gapingvoid is interested in start-up culture, because changing business for the better is what we’re about; that’s what Social Object Factory is about. We live and breathe it; we help everyone from lone entrepreneurs, to mid-sizers, to Fortune 500’s do the same. Check out our work here.
We create art that helps companies kick ass, end of story.
The question I was asking then was, “What comes after advertising?” If this new Internet thingy meant all old-media bets were off, what would become of the Industry that drove 90% of the latter?
My answer (at least to myself) came in Part Four:
“The hardest part of a CEO’s job is sharing his enthusiasm with his colleagues, especially when a lot of them are making one-fiftieth of what he is. Selling the company to the general public is a piece of cake compared to selling it to the actual people who work for it. The future of advertising is internal.”
In other words, internal communication designed to create real cultural change. Articulating Mark Earls’ “Purpose-Idea”. All that positive disruption for pennies on the dollar… compared to what you get from conventional ad campaigns.
The logic being that, if you can change your own culture, then you can change the culture of others around you. And if you can do that, you would have a huge competitive advantage over the other guys.
Culture matters. Cultural change is big business, and getting bigger by the day. It’s a huge opportunity for advertising folk; let’s hope some of them actually take it.
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.
2. One of my my favorite movies of recent years, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which I’ve been raving about for months, is a big hit in the documentary world. It’s also a filmic love poem to Minimalism (Hey, the director used Philip Glass and Max Richter for the film score, I rest my case).
3. Blogs about simple living and Minimalism seem to be really trendy these days, minimalist bloggers like Zen Habits conquering the world.
4. “The Minimalist” is one of the most popular themes on Tumblr.
5. The continuing rise of Westernized Eastern thought: Buddhism, meditation, Yoga, Zen etc (I’m a big Alan Watts fan, but that’s another story).
6. The other thing I’ve noticed is “Personal Coaches” and “Motivational Speakers” seem to be everywhere. Whether we’re talking Anthony Robbins or Brendon Burchard… or the new job title out there, “speakerauthor” (People known mostly for writing books, but make most of their money doing public speaking: Tom Peters, Malcolm Gladwell etc.) Then you also need all the more technocratic, businessspeak consultant mandarin types out there as well… Like I said, they’re everywhere, it seems to be an increasingly booming industry.
7. That there seem to be more TED speakers talking about how wonderful Atheism is, than there are TED speakers telling people how wonderful Christianity or Judaism or Islam is.
9. The growing idea that “Jedi” is now a religion.
10. The growing idea that Apple is a religion.
11. The financial and political implosion/impasse/dog’s dinner that is Western Europe/The Euro/The E.U..
12. U.S. Fiscal Cliffs.
13. Environmental and animal rights activists.
14. Burning Man.
16. Charity Water.
I could go on.…
What does this tell me?
That we’re looking for new stuff to believe in.
That though the world is getting more and more complex, the old answers (Do what you’re told, buy a lot of stuff, obsess about THESE celebrities, worship THESE gods/THIS God, watch this trashy Reality TV, watch these crappy movies, read these crappy bestsellers, listen to this crappy music, believe these politicians etc.) aren’t working for us as well as they used to.
So we’re simplifying. We’re renewing. We’re clearing the decks. We’re doing a bit of spiritual Spring cleaning. We’re looking for new stuff to believe in. We’re looking for NEW CERTAINTIES.
Just like the “Hughtrain” cartoon above implies, we have an infinite need for it.
Sure, we like our old certainties (Mom’s cooking, a favorite pair of old jeans, small-town folksy ways, old school good manners, Ronald Reagan, old Jimmy Stewart movies at Christmas time etc), we are genetically programmed to seek out not only the new, but the NEW CERTAINTIES.
So I guess the next the question is, what “New Certainties” is your work bringing to the world?
If you don’t know, maybe best to find out… it’s where the real fun and action is to be found these days.
[This is what we have so far. Jason (our CEO) wrote most of it. We feel we’re on the cusp of something, now we just need to make it more real for other people. Feedback welcome, thanks. Exciting!]
Business is language. Business is about communication.
Art is is the undiscovered UX of business.
We live in incredible times.
Every single person on this earth has the capacity to make a difference… the
ability to lead, and leave their mark.
Every business is driven by forces far more powerful and profound than money.
We help businesses discover and articulate their purpose,
We help people make a difference,
We help leaders inspire.
We help businesses kick ass.
We create social objects that transform organizations, start conversations,
and spread ideas at lightning speed.
We live in incredible times. And as long as there is one person on this earth who does not agree, there is still work to be done.
Any Company/Cause/Political Party/Religion that communicates more clearly and concisely stands a better chance at winning. Art bridges this communication gap.
It is perceived as more genuine, More honest, less varnished.
Well conceived art gets attention organically
Art allows you to have conversations that you couldn’t otherwise have.
Art is a lever for action.
Art creates connection.
Art is shorthand to communicate complex issues.
Art creates community.
Art connects with a different part of the brain.
Art is Visual. Visual communications are 10x more effective than written communication.
Give a gift basket and be remembered for a week, give a print and be remembered forever.
We want to transform the world of business by transforming the world of office art.
Most people believe that the act of decorating the walls of their office is seemingly one that is decided by taste: The colors of the art on the wall need not clash with the furniture, carpet or CEO’s aesthetic sensibilities.
In reality, act of decorating the walls of your office is a critical business and we believe, a moral decision. It can either set the stage for greatness and innovation, or set the stage for perpetuating the dreary, gloomy and monotonous world that is your business. It has nothing to do with aesthetics, and everything to do with purpose. The purpose and beliefs of your business.
If you could steer the course of your business by simply making a different decision about what hangs on the walls, why wouldn’t you?
Many business leaders do not realize that environment influences everything at work: Job satisfaction, problem solving, creativity, contentment and effectiveness.
You want positive outcomes? Then start with positive work spaces. Your office environment is the compass that guides how people view what they do and how they live their work life.
If you understand what your beliefs are, what your core values are, and how you want people to view why you do what you do, then you should shout those beliefs and values from every available space in your office.
Let the walls talk, guide and ground. Let inspiration hang in the air and have your people breathe and be surrounded by the bright glow of the goodness that your business represents.
The idea of deciding what wall coverings hang on your walls, isn’t about décor.
It is about purpose, culture, and values. Inform your culture, motivate your teams and send a message to the world that will have astounding impact every day of the year.
One of the better things I ever wrote was The Sex And Cash Theory, something to explain how to realistically balance the need to pay the bills with the need to do something creative with your life. It ended up being a key idea in Ignore Everybody.
“The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the assignment covers both bases, but not often.”
“This tense duality (between these two extremes) will never be transcended.” Even if I know that to be true (Hell, I pretty much wrote an entire book on it), most days I still struggle with it.
But we all do, artist or non-artist, creative or non-creative. “This tense duality” is what one of mankind’s great books, The Bhagavad Gita is also really all about: Poor ol’ Arjuna would like nothing better than a quiet life of spiritual contemplation, but his duties as an up-and-coming warlord keep getting the way. So Heavenly Lord Krisna comes down from On High and tells Arjuna, well, get used to it, Kiddo. This tense duality is in the DNA of Creation. Hence the Dharma, hence Karma. By the end of the book, Arjuna “gets” it. Happy Ending.
My personal “tense duality” is a lot less tense than it used to be, Thank God. It used to be “silly advertising day job by day, drawing silly cartoons on the backs of business cards for fun by night”. Now the duality is more, my wee “business card doodles” on the personal side (See photo above), the external side is the “Transform Office Art” mission (See video above) that gapingvoid is on.
And I’ve grown to treasure the duality. Every time I’ve tried to permanently wear just one hat, the personal hat or the business hat, I get bored silly within a week. The work seems to need the constant dialogue between the inner and outer.
But like I said, I think we all have that. Finding that sweet spot where that never-ending dialogue can exist happily forever, is one of THE great tasks (and gifts) our brief life gives us.
For all the hype (and the security guards keeping everybody back), it wasn’t my favorite interview of the event, by any means. In spite of Arrington’s as-usual excellent questions (He’s pretty much my favorite “journalist” in the world these days, tech or otherwise), Zuckerberg obviously didn’t have a lot to say that he hadn’t said already.
Only one thing he said really stayed with me… and I thought it was quite good, actually:
Namely, that Facebook is a Mission-focused company. They have a mission, that is their priority. The actual business and the share price (and the money, even) are truly secondary.
“The Mission” being, in this case, “to connect the world”.
So even if, yeah, the post-IPO share price is disappointing to many investors, The Mission is alive and well and carrying on nicely. So it’s not like the investors weren’t told…
No argument there. The world is WAY more connected than it was even five years ago and yes, Facebook deserves a lot of the credit.
[The only other thing Zuckerberg said of any interest was that yeah, Facebook is going to get much more involved with mobile– just like the rest of the web. But again, no surprises there.]
I really liked Zuckerberg’s emphasis on “Mission”. Like Mark Earl’s Purpose-Idea, goals are easier to reach when you turn up to work, day-in-day-out, knowing what they actually are. Otherwise you just get lost in office politics and going to meetings.
[Relevant cartoon from a year ago etc.]
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.
Not fun or interesting. So we’re going to change that. Yes, we are.
Bring art to the business world. You heard it here first, People. Rock on.
In 2009, my first book, IGNORE EVERYBODY was published by Penguin Portfolio, the big New York imprint. The work originally began life five years before that, in Autumn, 2004 as an e-book, “How To Be Creative”, first published on ChangeThis.com. The e-book came out of a series of blog post I had written in the preceding months before that.
“When I first lived in Manhattan in December, 1997 I got into the habit of doodling on the backs of business cards, just to give me something to do while sitting at the bar. The format stuck.”
Penguin Portfolio is the same imprint that’s published business-book rockstars like Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki and John Batelle. The book went on to become a Wall Street Journal bestseller, and upped my career by a couple of dozen notches.
The premise of the book was simple enough: “So you want to be more creative, in art, in business, whatever. Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years…”
And then I went down my list for the next couple of hundred pages, ticking off as many boxes as I could. A short book with lots of cartoons, a fun read you could get through easily in one sitting.
I hadn’t intended to write a book at first; it came about because my then-boss told me to stop blogging about stuff related to my marketing day job (and what a crappy day job it was) or else he would fire me.
So, forbidden to blog about marketing or advertising (WTF was my boss thinking?) I had to find something else to write about. As I had spent many years as a cartoonist and an advertising creative, I thought I’d share what I had learned along the way. Simple.
Within a matter of weeks “How To Be Creative” became ChangeThis.com’s most downloaded e-book ever. At last count, it was read by more than five million people and if you add the number of people who have read the blog version, maybe double that. This stat alone pretty much landed me the book deal with Portfolio.
If my career ever had a break-out moment, it was that.
EIGHT YEARS LATER, I’m thinking a lot about how much had changed since 2004, how much I’ve changed, how much in that book still holds true, versus how much I might want to change, now that I’m older and wiser.
“GOOD IDEAS HAVE LONELY CHILDHOODS”
“Good ideas have lonely childhoods” was the main thesis of the book, really.
In other words, quoting the book, “The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you.”
Good ideas take a while to nurture, before the world is ready to accept them. So you might as well “Ignore Everybody”, at least to start with, because for the most part, other people’s opinions won’t be that helpful in the beginning.
Some people thought I was just saying, “Ignore Everybody, just do your own thing and don’t give a damn what other people think.” Well, not really (Although there are times when you have to do that). I was more concerned that people understood the “lonely” part as normal, as something to be expected and embraced.
I think this is an important thing to remember, especially for young people just starting out on their career path. It’s easy to get discouraged; it’s easy to quit prematurely; it’s easy to give up on one’s dreams. If I can make quitting slightly harder for someone, I know I’ve done my job.
My other favorite thing to come out of Chapter One was this observation:
“GOOD IDEAS ALTER THE POWER BALANCE IN RELATIONSHIPS, THAT IS WHY GOOD IDEAS ARE ALWAYS INITIALLY RESISTED.”
Very few people willingly give the kind of advice that will compromise their own social advantage over you. Especially good advice. Good ideas change the status quo. People like the status quo. Human beings are messy, even the ones that care about you. Nothing wrong with that, just something to keep in mind.
I’m pretty happy with the book, overall– I wouldn’t change much. What’s more interesting to me is, of course, the stuff I’ve learned SINCE then.
I read last week somewhere that 89% of phone apps are free, and of the few remaining that aren’t, 90% of those are under three dollars. With Amazon Kindle, e-books, blogging and other formats disrupting the traditional publishing model, I expect the book format to go the same way as the phone app i.e. free or dirt cheap for the vast majority.
A few published authors will get decent royalties– the J.K. Rowlings’ and the Malcolm Gladwell’s of the world– but for us mere mortals, we’ll have to find other business models. I’m totally OK with that. With no desire to write a proper sequel to Ignore Everybody, I thought maybe a little blog post or two would suffice. Hence.… this.
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.
Thought experiment: It’s easier to be successful when you think of your business as a dialogue, rather than property.
I’ve been saying this for years: That all evolutions in marketing are evolutions of language.
In Cluetrain parlance, “Markets Are Conversations”. People talking to each other, metaphorically or otherwise.
When markets change, the conversation changes. People who change the market, change the way the market speaks to people.
Ergo, language changes. Language evolves, and so does the market.
People who want to change the market they’re in (in their favor) should think about this… how does your product “talk” to the market, how is the “voice” different from your competition?
Think of it a wee love letter to the blog. As everything and everybody gets swallowed up by Facebook, Google+ and other “Death Stars”, remember the importance of having one’s own piece of real estate to call one’s own…
It’s also very, very short. I was in Brevity Mode at the time. And I made sure to put lots of new cartoons in there, just like last time.
I also didn’t write it for the “social media pundit” yakkin’ crowd. I wrote it for your Cousin Al, something just to plant a seed in his head. Hopefully one day it’ll sprout something.
What’s really interesting to me about the book is the timing. In a year where you can’t turn on the news without some pundit asking, “Where are all the new jobs are going to come from”, this might hint at a good answer, of sorts.
Because the way the economy is evolving, the new jobs are going to come from people who are predisposed to blogging in their underwear, anyway. The people who quit their dead-end, pen-pushing jobs, got a second mortgage, turned their spare bedroom into an office and basically risked everything to pursue their dream. And started a blog to help get the word out.
The people who don’t have to wear an tie and go to endless boring meetings seven hours a day for a living.
The people who actually MAKE stuff. The people who actually create real, thriving businesses from scratch. Up and at ‘em by six a.m. Before they’ve had their first cup of coffee. In their underwear. Exactly.
And thanks to blogging social media, beginning that adventure is far less lonely and daunting a process than it used to be, THANK GOD.
Closely related, my regular Twitter buddy, Umair has a WONDERFUL little post over on the Harvard Business Review, “Create A Meanigful Life Through Meaningful Work” where he laments about how most “successful” people he meets seem to make a living these days. As usual, he pulls no punches– he suggests that maybe, just maybe our current depression is not an economic one, but a spiritual and psychological one.
I’ve been in Manhattan for the last few weeks. Hanging out in all the wrong places (read: painfully hip power hotels), I’ve had the questionable privilege of overhearing more than my fair share of Very Serious Conversations from the movers and shakers of the world.
And boy, have they been tedious: mostly, about eking out slightly sharper terms for deals for more yawn-inducing stuff (whether flicks, financial instruments, or kicks) that’s destined not to matter. So here’s a tiny hypothesis: maybe the real depression we’ve got to contend with isn’t merely one of how much economic output we’re generating — but what we’re putting out there, and why. Call it a depression of human potential, a tale of human significance being willfully squandered (on, for example, stuff like this).
Bravo, Umair! My thoughts exactly. Like the brilliant Guy Kawasaki once famously said, “Make Meaning”. That is where the action is, that is where the economy AND the future is going. For all of us, rich and poor.
i.e. I know my stuff, at least on a good day, and Austin DEFINITELY does.
Yet somehow both he and I still feel as clueless as anyone else, even if we do get paid to write books about on the subject. Why? Because, actually:
Creativity comes after the fact.
Kids come up to me and ask me all the time…
Kid: How do I get a “creative” career-thing going like yours?
Hugh: Make something. Grab a piece of paper and a pen or whatever and get cracking…
Kid: What if it isn’t any good?
Hugh: Then you’re screwed.
Kid: Ok, what if it’s pretty good, but it’s still going to take me another twenty or thirty years before the world understands it?
Hugh: Then you’re slightly less screwed.
At that point, they’re already sick of asking me any more questions and so they move on, unhappy. Oh well…
The thing is, people think there’s some set of ideal conditions out there, floating independently in space, that somehow have be met, some magic fairy boxes that need to be ticked off, before you can go and “be creative”, whatever that means.
“I’ve got to quit my job, leave my wife, move to India and become an opium addict yada yada yada…” “I’ve got to drop out of college, move to New York and carry on a forbidden and tumultuous lesbian affair with a Japanese novelist twice my age yada yada yada…”
Actually, no. The way to be creative is to make stuff. You wake up in the morning, have some breakfast, hit the work bench and get on it with it.
Or not. Maybe you’d rather just hang out, light a joint and watch Star Trek reruns. Your call.
You can’t plan for creativity. You can only plan to do the work.
Whether it ends up being “creative” or not, is decided later. Long after you’ve finished the thing and moved on to something else.
I got the idea for gapingvoid business cards when I was living in New York, when I discovered that I preferred giving out my own, hand-drawn business cards to people, rather than the ho-hum business cards that my employer at the the time issued me with.
Of course, after a while it became a lot of work, drawing them every time I met someone. Eventually I started getting them printed. Then I thought, why not print them for other people? The rest is history…
I always thought there was a market for business cards that stood out. Cards that reflected the personality of the person handing them out, cards that said, “I’m not just one more random shmuck in a bar, doing the usual handing out his card to an equally random chick in a bar yada, yada, yada.”
Living in New York, in a sea of other equally opportunitist young people on the make, it was easy to be “another random guy”. I don’t want to be that random guy. I wanted to be something else.
And it worked. What started out as an act of rebellion among the suits and hipsters of Manhattan, turned into a successful business and art career.
The gapingvoid business cards– my cartoons printed on the back, your personal details printed on the front– are designed to act like “Idiot Filters”. In other words, people who are cool seem to like them right away, people who are idiots always tend to ask “WTF?” So it’s a good way of gauging people, quickly.
That’s the idea, anyway. At the very least, they’ve created A LOT of fun for people over the years. And now we have more designs than ever. Feel free to ping me if you have any questions. Rock on.
So uber-famous-corporate-blogger-ninja-rockstar Jerimiah Owyang blogged about The Golden Age of Tech Blogging being over. His colleague, my friend, Brian Solis doesn’t agree. Lots of other people are yakkin’ about it as well, it seems. I guess that’s a good thing. Here are my thoughts:
1. Time to quote Shirky YET AGAIN: “So forget about blogs and bloggers and blogging and focus on this — the cost and difficulty of publishing absolutely anything, by anyone, into a global medium, just got a whole lot lower. And the effects of that increased pool of potential producers is going to be vast.” -CLAY SHIRKY in 2004.
2. The business model of blogging has been proven many times over, so pretending that it hasn’t is pointless. Indirectly, Fred Wilson’s blog is EASILY worth more to him, than what AOL paid Mike Arrington for Techcrunch, maybe by a factor of ten (and they paid over $20 million for the latter, I am told). I’m not kidding! Whether or not said proven business model suits your individual needs is another question…
3. Blogging is no longer about “The Conversation”. That moved over to Twitter, Facebook etc years ago. If you’re just looking to natter and rant with the other trolls, I guess the comment section of a large blog like Gawker or HuffPo is as good a place as any. One more waste of space wasting their time, whatever. I’m liking Google Plus a lot these days. It has the same spontaneity as Twitter, but a bit more engaging and thoughtful, somehow. I never go on Facebook much any more. Too many “civilians”.
4. We forget JUST how utterly time-consuming blogging used to be, back when it was the only game in town. I remember the early blogging days, don’t you? Remember how keeping up with the blogosphere properly took ten hours a day? Nowadays, the only people who are left blogging are the people who REALLY want to, who ACTUALLY have something to say. Everyone else is uploading cat photos on Facebook. I think this is a good thing.
5. Traffic is now harder to get than ever, but I’m OK with that. The kind of effort it takes me to get a noticeable and sustainable increase in blog traffic, ballpark, is about the same amount of time and effort it takes me to get a book deal and write the first draft. Guess which option I chose? Exactly…
6. I’m waiting for the Golden Age of Facebook and Twitter to be over, too. That way we can all get away from our computers and back to actually getting some real work done. Ha!
7. It’s the product, Stupid. My social media strategy these days has only three words: “Draw more cartoons”. In other words, create more real work, ACTUAL PRODUCT (in my case, cartoons) and the social media will fall into place, but only AFTER I’ve done the thing that actually pays the bills. Getting all obsessed with social media BEFORE you’ve created something of real, lasting value is putting the cart before the horse. But that’s an easy mistake to make online, I’m as guilty of that as anyone. Never again.
8. None of this is new. My thoughts on blogging aren’t that different than the last time I wrote a post like this one, nearly two years ago. Nor are my thoughts that different to anybody else’s I’ve seen lately, frankly. Do the math…
The benefits of Consumer Capitalism– the dominant ideology of our age– are pretty self evident:
Lots of people having stuff, lots of things being invented, lots of livelihoods being attained, plus the greatest measure of them all– life expectancy– being increased.
But there is a cost, mostly psychological. Consumer capitalism makes us more covetous.
And covetous makes us more stressed out and less happy.
There’s no answer to it really, other than greater self-awareness…
My friend, Euan Semple is probably the guy who convinced me to switch from PC to Apple, about five years ago.
“Even opening up the cardboard box is a religious experience!”, he said.
Heh. A slight exaggeration, certainly.
But then I’m thinking… Perhaps not?
As somebody who likes to study religion, I’ve always thought that one of the more interesting questions in the world to ponder is, “What is Holy?”
Exactly. Holy. What does it actually mean?
And the same with Unholy…
When a mundane act (such as the opening of a cardboard box) is elevated (in this case, by great package design), we experience what the mystics call “The Divine”.
This doesn’t have to mean a strong belief in God, either way. They’re called mystics for a reason: the whole thing is indeed a mystery. Call it “God” if you will, call it something else completely. The mystery remains, either way.
Work, whether business or craft or just plain hard, sweaty labor, is far more interesting, fun and meaningful when one can channel one’s own sense of divinity into it, religious or otherwise. This is how we find the Holy in everyday life, religious or otherwise.
This is how we plug into “The Mystery”.
Steve Jobs knew this, instinctively. It was glaringly obvious.
Lots of people ask where the gapingvoid.com name comes from. Here you go, the cartoon was originally published in the Austin Chronicle, while I was attending University of Texas. The fellow peering into the viewer is Gloop, I still draw him today, when I need a kinda lumbering, human, compassionate, slightly pessimistic character.
gapeintothevoid.com was too long, so I shortened it. The rest, as they say, is history.
The original hangs in the downstairs bathroom in my mother’s house. She was an early fan. Thanks, Mom!
We are living in a world that gets weirder all the time, especially this time of year.
So much of people’s day to day satisfaction comes from consumption, that it’s becoming harder and harder to remain objective about what matters.
We love our gadgets, we love our cars. We love our stuff. Where does this all lead?
One thing you can do around products though, is to use them as a vehicle for creating community.
Whether we like it or not, ALL community has love baked in there somewhere, even if you can’t always taste it. Maybe that is the upside here?
Even in the non-romantic usage, “Love” is a highly loaded word. Dynamite. Nitroglycerin. It’ll burn your eyes and then your skull.
This is one of my favorite cartoons I drew this year. Highly autobiographical.
People who wonder why I spent so much time living in big cities– New York, London, LA etc etc need only to look at this cartoon to find their answer.
The city, besides being a great hub is also, for many people, a great metaphor for “becoming”. That’s why the kids move there. Without that metaphor, #OWS wouldn’t exist.
We’ve had a lot of people send emails and approach us with the same question, and it’s one we are always very eager and happy to answer: What IS a social object?
The thing is, it’s simple to understand literally, but what does social action gravitating around an object have to do with the cartoons I draw, you ask. Here’s the thing – I don’t draw cartoons to be hoisted up on the walls of some gallery for people to walk through and look at. I draw cartoons to encourage social dialog.
It’s not about staring at something and asking, “What does this mean?” It’s about relating to something. I take thoughts and ideas that have passed through ALL of our heads from time to time and put it in a format that encourages us to actually TALK about it.
So, again, what are social objects? There are many different types (some are VERY complex), but the gapingvoid brand of social object is designed to communicate meaning in unexpected ways. My cartoons don’t come with an explanation, and two people may have different interpretations, but they find a place inside of hearts and minds that make people want to share them — That’s what makes them Social and that’s the beauty of it. And it is why I love doing what I do. It’s just…simple.
This is the new calling card I designed for gapingvoid. Note how the message is more communication-based, rather than art-based. Exactly. Also, the message is more about the team (Jason, Laura, Sammy and myself), as opposed to about just me and the drawings.
It was the first commercial I’d ever seen in my life, that actually spoke to me, my true self, and not just to whatever short-term, trivial needs I had going on that day (i.e. like pretty much every single other commercial out there).
It was then I knew that I wasn’t just one of the crazy ones, but that it was also IMPERATIVE to actually be one of the crazy ones. That my life and soul demanded it.
It’s not what Steve Jobs created in his his brief but incandescent life– the computers, iPods, iPhones etc etc– that isn’t the big story.
And what we created with his products, that isn’t the big story, either.
The big story is what Steve helped us believe about ourselves. By putting his balls on the line, again and again, he made it easier for us to do the same.
And so we did.
Thank you, Steve. You will be missed. Of course you frickin’ will…
This was fun: Last week we all attended TEDx Miami. It was held at the shiny new Frank Ghery designed, New World Symphony building, just behind Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. The TED folks were kind enough to invite us along to display the Dewar’s drawings I did at TED Global in Edinburgh, back in July. These were original drawings that I did in marker. The images were presented in clean white frames to fit the venue.
I was a little anxious going into the event because I couldn’t be certain whether what resonated with a largely non-American crowd in Edinburgh, would also work in Miami. Miami is, well, at totally different place. The good news is that the work was well received, and our sponsors, Dewars, were happy. We are told that the work is now going to be installed in the new Bacardi HQ in Coral Gables.
After the talks, people were offered cocktails made of Dewars, Grey Goose or wine. As I looked around, I was surprised to see how many women were drinking scotch. That, and a conversation with our friend, Maria at the event reminded me of her comments when we posted about the scotch market a few weeks back. The surprising news from that post and subsequent exchange was that chicks love scotch. Note to Dewars: Instead of trying to get the guys to switch from another brand, it might be easier to grow your market by appealing to women. Just a thought. Rock on!
People think that blogging has changed a lot in the last few years, far from the heady early blogging days of 2000 – 2005 etc etc.
Hmmm. Maybe. Certainly having things like Twitter and Facebook make it easier for people to natter to each other without having to write continual blog posts first… the latter is certainly time consuming, and people are already way too busy.
Actually, the business model for gapingvoid hasn’t changed very much over time. I can only handle so many projects at one time– a dozen at the most. So as a way of generating business, I only need enough readers to attract one new possible collaborator every so often.
Which works out to be how much? Maybe one out of ten thousand readers. Or something.
Whatever the final numbers might be, compared to the ad-driven blogs like Gawker or Techcrunch, they’re relatively small ones. And Thank God for that, “Audience” is a bitch.
And then there is the fun of drawing and posting cartoons on the blog. In business terms, that really can’t be measured. All that can do is create good karma. But I enjoy it immensely so what the hell… same is true for the daily newsletter cartoons.
I keep hearing the same complaint a lot these days. That blogging isn’t as much fun or as interesting as it used to be. It used to be subversive. It used to be cutting edge. Now it’s mainstream and boring. That kinda thing.
To my jaded veteran blogger friends: Get over yourselves. Blogging hasn’t changed, you have. What’s happening on the Internet isn’t important; What’s important is that the world knows how you intend to change it. Right here. Right now.