Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How full is your bike?

Photograph one of a series by Alain Delorme

I saw this photograph, and loved it right away.

Beyond the spectacular palette and the riveting subject matter, I immediately thought of the dilemma we sometimes face of working on a lot of jobs at once. If you step back and look at the load, you shake your head and you say "impossible". But if you are riding the bike as someone carefully balances one more, two more, five more projects on top, you somehow find a way to balance them. You make time. You compensate. And as long as you keep moving, you almost don't notice.

Of course stopping and starting become the issue. And as with any delivery job, stopping and starting are a serious part of the deal. Inertia sort of plays against you -- you'd rather hold onto the job then stop long enough to deliver it properly. Just one more meeting. just one more week to really finish it properly.

You're not nearly as nimble -- when a truck blows by, when an innocent pedestrian steps in front of you, or in a narrow alley strewn with trash, vermin and the occasional drunk. Right? Welcome to advertising! You'll probably crash. You'll likely drop jobs all over the place. The unforseen stop is WAY worse than the calculated stop.

There's something to be said for the accomplishment of moving a lot of stuff at once. If you ever actually get it all where it's supposed to go. But clearly this can't be done without sacrificing time. Energy. Focus. Accuracy.And these are precisely the reason that all those jobs seem to stay on the back of the damn bike forever.

The funny thing is, the people who can most easily recognize the bike is overloaded are the ones who aren't riding it. The open-mouthed gapers who look on with fascination. Marveling. CAN he do it? Which turns into a sort of morbid jenga-like fascination: what if I put one MORE box on there? Would THAT tip it over? I mean, CLEARLY he has the other 423 boxes under control. What's a 424th box?

And what if you are the customer? When this guy pulls up to your door, do you get the sense you're not working with a quality company?

If you are the dispatcher, do you start to ask this guy to park his bike around the corner and walk into the office with a single package under his arm to preserve the illusion he's hand delivering them one at a time?

When you feel overloaded, do you just stop the bike and dump it all in the street? Do you refuse to ride it until someone takes 1/2 the stuff off? 2/3 of the stuff? Would it seem normally loaded with one absurdly large box (and a two-week window to ride it 100 miles)?

Have I beaten the shit out of this metaphor?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Setting Expectations

For years I labored under the impression that, in order to create great work, you needed a proper budget. In fact, frequently my first question, after being delivered a brief was "Why isn't there a budget on this brief?" After all, budget defines scale. Right? And often that fact was sheepishly explained away with that classic dodge: "They don't have much money, but if we come up with a really great idea, the client will find the money."

And no matter how good we thought the idea was, how breakthrough, how strategically sound, how oh-so-right for their brand, the fact is, I can count on one hand the number of times a client dug deeper to fund a great idea. Out of around 2000 briefs over 14 years. And one of them was three months ago.

Gradually the realization emerged that the limits of an idea aren't defined by the budget. In fact, most truly great ideas inherently have scale. They work, somehow, at every size. As a single tweet and as a full length feature. Expectations should be set on how to spend any budget in a way that delivers a well executed idea to an appropriate number of consumers at the right time and for the right reason. Budget doesn't define the idea. Just, perhaps the scale and the expectations.

Ever seen the NPR tiny desk series? These are bands who typically take command of a stage with amps, effects, roadies, and seething throngs of supporters. But instead, they are taking command of a room the size of my kitchen for a group of about 25. The result? Well, as long as the artist is worth a damn (think, the idea) it works at any scale. Is it different than the full-blown stage experience? Hell yeah. Is it as good or better? Certainly to the 25 people in the room it's better. Their expectations have been set for exclusive. intimate. Lo-Fi. And for the rest of us, watching at home, it's still pretty killer – thanks to NPR's broadcasting expertise.

Witness. A great idea. At a fully manageable scale.

You can see this artist on a slightly larger scale here in Dallas at Club Dada on July 22nd.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


It's so hard to say goodbye.
It's so much easier to just quietly slip out. Like after you realize you've had one too many at your friends' wedding and you just walk straight to the door and up to your room and crash. no warning. No friendly goodbye. Just a stiff-legged lurch to the elevator before trying to open your hotel door with your driver's license.

It's hard for me to say goodbye -- on my last day of a job. On my last day visiting my parents. When I drop my son off at school. When I leave my wife on a business trip.

But I'm saying goodbye. To Facebook.
And it's both harder and easier than I thought it would be.

Deleting Farmville? I didn't give it a second thought.
Deleting "Your year in Facebook statuses"? Easy.

Hiding (you can't truly delete) 150 pictures of France?
Harder. You have to do it one at a time.

Turning all my privacy settings to zero?
Kind of hard.

Listening to my Mom lament that she won't be able to find me.
A little hard.

Giving up statuses from 30 restaurants, 20 liquor brands, 15 causes, 5 airlines, Groupon and living social, and "Dallas Mavericks re the World Champions"?
Easy. I follow them all on twitter anyway - and they all pretty much repeat themselves if it's worth saying.

No longer following the daily statuses of 410 relatives, coworkers, former coworkers, vendors, clients, high school and college friends. As easy and as hard as it sounds.

No longer sharing things with those people? REALLY EASY, actually.

Remembering the actual passwords for 30 apps that have an option to sign in with facebook instead?
Severely fucking difficult.

Finding other things to do?

Will google+ replace facebook for me?
Lord, I hope not.

While it's my job to be up on all this stuff,
I'd like to think I can do my job better with fewer distractions and more actual personal contact.
But we'll see.
Maybe I was right?
Or maybe I'm a fool.

But I'm getting the F outta here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What I learned from the NBA Finals

The NBA Finals taught me quite a bit.

They taught me about Lebron: Don't be that guy.
The overpromise-underdeliver guy.
The guy who tries to win by stacking the deck.
The guy who's mouth writes checks he simply can't cash.
That's the guy who, when he can't hit a basket, the fans and the media hang him out to dry.

And more importantly they taught me about Dirk: Be that guy.
The guy who wins by putting in the effort.
The guy who has learned not to celebrate before the ball is in the basket and the clock reads 0:00.
The guy who puts his team first.
That's the guy, who when he can't hit a basket, the team and fans behind him rise up to be the difference.

There were a ton of great basketball players in the middle, with great stories all their own: from Bosh to Barea, from Wade to JET.
Each playing their part, doing their best.
There were a ton of great fans – Mavs fans who've waited for it way too long.
Cavs fans who were all too happy to see LeBron choke on his own tongue.
Heat fans who just couldn't cheer loud enough to drown out the steady march to defeat.

I'm not a Dallas native, or a born-blue Mavs fan.
But I took particular pleasure in watching really good basketball where, in my opinion, the good guys won.
Not the best paid athletes, or the ones with the most lucrative endorsement contracts.
But guys I'd let my son get autographs from.

Congratulations to the 2011 Dallas Mavericks.
And thanks for a great run.

Friday, June 10, 2011

This Matters

I've worked in the advertising business for 15 years. I've seen a lot of high-pressure assignment come and go. I've lived and died by decisions made by clients, colleagues, clients' wives, etc. Sort of. We've always looked at each other and consoled ourselves with the fact that, while we take our jobs incredibly seriously - while we strive to do not just good work, but truly great work - we can look at each other at 5:30 (sometimes 5:30AM) and say "Hey - it's just advertising. Nobody's gonna die."

Usually that's true.

Which is why it's very sad for me to report that Anna Basso passed away on June 8. I didn't know Anna. I only know of her through the 1million4anna website that was created by my old agency, Firehouse, to give hope to a beautiful high school student battling Stage 4 Ewing's Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

It's an amazing story. One you can read for yourself at the website. And while Anna's struggle is over, the assignment far from over.

Miraculously, the website did indeed garner over 1 million prayers for Anna.
Miraculously, Anna lived to see it happen. And graduate from high school.
Her family - and all patients who battle cancer - continue to need prayers.
And while I'm not a religious guy, I know every prayer counts when you're facing something as big as cancer, or a child with cancer.

Send them a card. And a prayer. And share 1million4anna with someone else.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Saskia Hamilton

Charlie is insane. Yet doing something very right. Like, Cool.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Just Do it

hello, future - the day from Alex Shumate on Vimeo.

A music video shot and editted by my old agency editor, Alex Shumate. Got an idea? Grab your camera, a couple folks around the office, scout a great location, select a proper piece of music. And go do it. Now. Like Alex.

Alex is hoping to win the Saatchi & Saatchi Hello Future Music Video Competition with Moby & Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Papercut on your eye

Yulia Brodskaya makes paper sing.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Great work, well executed.
Makes me want to study a language abroad.
20 years too late.

Monday, March 14, 2011

One for the ladies

Esther has her hands full. With all kinds of stuff girls like. And art directors. Figures she's a girl/art director.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Dude shoots film

I've given Jeff Bridges a lot of credit. But I had no idea he was shooting photography like this.
See the book of shots from the set of True Grit.

via hopkins.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Art of Listening to KXT

Supporting KXT, the most kick-ass radio in the DFW metroplex, could also land you a t-shirt or a screen print from this guy, Dev Gupta.

It's a win-win (wince).

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Bringing business out of the dark.

Film about the crazy Dallas habitrail, and how it has killed downtown.
And why, we must -- in turn, kill it.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Look Again

If you haven't seen Tom Hussey's work lately, You should.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Behind the Claw

I shot Joe's Crab Shack's latest campaign with Director Adam Cameron, and Limey Productions in November. And as we filmed, I followed Adam around, jabbing this flip camera in his face the whole shoot. Professional that he is, he patiently sat down and gave me a few moments, telling me (and now you) what it meant to him to create a gigantic, destructive claw.

Alex Shumate, Slingshot's secret weapon DP/Editor/animator/soundtech/etc., cut my shitty footage together into something that almost feels intentional. God bless talent that can make something out of nothing.


Mark Laita - Created Equal

From Mark Laita's book, Created Equal

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Jose Parla draws you in

I just finished "An Object of Beauty" -- a book about art collecting, written by Steve Martin (The Jerk).
I could see collecting art -- if I was a man of indiscriminant means and fewer traditional financial responsibilities like soccer camps and table food. And if I were to collect art, I might collect art made by this man.

Is it because it looks like hair that it makes mine stand on end?
More here.

Monday, February 07, 2011

This is what success looks like

This is what success looks like.

And this doesn't hurt

Great spot. Worthy buzz. And a freakish lookalike for Mark Hamill.
Here's hoping his fifteen minutes of fame lasts longer than Mark's.
Congrats to Deutsch -- for not dropping the torch of one of advertising's most storied brands. Yet.

Friday, February 04, 2011


I watched Inception last night.
For the first time.
And I remembered back to all the buzz that surrounded that movie -- all the Inception-based statuses that clogged my feed for two months. In July.

Well now I have those questions. But it's already been questioned to death.

Such is the life of the late-adopter.
Not that I'm a particularly late adopter in all things, but movies (unless that movie has Harry Potter in the title or Pixar in the credits) come to me as fast as Netflix can get them.

So I end up like the guy above, too busy driving to field the funny email, even if I was on the fastest broadband connection (which, if you believe the commercial, I am). And no, It's not lost on me that this is not a new commercial either.

And with all the warbling right now over the Oscars, and so many movies out there begging to be seen -- and the unfortunate stretch of shitty weather in Dallas -- you'd think I could have snuck away and caught Black Swan,
The King's Speech and True Grit at the very least. Alas, the weather was THAT shitty.

I can pride myself on seeing 3 of the 5 movies up for best art direction. And I can thank a long flight to New York for the opportunity to see "the Social Network", albeit on an 8 inch screen, periodically interrupted by the quaalude-mellowed voice of the captain pointing out the Mississippi River and the illuminated seat belt sign.

Of course I pissed away a perfectly good movie-viewing opportunity with "Due Date" in -- of all places - Santa Monica. A town that could have shown me any number of better movies. The two tittering Australian tweens' ardent recommendation should have tipped me off to go for something slightly less stupid. "It's greayt" they brayed. "You'll luhve eet." My ass.

And of course there was "Up in the Air" -- which taught me nothing if not to upgrade my suitcase and pay more attention to the footwear I select for flights. At least there were some teaching moments there-- What? Holy shit was that 2009?

So then I'll stop. And go shop for an iPad.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

I see you

Mesmerizing new shot from Randal Ford.
You can be his friend too.
Or chow down on his sister's fantastic cooking while you inspect enormous enlargements of some of his most iconic shots.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Slingshot is pushing some buttons

A renegade team of mobile explorers has been testing and documenting emerging technologies in Dallas. Follow them as they poke their noses (and cameras) into mobile apps and digital happenings in the metroplex.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Our Blue Dot

Contemplating our pale blue dot.
via Michael Marantz

Friday, January 14, 2011

4000 frames a second

I'm shooting a cool little component to a website we're building for one of our clients. We're using a camera that can shoot 4000 frames a second. so you can get 40 seconds of slow motion action from 1.5 seconds of actual action. Too slow? You be the judge.

Water Sculpture from Shinichi Maruyama on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hello gorgeous

I swear, I want to EAT these paintings. I love the technique. I love the subject matter. And dammit, I love the colors. There, I said it. Go love on the whole collection.

via Krista at BHAG

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What should you put in your book?

A former intern emailed me this morning to ask advice on putting her book together. After I wrote my response, it dawned on me, it could be helpful to just about any aspiring creative. If you are not smart, or not an art director, maybe it applies less to you. But if you're not smart, you're probably not this far into this post anyway, so there we go.



I think, first and foremost, you need to identify where exactly you see yourself for your first job (and for the three jobs after that, if applicable). Then, focus your book and all your efforts on that goal. Show the best work you have: the most thoughtful, the most finished, the best designed and the most surprising.

Second, I think you'd do well to demonstrate that you're proficient across multiple media channels. It's 2011. You need to have digital thinking in your book. Period. To skip it would be stupid. And you're not stupid. So yes -- do the integrated thing (as long as it's strong and makes you look smart.)

Third, I hear over and over from creative directors that they want "ideas", no matter how unfinished. At a large agency, that probably plays. At a small agency like Slingshot, I'm looking for a lot more: do you understand how to use type? Do you understand how to use (not shoot, but use) photography effectively? Do you push for an unexpected solution?

Your book gets you in the door -- EVERYTHING else is about you: can you talk intelligently about advertising -- and about the advertising you admire? Especially the advertising you admire that has been done by the company you are interviewing with. Do you have any experience in the ad industry? Be your enthusiastic self. And have some confidence in the fact that you are worth a great deal -- and focus on that job you want. Not necessarily the job that wants you.

Biggest mistake you can make is taking a job your heart isn't in.

Send me your work. And tell me where you see yourself.
I'll try to help you get there.

(You guys can do that too. I'm always excited to see a new book.)

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Photo Tuesday

I'm speechless.
See more of Alberto Seveso here.