“remember who you are”

["Small Places". The cartoon I sent out to the "Hugh's Daily Cartoon" list a day or two ago...]

The unofficial tag-line for the gaping Gallery is “Remember Who You Are”. We’ve been using it internally for a while now. It goes back to what I said on the Cube Grenade page:

I’m inte­res­ted in how art affects what some peo­ple call “The Real World”- the work­place, the world of work, the world of busi­ness. That’s what the Cube Gre­nade idea is all about.

My adver­ti­sing buddy, Vinny Warren, grew up in a Roman Catho­lic hou­sehold in Ire­land. He was telling me that his parents would always have a few reli­gious icons han­ging on the wall somewhere. Pic­tu­res of Saints, Mary & Baby Jesus, that kind of thing.

Why? Says Vinny, “To remind us who we are.”

Art that reminds you who you are. Exactly. What applies in Catho­lic hou­seholds also applies in pla­ces of busi­ness. Sha­red Mea­ning. Exactly. Social Objects. Exactly.

My work has never been about getting the approval of the New York art gallery mafia. My work has always been about “What Really Matters” to people, especially to my peers.

Which is is why I’ve not minded sending out schamaltzy, cutey-pie “Love” themed cartoons on my email list this last week.

Valentine’s Day might be corny, it might be crassly commercial, it might be vastly overdone…

But Romantic Love is important. It matters. And by taking the trouble to send your loved one a Valentine’s card or whatever, you’re reminding both yourself and the other person that yes, you haven’t forgotten that it matters.

Hence why it fits in nicely with “Remember who you are”.

Once Valentine’s Day is over I’ll return to my usual heartless, cynical shtick, of course. Just in case y’all were worried…

[Bonus Link:] “When life gets really tough, just remember the white pebble. Just remember who you really are. Just remember the person that only God can see.”

[P.S. Big Props to Vinny for helping to move my thinking forward. Dinner is on me next time, Buddy!]


  1. thank you for this. made my day :)

  2. You’re magic! The schmaltzy softer side is nice, ya know, once in a while!

  3. “My work has never been about getting the approval of the New York gallery art mafia. My work has always been about ‘What really matters’ to people, especially my peers.”

    Thank you for this. I would rather my work be seen as valuable by friends and artists (many people are both), than to receive judgment from a system I never fit into in the first place.

  4. Kathleen Overby says:

    One letter more. “To remind us who’s we are.” I kept thinking of Hazel today. Artists like you two, surely make our Artist/Creator laugh, cough, scratch His head, do double takes, and blink in astonishment and gasp with pleasure. Best beloveds, using your gifts at full throttle……

    Just so you know – your underbelly shows through the sharp/cynical. [sshhh]

  5. These days, it takes more courage and imagination to do something that might come off as schmaltzy than something that might come off as cynicism. Cynicism is everywhere. Meaning isn’t.

  6. Art doesn’t just remind you who you are.

    Sometimes it forgives you for who you are.

  7. So sweet to see Hugh’s soft side…;) I loved this…

  8. Pretty good but not inspiring. I like to see more…


  1. [...] February 2, 2010 · Leave a Comment Just yesterday. You can read it here. [...]

  2. [...] “remember who you are” (gapingvoid.com) [...]

  3. [...] Hugh MacLeod of Gaping Void is asking, “How do people Remember Who They Are?” [...]

  4. [...] more a matter of, as Hugh MacLeod likes to say, remembering who you are. And a big part of that is remembering who you are [...]

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Hugh MacLeod is a genius.  Genius.

Seth Godin
Best Selling Author

His work acknowledges the absurdity of workaday life, while also encouraging employees to respond with passion, creativity, and non-conformity...   MacLeod’s work is undeniably an improvement over the office schlock of yore. At its best, it’s more honest, and more cognizant of the entrepreneurial psyche, while still retaining some idealism.

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Last year my State of the College address was 76 slides loaded with data. This year it was 14 cartoons that were substantially more memorable.

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In moments of indecision I glance at the wall [to Hugh's work] for guidance.

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