Friday, 29 August 2008

So Much Pileup

Mike Davis, a designer and DJ from Minneapolis has started a great new blog So Much Pileup, that showcases graphic design and illustration from the 1960s through the early 80s. Lots of visual inspiration for all you designers I strongly suggest you check it out,

Mike’s motivation for creating a catalogue of vintage design:

Any designer’s studio or home is filled with books, stickers, posters, postcards, and other pieces of history. I started this blog to share some of the work from my collection that’s inspired me as a designer, primarily from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. I’ll be posting logos, postage stamps, motion graphics, packaging and promotional design from the time I consider to be the golden era of graphic design, just before computers took over and anyone with a copy of Photoshop and 10 fonts started calling themselves designers.

OBEY - Shepard Fairey

OBEY is a company/brand that I always look out for, and take inspiration from its success story. Fairey created the "André the Giant Has a Posse" sticker campaign in 1989, while attending design school. This later evolved into the "Obey Giant" campaign I'm pretty sure you would have seen the posters on a wall near you. This campaign has grown via an international network of collaborators replicating Fairey's original designs. Fairey has also spun off the OBEY clothing line from the original sticker campaign, He uses the slogan "The Medium is the Message" borrowed from Marshall McLuhan.

Fairey's story shows how a simple sincere idea, can grow into multi-million company with a vision, a bit of talent and lots of dedication.

Check out Fairey explaining his story at detail here.

Key Points:

* “A lot of stuff for corporations – it’s not even that they don’t mean well, it’s just that they’re a little bit clueless as to the right way to go about addressing what skateboarders, street artists, punks, and hip-hop kids want to see. So finding someone who can be a liaison to that culture and help them deal with it authentically can be a real benefit for the artist and the company.”

* “After getting some attention for my stickers, it really opened my eyes to the idea of putting something in public that people see and get curious about. It really opened my eyes to the power of communication in public space.”

* “I think almost everything I’ve achieved has come from me perusing what I felt really strongly and passionately about and not second guessing my instincts and trying to have a level of authenticity.”

* “My idea was always to make my work seem bigger and more important that it really was. The result was, it started to resonate with a lot of underground culture types – skateboarders, people into punk music, etc – but additionally from people representing companies that wanted to identify with that demographic as well.”

* “There’s so many times where you go, ‘OK, should I be spending more time on my art or on my business?’ And I’ve found that I’m not happy doing either exclusively – that its all important.”

Tuesday, 26 August 2008


There seems to be a lot of talk around the effectiveness of PR recently, I have summarised some opinions.

Jason Calacanis tells budding entrepreneurs that they don’t need a PR agency.

As both subject and writer it feels like I’ve learned a lot about how the PR and the press works–especially in the technology business.

My philosophy of PR is summed up in six words: be amazing, be everywhere, be real.

You don’t need a PR firm, you don’t need an in-house PR person and you don’t need to spend ANY money to get amazing PR. You don’t need to be connected, and you don’t need to be a “name brand.” Today, many bloggers lament how much press folks like Kevin Rose and Robert Scoble get. They say that they get too much attention and that they got this attention too quickly and without earning it.

Michael Arrington, founder of Techcrunch, has similar suggestions:

I can’t speak for big media journalists who’ve been in the game for years and years, but from my experience with blogging for a few years, I agree that PR as a profession is broken.

They’re trying to apply the same rules they used when the number of journalists covering their companies was a manageable, chummy lot. Today there’s a whole spectrum of people writing about startups in big media publications, large and small blogs, Twitter, Friendfeed and everything in between.

Most PR folks don’t read blogs and certainly don’t understand them. All they see is a Google alert with their clients name, and rush to put out a fire. Down the road they may try to bring those bloggers into the fold, largely relying on word of mouth as to the best way to approach them in lieu of actually reading the blog itself.

That leads to the occasional massive clusterfuck and some truly hilarious moments that I would like to write a book about some day. To sum it all up, the relationship between bloggers and PR firms is shaky at best. Or at least it should be. Some bloggers really cultivate PR relationships, but for me PR is the last refuge when I’m attacking a story. They keep trying to put out the fires I’m starting.

So back to practical advice: what do you do if you’re a startup looking for help in getting the word out about your company? First off, don’t hire PR help until the volume of inbound requests by press are simply too much to handle without help. That’s way down the line for most companies.

UK Youth and Muisc

Raised in the "always on" world of the Internet, on-demand content and social media technologies, today's youth has different expectations and media consumption behaviours than previous generations. This trend is especially evident when it comes to music. Driven by iTunes and the iPod, the youth of today have a big appetite for digital music, ring tones and all things mobile.

A study from Jupiter Research found that "worldwide, mobile music generated 4.4 billion dollars in 2005 and is expected to generate 9 billion by 2009...Mobile music now accounts for 15% of the entire music market--and youth leads the way (Juniper Research: Mobile Music: Ringtones, Ring-backs & Full-tracks (second edition & third edition)."

In February and March of 2008 the University Of Hertfordshire conducted the largest U.K. academic survey of its kind, When they looked at the music consumption behavior and experience of young people (aged 14-24).

Among the findings:

* Around 90% of respondents now own an MP3 player. They contain an average of 1770 tracks - half of which have not been paid for;

* 14- to 24-year-olds love music - arguably more than any previous generation;

* 58% have copied music from a friend’s hard drive to their own, and 95% copy music in some way;

* 63% download music using P2P file-sharing networks;

* The CD is not dead. Even if a legal file-sharing service existed, over 60% say they would continue to buy CDs;

* 42% have allowed P2P users to upload music from their computer. Much of this behavior is viewed as altruistic;

* 80% of current P2P users would be interested in a legal file-sharing service - and they would pay for it too;

* Money spent on live music exceeds that spent on recorded music.

Feargal Sharkey, chief executive of British Music Rights, summarises what this all mean for the music industry:

“The music industry should draw great optimism from this groundbreaking survey. First and foremost, it is quite clear that this young and tech-savvy demographic is as crazy about and engaged with music as any previous generation.

Contrary to popular belief, they are also prepared to pay for it, too. But only if offered the services they want. That message comes through loud and clear.”

Go Hard or Go Home

Over this bank holiday weekend I was selling drinks at carnival, what seemed to be easy money turned in to the hardest two days of work I have ever done. Although it could have also been the best, sometimes its easy to forget what hard work feels like, when your in the business of creative thinking. Over the last two days I definitely proved that i still had the hard graft in me. I turned from a savvy marketer to a blue collar street trader, the thrill of the hard sell kept the adrenaline going. It had been a while since my direct selling days, but I found my self quickly into the swing of things using all my charm and wit to sell drinks. I had forgot how much skill it actually takes to judge and adapt your communication style to so many different people.

The main learning from my carnival experience is poor planning is certainly a recipe for disaster. Possible due to ignorance or arrogance I assumed due to the sheer amount of people any sort of drink would be easy to sell. Not so true we managed to sell out all the red-stripe on the first day, and just a few soft drinks. Had I done my research I probably would have found out that beer was going to be the best seller and not bought an equal amount of Giuness and soft drinks.

It was the quick thinking to concoct a punch and give away free samples that really saved the day. We managed to create a frenzy around our Carnival punch, this turned an almost waste of time, effort and money, into a great learning experience and profit.

Moral of the story is always research and plan a strategy for the task at hand, and if you don't be prepared to work, like my basketball coach use to say GO HARD OR GO HOME.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Music: John Legend - Green Light

This is my tune for the bank holiday, I just hope wherever I am it gets a play!

Friday, 22 August 2008

Beyond the Thinking Mind

The human condition: Lost in thought.

Most people spend their entire life imprisoned within the conflicts of their own thoughts. They never go beyond a narrow, mind-made, personalised sense of self that is conditioned by the past.

In you, as in each human being, there is a dimension of consciousness far deeper than thought. It is the very essence of who you are. We may call it presence, awareness, the unconditioned consciousness. In the ancient teachings, it is the Christ within, or your Buddha nature.

Finding that dimension frees you and the world from the suffering you inflict on yourself and others when the mind-made "little me" is all you know and runs your life. Love, joy, creative expansion, and lasting inner peace cannot come into your life except through that unconditioned dimension of consciousness.

If you can recognise, even occasionally, the thoughts that go through your mind as just thoughts, if you can witness your own mental-emotional reactive patterns as they happen, then that dimension is already emerging in you as the awareness in which thoughts and emotions happen - the timeless inner space in which the content of your life unfolds.

The stream of thinking has enormous momentum that can easily drag you along with it. Every thought pretends that it matters so much. It wants to draw your attention in completely.
Here is a new spiritual practice for you: dont take your thoughts too seriously.

How easy is it for people to become trapped in their conceptual prisons. The human mind, in its desire to know, understand, and control, mistakes its opinions and viewpoints for the truth. It say: this is how it is. You have to be larger than thought to realise that however you interpret "your life" or someone else's life or behaviour, however you judge any situation, it is no more than a bundle of thoughts. But reality in one unified whole, in which all things are interwoven, where nothing exists in and by itself.

The thinking mind is a useful and powerful tool, but it is also very limiting when it takes over your life completely, when you don't realise that it is only a small aspect of the consciousness that you are.

Wisdom is not a product of thought. The deep knowing that is wisdom arises through the simple act of giving someone or something your full attention. Attention is primordial intelligence, consciousness itself. It dissolves the barriers created by conceptual thought, and with this comes the recognition that nothing exists in and by itself. It joins the perceiver and the perceived in a unifying field of awareness.

Whenever you are immersed in compulsive thinking, you are avoiding what is. You don't want to be where you are. Here, Now.

Dogmas - religious, political, scientific - arise out of the erroneous belief that thought can encapsulate reality or the truth. Dogmas are collective conceptual prisons. And the strange thing is that people love their prison cells because they give them a sense of security and a false sense of "I Know."

Nothing has inflicted more suffering on humanity than its dogmas. It is true that every dogma crumbles sooner or later, because reality will eventually disclose its falseness, however , unless the basic delusion of it is seen for what it is, will be replaced by others.

Unless we start to act Beyond the Thinking Mind.

The Paradox of Creativity

Always one to try and improve my creative process I found this article very helpful. Merlin Mann over at 43 Folders has done an interesting analysis of how creativity works. The theory is that creative work gets done best in a seemingly paradoxical cycle of laser focused activity, and lazy idea gathering, idling and re-charging. In essence, creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility.

Mann breaks it down:

Most all makers with longevity talk about a process that involves regular, scheduled work periods that allow generous time for warmups and getting into what Csikszentmihalyi himself has called, “Flow.” For as long as he or she can stay in that Flow state, a good artist is capable of synthesizing unbelievably disparate material and ideas in a way that’s often satisfying and productive. For those who cannot, it means another morning of video games, Facebook, and binge eating.

43 Folders: “Attention & Ambiguity: The Non-Paradox of Creative Work”

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Solving Problems

One of the things that everyone, everywhere has to do on a regular basis is solve problems. I thought it would be worth jotting down a few of the different ways you can go about solving problems from what I have learnt from my agency days (but I think that this applies to anyone in business - creative or otherwise).

So the first part of solving any problem is to question. The time honoured Who? What? Why? When? How? Is a great place to start. In advertising this could be are we talking to the right people? What are we trying to achieve? Why do we want to do this? When do we want to do this? How are we going to achieve it?

Each one of these questions can trigger a whole load of new questions that help to understand what it is your trying to achieve and the best way to achieve it.

Which takes us nicely on to arguably the most important part of solving any problem, working out what the problem or objective actually is. Often the problem you’re given isn’t the real problem.

The more specific the problem the better. It’s much easier to work out the answer to a problem when it’s absolutely clear in your mind. So rather than trying to solve “increase brand affinity by 10%” how about “help people to fall in love with the brand again”?

It’s often easier to solve a problem if you can break it down into more manageable chunks. For example, Sainsbury’s famously reframed their problem from “add £4 billion of sales annually” to a far more comprehensable “Increase the average basket size by £3.32″.

Now you know what your problem is you need to read as much as you can on the subject. James Webb Young, one of the greatest advertising men of all time, had a specific technique for generating ideas was:

1. Gather the raw materials - the immediate problem & your general knowledge
2. Work these over in your mind (To this I’d add: Write your first thoughts down, no matter how bad they might be. Keep on writing more stuff. Give it time. Write more stuff down.)
3. Do something else/sleep on it
4. Have the idea
5. Shape the idea to make it useful and practical.

He also believed that “ideas are new combinations”. So when trying to create that little bit of inspiration try combining two unexpected elements e.g. big but personal (HSBC The World’s Local Bank) or small but tough (VW Polo).

Another technique is to think of great ideas in other sectors and categories and apply them to your problem. So if there’s an idea that always works in fashion retailing you might want to think about whether it’ll work in publishing.

Once you’ve got your solution, remember to keep the explanation as simple as possible so that anyone can understand it and pass it on.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The Death of Advertising

Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions has come up with a series of videos that highlight the changing relationship between marketers and consumers.

Throwaway Society

We buy more stuff and throw it away faster than at any point in our history. The House of Lords has criticised the British fashion industry for contributing to a throwaway society. A Science Committee report today attacked 'fast fashion' outlets such as Primark for selling clothes so cheap there is no incentive to repair them.

Similarly buying a basic television has never been so cheap, relatively speaking. In the past, people would call a television repairman to fix the telly if it was broke. Nowadays you would pop down to the high street to buy a new one - which probably doesn't cost more than you're old one did five years before.

"Our attitude to technology has changed from using something until it breaks beyond repair, to constantly replacing it because something cooler is in the market," says Tom Dunmore, editor-in- chief of the gadget magazine Stuff.

Mark Strutt, senior campaigner at Greenpeace, says: "We consume vast amounts of electronic goods and throw them away. Mobile phones are a classic example, where they are more or less designed to be thrown away after a few years. Another prime example is the MP3 player, which does not have a battery that c be changed or recharged."

This thought came whilst taking one of my regular West End trips, as I always leave with something to write about. Although the way things are going Primark will soon have killed the high street. Yes I am saying this now in gest, but I wonder in five years how false that statement will be.

W+K five rules of creativity:

I have had this for a while, just came across it today, the infamous Wieden & Kennedy's rules to creativity:

1. Act Stupid.
“Our philosophy is to come in ignorant every day. The idea of retaining ignorance is sort of counterintuitive, but it subverts a lot of [problems] that come from absolute mastery. if you think you know the answer better than somebody else does, you become closed to being fresh.” states Jelly Helm, creative director.

2. Shut up.
“The first thing we do when we meet with clients is listen. We try to figure out what their problems are. Then we come back with questions, not solutions. We write these out and put them on the wall. And then we circle the ones that we think are interesting. More often than not, the questions hold the answer.”

3. Always say yes.
“What I’ve learned from improvisation is to let go of outcome and just say yes to what4ever the situation is. If you say an idea is bad, you’re creating conflict–you’re breaking an improv rule. You want an energy flow that moves you forward, as opposed to a creative stasis.”

4. Chase Talent.
“Find people who make you better. It’s best to be the least talented person in the room. It’s reciprocal. It challenges you to keep up.”

5. Be Fearless.
“Do anything, say anything. In the worlds of our president, Dan Wieden, ‘You’re not useful to me until you’ve made three momentous mistakes.’ He knows that if you try not to make mistakes, you miss out on the value of learning from them.”

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Favela Chic

This really got my visual taste buds going, French photographer and street artist JR has produced another inspiring public art project in Rio. Known for his massive scale black and white portraits, JR recently covered a hill side shanty town with his trademark imagery. The photos make the houses almost seem alive with the intricate emotional details of his subject’s faces popping out. This latest project is part of a series called “Women Are Heros”.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Anti-social marketing

When is the business world going to fully embrace this thing we call social media. A recent report has revealed that brands are still unsure of how best to leverage the large communities on social networking sites such as Facebook.

Tim Hoang reports. 'Despite the clamour by the marketing industry to affix 2.0 to all things vaguely Internet-related, it would appear that marketers are still struggling to fully utilise social networks as a channel of communication.'

That said there has been an increasing spend by marketers on social media sites. eMarketer recently predicted that by 2012, £285 million will be spent advertising on sites such as MySpace and Bebo. The popularity of social networking sites continues to be strong with around one-third of the total number of Internet users in the UK accessing them last year.

In the report, JupiterResearch underlines how difficult it can be for marketers to fully embrace social networks. However, it has made a series of recommendations in order to get the most out of social networks:

• Marketers should promote their pages with paid adverts rather than relying on viral marketing to get the message out. The vast majority of marketers attempting to generate viral buzz don't succeed in getting users to pass along their messages.
• Advertisers need to engage users on the page. Even simple forms of engagement, such as contests, on average doubled the number of friends acquired by each branded page.
• Marketers must appeal to social networkers' love of multimedia to get noticed. Social Networkers are twice as likely to visit a branded page focused on media content than a branded page focused on products.

Read the full article here

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Designing Effective Virtual Environments

How often to you surf the web, and come across a site that is full of clutter. Clutter is the stuff that has no “place”, doesn’t belong with its surroundings, and serves little to no purpose. Honestly this happens to me quite often, so it’s no wonder most web pages are abandoned within a few seconds of viewing.

Whether intended or not, a person’s home and the way you present it are physical manifestations of your personality just as the design and content of a corporate website are virtual manifestations of a brand. Environments, both real and virtual, affect human perception and behaviour.

Here are few points to consider when designing online environments to attract, comfort and retain visitors:

Visual Elements: On a website, color, typography, iconography, and other imagery should be considered as carefully as an interior designer considers surfaces, furnishings, and art. Are they appropriate for the target user?

Colour: There are appropriate uses of colour for specific messages targeted at specific end users. Once an appropriate colour palette is defined, a designer can use it to direct users to specific content, organize that content, and create an appropriate environment.

: Too many typefaces in one place is like cramming a room with furnishings from different eras. Stick to a theme, and visitors will be more comfortable and get a better sense of the message the type is sending.

: Imagery (photos, illustrations, icons) should enhance an environment by promoting a message or feeling. Iconography can be a helpful cue for web users, or it can be unnecessary and even misleading.

Content: A clearly defined hierarchy of information is crucial to helping users understand what a site has to offer and finding the information they seek.

Navigation and User Feedback: If a visitor has to think about where they can click to get more information, or click through multiple pages to get to specific information, they are not likely to stick around.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Music: U-N-I 'Beautiful Day'

Visually I am tasting this today, I not sure how it is where you are, but around me its a 'Beautiful Day', so this tune couldn't be more appropriate. These guys are amazing, if you don't know get to know

Power of Imagery

Have you ever thought about the power of images, and how in turn images can shape our thought. Me neither, but Errol Morris has in a recent article in the New York Times he examines the 'power of imagery' and goes on to talk about why we need to question the images we view. He finds that people will tend to believe what they see, even if it’s not true. Changing history can be as easy as changing the photo - either content, or simply the caption.

My dad always told me that the story in more powerful than man. There is no denying that this has been evident throughout history, colonial powers throughout time have doctored images, artefacts and scribes to make sure the story that lives on is in their favour.

Morris interviews Hany Farid, a Dartmouth professor and an expert on digital photography:

(Farid) “And even like this missile one. You start putting it out there and saying, “Oh look, this picture? It’s a fake. This picture? It’s a fake.” But you know what people remember? They don’t remember, “It’s a fake.” They remember the picture. And there are psychology studies, when you tell people that information is incorrect, they forget that it is incorrect. They only remember the misinformation. They forget the tag associated with it. They did these great studies, especially with older people. They give them information about health, Medicare, Medicaid, that kind of stuff. And they say, “this information that you heard? It’s wrong.” And what ends up happening is, that information gets ingrained into their brains, and even if they are subsequently told it’s wrong, they end up believing it.”

If you dont know then get to know

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Why Threadless Rules

Threadless in my opinion have possible the best social media business model, outside of direct social communication web-sites. Here are a few reasons why:

1. It’s not Web 2.0.
Threadless isn’t about Web 2.0 buzzwords, technology for technology’s sake, etc. Threadless is about kicking ass as a real, profitable company and taking care of its customers (the loyalty of customers is the #1 priority).

2. Community…no, really.
A lot of sites pay lip service to the notion of building a community. Threadless actually does it. And it’s not just having a blog or a forum (though the site has those too). Check out the site’s navigation where “Shop” and “Participate” are given equal treatment:

It’s no accident. Threadless isn’t just a place to buy stuff. It’s a place where people do stuff too. The people design the shirt ideas, decide which shirts get made, post to forums, upload photos of themselves wearing the shirts, etc. The result? People are attached to Threadless. As Don Norman says, “We are much more emotionally attached to products for which we feel some involvement.”

Threadless makes people feel like partners, not just customers. That’s why people become MySpace friends with Threadless. They start blogs about Threadless . They care what happens.

Read full article here

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

What happened to the passion?

Is there something about the world that makes people give up on there desire to change the things they find fault with in the world. By this I mean does the pursuit of money, happiness and general need to survive take over peoples consciousness, also what part does the media play in this?

This thought was partly borne out of my recent redundancy. Its funny how until you leave a situation, its difficult to rationally judge the situation you were in. In my case this situation was a job within one's of London's best advertising agencies. As good as this job was, I now realise how much it took over my life, as most jobs do. Depending on how you view it, my job had either evolved or stopped my desire to change the things in the world that I didn't like. This leads to wonder how many other people this has happened to.

I can remember my passion to rid the world of its problems when graduating from university. This passion seemed to go once I entered the world of work. At which time I was also in-taking news coverage without question, by reading the free newspapers to and from work.

With a clear mind I now question the very purpose of these newspapers. Understanding that the media is one off, and probably the powerful forms of communication, along with Word of mouth and advertising. Is the plan to in-turn brain wash people with irreverent news on their journeys to and from work, gradually building peoples tolerance to the subjects and topics in the messaging.

Anyway not to the digress from the point, I wonder why life does this to people. Is it just that people weren't really that passionate about the change they wanted to affect. Are we as people generally happy with the routine monotony of working 9 -5, paying bills etc, etc, and how much of this is a result of the media reducing the collective consciousness of the people.

Ask yourself this question, Are you still passionate? If the answer is Yes, are you working in, on or towards your passion. If the answer is no, one more question WHY NOT?

7 Design Guidelines

Smashing Magazine, recently posted an article '7 Essential Guidelines for Functional Design', this is a great article, but more interesting to me is how easy it is to adopt these functional design guidelines to most aspects of life.

At the heart of every piece of practical design, whether it be a website, product package, office building, manufacturing system, piece of furniture, software interface, book cover, tool, or anything else, there is a function, a task the item is expected to perform. Most functions can be achieved in a variety of ways, but there are some basic elements a designer needs to take into account to create a product that best fulfills its intended function.

The guidelines:

1. Consider the product’s goal.
2. Consider who will be using it.
3. Consider what your audience intends to do with it.
4. Is it clear how to use it?
5. How does your user know it’s working?
6. Is it engaging to your users?
7. How does it handle mistakes?

Read the full article here

The end for trends

Are we witnessing the end of trends? The JC Report has some interesting thoughts on what constitutes a trend in today’s world. In a series of posts titled “The Death Of Trends”, they explain how in the fashion world there’s no longer “big” trends.

What’s really going on here is that instead of the massive global trends big trends like “Green is the new black!”, there are now thousands of micro trends that can come from anywhere and anyone.

From the JC Report:

It’s not just designers who are contributing to the end of boldface trends, however. Armed with broadband and blogrolls, consumers, too, are rejecting the commandments of the editorial elite, taking inspiration from peers around the world to craft their own personal interpretations of style. Rather than buy into one trend from head-to-toe, like the “preppy” or “punk” movements of decades past, consumers are appropriating eclectic influences and remixing them like a DJ does with music. It’s now common to see stylistic mash-ups, like a demure Stella McCartney floral-print blouse coupled with Alexander Wang’s grimy cutoffs and finished off with a pair of Balenciaga’s erotically charged knee-high gladiator sandals.

JC Report: Death of Trends Part 1 / Part 2

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Releasing creativity

Everyone has been there, that dreaded mental void when everything goes blank, and you enter a creative block. LifeDev recently put together a list of 15 tips to help relieve this situation.

And it goes a little something like this:

1. Start cleaning your immediate area
2. Impose a deadline
3. Use a different medium
4. Define the problem clearly
5. Surround yourself with materials
6. Relax your breathing, cool your nerves
7. Create a mind map
8. Ask a friend
9. Think with your eyes wide shut
10. Sleep on it
11. Don’t be afraid to use Google
12. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
13. Crank on some tunes
14. Exercise
15. Perspiration, not inspiration

Read the full article here

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Hub culture: Everything Everywhere

Dejour Magazine has a fascinating interview with Hub Culture founder, Stan Stalnaker. Author of the forward thinking 2002 book Hub Culture: The Next Wave of Urban Consumers, Stalnaker shares his insights on where the hot spots of cultural innovation are happening now.

Stan on the connected world:

In my view the ‘butterfly effect’ is a repercussion of this shift towards a revealed collective identity, where we finally realize (really realize, feel) that the tree falling in the Amazon affects our beef in New York, that the bottom of the pyramid bears the weight of the top, and that our actions, no matter how small, contribute to a combined common reality. As the ‘top of the pyramid’ in recent years has realized that they are part of a common hub, I think soon the rest of the planet will see that too. This means that farmers in Africa and factory workers in Vietnam and taxi drivers in Shanghai will soon find solidarity with each other, probably driven by low cost mobile technology, with nodal connections already at 3 billion and counting. This will change our view of the world and force us to address some quite awkward issues. Can Paris Hilton really skank the bling when half of Africa can watch her in real time? Is flaunting excess still acceptable when you’re finally face to face with someone who has nothing? It will have to shift.

As transparency drives efficiency, there will be no other place to live than this global village, and it means we’ll all be competing on more open playing fields. Right now its good, but in the long run, its a race to the bottom unless we find ways to build value at all levels. I think that will be addressed through collective systems that pay out on the micro-level, and Hub Culture people will have to prepare for the day when not just blue and white, but green and black collars are all outsourced to the global market. At that point, the size of our networks and the value of our reputations will be immensely important.

Read the full article here

Monday, 4 August 2008

Fashion in the Mirror: Self-Reflection in Fashion Photography

This piece is currently on view in the Fashion in the Mirror: Self-Reflection in Fashion Photography exhibition at the Photographer's Gallery in London.

William Klein (born 1928) is an American fashion photographer and filmmaker based in France.

Once considered photography's bad boy, Klein is one of the formative voices in street and fashion photography. His work has been called chaotic, disorganized, threatening and abrasive, as well as explosive, evocative and playful.

Social Media

Social Media has been the buzz word and topic of the marketing industry for a while now. For all those who aren't so familiar with this topic, Essentially social media incorporates the online technology and methods through which people can share content, personal opinions, swap different perspectives and insights into world issues.

Below I have shared the five most infamous examples of companies leveraging Social media:

Subservient Chicken from Crispin Porter and Burger King

Dove Evolution Video and Real Beauty Campaign from Ogilvy

"Will it Blend" Viral videos from Blendtec

Kryptonite Bike Lock YouTube Video

Dell Hell Post from Jeff Jarvis


I remember being at some digital marketing conference a couple months ago. Well what felt like a couple months, but the way this year is going it could quite easily have been last week. Anyway this was the first place I ever heard the phrase Freemium, since then I have spotted it in Wired magazine and other blogs.

So what is Freemium?

Freemium is a business model which works by offering basic services for free, while charging a premium for advanced or special features. The word freemium is created by combining the two aspects of the business model: free and premium. The business model has gained popularity with Web 2.0 companies.


Give your service away for free, possibly ad supported but maybe not, acquire a lot of customers very efficiently through word of mouth, referral networks, organic search marketing, etc., then offer premium priced value added services or an enhanced version of your service to your customer base.

This model in its various guises is being used everywhere from the music to airline industries.

Music: Sumthin Gotta Give

Musically this is what i'm tasting right now, the sentiment of this tune is very relevant to what is going on in the world at the moment, something has to give.

Vice magazine

Being one of the few magazine's I look out for, it was interesting to see 'Vice' magazine make it into The Independent. A recent article addresses the complicated nature of Vice Magazine becoming a more accepted format for a contemporary magazine.

Vice is known for publishing controversial content focused on youth culture and currently has an international readership approaching a million. The Independent reports:

Founded in Montreal, Canada, in 1994, the magazine started as a government-funded project, as part of a community-building welfare programme. Then known as the Voice of Montreal, it was originally run by three friends - Shane Smith, Suroosh Alvi and Gavin McInnes - and became the Voice before Vice was finally born. Now with its headquarters in New York and more than 900,000 readers across 22 countries, Vice is building an empire - complete with its own web-based television channel, fashion range, online store and record label…

Adding to its growing portfolio, Vice has released a string of coffee-table books bringing together some of its most popular features: Vice Dos and Don’ts showcases wry commentaries on street fashion; the Vice Guide to Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll is self-explanatory. And now, an exhibition features images from the latest venture, the Vice Photo Book.

“We are bored and disenchanted by what is served up to our generation,” Capper says. And this is the antidote.

Read the full article here

23 Youth branding rules

I found this on Ruby Pseudo blogs, thought it was quite true.

23 Rules for brands wishing to attract the youth:

1. Don't be patronising.
2. Don't stereotype.
3. Don't try and be cool about uncool things.
4. Don't take advantage.
5. Don't take the piss.
6. Show respect when selling to us.
7. If something worked once, please don't assume it will work again.
8. Get to know your target.
9. Don't forget you're still corporate.
10. Don't underestimate our intelligence.
11. Don't abuse our lack of it.
12. Sometimes simplicity is the best approach.
13. Honesty is the best policy.
14. Don't think for a minute that just because it's funny we'll like it.
15. Be honest, we don't like small print.
16. Overpricing is just silly.
17. Be first with the next best thing, or be good at catching up with the competition.
18. Don't bring out a new product every week.
19. We like Variety, so try and change your tune every now and again (but whistle in your own words)
20. If you don't know by now, I shall tell you now. Intentional virals that are made to be sent around DO NOT WORK! So please, stop trying.
21. Be innovative, not stupid.
22. Keep it short and sweet. We're terribly busy.
23. Help us do things, we've got dreams

Old skool Rules

As with most things in life and fashion, its all a cycle. For the past year or more 80's fashion has been making a big resurgence. Well it doesn't have to stop at fashion, Insound have launched this totally retro portable iPod Boombox. Go old school by sliding your iPod, iPod Nano or iPod Mini into the so-called cassette deck. It will take you back to the good old days of Thriller and Digital Underground.

This definitely gets the VT, thumbs up

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Book: The Pirate's Dilemma

Hey people, wanted to share some info about the book i'm reading at the moment.

The Pirate’s Dilemma tells the story of how youth culture drives innovation and is changing the way the world works. It offers understanding and insight for a time when piracy is just another business model, the remix is our most powerful marketing tool and anyone with a computer is capable of reaching more people than a multi-national corporation.

I strongly recommend anyone involved in youth culture, read this and the best thing is you can download the ebook for free here.


Are Hipsters killing culture?

Adbusters has a controversial essay questioning whether or not today’s youth culture is inbreeding itself into oblivion. Being a part of today’s youth culture, I found the use of the word “hipster” interesting. But I don’t want to argue about the definition and miss the point. The piece does raise an interesting question though -is the current cool/hipster/youth culture just an empty mash of previous cultures? Like westernisation killing off indigenous traditions; is “hipster” culture to the detriment of creative thought?

Summary of the article here:

Ever since the Allies bombed the Axis into submission, Western civilization has had a succession of counter-culture movements that have energetically challenged the status quo. Each successive decade of the post-war era has seen it smash social standards, riot and fight to revolutionize every aspect of music, art, government and civil society.

But after punk was plasticized and hip hop lost its impetus for social change, all of the formerly dominant streams of “counter-culture” have merged together. Now, one mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior has come to define the generally indefinable idea of the “Hipster.”

An artificial appropriation of different styles from different eras, the hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture lost in the superficiality of its past and unable to create any new meaning. Not only is it unsustainable, it is suicidal. While previous youth movements have challenged the dysfunction and decadence of their elders, today we have the “hipster” – a youth subculture that mirrors the doomed shallowness of mainstream society.

Adbusters: “Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization”

Human mirror

This is what i'm tasting visually today, improv everywhere do it again


You're doing something right if you have a scarcity problem. By this I mean if you have a product, service or even a job that's in such high demand that people are clamouring for more than you can make.

We live in a society where scarcity is the key, which has an interesting dichotomy, we want things that everyone wants, but only certain people can get, this way we feel special, and people in the know think we're special.

Anyway let me break it down, Why be scarce?
  • Scarcity creates fashion. People want something that others can't have.
  • Lines create demand. People want something that others want.
  • Scarcity also creates word of mouth, because people talk about lines and shortages and hot products.
  • And finally, scarcity drives your product to the true believers, the ones most likely to spread the word and ignite the ideavirus. Because they expended effort to acquire your product or service, they're not only more likely to talk about it, but they've self-selected as the sort of person likely to talk about it.

Visual Truth 01

'It takes struggle, a goal and enthusiasm to make a champion.'

The art of self promotion..........

In today's increasingly competitive market it has never been more important to be able to promote yourself.

We can learn a lot from our friends across the Atlantic on this subject. So I thought I would share a post i found on seth's blog, if you don't know about this guy, do some research he is like the oracle of new model marketing:

10 ideas that come to mind when I think about ways to get people to notice you/your product:

1. Provide something of value. The first step is recognizing that marketing is asking for someone else’s time and attention. You need to provide something worthy of those valuable commodities. So keep your message brief and interesting. When you educate or entertain other people, they’ll pay attention. If you bore them, they won’t.

2. Know your hook. Imagine you are a reporter who wants to write an article about your company. What’s the hook? What’s the angle that will be interesting to someone who normally wouldn’t care about your software? We’ve got a lot of mileage in the press out of staying small and focusing on “less.” What’s unique about your story?

3. Stand for something. Know and expose your company’s philosophy and mantras.

4. Get your face out there. It’s tempting to think you can do it all from a keyboard. But emails are a poor substitute for real, face-to-face interactions. Go to conferences and meetups, take someone you admire out to lunch, etc. It’s ok to “network” — just don’t be a douche about it. Which leads to…

5. Try to build real, sustained relationships. Actually be a friend instead of a guy trying to get something. Keep your interactions human (a sincere, honest note will go a lot further than a buzzwordy press release). Seek out ways to help others. It’ll all come back to you.

6. It’s the message, not the amount you spend on it. Companies that spend tons of ad/PR dollars to convince people their products are worthwhile are like guys who spend lots of money on gifts and dinners to woo a woman. What kind of relationship are they really building? Successful customer relationships are like any other long-term relationship: They start with a foundation of communication and showing you care about the other person.

7. Give stuff away for free. (I don’t think this contradicts the previous point but maybe?) People love free. Offer a free version of your product, provide coupon codes, etc. Whenever we include a coupon code in a newsletter, there’s a big uptick in upgrades.

8. Ride the wave. Seek momentum and ride it. Is everyone buzzing about the iPhone? Then make an iPhone app. Are people interested in rapid development processes? Then blog about building your app in, say, under a month. Find out what people are talking about already and then figure out a way to get in the picture.

9. Be in it for the long haul. Recognize that promotion, like other aspects of building a company, takes time and effort. If you’re starting from scratch, you have to claw your way up. It’s uncanny how many “overnight success stories” you hear about are actually people who busted their asses for years to get into the position where something might take off. Don’t expect instant recognition.

10. Be undeniably good. When people ask me how do you make it in show business or whatever, what I always tell them — And nobody ever takes note of it ‘cuz it’s not the answer they wanted to hear. What they want to hear is here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script, here’s how you do this — But I always say, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” If somebody’s thinking, “How can I be really good?”, people are going to come to you. It’s much easier doing it that way than going to cocktail parties.

Read the original post here

Friday, 1 August 2008

Gorillaz and Monkeys

Best known for their collaborative music project, Gorillaz's Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn have been commissioned by BBC Sports to create a short animated film for the upcoming Beijing Olympics. It will be entitled “Journey to the East” and features a more modern-looking Monkey King, who must travel on a cloud to the newly opened Bird’s Nest.

Street Clash

I just came across a new take on street fashion blogs, check out streetclash it's an international style competition between fashionable people around the the world. Photographers and bloggers submit photos of stylish locals in an effort to win the “Most Fashionable City” city award. The winner in 2007 was Tel Aviv and this year’s winner is Munich.

Nice concept I think