Saturday, January 31, 2009

Surreal Kid Song

I don't know what to say about this. I don't respond to it on any kind of intellectual level. I will say that I love it. Oh, ok, cerebral kicks in - I like it better than the Cadbury commercial discussed below. Picking it as a web phenomenon.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Should raise an eyebrow or two.

According to Faris Yakob, if you want to make the kind of movies (for brands) the Internet likes, this is the recipe:

Leave out all that stuff about the product. As much as you can anyway.

Make people feel something nice, link that association to your brand.

Give people things to copy, or respond to, or play with.

Don't take yourself or your brand too seriously.

Ok, I guess if your brand is Cadbury, you have 100% understanding of what your brand is, you have 100% distribution you can get away with it. Oh, and if you share the colour purple with Alice Walker/Whoopi Goldberg - and millions of dollars/euros to spend on media (and PR). But other than that I'm not sure the theory will apply to many brands in the real world.

Not sure it has the charm of the Gorilla ad either. Music lacks iconic charm. Talent not furry enough. Gag not especially funny (seems like something from America's Funniest Home Videos).

I'm backing Relevent, Distinctive and Competitive...there's a recession, haven't you heard?

Via Talent Imitates Genius Steals

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Download my novel for free

I wrote Vanishing Act Christmas last year. I've just decided to give away the download version for free.

Click here to get your copy.

Of course you can still order a copy of the physical, hardback edition.

Tell a friend, the more the merrier. Write a review and win a hard copy.

Rubber Soul

Don't watch this if you are easily offended.
A nicely executed commercial for condoms that could qualify as a product demonstration in a hard category.

Truth, Lies and Advertising

The Australian blogosphere was briefly alight with talk about 'Heidi', the girl who, supposedly had met a man in a cafe. Nothing so strange in that. But in a twist on the on the Cinderella story the mystery man left his jacket behind.

Naturally Heidi took the garment home and enlisted a friend's help to create the video above as a message to the mystery man to come claim his coat (and, undercurrent, his girl).

All a hoax by the Australian fashion retailer Witchery, who were in the process of launching a men's line. The jacket co-star turned out to be the star. Heidi even took the time to lovingly describe the jacket.

I'm in two minds about faking it. On one hand it is harmless and trivial. On the other the extent to which the ruse was carried on after it had been outed as a scam seems silly.

Can brands be built on a hoax? Well - Coca-cola have been doing it for years turning caramelised sugar water into a fantasy of togetherness and pleasure.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Waiheke market corker experience

Waiheke market, saturday am.
Over on Waiheke I like to visit the Saturday markets. Brings out the locals and sometimes reminds me of what the island must have been like before they started building me-too suburban homes with Linea weatherboards and corrugated iron fascia.

Every week Mark Sommerset is there promoting and selling his books - I have talked about him before. He certainly has the knack of creating an experience around his brand. The stall, though it is as simple in scale as his neighbour's is a very sophisticated retail experience.

Much to be learned in the strangest of places.

Polaroid memories

It's sad that Polaroid ended production of their 'instant' film at the beginning of this year. I tried to express it before, but it came across as hollow - given that me, and everyone else, had long ago adopted digital imaging. So much more instant than previous instances of 'instant'.

Still, there was something about the SX70 I liked, it was insignificant - don't like it it? - take another.

Rummaging today I came across these shots.

This one is some of the crew from Rialto advertising. You can tell the 'creative' dudes, think sunglasses inside.

Left to right: Carolyn Travaglia (became a famous makeup artist), Gael Praast (Simon Praast's mum but a formidable accountant in her own right - managed to assign MD's Tv to my smorg, easy). Centre, big smile: Megan (my son's mum - we got married). Back row: Ginga: Barbie Cope - stylish, iconoclastic studio manager - now photographer. Terry Stevens - art director, now commercials director in Europe, the Diane, accounts, stayed with Clemenger for years (don't know where she is now), then Michelle - I can't remember more than that, then me, front row, daylight, 'bans.

Those were the days.

And so were these: MacKay King Christmas party breakfast '84 - yes, that's me - so young and, aherm, innocent.


Polaroids were the informal record of the day. I miss their presence as an instant artifact - something digital can't provide.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dick Tracey phones...finally

In the first edition of Idealog we were going to make a photographic spread representing the end of the wristwatch and the rise of all sorts of other ways of telling time. The feature fell on the cutting room floor. My favourite time-piece is the microwave oven readout, with my cellphone a close second.

The watch's demise has seemed inevitable for years, but still it hangs in there. In something of a backflip here is an idea that loops back to the old Dick Tracey idea of the watch phone.

With the current trend for fetishistically large wristwatches it maybe an ideas whose time has finally come. I don't like wondering where my phone is - I always pat myself down before leaving a location - phone, keys, wallet... It was comfortably and fashionable attached to my wrist I would have one less thing to worry about. Except, perhaps, looking like a Dick (Tracey).

Friday, January 23, 2009

Behind the scenes

I am not a great fan of showing clients lots of ideas. It conveys a sense that I am unfocused or can't make a recommendation.

That doesn't mean I don't go through an evolutionary process to arrive at the recommendation. Simply that showing the client the workings is wasteful and indecisive. If you hand a choice over to the client, you are simply the raw material to be mined, rather than the high value end product.

That said, I was fascinated by the design process for something called UKE (not even sure what it is). For non-design/non-marcomms people it might be interesting to see some of the process.

Logo design from start to finish - CreativePool

If you are ever in the position of commissioning creative work and are presented with choices, tell the vendor to man-up and come back with a recommendation (unless you are controlling fascist who thinks they could do everything better themselves and hires weaklings).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Boxing clever

I rather like the craft in the this ad, but wonder about the shoehorning of a product into the idea - especially when the idea is something of an 80s cliche 'out of the box' thinking? (Which is a variation of 'think outside the square'. Is there nothing to commend the Audi Q5 other than its styling? - which is streamlined? What, is the competition Hummer or Jeep, the only two truly boxy SUV's I can think of.

In my mind the real problem to overcome is that my perception of SUVs for unnecessary urban use is that they should be shot at with anti-tank weapons. (I may be biased as I was nearly killed on my Vespa scooter by an arse in a Nissan Patrol who felt so safe and secure that considering other road users before making an unindicated u-turn didn't even flash through his mind).

Is Audi running out of steam as a brand? Are all car brands struggling to be relevant?

And, finally, didn't Toyota New Zealand use that song for the launch of the latest version of the Corolla? Why, yes, yes it did.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Daily Show Guide to Rebranding

Glad the Daily Show is back. Their Christmas holiday hiatus was more like a lowatus for me. Rebranding is a hilarious topic at the best of times - I can see all those groovy design types lickin' their chops at the prospect of making design guidelines and manuals - maybe a logo or two. The GOP get the nub of it in this clip.

Watch The Daily Show online.

Is it just me?...

Or could Mickey Rourke and Frank Costanza have been separated at birth?

But seriously folks: Here's what Salon's movie reviewer thought:

Like most great performances, Rourke's is the sum of a million little parts. There's the way Randy's face lights up when, trying to buy a surprise present for Stephanie, he seizes upon a shiny satin baseball jacket with an "S" embroidered on it. We already know his no-nonsense daughter would never wear this hideous garment. But Randy thinks the jacket is perfect, not just because it has her initial on it, but because it's the kind of flashy stagewear he gravitates toward himself. Rourke renders this fairly complicated example of dadthink with just the right mix of cluelessness and love. It's just one place in "The Wrestler" where Randy's meaty mug -- beaten down more by life than by anything that has happened in the ring -- tells us more about his character than a dozen lines of dialogue might. It's impossible to pin down what makes that beat-up face so beautiful. Aronofsky, to his credit, knew what becomes a legend most.

Wasn't, but now am looking forward to it.

The Wrestler Trailer

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tony Hart draws short straw

Vision On was a show on television when I was growing up. Aside from the Goons-meets-Goodies skits I always admired the talent of Tony Hart. His drawings and easy creativity must have pushed a button for me - drawing was 'my thing'. I liked the spare style and still do.

I thought of the show several months ago when I was holed up with a friend's son on a rainy day on a farm. I suggested he make some drawings. He was reluctant, 'I can't draw' he said. Of course you can I though to myself. I told him to make a random scribble on the page. When he had I saw a whale, filled in a little here, joined this us and voila - whale. He was impressed. I made a scribble and threw down the gauntlet to him. He picked up the pen and realised there was a kangaroo lurking in the lines. He was pretty pleased with the result. "See, you can draw. Drawing is just scribbling with style."

I'd like to see Vision on, or something like it on TV now to help kids learn visual thinking.

Seems like the influentials in my life are dropping like flies.

Tony Hart obituary on the Guardian site

Later dude...

As a confirmed procrastinist I have nothing but admiration for people who are able to set goals, make lists, then feverishly work on crossing the items off. It seems to equate with a 'been there, done that' T-Shirt to me. But, then again, that my be a passive aggressive rebellion - in the same vein that the things which annoy us most about our children are the things that remind us most of ourselves.

Still, nothing actually happens until you make a start. I have found that, once I have overcome my inertia, I can set a cracking pace. I wrote my novel Vanishing Act in a month, designed and typeset it within a week and had an international worst-seller the following day. I know that literary colossi labour over their masterworks for ages - none more so than Truman Capote:

"I write my first version in longhand (pencil). Then I do a complete revision, also in longhand. Essentially I think of myself as a stylist, and stylists can become notoriously obsessed with the placing of a comma, the weight of a semicolon."

It irritated Capote (and I have to say it would drive me bonkers). I saw the Capote quote on a site called Daily Routines - How writers, artists, and other interesting people organize their days. Which I have found reading is the perfect antidote for beginning the work at hand.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Rock on

Another excellent visual pun from Glenz

And, this - just in, sorry I don't usually like to ammend a post after pressing the go button (except to correct my many spelling mistakes of wobbly grammar). But, in the light of events on the Hudson River with heroic splashdowns, I couldn't resist adding this image - which was available as a shirt on - though I fear the moment may have passed, as a limited edition for Christmas. Still, check out the Valentine's day designs or grab some Bitter Sweets for your beloved.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Yak Times

The New Yak Times

I have been working on one of my other blogs: The New Yak Times. Thought it would be interesting to chat about a specific topic. Just a few posts to date, but chugging along.

Take a look at it here.

Star Wars & Religion

This clip is a synopsis of the the Star Wars trilogy by someone who hasn't seen it.
In many ways it is like the Christian Bible. The apostles who wrote the stories in the New Testament and whoever wrote the Old testament kind of mash things up to make sense and some sort of meaningful narrative that explains small, imponderable matters like creation and how to live life as a sentient being.

Of course the bible leaves out chunks of important stuff, such as dinosaurs, mainly because its authors (and, like the wikipedia, there were many) didn't have the technology to know the difference between a fossilised dinosaur bone and a spare rib and so they simply didn't 'see' it. Much in the same way that the makers of Star Wars could only conceive of the fantastic worlds in the early movies using the vernacular of the day - models made from commercial kit sets and sets made from polystyrene and fibreglass - much of which was revised in the 'pre-quels' when the new technology of computer generated imagery became readily available.

I guess there is a parallel there with the Scientologists who revise creationist myths based on spacemen (Thetans) being stuck on earth. Hardly surprising when you consider L.Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology was a science fiction writer. 'If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem will look like a nail' (Emerson).

People who believe in creationism or 'intelligent design' are like the girl recounting the Star Wars narrative. They don't get it right but base their thoughts on mad fragments that uphold a general belief.

Unfortunately beliefs are to facts what Star Wars is to science - fiction.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Reach for the Sky

Douglas Bader Reach for the skies

This morning I found some old books in my mother's basement. A copy of Reach for the Sky, the Douglas Bader story. I had inscribed it with my name in a strangely clipped copperplate script 'David MacGregor 1972'. Which means I was nine, the same age as my daughter is now.

It is interesting how the things that preoccupied my mind are so different from kids today. I was obsessed with planes and tanks of WWII. I am pretty sure my daughter wouldn't even know what Heinkel He 111 was, let alone a Spitfire (or its range and climbing rate).

Mind you there was also this book (below) in the cache - The Golden Book of Astronomy. Copy reads
"The time seems near when people will use rockets to get from one part of the earth to another. After successful round the world trips the next goal will be the moon."

Assuming I was reading that in 1972 it was a little late (contrasting that with live as it happens 'tweets' on my twitter feeds this morning when the US Air Airbus splashed down on the Hudson River).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm a little teapot 2

Went painting pots with Zoë today.

She is so much fun. Aren't all kids?

I don't try to encourage her (actually I drag her along as cover for my own fun), tomorrow is Dangereax... she wanted to see it but somewhere along the way it became my thing - they grow up so quickly.)

Jarmusch, Jarmusch can you do the fandango?

Advertising is full of snappy phrases to describe the trade. You would expect nothing less, surely? One of my favourites is "Make the familiar strange and the strange familiar."

I came across the quote above on TIGS blog. It is rule #5 in Jim Jarmusch 5 Rules on directing (#1 is, of course, there are no rules).

"Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery—celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to.” Via MovieMaker

Call me a philistine but I hadn't been aware of Jarmusch until just the other day. He is featured in the Joe Strummer bio by Julian Temple The Future Is Unwritten(which I recommend). Because Temple doesn't flag the contributors names as they reminisce beside primal fires about Joe's life I had to go figure who was who for myself - aside from the obvious ones. Glad I did, being spoon fed is for infants and geriatrics - and I consider myself a 'tween' for the purpose of that exercise.

I left a comment on the Talent Imitates, Genius Steals - just a quick theory on the birth of the cult of originality. Feel free to debate.

French Mixer

It hardly ever occurs to me that there is a world out there that doesn't speak English as its native tongue. Anglo-centrism isn't always helpful, especially these days at the end of empire.

Came cross a French site that allows you to mash up a variety of iconic images and video with your own titles. I'm sure many of those published and rated highly were hilarious, but my command of French is barely adequate enough to buy a ticket on the RER, so the subtlety of humour is a train that leaves the station without me.

Just a time wasting diversion...though it would be très drôle to create something along these lines where consumers could make headlines for your ads. The results might be terrifying, but amidst the never know. Offer a prize for the best and verify names and email accounts before permitting participation.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The best years of a womans life

There is an old joke I like: Being 29 are the best years of a woman's life. I trot it out often, but usually it doesn't result in the gales of laughter it so richly deserves.

Age is a touchy subject in society. I remember thinking that the pressure of sitting school certificate and university entrance examinations would be unbearable, but that the day was so far off that I could defer my anxiety (it's easy when you are eleven and have a buffer of four years before D-Day).

As a 19 year old punk the prospect of turning 20 seemed like a betrayal of the punk ethos - but even Johnny Rotten is an old geezer like me now.

By 30 I had reached my goal of being the youngest creative director for a multi-national ad agency in New Zealand and was in the process of wondering why I should work for anyone else and began my first company - Milk Moustache - branded communications since quarter past two (being infantile is a characteristic I'm comfortable with).

Being in my forties I have to say has been a doddle. Jung describes middle age as a time for individuation: Jung called this final step self-realization-- “We could therefore translate individuation as “coming to selfhood” or “self-realization” - in other words, this is who I am, and if you don't like it I am OK with that too, now - excuse me I have a blog to write. Aside from a little extra weight, zoom lenses in my glasses and monumental blood pressure I feel pretty mush the same way I always have...

Anyway, so far so good.

I came across these images of from Paris vogue (via Picdit) Using just make-up and styling the same model is transformed from a 10 year old to a sixty year old. Slightly creepy on one level, but nicely done.

New York Stories

I recently bought one of Penguin's nicely packaged classics - On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Gave it to my son to read. It must still be a right of passage. Saw this clip on YouTube with Kerouac reading with jazz in the background. The images of New York are sensational. It all just kind of works and reminds me of first trip to the big apple in 1987. It was the autumn, I arrived the day before Columbus Day. Americans love a parade.

It also reminds me a photo I have by Norman Parkinson called New York, New York. I used the image in a poster for the Auckland Opera Company, set next to an image of a Geisha holding her blonde, blue-eyed son (who was actually my son Taylor), wrapped in the Stars and Stripes. My interpretation of the Madam Butterfly's central theme was the pursuit of the American Dream.

At the time there was no Internet, so tracking the copyright owner was tricky. I got in touch with Conde Nast in New York fax to ask their picture editors what they knew. I was directed to the estate of the late, great Parkinson in the UK. They were reluctanct to allow the picture to be used. It had just been licensed to UTA, the french airline and, they emphasised, it was a very important picture. I persisited and got the reply that I could use it for about 15,000 dollars. I would discuss it with my client I said. In fact I didn't discuss it at all. The next day I informed my contact that my client was a provincial opera company, the ads would not be widely seen but that we were keen to use the image and could offer 250 sterling. With nothing to lose but the concept I had sold to the client I waited for the reply which came through the fax overnight. They accepted my offer. Within the week I had an excellent print from the negative in my hot little hands. Though the print hasno commercial value and is unsigned it is a wonderful thing and serves to remind that "if you don't ask - you won't get"

Norman Parkinson New York photo

Martin Scorcese in front of the camera

I watched Annie Hall the other day. It must be Woody Allen's finest moments. You can see where Seinfeld came from; the endless whining and prattling and often self deprecating humour. I enjoyed it very much.

This commercial reminded me of Woody Allen, Martin Scorcese must be the Italian version of Woody Allen. It's very funny and makes its point powerfully. Though I recently criticised ads that tuck the brand away in the last couple of seconds this one doesn't suffer from the pay-off delivery.

Via Time Magazines' Top 10 ads of the year (not all of which I think are quite so good)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Where creativity comes from

Well, the secret is finally revealed. Creativity isn't learned, or innate. It is grown and cold pressed, then shipped in vats.

I am not sure what the actual purpose of this video was. But it is nicely done, with a sharp mockumentary eye. "Mind that wire." and "Mad as a badger." stand out as lines that give it a patina of authenticity.

Worth watching.

Via Paul Isakson's blog

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

What's in a name? A rose by any other

Trademarks are essential tools in the Intellectual Property world.

A trademark or trade mark, identified by the symbols ™ and ®, or mark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization or other legal entity to identify that the products and/or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source of origin, and to distinguish its products or services from those of other entities. A trademark is a type of intellectual property, and typically a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, or a combination of these elements. Wikipedia

I have been following with interest the challenge by cobbler Jimmy Choo to shut down the New Zealand online gift retailer It is hard to see how any reasonable person would make an meaningful connection between the two brands (though calling Kookychoo a brand is probably something of a stretch, it is a trading name - according to the New Zealand Herald the gift site had been receiving 30 visitors per day before the publicity about the case increased numbers a hundred-fold. Though I am no high heel wearer, I recognise the Jimmy Choo show brand. Yessss, I have seen the odd episode of Sex and the City...hey, it was a pop culture marker. But I can't see any plausible association between Choo Shoes and the mini site that has them teetering on the brink of apoplexy. In fact the connection I make is more likely to be with the Beatles song The Walrus (which is analysed in painful acid leaden detail here).

Lawyers have rushed to the aid of the little Kiwi battler, eager, I'm sure to enjoy the halo effect of the publicity for their firms - offering their services pro-bono. Given the cost of engaging lawyers of any kind, Looie James, the owner of Kookychoo seems to have stumble on a double windfall. Though now that I have pointed out the posible infringement of the Beatles' work, maybe the Apple Corps will be on the blower. Nor would it seem unreasonable for that other fashion brand Kookaï to seek satisfaction.

If you visit the troublemaking site you will undoubtedly be struck , as indeed I was, by the question - 'huh?', followed by: "What restricted substances have you been taking?". There is no similarity. One sells play teepees and teddy bears the other sells Choos.

Which raises an issue about the legitimacy of the Jimmy Choo brand itself.

The word Choo sounds an awful lot like…:Shoe.

Shoe is common parlance and, therefore, not protectable. Every shoe brand in the world could take issue with the English brand. Perhaps they should?

And while we are navigating the lunacy of frivolous, vexacious, litigious stupidity in the name of obsessive, compulsive greed you might like to hear about what the sparks that fly when Flynt stikes Flynt:

Larry Flynt is taking his nephews to court to stop them slapping the Flynt name on what he considers to be low-quality porn, reports the Los Angeles Times. The porn mogul accuses his kin of tarnishing his famous name with "inferior products" and "knock-off goods," while his nephews insist they have a right to use their own name. Experts say the lawsuit raises tricky questions concerning an individual's right to use their name for business purposes and trademark protection begins. The nephews—who worked for Flynt for over a decade before he fired them for being unproductive—say their uncle just has "inferiority issues" and promise that their films will surpass anything Hustler's ever done.Via Newser

Street Life

road works by David MacGregor
I am guessing that 'the recession' will result in more and more roadworks around Auckland as a way of 'stimulating' the economy. Public works are easy to initiate, there are few metrics for their success or failure (hard to fail with upgrading roads) and it transfers relatively unskilled workers most likely to be 'let go'.

When my partners and I started Idealog magazine a part of the pitch was that New Zealand's economy needs to diversify with a greater emphasis on innovation, creativity and increased emphasis on copyrights and other forms of intellectual property.

From out first issue we were criticised for suggesting that primary production would ever be anything other than the backbone of the the New Zealand economy. That was three years ago. Since then commodity prices have swollen to record highs (so much so that milk solids were being called White Gold). Prices have tanked since and the the global economic downturn doesn't look like ending anytime soon.

Now more than ever investment should be focused on creating genuinely sustainable industries like the creative industries - which consume few resources, can transport across the web and earn residual royalties and payments long after the initial conception and implementation has taken place.

Offering subsidies to creative producers to invest in audio and video recording equipment, editing software, tools for networking and collaboration, creating marketplaces and connections might offer greater long term returns than in capital intensive and heavy-freight solutions.

Of course, when I discuss the creative economy I refer to:

* Advertising
* Architecture
* Art markets
* Crafts
* Design
* Designer fashion
* Film and video
* Interactive leisure software
* Music
* Performing arts
* Publishing
* Software and computer services
* Television and radio;

...rather than imaginative thinking as a verb.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

T-wit on Twitter

I'm inclined to try new things. Oysters, for one. But that was a long time ago and the novelty, I have to confess, has slipped away.

When I heard about Twitter I was skeptical. 140 characters, followers...I couldn't see the point of it. Why would anyone want to know what I was doing? So I tried it, found it wanting and stopped.

Then I gave it another go and realised that, like any other medium, it is the quality of content that makes all the difference. Who I follow creates the channel's quality. My tweets (ain't that tweet?).

Having persevered I am happy to say that my Twitter feeds are producing some high quality T-wits:


Sarah Wedde - Toilet paper stylist to the stars.
This woman is funny. She has post modern droll down pat, for example:

"Reading a book on the Antikythera mechanism. Probably my second favourite mechanism of all time."

"Packed long-sleeved rash vest and board shorts. Will have to make do until the SwimBurka reaches this godforsaken country."

"Dear Twitter, My boyfriend's favourite movie is "Love Actually". Which bridge will it be safest to dump his body off?"

Tim Siedel - The Washington Post says I'm funny. And they know funny (see Watergate).

"The world's oldest woman died today. No cause of death was listed, so I assume she lost a knife fight with the world's second oldest woman."

"To those of us who wear glitter hats and blow paper horns all year long, New Year's Eve is amateur night."

"He's making a list, and checking it twice. And washing his hands three times. And checking his list again. And tapping the door knob twice."

Of course it's not all wisecracking. Many celebrities and stars have figured that that they can stay in contact with their fans in real time using Twitter.

I follow Stephen Fry (Dancer, couturier, superheavyweight boxer, neo-plasticist and rapper -currently filming a nature documentary in New Zealand) and Shaquile O'Neil who has an amusing, philosphical take on the world ("VERY QUOTATIOUS").

Then there are the folks who curate the web via Twitter, like the ubiquitous connector Guy Kawasaki who is always good for a lead.

Twitter can be time consuming, but amusing and useful too as part of your social media suite.

Follow me on Twitter

Sunday, January 04, 2009

More Milton Glaser

Milton Glaser Zanders calendar 1984
Many years ago I procured a Zanders paper company calender, which was an annual event in the design calendar, that was very special indeed. Through 12 months Milton Glaser interpreted, in his own fabulous style, the work of a dozen of the world's most influential artists. I dared not take the calendar from its heavy duty cardboard sleeve for very long, lest the colours fade or that I would damage it by leafing through the spiral bound sheets. It must have cost a fortune to print. How many individual colurs were used in the process I can only imagine. It was a treasure. I loved the work on the pages and admired the intelligence and craftsmanship on Milton Glaser, already a legend in the design world.

Thinking about the butchering of his original I (heart) New York logo - refer to previous post - I visited his company website where I found this movie:

It is astonishing to think how prolific he has been. His comments about remaining interested in the 'third act' of life are poignant and it seems plain that he has lost none of his interest.

I like that his works seem to show the hand of their creator, rather than the sleek,smooth style of a computer generated artwork - so common in contemporary design.

My beloved copy of the Zanders calendar? Ruined in a basement flood I'm afraid - along with all of my own print advertising and design samples 1983 - 2003.

Nuts to New New York logo

new york logo
Ok, so 17 million dollars doesn't seem like a lot to promote the greatest town on earth (feel free to dispute). Some folks on the Internet have suggested that $17m (US) for this logo is an outrage. I don't want to become enmeshed in yet another debate about what logos cost. Everyone knows it isn't the logo design that matters - it is the usage manual that really counts. Designers love to make little diagrams to show how much white space should be left around their precious motifs. A good manual is worth every cent.

The issue I have with Saatchi & Saatchi's re-render of Milton Glaser's original design is that it simply doesn't make it better than it was. It makes it worse. Adding a squirrel doesn't improve anything about the logo, or my understanding of New York. It may even confuse me. Squirrels remind me of London. It's a personal thing, Squirrels/London - Horse/Carriage - Love/Marriage… (actually the Love/Marriage thing is a stretch to make a point Marriage/Divorce seems more authentic - but I digress...)

Design doesn't get better by adding things. Glaser's original conception was perfect because it didn't need anything else to make its point. The rebus of the heart has become a default for 'love' in a way that I don't believe it did (in a design context) before. The addition of the squirrel seems to me like adding a 'Turbo' sticker to the flank of a Porsche. An unnecessary detail. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery said:
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

I understand the money spent also accounts for media activity and the like and I can only hope Saatchi have done a less embarrassingly amateur job than they have with the logo.

Milton Glaser is still alive. I wonder what his opinion is?

If you are interested in the history of logo design I recommend Logo Design History

Danger - in the interests of safety

New Zealand's lead road safety ambassador
Yesterday a friend told me he witnessed a curious sight. As he travelled on one of Auckland's motorways leading to the city. Parked on the verge he noticed a late model grey coloured Holden Commodore car with its driver side door fully opened in the face of oncoming traffic.
"It looked dangerous. I thought; maybe the driver had a heart attack, slumped at the wheel and was in need of urgent first aid?" As he got closer he saw that fears were without cause. The driver was actually a uniformed police officer, crouching behind the door and pointing his speed radar at the oncoming traffic. The crouching stance wasn't to protect himself in case of a high speed impact with the door by a feckless driver but to conceal the high visibility vest, which would have made the officer well, highly visible - which would spoil the ruse.

The incidence of deaths on New Zealand roads is at a near 50 year low. I am going to wager that policing has had negligible effect on the statistics. Likewise the money spent on 'road safety' advertising campaigns seems to have an inverse effect on drink-driving statistics, the more is spent the higher the incidence becomes. No, I think we must look past the policing and acknowledge a few unsung heroes in the reduction of deaths on the road:

a) Cheap Japanese used car imports. Late model cars began flooding into New Zealand in the 90s. The glut of cars with safe, modern brakes, airbags and crumple zones meant that fleet of aging Austins, Morris', Fords etc that were kept on the roads because they were easy to fix at home, replacements were far too expensive etc have been allowed to be scrapped. I can't remember the last time I saw a Morris Oxford wobbling along the highway on skinny tires, with near-non existent braking and not enough power to avoid an oncoming Ford Anglia with the same malignant mechanics. Bottom line, cars are safer (including having more power).

b) Modern medicine. If you crash your chances of survival are radically increased. You may be a vegetable or quadriplegic, but you'll survive.

c) Ronald McDonald. That's right the Ginga fool probably has had more impact on road safety by encouraging kids to automatically put their seat belts on when entering a vehicle and pestering their parents to do the same in order to drive them to the hamburger joint so that they can work on their obesity as a reward for their road safety consciousness.

Meanwhile the nation's police force stalk speeding motorists (when speed is not the safety concern it is made out to be) using any means at their disposal - even ludicrously dangerous ones - like parking on the freeway with your door open to the lanes in order to generate revenue. Senior police officers reportedly spend their day in the police bar, drive home drunk and then slam the door in the face of a police officer responding to a complaint and requesting a breath test. (The Minister of Police calls that an employment issue - and therefore not a matter she can comment on). Other uniformed police officers in marked cars give joyrides to children at school fairs for a dollar a pop - two cars high speed drifting on a small school field with no safety barriers between the Mr Whippy queue or the bouncy castle at a school fair (video to follow - stay tuned) - clowns undoing the solid work Ronald McDonald has been doing for decades.

Revealed: NZ's busiest speed cameras (NB top policeman's email detailing the quota expectations for uniformed officers).

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Bugatti Atalante found in garage, owner not available for comment

Bugatti Atalante discovered
When I die, if you look down the back of the couch or through the pockets of my jackets you might find some loose change, old supermarket receipts and, I'll wager, with some certainty, little else.

When an 89 year old English orthopedic surgeon, the aptly named Dr Carr, died recently his family discovered an old Bugatti, covered in dust, that had not been used since 1960. The old mad had been a motoring enthusiast and, according to the Associated Press report, something of a hoarder who threw nothing away.

If you are not a petrol-head that might well be unremarkable news. But you need to understand something about the Bugatti Atalante. It was as rare and sought after in its day as the VW Bugatti Veyron of today. Whilst most of its contemporaries could barely clatter along at 50 miles per hour, the Atalante was capable of more than 150 mph. When it is sold at auction, I am guessing in unrestored condition, it is expected to reach 4.3 million US dollars (in the depths of a recession). I guess they don't make 'em like that anymore.

Apparently the heirs to the good doctor's estate were unaware of the cars presence, though auction houses and collectors had been circling like buzzards for years.

Here are a couple of images of the supermodel in question to show you the potential of the mad doctor's jalopy.

Bugatti Atalante
Bugatti Atalante

Twilight pale by comparison

No matter what it costs to make a a brilliant film - whether it is the sort of thing that appeals to the 'Academy' or the judges at Cannes or Sundance or Berlin - or one that simply has you on the edge of your seat for ninety minutes - the cost of seeing the thing is the same as it is to see an absolute stinker. Yesterday I saw the much hyped Twilight, a vampire tale reframed for angst-filled teen millennials. A lite retelling of the classic genre where the motif seems to be more about experiencing difficulty with members of the opposite sex and meeting family expectation and approval than dark Nosferatu horror. Dawson's Creek meets the Addams Family. If engagement with characters, thrilling pace and storytelling are the lifeblood of a great movie then Twilight was pallid and as much in need of a transfusion as its vampyric antiheroes. But the kids enjoyed it - so the small fortune it cost to treat then and torture me must have had some value.

I have decided that this year, call it a resolution if you will, I will only attend movies with some kind of substance - kind of like avoiding junk food. If I am going to be sucked dry by exhibitors then I want to be a happy husk at the end of the experience.

These looking interesting:

A Christmas Tale:

Arnaud Desplechin makes films about intellectuals that thrum with emotional (and cinematic) life. The story of a matriarch with a rare blood disease (Catherine Deneuve) seeking a transfusion from one of her three angry, resentful grown children (the craziest of whom is played by Mathieu Amalric), A Christmas Tale is a glorious feast of a movie, with the bitter served right next to the sweet.

Werner Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World:
Though it lacks the conceptual purity of his masterpiece Grizzly Man, Werner Herzog's account of his visit to the McMurdo research station at the South Pole is an invaluable tour of one of the weirdest spots on earth, as seen through the eyes of our weirdest and wisest documentary filmmaker.

Quotes from Slate's Movie Critic Dana Stevens

Via Newser

Friday, January 02, 2009

Right place at right time

Via Lost at e minor

Woody Allen said Eighty percent of success is showing up. Showing up with your camera ready might result in images like this (though I am not so sure it hasn't been doctored a little).

I'm hoping to take more pictures this year - I liked this shot I took yesterday while I was out and about with Zoe. Looking past what is right in front of you sometimes works.


Thursday, January 01, 2009

iDEA - Ovation guitar with built in MP3 - rocks!

ovation iDea
I love Ovation guitars. I think the first time I was one was in the pages of Circus magazine. Kris Kristoferson had one. At least I think it was him...details...anyway, I liked that the sound holes were in the 'wrong' place. They looked beautiful and hand crafted.

Interested to see that the company has created a guitar with a built in MP3 player that not only lets you jam along to backing tracks, but also record directly to the guitar. The recorder lets you record from the preamp and a built-in microphone -- so you can capture vocals as well. It can store around 100 minutes of audio.

What is really interesting is that the company has created a site that has the potential to make a huge difference. It has training material for learning the guitar, ideas for songwriting and jamtracks to play along with - which means they have the potential to build a community of users.

Jam Tracks

Ovation have the bones of something good, it would be interesting to see how it could be developed as a web 2.0 concept - a channel on YouTube, FaceBook etc.

Rock on ...I want one.


Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean someone isn't out to get you.

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