagger said. "I love your work."
Taking the flattery in stride, Ciecko made chitchat about the websites he’s designed for a roster of A-list performers—Van Morrison, Lenny Kravitz, Katy Perry, New Kids on the Block—and floated some ideas for Jagger’s new website, to be launched for his greatest-hits album. It wasn’t until Ciecko was in the elevator, stealing sidelong glances at Mick and his entourage, that he thought, This is just the craziest thing. Even crazier: Ciecko was only 19 at the time, a month out from living with his parents.
Soon after the meeting, he submitted several options for the new site, mindful of Jagger’s reputation as an impossible-to-please prima donna. His favorite opened with a Flash animation of the singer, lit up cherry-red, his mouth agape, hair askew. It was unexpected and arresting. Jagger took one look and okayed it immediately.
Welcome to the life of the Web Designer to the Stars, or, as one record exec insists on calling him, "Wonderboy." At 21, Ciecko is the epitome of the Gen-Y wunderkind (complete with regulation shag haircut), earning his way with little more than a computer and an Internet hookup. Unlike other whiz kids, however, Ciecko has forgone the requisite move to one of the country’s creative meccas: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco. Instead, he’s chosen to stay in his hometown: Holyoke. What may be even more surprising is what he intends to do there.