When it comes to discussing creativity and creative team building there is no one I turn to more for inspiration and thought leadership than Scott Belsky, the founder of Behance and the 99U Conference. I’ve been lucky enough to know Scott for a while, I’ve had him come to work with my design team and I make anyone who works for me read his book Making Ideas Happen. I was able to briefly catch up with him at Adobe MAX and see his session where he talked about and defined a creative meritocracy. I don’t care what type of creative work you do, this is the type of system and culture we would all kill to work in. Like all of Scott’s talks it is well worth your time to watch what he has to say.
Read more of: We all should be building a creative meritocracy »
Brandalism is often defined as a clever mix of vandalism, graffiti and art that is created as a direct attack on the corporate branding’s effect on our landscape and society. I’ve been interested in the movement for a while mainly for a while and thanks to recent documentaries you will recognize some of the founders of this movement like British street artist Banksy and American artist Ron English. You known Banksy’s work from the documentary Exit Though the Gift Shop and I love too many of his pieces to name just one favorite. For Ron English I love his McSupersized painting and vinyl toys which are commentary on McDonald’s and Fat Tony which comment on Frosted Flakes cereals.
But the Brandalism movement recently took an interesting turn with 26 artists from 8 countries traveling across the UK for 5 days subverting billboard advertising. This project was the largest reclamation of outdoor advertising space in UK being installed over five days in one continuous road trip that covered the length of the country hitting 37 spots in 5 cities. The entire project was documented on their site and blog which you can read here.
Even as someone who works to build brands for a living I love this movement. I love it because I am not blind to the effects that brands can have on society for better or worse. I think that brand advertising has been one piece of a complex puzzle that has led to the consistent decrease in creativity in our society and that really pisses me off. I don’t like that I see more and more young designers who can’t do creative problem solving because their parents gave them the answer to every problem all their life. I don’t like that people are increasingly dependent to being spoon fed what they should think and take too much comfort in uniformity. You can easily see the trend when you realize that if deviate from that uniformity you get a label attached to you because even independent thought has to be categorized. It happens every day in small ways like because I don’t want to know what my dinner is going to taste like before I walk into a restaurant I get labeled as a foodie. I don’t want my news channels to tell me what I should think which gets you labeled a lot of different things depending on who you are talking to. And on and on…
We need movements like Brandalism that can take these popular brands and use them as a vehicle to wake people up to what is really going on around them. We need it because we are losing our creativity as a society and even though it is happening in small but consistent ways they are adding up to a big problem.
Read more of: Brandalism: Where branding meets street art »
If you have followed my blog for any period of time you know that I get a lot of my creative inspiration from avant guard chefs and probably none more than Ferran Adria and his restaurant elBulli in Spain. The world at large probably first heard the name Ferran Adria in 2003 because of Anthony Bourdain’s TV show No Reservation on an episode called “Decoding Ferran Adria” which was the first primetime look into Ferran restaurant and workshop. I have been such a huge fan of chef Adria and the food because it is wildly creative and challenges the very conventions around what makes a meal.
I personally find a strong link between the creativity in cooking and creativity in design and advertising. I get a tremendous amount of creative inspiration from the work of chef’s like Ferran Adria, Jose Andreas, Grant Achatz and Wylie Dufresne. I even use their work to teach how to have to break through creative ideas in my studio. I tell my designers here in New York to go to Wylie Dufresne’s restaurant WD50 and have the eggs Benedict to see what I mean. It is a dish we have all had before but to completely re-imagined it into some you have never seen before in a form you have never eaten before the tastes bring back strong memories. It is that play between wild creativity that is contained in something familiar that I love. I think it is what all break through interactive work does. It gives you something completely new but there is something familiar in the usability and the experience when though it is all new.
I don’t know of many people who have been able to cross the #1 item off their bucket list but n the middle of December of last year I did just that. I was given the astounding opportunity to travel to Barcelona to meet Chef Adria, get a private tour of elBulli Taller which is his private workshop and have dinner at his new Tapas restaurant Tickets.
It is not an overstatement when I say that for me being able to spend time which one of the world’s greatest living creative minds and the man who forever changed the face of modern gastronomy in the workshop where he created the world’s greatest restaurant was an experience that had a profound effect on me. This was only the third time Ferran had ever allowed the public into his workshop and hearing about his process and seeing the level of detail he put into every single aspect of the dining experience at elBulli was astounding. The video above shows some of the highlights from that tour as well as showing you Ferran’s philosophy and just what he did to create such temple of creativity. I will more posts in the near future about some of the insights I got from my conversation with Ferran, how to selected his team at elBulli and the techniques he used to lead his team.
Read more of: My visit elBulli Taller – Ferran Adria’s private workshop »
My education in typography was as old school as it could possibly get since I grew up learning this beautiful art on a cast iron letterpress in my parents basement. My father and I wrote, illustrated and printed my storybooks which was a truly magical way to start out as a young designer and typographer but lead to a very confusing experience when I got to Kindergarten and realized all the other kids read books written and created by someone else.
So you can imagine my delight when I found out that artist Kyle Durrie has embarked on a cross country adventure in her custom outfitted 1982 Chevy Step Van AKA The Type Truck which is a fully outfitted letterpress studio. Her tour of the country started in June and end in January of next year as she goes to different events, museums, universities and craft fairs giving people the chance to create their own letterpress works of art. I think this is an incredibly cool idea so if she coming to your city do yourself a favor and experience this incredible art and if not them drop a few dollars to support this genius idea.
Read more of: Cross country adventures in letterpress printing »
I found a new mini documentary series from PBS Arts called Off Book with the latest installment focused on typography. The piece is only 7 minutes long but in that short period of time there are interviews with typeface designers Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones who outline the importance of selecting the right font to convey a particular feeling. Graphic designer Paula Scher talks about building identity in messaging, while Eddie Opara uses texture to create reaction. Infographic designers Julia Vakser and Deroy Peraza map complicated data sets into digestible imagery, mixing color, graphics and type. It is a quick watch and an interesting insight into different perspectives on typography.
Read more of: PBS typography mini documentary »
Red Bull just launched a really interesting new microsite called Street Art View built on Google Street View to collect and showcase global street art. You simply tag your favorite urban artwork and help build the biggest art collection in the world. Right now there aren’t many places and artists tagged but ones that are there are really good including Banksy and Space Invader (If you don’t know who they are be ashamed and see Exit Through The Gift Shop as soon as possible). I love the idea and the use of the infrastructure and content in Google Street View to create this collection. If there is some local street art you like or you created tag it and help this site take off.
Read more of: Red Bull wants to make the world’s largest street art collection »
I don’t think I ever done a post on my blog that was just a straight just a lift of content someone else wrote but after recently reading a post by Mike Lacher entitled ‘I’m Comic Sans, Asshole” I had to make an exception. It’s a genius piece of writing that is a rant by Comic Sans written in the first person on his views of the world. Enjoy.
Listen up. I know the shit you’ve been saying behind my back. You think I’m stupid. You think I’m immature. You think I’m a malformed, pathetic excuse for a font. Well think again, nerdhole, because I’m Comic Sans, and I’m the best thing to happen to typography since Johannes fucking Gutenberg.
You don’t like that your coworker used me on that note about stealing her yogurt from the break room fridge? You don’t like that I’m all over your sister-in-law’s blog? You don’t like that I’m on the sign for that new Thai place? You think I’m pedestrian and tacky? Guess the fuck what, Picasso. We don’t all have seventy-three weights of stick-up-my-ass Helvetica sitting on our seventeen-inch MacBook Pros. Sorry the entire world can’t all be done in stark Eurotrash Swiss type. Sorry some people like to have fun. Sorry I’m standing in the way of your minimalist Bauhaus-esque fascist snoozefest. Maybe sometime you should take off your black turtleneck, stop compulsively adjusting your Tumblr theme, and lighten the fuck up for once.
People love me. Why? Because I’m fun. I’m the life of the party. I bring levity to any situation. Need to soften the blow of a harsh message about restroom etiquette? SLAM. There I am. Need to spice up the directions to your graduation party? WHAM. There again. Need to convey your fun-loving, approachable nature on your business’ website? SMACK. Like daffodils in motherfucking spring.
When people need to kick back, have fun, and party, I will be there, unlike your pathetic fonts. While Gotham is at the science fair, I’m banging the prom queen behind the woodshop. While Avenir is practicing the clarinet, I’m shredding “Reign In Blood” on my double-necked Stratocaster. While Univers is refilling his allergy prescriptions, I’m racing my tricked-out, nitrous-laden Honda Civic against Tokyo gangsters who’ll kill me if I don’t cross the finish line first. I am a sans serif Superman and my only kryptonite is pretentious buzzkills like you.
It doesn’t even matter what you think. You know why, jagoff? Cause I’m famous. I am on every major operating system since Microsoft fucking Bob. I’m in your signs. I’m in your browsers. I’m in your instant messengers. I’m not just a font. I am a force of motherfucking nature and I will not rest until every uptight armchair typographer cock-hat like you is surrounded by my lovable, comic-book inspired, sans-serif badassery.
Enough of this bullshit. I’m gonna go get hammered with Papyrus.
Read more of: I’M COMIC SANS, ASSHOLE. »
Shortly after the release of the new Facebook profile design a number of creative types figured out that you could play around with the layout to make the avatar photo and 5 adjacent thumbnails next to it into one image. The only problem was that you needed to have some Photoshop skills to be able to create it but it didn’t take long for a major brand to jump in and create a Facebook app that would do all the heavy lifting for you. The app is really easy to use as it lets you upload an image, adjust it in real time and then saves out all of the images for you.
BUT just as when I used the Tweet Wrap site to cerate Twitter wrapping paper I am left wondering what the hell does this app have to do with Schweppes? There is no brand tie in. No up sell. No link to their Web site!!! There has been a lot of buzz around creating these photos so you know it will be popular but with the way this app is done you could swap out the Schweppes logo for any other brand and it wouldn’t make the slightest difference. Schweppes should have found a way to have the app tie back to their core brand attributes so that the user experience supports what their brand stands for. A great example of this is when FedEx created their ‘launch a package‘ application. You can’t send files through Facebook so just like with the new profile photos there was a need by Facebook users for this functionality. But unlike Schweppes, the FedEx app tied back to their brand reenforcing the concepts of fast reliable delivery, anywhere, anytime. Even if Schweppes wasn’t going to create something that tied into their brand then why get some brand association by at least putting a small version of their logo in one of the photos so they could get some wide spread, free brand impressions out this?
If I’ve said it once I have said it a thousand times and it seems like I need to say it once more. Technology is not an idea. Production techniques are not an idea. We continue to fall into the trap where we are more caught up in the latest tools and technologies we use instead of the stories we are trying to tell. Successful and breakthrough work comes from connecting a brands core truths to their consumers. If that does not happen then this project like so many others will only remember it as a slightly interesting use of technology that is quickly forgotten while our perception of the brand goes unrecognized and unchanged.
Read more of: Schweppes branding goes flat with new Facebook app »
Anyone who lives or works in New York will tell you that if you that they avoid Times Square and the throngs of slow moving tourists that inhabit it like the plague. It is just one of those area of the city that you only go to when you have friends on town or you need to send someone a cheesy and overprices NYC souvenir.
I recently found a really interesting project started by Justus Bruns who is a 22-year old student from The Netherlands that looks to change that experience and turn the 50,000 sq. feet of billboard space in Times Square into one huge art gallery for a day. The reality is that Times Square gets 35 million visitors a year while the biggest museum (Museum of Modern Art) only gets 2.5 million visitors a year so I love the idea of using a stage that big to bring more attention to the arts. Right now they are taking donations and trying to organize online and offline activities to gather people from around the globe to start believing in this idea. If you want to learn more you can read a lengthy FAQ here and please think about making a donation to get this great idea off the ground.
Read more of: Lets turn Times Square to Art Square »