Masking Emotional Creativity

Mask-tongue

What an unusual and intriguing exhibit. Emotions on display.

Extraordinary.

When I first saw some of these works in an article, I thought “how inspiring!” So, I wanted to share. Creativity, as this blog illustrates, comes in a variety of executions. Even though digital seems to be everywhere these days, I find it refreshing to see exhibits like this one in London that showcase a traditional form of creativity – in paper.

The upcoming 2018 London Design Biennale will be devoted to the theme of ‘Emotional States’. National entries will explore how design affects every aspect of our lives – the way we live and how we live – and influences our very being, emotions and experiences.

For the second consecutive edition, Pentagram, the world’s largest independently-owned design studio, has created the visual identity and promotional materials for the Biennale. As with the previous identity, a restricted colour palette of orange, black and white is used.

In response to the theme of ‘Emotional States’ and taking inspiration from Charles Darwin’s seven universal emotions, Pentagram created and commissioned a series of arresting masks, handmade by Wakefield-based paper artist Andy Singleton and photographed by London-based John Ross.

Mask1

A universal phenomenon that spans centuries, masks have been used to interpret and illustrate the beautiful, the grotesque, the sublime – and everything else in between. Pentagram’s aim was to create a series of masks that could subtly, yet coherently, communicate this diverse range of emotional states.

Pentagram decided to use paper – supplied by G.F Smith – to create the final masks, owing to both its flexibility as a material, and its capacity to inspire intimacy from the intricate nature of its craft. Working with paper-artist Andy Singleton in an iterative process of trial and error, the final form of each mask was defined, and subsequently sculpted.

The resulting avant-garde masks, photographed by John Ross, bring the Biennale’s theme to life in a way that is independent of race, gender and age. The striking visual identity delivers captivating visuals that have been applied across the event’s online banners, print, outdoor, social media and marketing materials – which were also designed by Pentagram.

Masks 1

Masks 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more about the upcoming September exhibit and

Pentagram’s involvement.

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Seth and Secrets (to good ideas)

I’m a follower of Seth’s Blog. You may be, too. If not, you ought to be.

That’s Seth, as in Seth Godin. He’s a very prolific writer and blogger and best-selling author.

Recently, I read a post he submitted about ideas. I’ve posted it below for reference.

Two simple secrets to good ideas

Secret #1 is the biggest one: More bad ideas. The more bad ideas the better. If you work really hard on coming up with bad ideas, sooner or later, some good ideas are going to slip through. This is much easier than the opposite approach.

Secret #2 is more important: Generosity. It’s much easier and more effective to come up with good ideas for someone else. Much easier to bring a posture of insight and care on behalf of someone else. It lets you off the hook, too.

My take.

Relative to Secret #1, seems that most brainstorming sessions tend to shut down people who come up with any idea that someone else finds stupid, offensive or one sounding similar to something presumably already tried. That. Is. Dumb. That’s the worst thing anyone could do: Stifle someone else’s thought and idea.

There is a process for generating ideas, all kinds of ideas. There’s also a process for weeding out the so-called good ones. And these processes are not one and the same.

A bad idea is just a good idea awaiting an appropriate execution. Or is it? Is there an appropriate execution for any “bad” idea? Oh, by the way, what makes the idea “bad” in the first place?

Before you can generate a list of ideas, good or bad, you should first agree on a specific question to be answered or addressed. Once that’s done, it’s much easier to devise a list of ideas generated in a short period of time, say five minutes, and then “edit” them later.

I’d suggest giving everyone in the session a stack of sticky notes and instruct the folks to write down a word or two on each sticky that attempts to answer the question. People are being forced to think quickly and not compose sentences, just thoughts. The sticky notes can later be easily organized to further benefit the brainstorm.

Oh, and don’t forget the trash can! You have to collect all the so-called “bad” ideas for disposal later. (Hint: Don’t actually dispose of them right away, but for this one exercise, they no longer exist, which will freak out some people.)

It’s interesting to do this same exercise but go back to review and edit the ideas that were discarded in the first exercise. You’re now attacking the same question with answers or ideas that are derived from an opposite perspective.

One could call this generosity that Seth refers to in Secret #2. Rather than assuming that all ideas previously discarded are no good, a generous mindset is to review them, discuss and edit down to only one that could be plausible.

Who’s to say which idea is good or bad. They’re different. True, one may be more applicable than the other but you won’t know that until further due diligence is done.

Quotable Quotes: Sir John Speaks, Again.

In a recent blog, I published an excerpt of an interview with British advertising legend John Hegarty, co-founder of Bartle Bogle Hegarty. While he was there in Cannes for their 2018 Festival of Creativity, he had more to say during a lunch event.

Here are some of Sir John’s pearls of wisdom:

The fundamentals of marketing haven’t changed, the tactics have. But the marketing industry has forgotten the art of persuasion.

Marketing people don’t step out of their bubble enough and see how the general public live.

The separation of media and creative was one of the biggest mistakes ever. The market isn’t always right.

The three pillars of branding: Is it memorable; am I motivated by it; is it truthful? We remember ideas and things that move us.

We’re living in a celebrity culture, not a fame culture. Fame adds to a brand’s value, even if you’re not going to buy it. A brand is not only made by the people who buy it, but also by people that know about it.

The foundation of brands is trust.

Data has been around since the nativity, but we’ve become slaves to it, like we did with market research.

Message to creatives: read things other people aren’t reading.

Being the biggest isn’t the same as being a brand leader.

Have a favorite? Let me know!

A French Quarter Tale: The Can

Note: This is a different kind of blog post. It’s my take on a short, short story; a brief tale, if you will. It’s also my take on where my imagination lead me following a dream I had recently. Submitted as a tribute in memory and in honor of the late Rod Serling, whom I regret I never got the chance to meet. Maybe someday. 

The corner store. The neighborhood grocery. Every town has one, except there’s no town quite like this one. There’s no store quite like this one. It befits its neighborhood, however. Both are quaint, old and, like the city, both have history.

Some would say colorful. Some, macabre.

By all appearances, this quaint neighborhood grocery store is not unlike many others. The shop owner is friendly, if not a bit surly at times. He stocks a small but ample variety of goods in keeping the interests of his neighbors in mind.

However, this is no ordinary neighborhood grocery. Shelf life, for some items at least, can seem to last longer than the items would like. Whilst sitting on the shelf and being on display, what goes through their minds?

Oh, come now, you say; they’re inanimate objects, they have no minds. Well . . .

Our tale centers around an everyday object in an everyday place; however, this object can’t see; it can only experience and sense. What it “sees” is hazy, blurry. It can sort of “hear” but it’s not sure what the sounds are or from whence they come. It doesn’t know where it is or even what it is. It only knows it is content and happy to be wherever it may be, peering out through some hazy blanket of blur as the world passes by.

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Courtesy of Pixabay & Photorama

This is our brief tale on life’s perspectives from a can on a shelf in a grocery store in the French Quarter in New Orleans . . . as told from The Twilight Zone.

****************

“There’s that blasted ringing, again! For some reason, everytime I hear that, a voice says ‘Hello’. A form of greeting?”

“Why can’t I move? Am I supposed to move? How long have I been here, wherever I am? I don’t seem to have any connotation of time or even what form I’m in. I don’t know why but I sense there are others around and beside me. Are we all the same?”

“Why do I have so many questions? Am I even supposed to “think,” whatever that is. Why is everything blurry? I get a feeling I’m inside somewhere. Wait, I see movement in front of me, but there’s something between me and the movement. ”

“What are those objects? They move in both directions, and some even stop and look toward me. Then they move on by. Why?”

“Whoa, what’s that? I’m moving! I’m being lifted off this shelf-thing. I, I’m being turned on my side. Hmmmm, I didn’t know I had sides. What’s happening to me?!”

“It’s blurry. Some figure is right in front of me and, whoa, I’m being put back on this shelf-thing. Why? What did I do? This figure in front of me seems to be picking up something next to me. But, wait. The figure takes it, emits a sound and drops it in some sort of carrying device. Why it and not me?!”

“Though I can’t quite make it out, there appears to be another figure pressing up against something and looking in. What is that? Wait, it appears to be looking right at me. Should I feel nervous, even though I don’t know what nervous is?

“Wonder what it’s like on the other side of that something? There appears to be lots of movement beyond me, in both directions.”

“There’s that ringing again. And the ‘Hello.’ Am I imagining all this? I dunno. Wait, now I think I see more figures slowing down in front of me. They both have those carrying devices like before.”

“Oh, boy, here we go again! I’m being picked up, turned on my side . . . and, nothing. What’s going on? ”

“Whooooaaaaa! I’m airborne. I’m upside down, then right side up, then . . . OUCH! I seem to have left my shelf-thing. Now, I think I’m on my side. Could it be I somehow landed in this figure’s carrying device?”

“WOW, what a different sensation!

As an aside, our can is now experiencing a sensation it has not “felt” in some time; not since it was first shipped to the store, unpacked and carried to the “shelf-thing”. It doesn’t know how long it’s been in the store nor where it’s next destination will be. 

“What’s happening to me? I feel like I’m moving, yet I’m in close quarters with other objects all around me.”

“Wait, what’s that? I sense that I’m in a different type surrounding than before. There are a lot more blurry figures all around. Is this “outside,” wherever that is? I don’t know what I’m feeling but my sides are getting warmer, and things seem to be, uh, brighter?”

“Where are we going? I demand to know! Put me down this instant!”

“What’s this? We seem to have arrived somewhere. There are more blurry figures but I think we’re inside some other place now.”

“Ah, finally, my colleagues and I are getting out of this contraption. Whoa, here I am again, airborne!”

“‘Umph!’ rough landing, there. Okay, I don’t recognize this place but there seems to be a lot of activity here. Good. Maybe I can acquaint myself with some of the others who made this jaunt with me.”

“Wait, I’m getting dizzy, I’m going upside down. What’s happening to me? Gaaa!”

“I’m being shaken. Whoa, this is not good. I, I’m losing something. Oh, my, it appears to be what I’ve been holding inside me all this time. What is that? I can just barely make it out; it’s blurry but it appears to be . . . Ahhhhhhh!”

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Courtesy of Pixabay & markusspiske

“I’m airborne again, twisting end over end; getting dizzy and lightheaded. Now, what. All has stopped. I’m not moving. Everything is dark. I feel funny. I don’t like this.”

“‘OUCH!’ What the . . . something just landed on top of me. Where am I? Hello, anyone there? Hello . . .?”

The hustle and bustle goes on. The blurry figures continue with their appointed tasks. This kitchen, you see, is busy getting orders ready to serve their demanding customers. A variety of culinary delights are being prepared with ingredients from all over the city. Even though fresh vegetables and fruit are a vital part of this kitchen, every once in awhile, canned goods are utilized in a mix of seasoning. Simple but tasty.

Our subject in this tale has involuntarily offered up its flavorful contents to please the palate of a waiting and hungry patron. Its journey has ended as it now rests among others experiencing a similar fate: The darkness of despair, which some of us would refer to as a garbage heap.

Postscript: This brief tale is offered up to the everyday shoppers, consumers and others who go about their daily lives perhaps pondering if this is all that life presents. The curious among us may pursue but we suggest one simply enjoy what some may deem merely an imaginative tale from the perspective of a can in the French Quarter . . . as told from The Twilight Zone.

 

This post first appeared on my other blog, Joe’s Journey.

Sir John at 2018 Cannes Festival of Creativity on, well, Creativity.

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’ve been involved in the advertising and marketing industry for a long time. Mostly, I’ve enjoyed it. I love creating things. I love the creative process, creative problem solving. I love creativity.

Creativity is, in part, what this blog is all about. It’s also, me thinks, one of those words that is vastly overused, and when you ask several people what is meant by it, you’ll get several different responses. It’s difficult for most folks to equate creativity with, say, engineering. Frankly, I think it was damned creative when the design and engineering of the Golden Gate Bridge came about.

Creativity is always evolving. We, as creative practitioners, should be evolving right along with it. So, whenever I see an article on the subject or hear a renowned expert talk about it, I want to read and listen to what is said. Maybe I can pick up some tips.

That happened recently when reading an issue of AdAge. I thought I’d share some of what I read.

The expert: Sir John Hegarty.

Sir John Hegarty Cannes 2016

Sir John Hegarty attends The Cannes Lions 2016 on June 20, 2016 in Cannes, France.
(June 19, 2016 – Source: Christian Alminana/Getty Images Europe)

Sir John was attending the 2018 Cannes Festival of Creativity where he’s been coming since 1989. A founding shareholder in Saatchi & Saatchi and a co-founder of TBWA London before starting Bartle Bogle Hegarty in 1982, Sir John has himself been behind hall of fame work for Levi’s, Volkswagen and Audi. Never shy about his opinions, Hegarty took the opportunity of yet another Cannes Lions to share a few thoughts on the current state of creativity with Ad Age.

A few excerpts from the interview by . . .

You’ve bemoaned the increasing role data and tech have played in the creative process.

I was accused by Martin Sorrell of being a dinosaur because somebody said “Hegarty doesn’t believe in data,” which is not actually true. Data is fundamentally important. One of the greatest stories ever told, the Nativity, came out of data collection, didn’t it? You’ve got to remember a brand’s job is also to convert.  . . . Go out and throw your net wide. How do I know who’s going to like what I’m selling?

Meaning that with targeting, advertisers are preaching to the converted?

It’s not that. It’s a lazy way of marketing: “Look at the data, what does the data tell us? It’s an instruction manual!” No, it’s not an instruction manual. You’ve got to think about how you’re building the values of this brand. I know I’m boring and I say this all the time, but a brand is made not only by the people who buy it but also by the people who know about it.

“Those people” being the brand itself and also agents of the brand?

If I say to you “Rolls Royce,” you say, “Ooh!” You’re probably not going to buy one, but by talking to a broad audience who understands what your brand is about, you become part of culture. We are forgetting that part of advertising’s function of course is about effectiveness, but it’s also helping that brand become a part of culture.

Last year the talk was all about Fearless Girl. There doesn’t seem to be a corollary this year.

I’ll get provocative here again: Fearless Girl did what for the brand? I don’t know what brand it was associated with. We’ve lost connection. We’ve confused persuasion with promotion. Everybody got hugely excited about the Nike FuelBand 10 years ago. I thought it was a brilliant promotion. I used to be a runner. There was no way I would ever run in Nikes. New Balance, yes. I don’t care how many FuelBands you create, I won’t buy them. I don’t think you make a great running shoe. You have to persuade me.

What do you make of consultancies moving into the agency space?

Why shouldn’t these people get involved? Unless you understand how to convert that into a communications program that stands out in the marketplace, then what’s the point? The trouble is agencies are their own worst enemies and are not very good at establishing a trusted rapport with clients.

You mentioned the Nativity being the original data-informed creative. You look at the Ten Commandments, some of the most enduring “content” ever, and it was written on stone. The oldest medium there is.

Exactly. The greatest brand in the world is the Catholic Church. Best logo. Every lesson in marketing is there. The point is: Two thousand years, some problems, still going. Where will you be in 2,000 years?

Well, gee, Sir John, I don’t know where I’ll be in 2,000 years. I imagine I’ll most likely have been turned into a pile of dust somewhere or maybe I’ll have been recycled somehow. The key word here is imagine-ation. It’s the heart and soul of creativity. Each one of us has an unlimited imagination and boundless creativity — even when we think we don’t.

It’s when limitations are thrust upon us that our abilities are challenged. At times, our creativity is even called into question. As Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” It’s what we do with our knowledge that’s important.

How may we apply creativity and that imagination to do something constructive with that knowledge, to contribute to society, to help educate someone; heck, even to make someone laugh. We must keep on creating, keep on striving.

Does it take a mindset of creativity to be creative? Huh, imagine that!

Hall of Fame Quotes – Advertising & Otherwise

As it’s been some time since I last submitted for your amusement various illustrious quotes, I thought I’d showcase another in a series of worth-remembering “sayings” which I find interesting and inspiring, and, hopefully, you will, too.

Some quotes are from the American Advertising Federation newsletter “Smart Brief,” while others come from various sources. Enjoy!!

red-quotation-marks-vector-online-royalty-free-picture-435958Never write an advertisement which you wouldn’t want your family to read. You wouldn’t tell lies to your own wife. Don’t tell them to mine. David Ogilvy

Nothing will put a bad product out of business faster than a good advertising campaign. Advertising causes people to try a product once, but poor quality eliminates any possibility of a repeat purpose.  Morris Hite

Never hesitate to steal a good idea.  Al Neuharth

I like that they are talking about the work. If they aren’t talking, then your brand is dead.  Alex Bogusky

Make it idiot-proof and someone will make a better idiot.  Bob Pritchard – VoiceAmerica Business Channel

Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.  Bob Pritchard – VoiceAmerica Business Channel

Advertising becomes a dialogue that becomes an invitation to a relationship.   Lester Wunderman

Energy and persistence conquer all things.  Benjamin Franklin

Vision without execution is simply hallucination.  Bob Pritchard

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There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.  Bob Pritchard

If Spring Was Season of Creativity, What, Then Is Summer?

It’s Summertime! Generally, we all think of summer as starting on June 1 and going through August 31. Summer 2018 actually started June 21, the Summer Solstice, our longest day of the year.

What the heck does summer have to do with our creativity, anyway? Are we inspired because of the summer rains, weary of the intense heat, but relaxed and excited about our vacations?

Or do we hit our creativity pause buttons because of all these? Summer Time is supposed to be Fun Time, isn’t it? Isn’t creativity synonymous with fun?

Well, let’s step back a bit, shall we. My friend, Felix Scardino, LCSW, sends out a regular message at least once a quarter about various insights on creativity and the mind, art and psychology. In a message a few months ago, Felix referred to Thomas Merton reminding us that in Winter, plants appear dead, yet within them are resources that lead to new life. Spring thus bursts forth with color and growth, a season of creativity.

Season of Creativity

According to Felix, Spring can remind you not to jump to dire conclusions when all seems lost, when you can’t see much in your future, or when you feel that your reserves have dried up.

He notes that our resources for new ideas and insights are often so hidden that our lives look like dead branches, and we’ll begin to see shoots of life and hope, which usher us into our Spring.

Are we suppressing any feelings, hiding insights, feeling weary about expression? What of our hidden voice? Isn’t it time to feel alive again, to, as Felix puts it, allow what lives inside of us to come out?

Assuming we have done this during these past few months, can we presume that a new, refreshed mode of thought and creativity is taking shape within us for the summer months?

If so, what creative shape becomes us?

Summer: ‘Tis the Season of the Mind at Play?

In an article in KOSMOS, journal for global transformation, authors Jorge N. Ferrer, Marina T. Romero and Ramon V. Albareda discuss how creativity in academia is similar to our seasons.

In Summer, some flowers have matured into fruits and some of those fruits become ripe. It is the season of harvest, celebration, sharing, and gratitude. It is also a time to rest, to peacefully contemplate the new seeds contained in the fruits, and to plan another cycle for the following Autumn. In the creative process, the ‘fruits’ represent the ideas or expressions selected for further elaboration and refinement.

Summer is the season of the mind—a time for the intellectual and aesthetic elaboration of ideas. It is also time to open oneself to the many wonders, possibilities, and joys of summer, which can now expand and stimulate the mind with insights that can refine those fruitful ideas. That kinda sounds like f-u-n.

There is, however, nothing that says we can’t allow ourselves to be open to things year-round. Dialoging with others about one’s ideas in order to polish them, and putting those ideas into writing or other expressive means is a natural progression of the creative process whether or not this is done during summer. Yet, Summertime does present some unique characteristics and qualities.

 

Summer-Play

Borrowed from Felix’s Summer Email Message – thanks, Felix!

It is usually a more relaxed time during which the mind can indeed play with its surroundings and explore possibilities, if we let it.

Curiosity is a wonderful attribute of creativity, and summer’s playground lends a world of potential ideas to the curious. Take time to play and be curious (always). Let your mind reignite and stimulate your passion. We owe it to ourselves.

However, therein lies the problem. Playing. We’re forgetting how to do it and we, both children AND adults, are not doing it enough.

In his recent “Summer Email,” Felix refers to research scientist Dr. Stuart Brown, who states that a chance to beef up your intuitive skills, improve your relationships and refine your ability to solve problems are a few of the benefits of play he writes about in his book, Play: How it Sharpens the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.  
As Felix points out, play is a certain purposelessness, spontaneity, abandon, and openness to experience-as well as relaxed movement. The more you infuse your work with these playful traits, the more creative and innovative the result.

 

Some theorists even suggest that the opposite of play is not work but depression! I can understand this point. Like millions of us, I suffer from depression, and lack of play. Summers used to be full of play and excitement: Golf and boating and water skiing. Seems life a couple of lifetimes ago!

As the seasons bring about different senses to the body – cold in winter, hot in summer – so, too, does the mind reflect these various feelings. One’s creative passion may run very differently when confronting a robust fireplace with a hot toddy compared to how one feels while sinking one’s toes in the sand at the beach on July 4th.

Both are valuable and resourceful experiences in our creative process. This is Summer Time, so take time to enjoy and let your minds play and explore. New dimensions within your own creativity lie ahead, waiting to be realized. As they are, our creative shapes evolve.

Relax. Summer’s heat may have you sweating and thirsting for coolness, but you have plenty of time before the fire will need stoking and the toddy heated.