Archive for the ‘Cartoons’ Category
March 19, 2013 (3 weeks ago)
[Originally sent out in the newsletter. Subscribe here etc.]
This is a cartoon from the early 1990’s.
When I was doing my most formative work back then, I was working all the time. ALL the time.
I’d have my advertising job by day, then I’d hit my regular watering hole/cafe, pull up a stool at the bar, and get drawing.
And that’s kinda what I did for many years. While many of my peers were “getting a life”, doing all that normal stuff: Watching Monday night football, getting married, shopping in malls, mowing the lawns on the weekend. Not me. I was just working ALL the time. day and night, either at the office, or the cafe. I didn’t hang out at home much, except to sleep.
And I got asked humorously, “Don’t you have a life?” all the time by the people who saw me around– the waiters, the bartenders, the other barflies. ALL the time.
I kinda felt embarrassed when I had to say, “Not really”. But it was the truth.
Two decades later, it seems to have paid off, for the reasons expressed in the cartoon. I’m glad time proved me right. Imagine if it hadn’t… Ouch.
February 25, 2013
We Need To Talk!
This print is currently up for auction on eBay.
Originally drawn in 1998, this is one of Hugh’s most popular images. Currently the 24″ x 36″ is in our gallery for $2,975. The piece that is in the auction is an 18″ x 24″ image size, which Hugh will sign and personalize for the buyer. The bidding opened at $99.
Hugh first drew this image in 1998, reportedly as a result of an argument with a girl. Regardless of it’s genesis, we think it has resonated so well for so long because it expresses something we have all thought about, but rarely have the gumption to say aloud. Instead we can say it with this print.
We think it is actually an awesome image for the bosses office, or maybe a different thinking therapist or HR director. Cool, right?
It’s the same image that is owned by the London based celebrity agent Carol Hayes, and appeared on Channel 4’s “Secret Millionaire,” television show.
You can CLICK HERE to visit the eBay Auction for the print.
After that you need to shut up. ;-)
[“We Need To Talk” eBay Auction]
[NOT EXACTLY the Jiro ethos etc.]
[Watch the film clip here.]
Everybody knows I’m a HUGE fan of the documentary, Jiro Deams Of Sushi, and why: Because I never saw anyone before this do a better job of commmunicating the importance and value of “Mastery”, both material and spiritual. At least, not with film.
Jiro beautifully and succinctly explained his philiosphy in this film clip on You Tube, about 29 minutes into the actual movie. Even if you never intend on renting this superb documentary, this little nuggest I’m sharing I think is insanely valuable in its own right, for anyone who has the smarts to take it fully on board. I hope it helps.
Shokunin try to get the highest quality fish and apply their techniques to it.
We don’t care about money.
All I want to do is make better sushi.
I do the same thing over and over, bit by bit.
There is always a yearning to achieve more.
I’ll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is.
Even at my age, after decades of work, I don’t think I’ve achieved perfection.
But I feel ecstatic all day… I love making sushi.
That’s the spirit of the shokunin.
When to quit? The job you’ve worked so hard for?
I’ve never once hated this job.
I fell in love with my work and gave my life to it.
Even though I’m 85 years old, I don’t feel like retiring.
That’s how I feel.
You can see my orignial riff on Jiro and Mastery here (one of my most important blog posts of the last year, incidentally); I’ve also now included it in Chapter 9 of “The Art Of Not Sucking” e-book. Hope it helps.
Also, for anyone who cares, the music in the clip is Max Ricter’s ‘infra 5″. Rock on.
February 22, 2013
[Sign up here]
We’ve started an affiliate program!
As you know, we pay our bills by selling prints and tee shirts of our art (along with a lot of cool animation and corporate work). I wanted to let you know that we recently set up gapingvoid on the Linkshare network (an affiliate program) so that our friends with blogs and websites can actually benefit directly (by earning commissions) from helping to spread the gapingvoid word.
If you are already part of the Linkshare network you can easily search for “gapingvoid art” and request to be added as a publisher. If you are not yet part of Linkshare you can sign up here for free.
As you are a special friend of gapingvoid, we’d be happy to prepare any custom banners for you and your audience, or work with you to create a really special offer just for your community. Just let us know. In any event, it would be an honor and awesome to have you as a gapingvoid affiliate. If you want any additional info about the affiliate program, feel free to contact Jason or Jeff. Me? I’ll be drawing.
February 20, 2013
It always excites me to see someone trying to shake up the art industry, so I was sad to learn about Jen Bekman’s fine art retail site, “20x200” suspending operations. Though I didn’t know the people personally, I’d been rooting for them. It seemed like a neat idea, and I loved the name.
So why did it fail? In retrospect, it isn’t too hard to see why: High overheads (Since when did you need a fancy office in SoHo, New York to sell art prints online?). Investors vs Founder conflicts. Beaucoup Employees, Pas Beaucoup sales. Nothing that any of us haven’t seen before…
But here’s another thought:
20x200’s official tagline was “Art For Everyone”. Or to put it through a Marxist lens, art for the masses.
“Bringing Art To The Masses” is a well-meaning idea, sure, but hardly a new one. The early Soviets tried the same thing, coincidentally, around the same time they also discovered that ruthlessly exterminating people en masse (no pun intended) was good for business.
John Ruskin, William Blake, Durer, La Trec, Hogarth, etc etc were trying even before that [Though Ashille Gorky, one of my favorite artists, didn’t like the idea so much. He famously called 1930’s Social Realism “Poor art for poor people”, but I digress…]
The thing is, like Seth Godin says, does anybody really belong to “The Masses” anymore? We’re all weird, we’re all niche, and thanks to the Internet, we’re all getting weirder and nichier by the day.
In other words, “Art For Everyone” is a nice enough thought, until you realize that few potential customers actually like being put in the “Everyone” basket.
So what basket do people like being put in? A basket with a strong, passionate, relatively unique sense of PURPOSE that defines it. A niche that matters.
And yes, you guessed it, what is true for the online art sales market is also probably true for your industry as well.
It’s either that, or get crushed by Amazon…
[UPDATE:] Jen just sent me a nice email– Operations are suspended, not ceased. So it seems there’s going to be a second act, they’re going to regroup… Stay tuned. Hurrah!
February 11, 2013
[buy print here…]
So the Pope decided to resign today… I guess that’s not too surprising, even if a Pope hasn’t done it in 600 years. He was a very old man in ailing health, after all…
I’m not Catholic, so I have no idea what this means for the Church as a whole. All I can do is wish Pope Benedict a lovely, well-deserved retirement.
Although the event DID give me another chance to poke fun at the never ending religi-fication of Apple
February 5, 2013
[Buy the print here etc.]
I was sad to learn that the former New York Mayor, Ed Koch passed away last week.
To me, Koch was always THE New York Mayor, even more so than Rudolph Giuliani.
This famous New York street sign that came out during his administration (which I appropriated) is pure Koch:
One New Yorker, talking like a real New Yorker, to other New Yorkers.
It resonates because that’s how New Yorkers actually sound. It works because there’s an actual inherent truth to it.
Contrast that use of language with how most power speaks to the non-powerful i.e. patronizing and synthetic.
One of my great heroes, George Orwell famously wrote about how proper language is always the first victim of tyranny, in his marvelous essay, “Politics And The English Language”.
And he expanded upon the ideas put forth in the essay, of course, in his most famous work,“1984”.
Language matters. And woe betide anyone; politician, marketer or citizen, who is conveniently allowed to forget that.
Thank God for folk like Koch for keepin’ it real…
February 3, 2013
[Buy the print here etc.]
This is an old cartoon of mine, dating from circa 1994.
The original was small, 4” x 6”; I was already starting to shrink my preferred format down to my now-familiar “cartoons drawn on the back of business cards”.
It’s amazing how strange and sad sleeping alone feels, if you’re not used to it. Yes, it’s part of life, yes, we’ve all been there.
That doesn’t mean it’s not very, very painful.
But that’s what I’ve always liked about cartoons. Complex emotions, simply drawn. That’s what I still try to do twenty years on.
[This was orignally sent out earlier today in the newsletter etc.]
February 1, 2013
The cartoon above got me thinking…
The artist’s job is made up of two main elements: Making and Selling i.e. the internal and the external part of the business.
Even if a lot of artists don’t much care for the “selling” part, most of the sane ones agree that it’s necessary… which is why they have agents, managers, gallery representation, PR firms on retainer etc etc.
Now, for sake of argument, assume the internal stuff is the “X” in the cartoon, and the external stuff is “Z”.
That leaves “Y”… the stuff in the middle, the stuff that is neither the art itself, nor the sales.
“Networking”, or whatever.
Of course, social media falls in the neither-nor “Y” category as well… you’re not actually making product, nor are you closing sales. But you are trying to move things forward, kinda-sorta.
You’re doing the “Indirect” thing. Kinda talking about the work, dropping the occasional breadcrumb here and there for potential fish to nibble at, spreading the word on new developments and seeing what the interest is, if any.
I don’t know about you, but of all the three elements above, I find “Y” is the most dangerous. You can spend hours in that zone, Tweeting, Instagramming, Facebooking, self-promoting away, thinking that you’re getting something done. And the more you do it, the more addictive it gets, the bigger time suck it becomes.
The good news is, it’s normal. Every business, small or large, has issues with it.
But at least you know that now…
[Awwww… We were sent this photo, a commission for Dan Sullivan and Babs Smith, the husband & wife strategic coach team, that was done as a Holiday present to them, from our old buddy, Joe Polish.]
The last few weeks have been wonderfully busy ones for us in the private commission department, with Christmas, Hannuka and now Valentine’s Day… It’s by far our businest part of the year, at least for personal gifts.
Apologies to those who couldn’t get one in time for Valentine’s Day this time round. I was just too flooded with work already, eventually we had to cut it off. Boo.
Anyway, with the Valentines’ comms now in the bag and being sent out, my desk is somewhat cleared again, a blissful feeling that never lasts that long. Feel free to contact me or Jason if you still would like to commission something, thanks:
January 31, 2013
I drew this cartoon because a recent story in the news made me sad:
A lively and popular figure of the start-up scene, Jody Sherman commited suicide.
I didn’t know the guy, but we had mutual friends, like Jason Calacanis and Tony Hsieh.
Jason summed it up well: “And it seems like folks are not ready to talk about that issue just yet. Which I can understand.”
This is the second startup suicide in a month, after poor ol’ Aaron Swartz. We are genetically programmed to have our our tiny brains fried by the suicide of somebody we care about; writing about it well is impossibe at the best of times. But here are some of my own meagre, insufficient thoughts:
1. My deepest condolences to Jody’s family, esecialy his wife and children. The sorrow must be horrible, simply horrible. I am so sorry, truly.
2. Once we’ve made our millions, retired and gotten old and decrepit, hey, then DEATH is not so scary an idea, but when one is still in one’s prime… Most of us doing the start-up thing are still in our prime, so natually DEATH is amazingly strange and alien to us.
3. The start-up life, for all the time we spend glorifying it, is a very tough road. Again, Jason says it well:
Perhaps we owe it to these three amazing humans to examine if the pressures of being a founder, the pressure of our community’s relentless pursuit of greatness, in some way contributed to their deaths?
I’ve always believed that being a founder is an unhealthy pursuit at times, and few have disagreed — certainly not those who have done it. Read any biography of a successful founder and you’ll find collateral damage around — and certainly in — those individuals.
Startups are a full-contact sport. This is a good time for all of us to pause and think about why we’re doing this. And the impact it’s having on us and the people around us.
4. Me and my friends in the sart-up scene aren’t spring chickens anymore, for the most part. We’re the old guard now. And as Karma catches up with us and the hard choices we made, our deaths are going to start getting a lot more common.
5. As I’m fond of saying, anything worth doing will cost you your life, eventually. Best make sure it’s worth it, make sure it’s something your deepest self actually wants.
6. Yes, your deepest self, not just your glib, sexy, bullshit self.
7. This is it. Fight like hell. Godbless.
January 21, 2013
Too funny: So we sent out the above “Hug” cartoon in today’s email… but it was not till after it went out that we soon discovered…
Today is National Hug Day.
That is too weird… Seriously.
January 20, 2013
The good news is, this is my favorite cartoon I’ve done in the last few weeks. And judging by the number of likes I got on Instagram, y’all seem to agree, for the most part.
The bad news is, how many people can relate to it, from painful experience. Far, far too many.
The Find-Hate-Lose-Repeat cycle is REALLY hard to break out of, once it’s already sucked you in.
And you don’t even need to be flipping burgers at minimum wage to end up there, you can have a fancy job title and a massive salary and still hate your life, this way.
It’ll kill you eventually. You already know that, right?
The only antidote I know for it is, find something you’re really passionate about, and then spend a few years, maybe even a lot longer than that, figuring out how to turn it into a living. Hell, it took me TWO DECADES and a lot of bad times to learn how to do it with cartooning.
Good thing it was worth it…
[P.S. If you want to follow me on Instangram, my user name is “gapingvoid” etc.]
January 17, 2013
I had such a good time doing those special Holiday commissions, hey, we decided to do it again for Valentine’s Day. Rock on.
N.B. This offer is strictly personal… it has to be from you to somebody you love or deeply care about; it can’t be a corporate or business message etc.
So if you’ve ever wanted to send somebody special a really amazing, personalized Valentine’s gift, this is a good time to get on board the Hughtrain. Just email Laura with any queries etc.
Here’s what we sent out in the newsletter:
Hugh’s Custom Commissions
Reserve Yours Here
Some of Hugh’s hard core collectors were able to get in on the one of the private commissions Hugh did for Christmas. Recipients were ecstatic, and we’ll be posting some more pictures shortly. These unique images are truly amazing, poignant gifts. We apologize to those people who we couldn’t accommodate on that offer for Christmas. But we have good news.…
With his wedding fast approaching Hugh’s feeling the love, and decided to break away from the corporate work to do some personal commissions for Valentines Day.* He originally wanted to limit it to five, but we’ve already surpassed that in requests, so he will be setting aside a bit more time to try to draw for everyone.
You probably know that Hugh’s basic commercial commissions start at $3500, but we know that is out of reach for most people, so the Valentines offer will be $795 for the commission. You’ll receive a large 18″ * 24″ signed print, included in that price plus a high resolution file.Framing and shipping will be extra. Standard framing is $175.00, which is at least 40% less than the equivalent frame at local frame shop (other well known websites charge $400 !!). But, we are happy to put the print in a tube, so you can frame it locally.
After Valentine’s these private commissions will be $1,500, and the full private commissions will be $3,500, so if you’ve been thinking about buying an amazing gift for V day, this is it. We’ll keep the offer open until Hugh feels maxed out.
Just email Laura with any queries.
There is some fine print:
- EMAIL US specifying favorite colors you would like Hugh to use
- A paragraph or two about the person or topic you want him to draw about.
- No branded or business promotion topics, please.
- The offer is for a personal and not corporate work.
- There will be only one image created, and the only revisions will be for typos or errors.
Thanks, Everybody. You’re the best!
January 16, 2013
Thanks to Jonas Ellison for sending in the photo– it seems the family has started a new family tradtion, giving gapingvoid prints as Holiday gifts!
I’m very touched by that, Jonas. Thanks ever so much. Seriously…
January 15, 2013
[One of my all-time favorites: “I Choose This Life”]
[Visit the gapingvoid Love Store here]
I always like drawing a new “Love Cartoon”. That being said, I don’t like drawing them too often, because then they get formulaic; and Love should not be formulaic.
The good news is, over the years they’ve added up. We now have seventy three “Love Prints” avialbale in our gapingvoid Love Store, just in time for Valentine’s Day gifts.
Seventy Three. Wow. That’s a lot.
And while we’re at it, we’re also trying to stretch the meaning of Valentine’s Day. Like I wrote earlier in “Love Matters”,
… why can’t Valentines’ Day (a big day in our calendar, already) be an opportunity to go beyond Romance, to communicate to those who matter to you, that they matter, that you care, and that we are all in this together?
Either by the gapingvoid Love Store or by the gapingvoid Inspiration store. Either one, it’s a great way on V-Day to express to people the stuff that really matters. Exactly.
Valentine’s Day is a huge day for us at gapingvoid Central. I guess that’s not surprising– like I said, Love matters.
January 10, 2013
The big web story today is about how Instagram just removed its API from Twitter. My old friend, Dave Winer (also one of the great web pioneers of the last decade or so) wrote a great post about it. I drew the cartoon in response to Dave.
True enough, most “civilians” don’t give a damn about all this API talk, as long as they can post their fart videos wherever, they’re happy.
But this stuff matters.
“Everyone should write a blog because it makes it harder to be a hypocrite. You have to decide what you believe.” Seth Godin
Everybody should start a business for that very same reason…
December 14, 2012
The big Web story last week was about how Instagram just removed its API from Twitter. My old friend, Dave Winer (he is also one of the great web pioneers of the last decade or so) wrote a great post about it. I drew the cartoon above in response to Dave (“Commons” refers to the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, in this case, the Internet. It’s also where people grazed their sheep in the old days).
Then yesterday, another blogging buddy from the old days, Anil Dash wrote this great blog post, “The Web We Lost”, about how much the web has changed in the last 5 – 10 years, along similar lines.
In the early days of the social web, there was a broad expectation that regular people might own their own identities by having their own websites, instead of being dependent on a few big sites to host their online identity. In this vision, you would own your own domain name and have complete control over its contents, rather than having a handle tacked on to the end of a huge company’s site. This was a sensible reaction to the realization that big sites rise and fall in popularity, but that regular people need an identity that persists longer than those sites do.
When I think about the era Anil speaks of, I feel like an old hippy talking about how great the ‘sixties were, but he does have a point. The early-blogging seemed a much more fun, edgy, interesting, giving and independent place back then. And then the big boys came along and took over, sucking in all OUR content like a big ol’ industrial turbine. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.
I’m not saying everything was better back then, a lot of things we far harder and slower. But I do miss that indie, “We’re on the verge of something important and wonderful” feeling that permeated the air. It’s not nearly as palpable as it once was. I hope we can one day get that feeling back.
December 13, 2012
It happened again: More mass layoffs as the illustrious old magazine, Newsweek discontinues its print edition.
And the blogosphere rings out with with the usual “What will become of print” questions, yada, yada, yada.
I know exactly what’s going to happen to print; the same thing that happened to horses once the automobile came along.
Automobiles may have ended the horse n’ buggy era, but hey, according to my friend, Kathy Sierra, horses are still a FORTY* billion dollar industry in the United States.
I buy most of my books on Kindle. But I buy hardback editions when the book when it has real totemic power for me. Like “Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire”. Or “Tribes”. Or “Moby Dick”.
Or I buy them when they’re simply not made for Kindle, like the artist, Chris Wool’s beast of a coffee table book. Magnificent!
Or I buy the print version of The Economist when I’m getting on an airplane. Keeps me busy when the captain makes me turn my Kindle off during take off and landing.
As far as mainstream journalism and journalists, well, my blogging buddy Mathew Ingram moved over from writing for the Toronto Globe & Mail to writing for the much leaner Giga Om. His move is just one example of what already happening to thousands. Or if it isn’t, they’re in trouble.
Print just going to increasingly be a little “artisnal” niche; the ones who disagree are old and dying off.
I don’t know why this is even a debate anymore. It’s been happening for years.
So I drew a cartoon about it…
[*Not three billion $, as previously stated]
[UPDATE:] Kathy Sierra left a great comment below:
Only when a thing is made obsolete can we discover if there was some underlying value — beyond utility — that some people found compelling enough to keep alive or evolve into something new. The horses bred today for “recreation” are dramatically different from the workhorses of the past, but they are still… horses.
What ELSE is being made obsolete now that might emerge from the ashes in a new, powerful form?
November 26, 2012
Tis the season that will define whether 2012 was a retail dud or success.
I’m always amused by the pundits who talk of economic growth or decline and that ‘consumer confidence’ plays a huge part in the determination of growth.
Consumer confidence is in reality, nothing more than a measurement of state of mind. If we all think the economy is good, it will be.
Thus the above statement, which if we all believe will result in a full economic recovery.
End of story.
November 10, 2012
[Sent out earlier in the gapingvoid newsletter etc:]
Picasso, the greatest painter of the twentieth century, didn’t sit around on his rear end all day, waiting for the muse to arrive.
Nope, he just got to his his studio every morning, and cranked it out, stopping only to eat and maybe the occasional roll in the hay with his many women… And he did this for decades. He was a machine!
Sure, there are some successful artists who prefer the sit-on-rear-end method, but how many of them are better than Picasso? Exactly.
November 6, 2012
Your Brain [Buy the print here.]
“Your Brain Is Not Your Friend” is a line that we got from our friend, the corporate strategist, Robert Cooper.
The short version: Our brains evolved in a world of scarcity; ergo our brains are hardwired to conserve precious biological resources, calories etc.
Which makes us inherently challenged at being the rockstar entrepreneurial, triathlon-running, Shakespeare-reading, world-traveling, culture-worshipping uber-geniuses we aspire to be. Because doing so uses up a TON of resources.
Given that biologically, our brains are hardwired to conserving resources, we are actually predisposed to take the path of least resistance, so left to their own devices, our brains would have us sitting around watching TV, eating junk food, sleeping late. All that slob stuff our mothers warned us about.
Most of us are always fighting a war with his own brain’s biology. But knowing this, makes you able to deal with it better. Thanks to Robert Cooper for giving me this A-ha! moment of clarity. Rock on.
[Sent today in the gapingvoid newsletter]
October 30, 2012
#sandy. Wow. I’m stunned. It’s been quite an eventful 24 hours, to say the least. My prayers go out to everybody.
I drew these three cartoons this morning, and posted them on Instagram [username: @gapingvoid]. Though they won’t dry out the land any quicker, I hope they’ll make somebody suffering through this first-hand feel better for a little while, at least.
[P.S. As you know, New York City and I have this very intense long-distance love affair– I used to live there, so I’m particularly upset about what happened to my old West Village neighborhood. I visit frequently, though not NEARLY often enough. Boo.]
Time to be strong…
October 5, 2012
As everyone and their mother knows, Steve Jobs died a year ago today. Here’s the cartoon I did for for Wired Opinion to mark the date.
Jessica Hagy of Indexed fame drew one as well. rock on.
October 4, 2012
I drew some cartoons for @WiredOnline yesterday… all to do with last night’s Presidential Debates. I drew about seven of them, but they only published two. Still, getting in Wired was a long-term goal of mine, so I was pretty stoked, regardless.
The comments are pretty humorous– not everybody got the irony. Heh.
October 1, 2012
September 23, 2012
I just secured the URL, businessneedsmoreart.com.
I decided I wanted to “own” the thought, “Business Needs More Art”, apropos to the the idea I’m always riffing on.
So what’s the gapingvoid MISSION? To bring art to the business world, basically.
Which is exactly what we’ve been doing these last few years. Compare our work to what you usually see when you google “Office Art”. All the latter seems to offer is REALLY bland stuff, with only massive discounts to differentiate themselves from the next guy.
I doubt the URL will end up as a big ol’ website, though it could feasibly make a nice little landing page for something… Watch this space.
The mission of gapingvoid, as far as I’m concerned, is to bring more Art into the world of business.
And as the cartoon above demonstrates, it’s not just about decorating offices, but hopefully igniting something, helping businesses finding, knowing and expressing their “Purpose” better. Which helps the bottom line in the end. Exactly.
Business needs more art. You’re either with us or against us. Rock on.
August 24, 2012
[Spotted in the wild: One of our “Inspire” stickers (we printed up a couple of hundred a few months ago, they quickly ran out) ended up in Brazil, on the famous Impanema Beach. Very cool. Thanks to Marcio for the heads-up. Rock on.]
July 4, 2012
[UPDATE: We’re keeping this at the top of the homepage for a wee bit, just so people see it etc.]
[We have a REALLY special print offer on today’s cartoon. Go see. For this year’s July 4th cartoon I wanted it to say something that went a little beyond the usual Rah-Rah Patriotic platitudes out there; something to do with the real-world, day-to day life of the start-up ecosystem that gapingvoid inhabits. Below is what I said in today’s newsletter; make of it what you will:]
Though I love Europe and had a wonderful time over in London at Le Web two weeks ago, I came back home to the USA feeling very grateful.
Talking to all those wonderful young people, trying to get their European start-ups off the ground made me realize, once again, JUST how good we Americans have it, even compared to our friends across the Atlantic.
1. I pray we never lose it.
2. I also believe, truly, that if we ever forget the message in today’s cartoon, we will indeed lose it forever. We have now been warned.
3. As you get older, you realize that America isn’t just about blue jeans, shopping malls and hamburgers. It’s about something WAY DEEPER, that if the world loses, humanity is in deep trouble.
Thank you, and God Bless America. Seriously.
July 4th, 2012
July 3, 2012
[Buy the print etc.]“Fail cheap, fail fast, fail often” is damn good advice. Especially for someone who wants to be successful. So it’d make a good something — perhaps a reminder to hang on your wall… Voila!I also love Esther Dyson’s great line, “Always make new mistakes” (she’s the well-known futurist and venture capitalist). In fact, I liked it so much that in 2008 I went ahead and made a drawing and gave it to her. Good times.It’s all about the same stuff: That our ability to succeed and to thrive is in direct proportion to our ability to make mistakes and learn from them.It ain’t rocket science, but it’s easily forgotten by some. Myself included. Ouch…[Originally sent out earlier today in the newsletter etc.]
July 1, 2012
[Buy the print]
“All evolutions of marketing are evolutions of language.”
I got so sick of repeating that to people, one day I decided to turn it into a print. Hanging there on the wall, maybe the message will sink in that way…
June 29, 2012
Today in the newsletter we introduced four new “Linchpin” prints, based on, of course, Seth Godin’s seminal book, Linchpin.
[UPDATE: Big thanks to Seth for blogging it earlier today!]
Seth’s work is kind of like my own… Not everybody gets it, which is OK, because there are PLENTY of people who do.
And that’s a great place to be. Far better than waiting around for The Magic Success Unicorn (i.e. the big idea that everybody gets) to show up.
Thanks again to Seth. It’s was an honor to draw them, seriously…
[Check out the prints in gapingvoid’s very own Seth gallery etc.]
A US defense contractor (Mav 6) had their main project, the Blue Devil 2 airship cancelled by the Air Force, so they wanted to make a statement about that. They wanted to make a statement about how the nature of warfare is changing A LOT FASTER than the defense industry is. The Blue Devil 2 was designed to help fill the gap, but then it was cancelled by the usual suspects. Quite a sad story, really, especially for patriotic American taxpayers. So I think the job deserved something that went for the jugular.
[Here’s the link to the backstory.]
I am totally thrilled by this commission, frankly. Few things get you closer to the bleeding-edge future than military technology. Thanks to Mav 6 for allowing us the opportunity. Rock on.
June 27, 2012
June 7, 2012
[One of Shrigley’s pieces that he did for The Guardian etc.]
[More thoughts on the “Mastery” riff:]
Glasgow artist, David Shrigley is one of my favorite cartoonists. And I have very few of those.
Unlike a lot of my cartoonist heroes (Steinberg, Gorey etc) David can’t draw to save his life, at least, not in the conventional sense. His formal drafting skills (the ones he chooses to show the world, anyway) are just plain bad. I mean, REALLY bad.
And you know what? It doesn’t matter. Actually, it may even be a good thing.
You see, the whole point of Dave’s work is NOT about the drawing. It’s ALL about his ideas.
And his VERY crude drawings work brilliantly for that. In fact, I’d wager that if his drafting skills were more formally developed, his cartoons wouldn’t be nearly as sharp, as interesting or wickedly subversive.
His is a great example of what I like to call “circumventing one’s limitations”. Turning weaknesses into strength. Shrigley is a master of that, he really is.
And yes, I think if you’re to achieve mastery in your craft, your job or your career, you have to learn how to do what David did: Circumvent.
You also have to be determined and relentless. David is all that as well, as this interview nicely demonstrates.
Even if you can’t draw to save your life. Even if you didn’t go to the right university. Even if you’re not that good at making money. Even if you have an average IQ. Even if you can’t get venture funding. Even if you weren’t born insanely talented at something. Even if you have to wait tables or bartend for a couple of years.
June 6, 2012
[Today’s guest post, “It Takes Empathy” is from my good friend, Brian Solis, co-principal at Altimeter Group and author of the book, “The End Of Business As Usual”.]
If you look at the picture above, you might see a sunset. Some of you will see a sunrise. Much like the famous philosophical discourse between skeptics and optimists, a glass can only be either half empty or half full. I believe nonetheless
that the above picture is that of a sunrise. I’m an optimist. I also believe that a glass is reflective of its current state. Either you just poured into or poured out of it.
Otherwise, it’s a glass with water sitting at the half-way mark.
This theoretical circle of dissension is constant and without the ability to achieve closure or satisfaction. It all comes down to perspective.
That’s why in a time where we’re actively pushed out of our comfort zones, perspective is a powerful enabler.
For those struggling with where to steer the ship of transformation, this is for you.
What it is you see. What it is you feel. Where it is you want to go and why. These are the things that matter. The gift of perspective is matched only by the gift of perseverance. As you seek to change or improve “what is” and set out to bring “what could be” to life, you will be met by the champions of mediocrity who do not wish to align with your vision. Remember, it is passion and persistence that outlasts resistance. But, it takes courage… It takes courage to endeavor in a new direction where you’re greatest allies, passion, hope, vision and optimism, are consequential yet intangible. Their value however, is well, in the eye, heart, and mind of the beholder.
Change is invertible. But, how change “changes” your reality isn’t as explicit or defined as it is affected by evolutionary forces of which you play an important part.
I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have” –Thomas Jefferson
There’s a difference between management and leadership. There’s a difference between pioneering and following. There’s a difference between exploring possibilities and chasing them.
This is a time when there are more questions than answers. You are not alone, however. For without questions, we wander through life assuming we either already have the answers or we underestimate the value of rethinking what we know.
Direction, inspiration, need, aspiration… these are individually or collectively among the emotional drivers that become catalysts for change. The minute you say the word “emotion” however, your mission or case suddenly suffers or loses crediblity.
Emotions are after all, soft, intangible, and in of themselves, not true sparks for transformation right? Wrong.
Let me ask you something…
How are you?
I have a point, I promise.
Again, how are you?
To answer, you might say, “fine,” “good” or “well thanks for asking.” The exchange is more of a casual ice-breaker of sorts and not necessarily a genuine invitation to share any form of emotional depth. The question is often relegated to a verbal handshake, a necessary ritual to begin a conversation. That’s my point. Today, organizations in large part, take emotion for granted. “How was our service today?”
It’s a superficial exchange that sets impressions for the moment rather than investing in long-term experiences.
Now, what if I asked you, “how are you feeling?”
Add one word and you unlock a vault of emotion and valuable dialogue. In a social economy where paying it forward and reciprocity serve as the currency of relationships, emotional exchanges form strong ties. It takes asking, listening, and responding to instill trust and a sense of meaning into any engagement. What you walk away with however is priceless; for you now have felt empathy. And, empathy is the secret ingredient to feeling the need for transformation…the inspiration to find a creative or passionate spark to design new and significant experiences.
The key for you however, is to package what it is you feel and translate it into a set of relatable and relevant objectives, pragmatic steps in how to achieve them, and defined metrics that demonstrate progress and performance. Your inspiration will at some point inspire others around you and they will feel it as a result of your work.
The truth is that the answers you seek lie in engagement, listening, and the empathy that surfaces as a result. Leadership unfolds in how you translate what you learn and feel into appreciation and understanding. The state of sentiment as experienced and expressed by those that matter to you directly correlates to the state of relationships.
Leadership begins with a vision for not only where you want to go, but why it’s important to those you care about.
In a world where we’re taught the importance of monitoring and measuring sentiment with the new tools before us, we miss the essential ingredient to meaningful relationships…empathy. Once you listen, not monitor, but truly listen to customer activity and observe online behavior, you cannot help but feel both empathy and harmony. And naturally, the response it begets is only human.
June 5, 2012
[Me holding it etc.]
[Close-up of the cow]
[My signature at the bottom.]
[Me and Seth signing the prints, July, 2009.]
[Visit the gallery here to purchase the print and/or view other prints from the gapingvoid “Seth Godin” series etc.]
This is my most ambitious print project to date, The “Purple Cow” edition. [Click here to see the backstory, click here to see the original 2009 promo etc.]
The book that first turned me on to Seth Godin’s work was, no surprise, “Purple Cow”.
It was a big Ah-Ha! moment for me. This enormous feeling of “Yes! Finally! This is the kind of space I want my career to live in!” That feeling, FINALLY articulated, after years in the career-hell desert. It was very liberating.
And so one day I decided to pay tribute to that feeling, by creating a hand-drawn Purple Cow print.
I figured, there’s got to be people out there who were as affected by that book as I was, so why not create something to celebrate that? It’s a very iconic book among my friends, so why not make an actual icon out of it? It was a no-brainer, really.
Basically, it’s the cover of the book, all drawn by hand, with my all-over squiggly style. It’s the largest print I’ve ever done, and it’s pretty intense. It also came with Seth Godin’s blessing (Thanks, Seth!)- it goes without saying, I wouldn’t have gone ahead without that.
One more thing: Of all the prints I’ve done, it’s the hardest one to capture via photography; posting on the Internet really doesn’t give it justice. That’s OK, that’s kinda what keeps it special, too.
Hope you like purple
UPDATE: Seth left a kind comment below: “There’s one on the wall of my office. It’s even cooler than Hugh says it is.” Thanks, Seth!
[Visit the gallery here to purchase the print and/or view other prints from the gapingvoid “Seth Godin” series etc.]
May 30, 2012
Very cool. I just did this piece for SAY Media magazine… but you can also download and print out the high-rez version from their site here.
It’s nice to be in print again, especially in a large format like SAY.
[N.B. I’ve been drawing this large, all-over multi-panel format for a long, long time– years and years. I call the format “Freds”. I did one for Loic Le Meur and Le Web a couple of weeks ago; I plan to do more.]
The SAY piece was a current snapshot of “The State of Web 2.0” in the post-Facebook IPO era. No doubt, as Facebook and Twitter brought about the end of the blogosphere’s half-decade golden age, so the half-decade era dominated by Twitter and Facebooks now starts to recede.
Seriously, if I was a few years younger and cared more about this kinda stuff, I’d do a start-up clone of Facebook, and keep it real simple and keep it private and UNCORRUPTED, the way Craig Newmark did with Craigslist.
Doc Searls correctly predicted it years ago.… the Internet boom would return, and it always will. And things will get silly really fast, just like they’re doing now. Exactly like Doc said.
I think things are about to get really interesting, and a lot of people in the industry are about to take a hammering. But that’s OK, it’ll clear a lot of the undergrowth in the process. Welcome to Silicon Valley.
[Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to commission a “Fred” for your own organization etc.]
May 29, 2012
Today’s newsletter cartoon, “Bacon”, is a about something I see A LOT in the business world:
Where people are soooooooo fixated on the desired RESULT, that they have lost all genuine, intellectual interest in the actual STEPS that will actually get them there.
Even if it’s precisely BECAUSE you’re interested in the steps, in the PROCESS, is what allows you to get any kind of result in the first place.
These people are hard to work with. Because they can’t see anything but the mythological result they’re chasing. Even if, yes, the result doesn’t actually exist yet.
[Some Examples:] The Wall Street ex-fratboy who moves West to Silicon Valley, not because he gives a damn about tech or innovation, but because he can smell the gravy. The painter who doesn’t have a single interesting idea in his pea-size brain, but just knows he wants a big show in a famous New York Gallery ASAP. The small-town knucklehead who moves to Los Angeles “to become famous”. The guy who signs his life away to a large company because he imagines it must be fun to have a big office in a tall building.
They say they are result-focused, when in reality, all they are is reward-focused.
They have no interest in tinkering with something, eight bours a day, day-in-day-out for decades, pursuing an idea, acheiving mastery. They just want the magic wand. They just want the “bacon”.
Most people like this fail, Thank Christ.
Which is why I’ve been saying for years, “Seek out exceptional minds.”
[Thus endeth the rant…]
May 15, 2012
“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” — William Butler Yeats.
[From today’s newsletter:]
Friends, strangers, everyone! Today April 1st we’re going to foolishly offer FREEBIES all day long.
That’s right, ONLY TODAY, everything at gapingvoidart.com will be “buy one, get one free“
(BOGOF for all you serious shoppers…)
Stop by gapingvoidart on April 1st to take advantage of our foolishness.
Simply put the two (or 4/6/8/etc.) prints you want in your cart
and then enter offer code: BUNNY at checkout!
[terms & conditions apply — offer valid only on items of equal or lesser value]
May 9, 2012
[Subscribe to the gapingvoid newsletter here.]
This made me very happy– Austin Ray from Mailchimp interviewed me about my “fantastic open rates”.
Mailchimp, as you know, is what powers my daily cartoon newsletter. With email newsletters, at least with Mailchimp, the average “open rate” is around 6%-8% i.e. for every hundred people you send out to, six to eight people actually open it and read it, as opposed to just sending it to the trash.
Our newsletter is 40%+. That’s amazing.
We were impressed to find out that Hugh MacLeod‘s MailChimp campaigns consistently maintain a fantastic 40%+ open rate. What does a cartoonist know about email marketing? Well, as it turns out, he doesn’t worry about all the typical “email expert” stuff like A/B testing, sending at different times of day, experimenting with subject lines, etc. Instead, much like Email Inspiration, he just sends a fun image, and the people love it.
“I think it’s because we keep it simple — a nice cartoon to brighten your day, delivered to your inbox every morning,” Hugh tells us. “People like getting that a whole lot more than, say, a daily, long-winded spiel about why y’all should give me your money, make me rich, yak, yak, yak…”
I highly, highly recommend doing the newsletter thing. More than the blog, more than Twitter, Facebook or Google+, these are the people who who REALLY WANT to support your business, who REALY CARE about your brand, who really want to interact with it. What Seth Godin calls a “Permission Asset”.
And best of all, with a good list, these people– the people who REALLY allow you to do what you do– are easy to identify, This makes your marketing A LOT easier, because the people who REALLY matter to your brand are RIGHT THERE in black & white, on your list. Nobody subscribes to a newsletter unless they really want to, unless they really think what you’re doing is important. Life is too short.
P.S. Yes, I highly, highly recommend Mailchimp as the service provider. They kick ass, they’ve been very good to gapingvoid. Thanks, Mailchimp!
This is the latest cartoon to go out in the newsletter.
I’m not anti-mainstream; it has its place. That being said, it isn’t for for everyone.
And yes, sometimes you have to leave it, to find out who you REALLY are.
I can certainly relate…
May 6, 2012
Over the weekend, gapingvoid.com turned eleven years old.
I won’t dwell on it too much, other than to say,
1. Yes, it has been an amazing trip,
2. Thank you very much for all the love over the years and,
3. Looking back, I consider “Personal Faves” (2001) to be the best thing on it that I ever wrote. Written as I was setting the blog up, it set the tone for what came after– “How To Creative”, “The Hughtrain”, “Evil Plans”, “Freedom Is Blogging”, then the actual gapingvoid business itself, the “cube grenades” and the great team of people I work with etc– it all came from that. And I honestly, honestly doubt that I would had come this far without it:
When I first lived in Manhattan in December, 1997 I got into the habit of doodling on the back of business cards, just to give me something to do while sitting at the bar. The format stuck.
All I had when I first got to Manhattan were 2 suitcases, a couple of cardboard boxes full of stuff, a reservation at the YMCA, and a 10-day freelance copywriting gig at a Midtown advertising agency.
My life for the next couple of weeks was going to work, walking around the city, and staggering back to the YMCA once the bars closed. Lots of alcohol and coffee shops. Lot of weird people. Being hit five times a day by this strange desire to laugh, sing and cry simultaneously. At times like these, there’s a lot to be said for an art form that fits easily inside your coat pocket.
An artist is quite a f*****-up thing to be, and to be honest I’m not sure if I would recommend it to anybody. Still, in my collection there are a couple of examples that, in some sick and twisted way, make the whole thing seem worthwhile. For the first five minutes, at least…
Anyway, for those who hadn’t seen it before, I thought it was worth sharing [Here’s the link again]. Again, thanks for all the love, and Godbless. Now I have some more cartoons to draw. Rock on.
May 1, 2012
Here we go. The insanely-bright Harold Jarche (who I really enjoyed meeting in Toronto a few months ago) gives a few reasons why/how blogging transformed his life:
1. I live in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada; population 5,000. Even our timezone is unknown to many people. Without my blog, nobody would ever have heard of me. This Spring, I have four speaking engagements out of town (Montreal, Ottawa, Washington DC, Rome). Without my blog, I am sure that IEEE and many other organizations would not have invited me to speak.
Bingo. “Big-city wages, small-town prices” is a damn fine business model: I did it myself for many years when I was living in Far West Texas.
I live in Miami. I have no clients here. They’re all in places like Boston or New York or Texas or California or London. Yet most mornings I hang out on the beach.
Blogging allows me to stay creative and mobile… and like Harold here, far from the madding crowd, if that’s what I desire.
Anyway, feel free to join the conversation, just like Harold: Visit FreedomIsBloggingInYourUnderwear.com, steal some cartoons and maybe check out the book. Exactly. Thanks. Rock on.
[P.S. “Hyperlinks subvert hieracries” is me quoting Cluetrain, of course.”]
April 30, 2012
As you probably already know, I wrote a wee book, “Freedom Is Blogging In Your Underwear”, which just launched. It is my little love letter to the blogosphere.
We’ve also set up a special webpage: FreedomIsBloggingInYourUnderwear.com
Please click on it — it’s more than just a page about the book. It’s a movement, or at least, I think it should be.
I know for a fact, that a lot of you reading this found a similar freedom that I found through the Internet and blogging. Like me, you found a voice, you found a platform, the rest is history.Your stories are beautiful stories, so I wanted to create some free social objects that help you tell your stories… cartoons, animated videos etc. Simple, fun, stuff.
This week, in honor of the sentiment behind the book, I’d love for you to share your story of how blogging or the Internet has given you freedom. Blog, tweet, post on Facebook or G+… share your story however you want, on whatever platform you prefer. All I ask is that you include the hashtag #FreedomIsBlogging and if you can, email me a link to your post at “Freedom@gapingvoid.com.” I am going to be creating a commemorative print for the book, and everyone who emails me a link to their “freedom” post this week will have their name drawn in the print. I hope you will use these tools to tell your story. There’s beauty in all this, there really is. Which is why I wrote the book, anyway.
I can’t wait to hear your stories! Rock on!
[P.S. I am holding a “virtual book tour” this Thursday, May 3, at 6pm EST. You can sign up and join me, for free, HERE]