How to find your passion.


Let me ask you a personal question: do you have a passion problem?  I’m not asking about your hormonal levels but about your life’s passion.  Money, responsibilities, others’ opinions aside, what do you really want to do with your remaining days?

This can be a really hard question for a lot of people to answer. It was for me too. There I was, for decades, working in a respectable career that I was pretty good at and which paid the bills —  but I always a had a little itchy sense that I should be doing something else.  

I just didn’t know what.  

Continue reading “How to find your passion.”

How to shake things up.

We just got back to New York after a month in California. We went west because November had been so awful and cold in NY and we couldn’t bear the idea of an unbroken stretch of winter reaching long over the horizon. So we borrowed a friend’s house near the beach in Venice, then moved inland to a Spanish revival house (above) on a big piece of land in Echo Park.

It was admittedly quite a luxury to flee and cross the country but it wasn’t a vacation. JJ and I spent much of each day sitting across from each other at the kitchen table, working away at our laptops, while the rain beat against the windows and the wind howled through the palm trees. It’s great to have job you can do from anywhere on earth with access to wifi!

Continue reading “How to shake things up.”

The Sin of WRATH

For the first half of my career in advertising, I would often have irrational feelings of anger during a creative briefing. I would resent being given the assignment. Then I would be pissed off that I had to sit in a conference room with loads of other creative people while the strategists took us through the brief.

I simmered with impatience. I would ask critical, acerbic questions. I would strain against the deadline.

The monkey would tell me that the people briefing us were idiots, that their insights were lame or wrong, that I already knew more than they did about the subject, that it was wrong that we creatives had to compete for the assignment, the playing field wasn’t level, that the whole project was a waste of my time, blah blah and blah.

It was pretty crazy — and incomprehensible.

With time, I became sufficiently self-aware to identify this pattern and dampen it. But I can still feel the impulse when it comes time to get creative feedback or in the final days before a big presentation — a frothing resentment with no legitimate cause.

This reaction maybe in the minority but it’s not unique to me, alas. I often hired great creative people who would have explosions of rage at the most inappropriate times.

What is the fear that drives it? Vulnerability at having to show one’s ideas where they might be rejected? Of being misunderstood? Of losing control somehow?

Recently, I read of a study in The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology  that examined the effects of anger on creativity — and found that it could actually be helpful to the creative process.

Anger provides two benefits: an energy boost in the form of an adrenaline rush which focuses the mind on the problem at hand. Secondly, anger makes your thinking irrational — which can jolt you out of creative ways of thinking. In a paroxysm of rage, you may spit out some crazy truth that makes a wild and fruitful association.

Another study found that many creative people begin their days with negativity and then shift to positive feelings. By channeling the negative energy into their work, they find sharper focus and productivity. If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, try channeling your bad mood into energy to solve a creative problem.

But proceed with caution for anger is still a sin. Its benefits dissipate fairly quickly. And once the red mists blow away, you may find you’ve alienated potential partners, wasted time and resources, derailed the process, and damaged your reputation. And if people dislike and fear you, they are a lot less likely to be objective about the merit of your ideas.

Being a genius doesn’t excuse being an asshole.

The last in a series on the seven deadly creative sins.

Hungry Tim and other news

I know I promised to eschew advertising on my blog but, come on, people, it’s in my blood! I can’t help it. So here’re a few announcements, updates and, yes, ads about things I’m doing that you might like. to know about.

• First, a mini film about an innovation at Sketchbook Skool.

The gist: Sketchbook Skool kourses are now available on-demand rather than by semester. Sign up and plunge in any day of the year. We’re like Orange is the New Black — but with a full palette of colors.

open-monkey-books
Coming in late fall.

• Next, an exciting announcement: we have just completed the final nips and tucks to the design of Shut Your Monkey: How to control your inner critic and get more done and it heads to the printer next Tuesday! You can preorder your copy today, however.

 

inside-abbworkbook
Coming next year!

My other new book, the Art Before Breakfast Workbook has just come back from my editor and I am ready to continue work on the design phase of the book. It looks quite gorgeous already, I must say.

• On Saturday night, I will strap myself into a Lufthansa flight to Switzerland to  work with the students, teachers and parents of the International School of Basel. I have been working on lots of little films and projects to inspire them and can’t wait to see the art we make together during my artist-in-residency.

TobleroneI am also excited to see Basel which I hear is brimming with dozens of amazing museums. I also plan to eat chocolate. I’ll post news of my trip here, maybe even before I get back.

Jack draws in rome
A younger, beardless Jack Tea draws the Colliseum.

• Next, I will RyanAir to Rome to spend a few days with Jack who has just begun his semester abroad (he’s in Abruzzo today). He has promised he will take me to his favorite places to draw. We also plan to eat pasta.

 

Ciao!

My favorite ad campaign.

I spent several decades marketing other people’s products. Banks, cars, soft drinks, hamburgers, shoes, jet engines. I got briefed by clients, came up with ideas to communicate their messages, then helped spend billions of their dollars to share these ideas on TV, magazines, the Internet, etc. I made commercials for the Super Bowl. I helped win “Ad Agency of the Year” twice. It was a great experience and I learned a lot, working with so many smart and talented people.

For the last year, I have been working on marketing a new product. But this time, it’s a product I helped invent and it has the ability to change lives, all around the world.

The product is a special kind of art school unlike anything else that existed. A place where different artists can share their experiences, their techniques, and their sketchbooks with students worldwide — using state-of-the-art technology, beautiful videos, and the vast reach of the internet.

We call it “Sketchbook Skool.” A name that’s not too serious and a little bit, well, unusual.

We don’t have millions of marketing dollars. And it turns out we don’t need them. Instead we have a really good product and a really good network. Loads of friends who believe, as we do, in the core idea behind the product: art for all. To encourage creative freedom. To help people everywhere to conquer old fears. To be supportive. To make the world a more beautiful place because we are all drawing and painting and sharing together.

“Art for all.” It’s not just a slick advertising slogan. It’s a dream, shared by thousands. And they help us share the word about this dream with the people they care about. That’s how we’ve ‘marketed.’

After our first year, Sketchbook Skool has exceeded our wildest imaginings. We have been joined by nearly two dozen teaching artists and thousands of students from every corner of the world. We have filmed klasses on four continents, from Stockholm to Sydney, Barcelona to Brooklyn. And together, we have started a movement that does much more than share drawings — we share our lives.

beer-canIf you are reading this, you are already part of the Sketchbook Skool family. Whether you are in one of our klasses, on our Facebook group, reading this blog or just taking the leap by starting to believe you can be more creative, you are with us.

Our next big dream is to truly spread “art for all” and grow the Skool beyond just this community of our immediate friends. Starting today, we are going to expand our marketing efforts in lots of interesting ways. We’re going to invite the whole world to join us through conversations, online, radio, tv, magazines, blogs, you name it.

And we invite you to spread the word and to lend your voice to our story. To share the simple joy of putting a pen to paper and the way it can change how you see everything around you. It’s all beautiful and you helped make it so.

Thanks again for making me look like a marketing genius.

Mad Old Men unearthed

So many people seemed interested in my recollections about old typewriters that I thought I’d share this dusty relic, a three-part conversation between Tommy Kane and me in which we discuss all the old technologies that used to be part of our work in advertising. If you’ve had a long career in design or what you used to be called ‘Madison Avenue,’ it’ll ring some ancient bells.

We recorded it about four years ago. It’s sort of pathetic how unreliable our memories were already.

Everyone has one…

prison1

In a masochistic fit, I have been reading the comments people have been making on YouTube about my commercials. People are so extreme. Some complain about the interest charges Chase put on their card, others link them to some fictional Nazi past, others cry or write paeans to actors playing minor roles. Some just dispute the commercial’s claim:

“This commerical suck balls no atm in the world that quick what a bunch of liers “

Some just plain hate my client:

Chase is an enemy institution that every town should vandalize with bricks and spray cans.

The most recent frenzy has been around the fact that I had Peter Murphy of the band Bauhaus cover “Instant Karma” by John Lennon.This strikes people as a betrayal on about six dimensions and they have filled five pages of comments on YouTube.

“Oh, come on, Pete, are you really that strapped for cash? “

“i could imagine Peter appearing on that commercial as a cute dolphin [sic] to the sea.”

“I hate this song, initially sounds like he’s trying to squeeze one out…”OOOONNNN and OOOOOONNNN and OOOONNNN”

“I owe chase $600.00. I love this commercial so I might consider paying them back.”

“Brilliant! … Nice to see such esoteric luminous creative for a freaking bank commercial. It’s about time things were bumped up a notch!”

I just like the song, and I like Bauhaus, so I am a bit mystified by the fuss. But then,  I’m just an ad guy.

Another phenomenon is when people who are involved with some aspect of the commercial, adopt it as their own. For instance, people who like one of the actors or in, one case, a dog, who appears in the spot.

There’s grumbling though, even among the fans:

“dangerous!!!! Chase is encouraging young people to break the laws and run a muck!!!:

Sometimes the reaction is positive. Like, in this case, when a song I used in a  spot became a pretty big hit and “100 Years” by Five for Fighting was back on the charts.

dude can u plz tell me the name of this song ive been lookin for it for like 2 years now -.-…

“i love this song. it’s soooo amazing. i want it played at my wedding.”

Sometimes there are a lot of positive scomments, like the ones for this mawkish spot I did a few years ago.

“This is like one of the most touching commercials I’ve seen to date. Wow, I’m sold! The power of commercials cannot be underestimated!”

Then there’s the really fantastic post where someone took one of my commercials and endeavored to prove that it was seeded with hidden swastikas, proving that Chase was trying to bring back the Third Reich. I kid you not.

If they make fascism look warm and fuzzy who wouldn’t want it?

its great to know others notice the obvious swastika in the Chase logo. The fact that they even shift the logo to show the swastika shows that they are trying to get us sheeple to get used to the logo again.

Yeah and Kermit the frog is a alien transported to brainwash us all. Damn dude take your medication, I dont give a damn about Chase but that is about the strangest connection Ive ever heard.

And one final spot from

a scum sucking rat turd.

I love the Internet! (This post is for my pal, Richard Hall)