One of my long-time mentors in the creative space advised me to put together a “user’s manual” for the creatives who work under my direction to be able to use, well, me. I have to admit it feels a little absurd and self-aggrandizing, but it’s also fair to say that life and work might be a little smoother for all of us if humans came with a how-to guide. While this guide covers the things I as an individual care about, I believe it’s relevant to all creative leaders — or those looking to become one.
This year has felt like a dumpster fire. Maybe even the whole landfill. Just all of our collective garbage, going up in flames. The climate, the racism, the politics, the pandemic. I don’t have to tell you this stuff.
So I won’t.
But I do want to talk about something else that’s accompanying all of this crazy: A massive, worldwide increase in creativity. And I don’t mean we’re doing more handicrafts.
I’m what you’d call a professional creative. It’s literally in my job title. So I feel like I can say this with a fair amount of credibility: We are…
In our office we’re always uncovering some new video, podcast, song or book — which is wonderful, because The More You Know and all that. But what we don’t spend much time talking about is alone time. Or, to make it sound less frightening, “solitude.”
I wrote this a while before COVID-19 jumped in to remind us how small we all are. But holy crap if there’s ever been a time appreciate solitude, I guess it’s now! So I’m publishing it again here.
I would consider this less of a blog and more of a PSA — a public service announcement about something I didn’t know existed until a few weeks ago, and which made my artsy designer heart extremely happy. And I’m writing this solely because I want to tell you about this thing as well.
About a month ago, I traveled to India for a week of wedding festivities in honor of my friend Rahul, the groom. The wedding took place in multiple states in India, which meant I flew between a few major cities and, on one unexpected occasion, road…
Branding is a thing designers have to explain a lot.
“That’s not your brand.”
“Let’s make this more on brand.”
“Let’s look one more time at our brand guidelines and see if we can find Giddyup anywhere near the section on brand fonts.”
But recently, I had to explain brands to a bunch of people who already knew what they were in a class at Rice University, which meant I finally had to sit down and define exactly how I think about brands — what they are, how they work, what they need to do.
Brands live within culture, and…
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been hit up for free (or deeply discounted) work.
Keep your hand up if you said yes to doing the free (or deeply discounted) work because it was “for a good cause.”
Drop that hand onto your face if you ended up hating everything about the experience of the free (or deeply discounted) work you ended up doing. That’s a facepalm, and it’s the correct response to a whole lot of the donated work designers and marketers end up doing.
For eight years I’ve been designing logos, brands, and engagement campaigns for a brand strategy and creative agency called Black Sheep. We’re called Black Sheep for all the reasons you might guess: We do things differently. We’re ahead of the curve. We break the rules. Blah, blah, blah, insert predictable design agency phrase here.
But here’s the thing: We DO do things in an unexpected way. Because when you build an engagement campaign, you have to differentiate your clients from everyone else or it won’t work. You won’t actually engage anyone. No one will connect with what you’re doing. …
I love estate sales.
I’ve been going to estate sales since I was 15. If ever I have a weekend free of social commitments, I can most certainly be found poking through used junk at an antiques shop, flea market, or other type of sale. I love the treasure hunt aspect. I love that it’s far and away the most interesting way to shop for anything, from clothing to soup ladles. I love when I find objects that completely elude identification and all good sense. …
A couple years ago I read my first enjoyable non-fiction book. I know there’s a lot of enjoyable non-fiction out there, but REALLY… the magic of Hogwarts has resulted in an entire theme park, whereas the history of Hispanics in the Mormon Zion* has resulted in, well, my falling asleep on a hot pink highlighter.
The name of this particular book, which I re-read recently, is Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It), and it’s written by a delightful man named William Poundstone. Remarkably, Mr. Poundstone has found a lot of ways to make…
It seems like we never stop hearing about how creative children are. We marvel at their “unexpected” clothing choices; we’re charmed by their nontraditional blanket forts. We fight back laughter when an incredibly unconventional fib puts the blame for the missing cookies on an unlikely scapegoat.
Tragically, though, the average grown-up does not think him or herself capable of creativity. This elusive quality seems somehow no longer applicable to our current, adult selves.
WHAT HAPPENED, selves? Did we outgrow it, like stirrup pants and footy pajamas? Did it leak out our ears while we slept? Or perhaps it disappeared suddenly…