The Internet is Magic

Justin Gignac is an art director – but his ideas are so much better than advertising. I've just enjoyed the talk he gave for the PSFK NY conference over my morning coffee and have to say that his work is absolutely inspiring. The best talk I've seen in a while:

John Jay on creativity

When working for W+K Tokyo we had the chance to meet John Jay. In fact it was one of the most memorable moments of our Japan time. Early on a Saturday we met him at his Hotel to talk about our Tokyo experience over breakfast. Robbin and I both agree that so far John Jay has been one of the most inspiring individual we've met in the industry. He has a very distinct point of view on things and if we'd have to sum up the two hours we had with him in three points it would be these three things:

1. Embrace culture: be conscious about your own culture but really try to immerse yourself in other cultures that are different from yours, try as many different things as possible, break out of your cultural comfort zone.

2. Be part of your community: always take an active part in the society that surrounds you, talk and meet as many interesting people as possible, go far beyond the world of advertising and mingle with artists, fashion designers and other kinds of talented people

3. Do things: stop talking about all the ideas you had, have, and will have – and do more things, bring your ideas to life.

The following video interview by Fast Company gives you a good idea about John Jay and his inspiring nature.

Creative Modus Operandi

It's 1.00 am at night, we're waiting for a creative check in with our ECD's – is there a better time to write a blog post? I don't think so.

I stumbled upon this interesting post today about what circumstances make someone creative. It's an interesting experiment that asks you to think about your environment and what influences your creativity. Here are the factors that I think make me more creative:

  • Clothes – Very comfy, ideally no shoes
  • Sound – For thinking music that's not too disruptive, for writing as loud and energetic as possible
  • Light - As sunny and light as possible, even at night
  • Time of Day - 9am - 11am and 6pm - 8pm
  • Location - Outside, in a cafe, or an empty meeting room, preferably not at the desk
  • Directionality – Not looking outside a window
  • Routine/spontaneous - Spontaneous
  • Long periods or short bursts - Somewhere in between
  • Carry something to capture ideas on the fly? - Never leave the house without my notebook
  • Squeaky Clean or Squalor (setting) - Clean and organized
  • Clean or dirty - Clean in the morning
  • Solo or surrounded - Surrounded by only a few
  • Digital or analogue - Analogue for concepting, digital for writing
  • What fuels you? - Conversations, lots of water
  • Leaded or unleaded? - Only one cup of coffee per day
  • Breaks – No, but sometimes yes
  • Mindset practices that fuel creation - Concentration, or thinking about something else
  • Movement practices that fuel creation - Walking around a room in circles, going for a walk, after sports

What about you?

Long but great

Some of the latest web content out there. All three videos are a bit long (3-5 minutes) but of all of them are worth watching. One is smart, one is funny and the third one is beautiful.

Pfadfinderei at Hyper Island

Today we got served some fresh & inspiring 1st class design shit straight from Berlin based creative collective Pfadfinderei. They have been working with design, motion and music visualization since 1999. They were represented here by one of the seven members, Codec. He revealed to us a look behind their curtains and their creative process including research, references and tests before arriving at the stunning finished work. It was surprising to see how much conceptual thoughts they had behind their creations. Other insights from this lecture included:
  • Establish a collective with like minded people to keep pushing yourself, sharing rocks
  • Get your administration stuff straight so you can focus on being creative
  • Start a playground where you can work on your own projects to balance commercial work
  • Keep reinventing yourself and keep doing things differently
Check out the videos below and make sure not to miss out on more of their work on their website.

5 experiences, 10 days & lots of learnings at Hyper Island

Real-time is running quick at Hyper Island so it's hard to keep up with blogging everything. I would like to reflect on the last 10 days and what I took out of them. Ordered around five key experiences:

1. Objectified, a documentary film by Gary Huswitt
After Helvetica Gary Huswitt set out to explore product design. A great journey into the minds of different product designers that we witnessed on the big screen last week with a few fellow Hyper Islanders. It was very satisfying and inspiring to watch it and think about the insights in the movie. Some that got me thinking: Can we design objects that get better over time? How do objects function in complex systems? Does design separate? Design is translation. Think about the value chain beyond the obvious. Entrepreneurial logic rather than employee logic. If there's no philosophy behind design practises, design may become useless. Design will become more collaborative. Form doesn't follow function anymore (example: iPhone). How and where can I apply my design thinking?

I'd like to re watch it and link more of those thoughts together and apply them to creative problem solving for brands. As the movie fits perfect into the current interactive user experience module, the educational DVD edition is already on it's way to Hyper Island.

2. Workshop on interactive copy writing / storytelling
Karin Ernerot alias Karinskii is a Creative Director, Copywriter & Screenwriter. She works closely with traditional agencies and educates them about digital media. The web is not just another media channel. Whereas in traditional media a brand buys media space and advertises a certain amount of time, interactive media requires a long term digital presence. The brand is always available, 24/7.

All those differences between offline & online mean that there are different questions we should ask ourselves during the creative process:
  • How can the brand activate people?
  • How can we create brand loyalty online?
  • How can the brand keep an ongoing dialogue?
  • What are the goals for the conversation?
  • How can the brand become a tool?
After this dive-in, into what digital media does best, we switched to storytelling. We discussed different aspects of storytelling. Structure makes it easier to write stories. Stories can be enhanced by adding some things or taking some away. A twist in the story makes a big difference. What are the motives? Karin showed us different structures like the three act structure, Jung's 12 character archetypes and the hero's journey. It's great if you take the archetypes and apply them to brands to define their tone of voice, of the hero's journey on a movie to see it working. The second part which will be more based on writing exercises will continue on Thursday – my expectations are high!

3. Workshop with Doberman
Doberman is a Swedish agency specialised in digital design and service development. They practice the Service design approach and work out how to improve everyday experiences. They shared the making of a new mobile service provider store with us today.
If you want to create a magic experience you have to hide the technology and put the fun in the foreground. Understand people's situation: How do they feel? What do they need? And what drives them? We received a new assignment for this week to work out a new user experience for a dull, scary or embarrassing situation in everyday life. A challenging assignment.

4. DDB creative contest for Lipton Ice Tea
The brief was to come up with a way to communicate Lipton's brand idea of 'Drink positive' in a way that could not have been possible five years ago, because of technology or people's behavior. We worked on this brief for two weeks in a team of three and delivered a pretty satisfying result. I'm hoping to share it once the results are in. Not only did we develop a great amount of ideas but we took the best one and presented it in a case movie that describes the background, the thinking and the user experience of this idea.

5. Lucy McRae
Today we had one of the most inspiring lectures so far: from Lucy McRae. Before she went into delivering craziness that makes people think, she was a ballerina dancer for 14 years, studied interior design for two years, and worked in architecture in London for another 5 years. She had a break through at Philips as an 'Body Architect' and worked on multiple projects with Bert Hess which you can see here.

It was amazing to hear her talk about the process of creating her pieces. About bringing immediate and spontaneous ideas to life using the simplest tools. She talked about her work at Philips where she created interesting visions for them such as Electronic Tattoos or Probe skin dresses. She worked in multidisciplinary teams, with a creative partner and on her own and shared her thoughts on those. What if computers would be more sensible to what we're feeling? A new whole bunch of new thoughts entered my head after having her speak how a huge company like Philips could benefit from findings of an artist like her and create actual products from those insights into the future.

* * *

So what have I learned? How to make a case movie from scratch. How to disassemble user experiences and gain insights from this process. How to tell a story in writing with the help of existing structures. How to use technology not for technologies sake, but to add value to people interacting with it. How to apply thinking from different disciplines to the creative process. How to combine interactive thinking with people's needs and objects in the real world. How to approach a problem from the point of view of the user. And most importantly – I don't know anything and there's still an abundance of things out there to explore and combine.

Life at the bottom

At the agencies we've been in London we met many interesting creatives. They had great stories to tell how they got into the industry and we thought often about it to sit down and record interviews with them to publish on this blog. We didn't have a chance so far as we need to sort out a job first. Saying that there is a fabulous website that just does that. Just recently they interviewed Tom & Selena from Fallon London which especially interesting for all aspiring London creatives. They also talked to teams/single creatives from places including Mother NY, Anomaly and W+K Amsterdam. Check them out at, it's a great read, especially the category Monday Morning Whip should keep you going.

BFI's Comic Book Season

I've been a huge fan of Superman since I could walk. Read all the comics, used all the stationary, wore all the t-shirts and might have even named a girl I fancied at school Lois. Since those days my obsession had somewhat calmed, but last night it all came rushing back. As part of the BFI's Comic Book season this August they had a one night only showing of Superman II. Oh my goodness, was it good. Overly camp acting, terrible effects, corny dialogue and more Amerciana than at a Bush rally in Ohio. I loved every minute of it. The best part was the fact they didn't use the remastered version. We were shown the original print, so it was grainy, the colour was faded and the sound was only a little better than what we'd expect from a Grundig cassette player from Argos. It felt the way it should have done, it was watched the way I have always wanted to see it; like it was 1980, for two hours I had gone back in time (well kind off).

For those into your comics, there's lots going on for the remainder of the month so if you get a chance I'd give the Southbank a visit. They are showing Persopolis from the 18th-20th Aug, never seen it before but it looks good. I was lucky enough to be given the tickets as a gift but I think they're about seven quid, totally worth it. Right, off to do some more people watching for our Feel brief.

Short & Sweet birthday

Short & Sweet, Londons only weekly short film showing celebrated its second birthday last night. Yesterday they showed a crop of the good stuff. Two hilarious films from Lev Yilmaz stood out, see them below and visit his website to discover more.

Also on screen was a short we blogged about last year, Rabbit, make sure to have a look, if you don't mind weird. We want to thank everyone at Short & Sweet for all the fun we had since we went there for the first time, we discovered lots of great shorts and always left inspired.

What is you favourite deadly sin?

Eating shit, killing babies, beating Jude to death, anal sex, murdering a man of the law, pissing on the stage, throwing shit at the audience, spitting spitting spitting, tearing off Satan’s penis and beating him with it, farting, singing about rape, whores, paedophiles and rotten grandmothers. Those are just a few of the things the Tiger Lillies shared with us last night when they guided us from heaven to hell in the New Player Players Theatre in their new cabaret piece '7 Deadly Sins'.

Ninety minutes filled with darkness, laughter and obscenity left us entertained and our souls stained with macabre joy, greedy for more. In their words: 'Only fools and idiots are optimistic'.


We missed Short&Sweet last night, they took a break for a couple of weeks and came back with a bang yesterday. Good that our spy Bernd, from Inspyed distilled the evening to one great short movie from Phillip Van 'Come wander with me'. Have a look, it's gorgeous. And if that makes you want to wander on this rainy London day, make sure to check out Björk's new music video, wanderlust as well.

20 Slides - 20 Seconds

After a quick beer with the agency lads, we jumped on the tube towards Russell Square. We were really excited about it, not Russell Square but Pecha Kucha Night. A format of presentation that was hosted by the D&AD last night. And it was quite brilliant.

Unlike most lecturey lectures, there were no long winded speeches that bored you half to death and half asleep. Instead, 13 speakers were invited on stage and were given 20 slides that lasted for 20 seconds each to tell us what they thought about stuff, all kinds of stuff. It was similar to Interesting 2007 last year, just a lot quicker.
There was one who stood out from the rest, perhaps because of his name (Sanky), perhaps because of his hair (big) or perhaps because he engaged the hell out of his audience for 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Whatever it was, I doubt anyone will forget the only slide of the evening that silenced the entire hall. He presented about 15 slides of stuff he loves, mostly funny and good ideas. Then he hit us with a picture of the falling man (9/11). 20 seconds of pindrop silence in the audience and nothing but applause thereafter.
A great evening full of AHA's, our favourite D&AD lecture so far.

The Pearce Sisters

The BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards took place a couple of weeks ago here in London and there are lots of great films to be explored from the nominations. The winner of the category 'Short Animation' is one of our favourites, we discovered this one earlier in the year at Short & Sweet. It is called 'the Pearce Sisters' and directed by Luis Cook. Fabulously twisted and evil it is very much worth nine minutes of your time. If you like, come along to Short & Sweet next week, we'll go to the one on tuesday, as they will show more BAFTA nominees and winners. You can watch the full short film here at atom.

Efficient creativity

Everyday. Everyday we get together and work on our portfolio. We are not on placement. This is good, and bad. We can spend all the time on our own stuff, but we're missing the structure. We don't have a place to work.

The Home – is a jungle full with dangerous distractions. A café – initiates the transformation into a caffeine junkie, spending a fortune on a daily basis. Interruptions are frequent, in the middle of an idea we think of that person we have to call in order to get a portfolio review. We decided we need to be way more efficient. On the same day I stumbled upon a great e-book. It's called Creative Time Management, and it is quite good. Of course we know some of the things in there, but like with many of these book we need to be reminded to actually take action. Get it here. It is written by Mark McGuinness, a creative coach who I've met last year at a coffee morning. Have a look at wishful thinking, his blog for more tips on creativity.

On our quest to squeeze everything out of our brains we'll try to share more about this. For now, I'm on my way to a place to work, which just might be awesome, we'll see.

Get naked – Get creative

The Young Creative Council is a facebook group for all kinds of creatives, just like the Creative in London group, which hosts more than 400 members nowadays. The evening was filled with life drawing and a big amount of young creative minds. I enjoyed meeting new people and making friends.

Unique drawing styles everywhere. The art teacher gave everyone advice which helped a lot. Graham (red shirt) very much enjoyed the evening, and kept drawing only hair. Interesting.

I haven't been doing life drawing for quite a while now and it was refreshingly great – I can only recommend this to all art directors.

The outcome was astonishing.

Of course we went to the pub afterwards, free drinks inclusive! Thanks to Three Blind Mice who sponsored this event.

Graham (right) was picked as the art teachers favorite and went home with a bottle of exquisite champagne. Earned I say. I liked the drawing on the left as well.

Craig was the one started it all, thanks to him for this brilliant evening.