Images: Potent Portraits of Creative Expression

Images have a way of striking our emotions. Creativity is fueled. Emotions are stoked.

Some folks get upset, angry, sad. Others become calm, excited, enthusiastic, joyful.

Shock, horror, puzzlement, admiration.

Some find peace while others find fear. Art and photography have a way of doing this. Museums and art galleries tend to bring these feelings out in all of us.

These past few months I’ve come across a variety of different images, different ways of conveying creativity. Since that’s what this blog is all about, I thought I’d share  a taste of what I’ve viewed.

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“Pamela’s Voice” in Night Gallery

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The Guggenheim Museum in New York, and, yes, even Rod Serling’s Night Gallery in your mind are fine examples of artistic and creative expression. Those of you outside the U.S. who may not be familiar with Mr. Serling may find this rather intriguing regarding the paintings featured in his Night Gallery.

 

A few weeks ago I wrote about a summer conference I attended at Houston’s Jung Center on Imagination. As they often do, the Center featured several paintings on display at that time. A few caught my eye for one reason or another. If you’d like more information about these images, please contact The Jung Center.

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“Chaos” – Margaret Wheeler (Grami)

I was struck by the vibrant colors immersed onto a dark background, but with areas of white and yellow stubbornly bursting through. I thought, “Chaos, indeed, but in a quiet, peaceful setting.”

 

 

 

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“Rising” – Kutani Village, Japan – Roy Spann

 

I just thought this was a neat photograph. Then, the more I looked at it, I thought . . . “Hmmmm, umbrellas in variety of colors . . . would make an interesting ad for Travelers Insurance.”

 

 

 

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“Protector” – Tamer Ghoneim

This reminded me of some very cool abstract art that Apple may have for a screen saver, very vibrant in colors – you can’t take your eyes off it. I couldn’t. It’s actually a photo print on metal.

 

 

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Part of the Vanzant Driver presentation, “The Street of Heaven Was As Glass”

 

Vanzant’s discussion was intriguing on “The Visionary Imagination” alongside Jay Wehnert. This illustration was one of several artistic expressions presented that challenged the “boundaries of the imagination.”

These next two images below were not part of the Jung Center’s exhibit, but two very different photographs that caught my eye.

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Iconic Statue on the Notre Dame campus

This first one was sent to me from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN as part of a Thank You for supporting the university.

It captures one of the iconic statues on campus during Winter with the Golden Dome peaking out from the background. Note the areas of snow  acting as “winter eyebrows.”

This second one was an ad I saw in a publication, Arts+Culture, based in Dallas, Texas. It’s one fine publication covering the arts and culture scene in Texas.

The photo immediately captured my attention because I wasn’t sure if I saw what I thought I saw: A young girl “shooting the bird.” Then I read the caption: “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.” Thomas Jefferson said that and I’m inclined to agree.

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“Nic Noblique – Sculptor” – photo of Azo by her mom, Audra Sewell Noblique.

The ad is for Nic Noblique -Sculptor. When I emailed Nic for permission to run the ad featuring his daughter, he told me the ad had received quite a few comments and he’d gotten good response from it. The photo, taken a few years ago when Azo was seven (she’s now 12), afforded their daughter the opportunity to flip the bird and “get it out of her system.”

I applaud both Nic and his wife Audra, not to mention their daughter, for having the guts to run an ad like this, and Arts+Culture Magazine for having the maturity to approve it for publication.

Art is a very subjective medium. Advertising can be as well. Both can be perplexing. As varied as our society is today, so are the images we confront.

Kudos to the creatives and artists who continue to push the envelope with taste and style and who entice our imagination and intrigue our minds.

And a thank you to those museums and galleries who think enough of the contributions to our collective, creative universe to exhibit and publish these works.

To the creators, go the spoils.

To the viewers, go the enjoyment.

To everyone, onward. Create!

Advertising Hall of Fame Quotes-Part 7

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

Mostly excerpted from the newsletter “Smart Brief” from the American Advertising Federation, these quotes are usually from a member of the Advertising Hall of Fame but not all.

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61. All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.

— William Bernbach

62. Plan the sale when you plan the ad.

— Leo Burnett

63. When a client comes to us with a product, he is, in effect, giving us a problem to be solved. … Some of the biggest advertising mistakes are people who imagine they know what the problem is, or they’re not even thinking about; they’re just coming up with that brilliant idea and trying to force the problem to fit it.

— Mary Wells Lawrence

64. In good times, people want to advertise; in bad times, they have to. (Note: Doesn’t mean they realize this, however.)

— Bruce Barton

65. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

— Samuel Beckett (could have been in the Hall of Fame in his time)

66. The agency’s account executive should be able to step into the sales manager’s shoes if the sales manager drops dead today.

— Morris Hite

67. I am one who believes that one of the greatest dangers of advertising is not that of misleading people, but that of boring them to death.

— Leo Burnett

68. We simply cannot allow the First Amendment to be legislated away. If we ever compromise, we’ve sold out the industry’s future and made fools of those who shaped its past.

— John E. O’Toole

69. A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.

— David Brinkley

70. Nothing comes merely by thinking about it.

— John Wanamaker

Got a favorite? Lemme know.

‘Unfairy Tales’ Wins Cannes Grand Prix

This animated spot is simply awesome. And touching. And serious. And gripping.

It sort of grips you by the throat as you’re reaching for the Kleenex.

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Every so often I see a commercial or piece of design work that intrigues me or, in this case, stops me in my tracks. The photo still alone does that but the spot goes on to do more damage to my soul.

According to Advertising Age’s “Creativity,” 180LA and UNICEF have earned the Cannes Grand Prix for Good for the “Unfairy Tales” campaign, a series of films that first seem to start out like sweet kids’ stories but then take dramatic and, at times, terrifying turns when you discover the children are fleeing for their lives from war-torn Syria.

Among the stories were the tale above, “Malak and the Boat,” which chronicled a seven-year-old girl’s harrowing journey on the seas, and, at the end of the trip, is the only survivor of a boat that had been once full of her fellow countrymen.

Kudos to the men and women who had the guts to go forth with this message and for the artful way in which it was created and produced. While the animation brings a potent emotional punch to the stories, the appearance of the real-life protoganists at the end of each short really drives the point home.

Visually stimulating animation and poignant storytelling.

A powerful combination. We’d be well served to see more of this.

The short films mark the debut of UNICEF’s #actofhumanity global initiative, designed to promote positive perception of the tens of millions of refugee children around the world.

The Grand Prix for Good is chosen from all the Gold Lion-winning work that was created for charities or not for profit, as well as those with public service messages, with the exception of those awarded in Pharma, Health/Wellness, Innovation and Film Craft. Such efforts are not eligible for Grand Prix in their respective categories. The Titanium/Integrated Grand Prix jury determines the winner.

Nicely done and well deserved!

It’s Friday . . . What’s that you say, Fred?


Fred Flintstone at Halifax Bank

It’s Friday and I’m ready for a good chuckle.

Actually, I got my chuckle a few days ago when I first read about this ad for Halifax Bank in the U.K. Featuring a few of The Flintstones’ characters, the spot does a wonderful job with the animation and the bank’s message.

Kudos to them for wanting to do something different, especially being somewhat contrarian to that British stiff-upper-lip perception.

According to Creativity Magazine, U.K. bank Halifax has collaborated with Warner Bros. once again, this time to feature Flintstones in a spot about switching banks. This ad, by Adam&Eve/DDB, sees Fred and Wilma walk into a Halifax branch and interact with a real-life manager as they explain why they want to switch from their Bedrock bank.

Once again, directorial duo Dom&Nic at Outsider worked with the Mill’s VFX team to integrate the iconic animated characters into a live action setting, and recreate them authentically (and) as close to the original as possible.

The team worked closely with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to get the character designs as accurate as possible, combining modern techniques with more traditional methods.

To give it a classic aged look, the Mill team also hand animated and color graded the entire end sequence, where we see Fred with his new shoes taking Wilma home, followed by Dino. Love the scene where a banker-lady is giving Dino a treat!

I’ve always appreciated a scenario when the agency is blessed with a client who is willing to bend or even break the supposed rules in order to impress and be innovative in a classy and, in this case, cute execution of a timeless classic.

The situation is scripted well and the actors are, well, believable. More importantly, the creative treats the concept with respect.

Alas, the poor boob who plays the banker. Imagine playing second fiddle to a famous caveman who is not part of Geico. Ah, the Brits!

Way to go, Fred and Wilma!

The Future of Advertising?

Ever tried to predict the future? Not easy, is it?

I don’t know if this article comes close but it is an interesting read. Dax Hamman, Chief Product Officer, Rubicon Project, did a nice job with it.

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The future of advertising may take many forms, some of which may not even be known to us at present – wait, let me jump into my time travel Shuttlecraft (on loan from Star Fleet) and I’ll get back with you.

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Until then, the publishers of Rubicon have put together an intriguing read in this their 2016 Biannual Issue, The Programmatic Mind.

Whatchathink?

Well, for one thing, how will advertisers get consumers to pay attention to ads if when we all live in an era of super-saturation? The author states we start by using information as advertising – using data available to us in order to make our ads as relevant as possible so the consumer has no choice but to pay attention.

Hmmmm, I thought that’s what we try and do everyday . . . now. That’s what smart creativity is supposed to do. Let’s face it, cutesy only goes so far! Mr. Hamman further states “. . . that elegant design won’t be enough if your ads are not providing valuable information.” That’s true.

I agree with the author when he says the future of advertising is full of tremendous promise. It’s also full of a whole bunch of challenges and subsequent responsibilities. Information overload will, I think, be even more so than it is today.

Still, consumers are a fickle bunch; they’re also quite intelligent and can certainly discern an ad that makes sense, is relevant and interesting. Our future world will most likely be more intense, with more information, quite problematic, more programmatic and probably more “anything-atic.”

Oh, boy, pass the Excedrin!

Since you folks will undoubtedly have a thought or two on this subject and the article, pro and con, let me know. Don’t be bashful. There’s plenty of Excedrin for all of us.

A little creative juice for the soul. Thank You, Creativity!

Ever get curious? Well, I was curious as to what the back cover of my Advertising Age issues referred when they featured someone and a quote. Near the bottom of the page was listed “Thank You Creativity.”

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OK, what gives?

“A love letter to the stories, lessons and magic of creativity.” Or so says the home page.

The rest is rather intriguing. See for yourself and Enjoy.

Thank You, indeed, Creativity!

Our Creative Economy: Listen up, Houston!

This past Monday, April 11, I had the pleasure of attending a day-long discussion “Valuing the Creative Economy” at the third Leadership in the Arts Summit held at the Center for Arts Leadership at the University of Houston. Quite a stunning facility!

I learned about this summit from my friend and Only in Houston Co-chair Alfred Cervantes, who besides being the deputy director of the Houston Film Commission was also a panelist addressing the question “Creative Economy: What is it and why does it matter”?

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Because of the length of the Summit and the depth of discussion that took place and will continue in the weeks and months to come, there will be subsequent posts about our progress and how all this can tie together here in Houston. There will also be photos and presentations from the Summit posted to the Center’s website in the days ahead.

The goal of the Summit, according to Sixto Wagan, Director, Center for Arts Leadership, is “to bring our creative community together to talk and to envision a collective future. The panels are meant to push beyond the simple binaries, help us question assumptions, and move the conversation forward toward action.”

Christine Harris lead the opening plenary (formal seminar-speak) “Creative Economy: What is it and why does it matter”? Christine has been working with creative enterprises and community development for over 30 years and was recently in Houston last November headlining a similarly-themed morning workshop at the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) and an evening panel discussion at Gensler.

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Harris co-founded the Creative Economy Coalition, a working committee of the National Creativity Network, and designed and executed the nation’s first review of defining the creative economy. This study profiled and inventoried how 27 communities around the nation were profiling and measuring their creative economies. She was CEO of Creative Alliance Milwaukee, where she managed a full profile of the regional creative economy and developed online resources for the sector.

It’s not my intent to cover all that was discussed during the Summit in one blog post. We’d be reading for days! I merely want to further the conversation that was “started” last November and continued this past Monday.

And Houston, we’ve got work to do.

Just consider these questions:

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And then, there’s the $64,000 question:

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Obviously, these questions don’t have simple, ready-made answers. They do, however, demand discussion and we need to continue this.

Feel free to comment and send me input on possible answers or solutions to these questions. You can also post your ideas on OiH-FaceBook and/or the Arts Leadership-FaceBook.

The various communication organizations in and around the city are a major resource for input and counsel. So, too, are the fine educational and non-profit venues in our area. Although this Summit centered around the arts, creativity knows no boundaries.

Through the American Advertising Federation Houston (AAFH), Only in Houston (OiH) was born a decade ago. Its intent was, and still is, to keep local creative dollars spent locally. There was even a multi-communication organization formed years ago (Houston Communication Alliance) aimed at bringing together all “creatives.”

Times change as do people and industries. Houston’s Creative Economy and its driving forces need to meet today’s challenges with tomorrow in mind. We may need to rethink how this is done. Other communities around the country are doing so, and it will take just that: A Houston-wide effort. No one organization or person can do this.

At the risk of thinking out loud (even though I’m typing this in silence), maybe Only in Houston morphs into a “Houston Creative Coalition,” which is comprised of organizations like the Houston Arts Alliance, Greater Houston Partnership, numerous professional and arts organizations, etc.? We can learn a lot from others who have started something like this. But Houston needs to create something that works in Houston, not Boston.

And we must do a helluva lot better job of communicating with one another so that we all know what’s going on and when. No problem; piece o’ cake!

The Leadership in Arts Summit 2016 is a recent example of creativity and economics blending and working together for the common good. We need to make sure the conversation continues and progresses.

More to come . . .

Onward!