Archive for the ‘Business Cards’ Category
March 12, 2013 (4 weeks ago)
This is our latest business card design. Very cool.
Again, I’ll point to what I said in The Hughtrain, way back in in 2004:
“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.”
Of course, nine years later I’d change the line to, “The future of marketing is internal”…
In retrospect, the problem I always had when I worked back in advertising, was the client invariably wanted to change consumer bahavior far more than they wanted to change their own company’s behavior… like they somehow weren’t related.
But of course, they were. Real change comes from within etc.
So it’s really not surprising that gapingvoid is doing a ton of “internal” work for clients these days. In terms of finding meaning and purpose, that’s where we think the action is.
I really hope you like the new card. If you want to find out more about our client work, feel free to e-mail, thanks: hughATgapingvoid.com.
February 22, 2013
56. ALL ART IS RELIGIOUS ART.
[Just added the following to “The Art Of Not Sucking” etc.]
Long before I acquired even the faintest interest in modern art, I was down visiting my dad in Houston, hanging out with a college buddy, Andrew. We were both about twenty at the time.
Looking for something to do, Andrew suggested we should go see the Rothko Chapel, and so we did. I had never heard of either Rothko or the chapel before.
When we got there, all I saw were these big, dark, blank canvases, not unlike the monolith in Kubrick’s “2001”.
I didn’t get it, frankly… I walked out, unimpressed. Some big, black rectangles. Any half decent house painter could’ve made those. So what?
But the visit stayed with me, somehow. For reasons I couldn’t explain, for weeks afterwards I couldn’t get the Rothko’s out of my head. The paintings struck a nerve, one that I didn’t even know I had.
Nearly three decades later, I think I now know why. By painting these big, black monster paintings, Rothko was trying to get the viewer to “gape into the void”. He wanted us to contemplate “The Mystery”, the awesomeness (good or bad) that is Creation, that is the Divine, that is the Universe.
Decades later, I realize that all art– the good stuff, anyway– is trying to get us to do the same thing: Understand the immensity of existence, whatever that might mean.
Do you have to be religious to do that? Of course not. No matter what you believe, call it either God or The Void or the Physical Universe or something else altogether, the immensity is still there. What Werner Herzog calls the “Ecstastic Truth” is still there.
And it’ll always be a mystery; your existence in it will also remain a mystery, no matter what the clever folk in the TED videos may tell you.
So I wrote that line down, “All Art Is Religious Art”.
All art is trying to be a conduit… of Ecstatic Truth.
You don’t have to agree with me, but the older I get, the more I believe it myself, the more I want to live like it IS true.
And we are here. And it’s immense. And it’s a mystery. And…
And maybe it applies to stuff other than “Art”? Like maybe some of the stuff you do, to make a living, perhaps?
Maybe what you do for a living is more meaningful than it sounds.
[Note: If you like what you see, please subscribe to my daily cartoon newsletter, thanks.]
[The Art Of Not Sucking is a work in progress, a brain-dump of sorts; it is by no means finished, BY NO MEANS definitive… More later.]
February 15, 2013
“Live each day as if it were your last, for one day it will be.” Though Marcus Aurelius’ Third-Century advice sounds terrific, it’s probably the hardest piece of advice in the world to follow.
In Robert Altman’s 1992 movie, “The Player”, David Kahane, an unsuccessful screenwriter is randomly murdered. At his funeral, his friend Phil reads out the last words he ever wrote:
A mangy dog barks.
Garbage can lids are lifted as derelicts in the street… hunt for food.
Buzzing, as a cheap alarm clock goes off.
Interior. Flophouse room.
A tracking shot moves through the grimy room.
Light streams in through holes in yellowing window shades.
Moths dance in the beams of light.
Track down along the floor.
The frayed rug.
Stop on an old shoe. It’s empty.
That’s as far as he got, said Phil…
If David Kahane knew these words were goingto be the last ones he would ever write, do you think he would’ve have chosen them? No, of course not, he would’ve written something else, somethiong far more meaningful and timeless.
That’s what makes the scene so memorable, so tragic. Robert Altman knew what he was doing.
That scene always stuck with me. It told me, “Make every word you write count, Boy, for one day those words will be your last”.
The fact that I was watching the movie for the first time in a crowded cinema in West LA, made it seem even more tragi-comic than usual. A lot of other un-dead David-Kahane-types were in the audience, all laughing nervously at the in-joke.
It’s too easy to just laugh at all the in-jokes, isn’t it? It’s too easy to think one is immune, isn’t it?
February 5, 2013
[Diary entry, May 2008]
Though I started doing my “Cartoons drawn on the back of business cards” in December, 1997, it took me a few months to really get into it… as this photo from my old 1998 diary shows.
At first, I thought I should just do a few dozen of them for kicks and giggles, then move on to something else.
That I’d still be doing them 15 years later, didn’t even cross my tiny little mind.
But then it took on a life of its own. Its meaning, purpose and scope snowballed slowly over time.
The lesson here is, be careful of seeking out “The Big Moments” on purpose. Because when the big moments actually happen, they don’t seem very big at the time (like the one in the May, 2008 diary entry above). And too many moments that seem big at the time, often end up going nowhere (“The Failed Superbowl Ad Graveyard” is full of those).
Of course, the more you love your work, the less you need (or want) the “Big Moments” to sustain you. What you really end up needing (and wanting)is just to wake up fresh every morning, and get busy without a lot of fuss.
“Simple. Easy. Happy. Boring.” Exactly.
[So far I’ve drawn over 10,000 of the business card cartoons. You can see the latest ones on my Tumblr page etc.]
January 29, 2013
So having been in the business for a while, I keep asking myself, what is the purpose of art?
Decoration? Pictoral storytelling? Conceptual mind tricks? Entertainment and/or Info-tainment?
Meh. I have simpler idea:
“Art’s purpose is to express consciousness.”
That is true for writing, paiting, music, theatre, you name it.
It’s also true for other stuff, as well.
When we build something (a business, product or movement, say), we are expressing our inner consciousness, indirectly.
And then so what happens after we die?
What becomes of our consciousness, then?
No idea. And even if I had an idea, I’d probably be wrong. I’m OK with that.
Anyway, that’s kinda what I was thinking, the whole time I was drawing the cartoon above.
Consciousness is really amazing. I know, right?
January 21, 2013
So I was listening to a story on Public Radio last night… [Sorry, no link].
A journalist was talking about how he got to spend a month at the White House, hanging out with Obama. I’m guessing he write a book about it, so he was on the radio promoting it…
Obama was telling the journalist how much more “fast” the job of President is becoming.
To paraphrase Obama, if something went down in Africa say, in Lincoln’s time, the President might not react to it at all, and if he did, he might take a couple of months to get around it.
Nowadays, if something goes down in Africa (Say, the current Algerian crisis) the President is lucky if he has half an hour to make a decision.
And what’s true for Obama is also true of your job.
The world is getting faster and more complex by the hour, way faster than any of us were programmed to cope with.
Managing increasing hyper-complexity is going to be the most sought after and valued leadership skill there is. Computers can only do so much.
I fnd it quite exciting. Scary, but exciting…
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 18, 2013
[Note to young, creative types, just leaving college: I wrote this post just for you.],
It’s a very sad and poignant story that’s already been all over the Internet…
A British advertising veteran, Linds Redding, a guy not much older than me, gets terminally ill.
Shortly before the poor man dies, he writes a long, heartbreaking, brilliantly savage and honest rant about his thirty years in the advertising business:
So was it worth it?
Well of course not. It turns out it was just advertising. There was no higher calling. No ultimate prize. Just a lot of faded, yellowing newsprint, and old video cassettes in an obsolete format I can’t even play any more even if I was interested. Oh yes, and a lot of framed certificates and little gold statuettes. A shit-load of empty Prozac boxes, wine bottles, a lot of grey hair and a tumor of indeterminate dimensions.
Everything he railed against, I saw with my own eyes during my time in the business. Linds was right on the money. I was more fortunate than he, I managed to get out early; I managed to figure out a way to get paid to do my true calling i.e. cartooning.
But it was tough. I had some pretty bleak, penniless years there for a while. It was nasty. Most people would not have gone through it willingly, I sure as hell didn’t.
Luckily for me, the Internet came along eventually and changed everything yada, yada, yada. But I know a lot of people both inside and outside advertising, some I consider good friends, who weren’t so fortunate (Linds is an extreme example). The world changed, and ate them for breakfast. And now they’re old and frankly, it’s probably too late for them.
But it’s not the being old and being “eaten for breakfast” that’s really heartbreaking. Everybody gets “eaten” sooner or later. That’s just life, we all get old, we all get sick, we all die.
I can’t speak for Linds, I didn’t know the guy, I’m sure he was a lovely fellow who, like the rest of us, did the best he could. I’m so sorry for him and his family.
What is heartbreaking about his story is it reminds me of something that has always haunted and terrified me since I first entered the working world: the idea of getting to the inevitable end of your life, and in spite of all that talent, passion and energy spent working insane hours for decades, you don’t have a meaningful and lasting body of work to be proud of, money or no money.
And that can easily happen, when, early on in the game, you decide to take the easy money. When you let your path be defined by short cuts, short-term needs and the outward assurances of social status.
When you do things just because they look good on paper, just because they impress your peers…
This is not a rant against the advertising business; it’s a great choice for some folk, I personally got a TERRIFIC education out of it.
No, this is a rant against somethiong MUCH larger, i.e. a rant against not “following your bliss”, to quote Joseph Campbell.
Luckily, there’s no law saying that you have to make the aforementioned short-cut decision. There’s another decision you can make.
The question is, will you make that decision? Will you actually follow your bliss?
Only you can answer that.
January 7, 2013
Aaaargh. Don’t get me started on complexity; don’t get me started on “Stuff”.
Everybody wants to be successful. The bad news is, we are trained by society to associate success with “Stuff”.
Not just in the material sense (fancy cars, big houses, trophy wives, expensive mistresses, hot tubs, designer furniture, designer clothing, designer kitchens with Italian marble floors, fine wines, art collections etc), but also “Stuff to do”:
Dinner parties, ladies’ luncheons, social climbing, networking, cocktail parties, second homes, community involvement, political activisim, PTA, Soccer Mom’ing, complicated love affairs that go nowhere, unsuitable daillances, social intrigues, obsessive gossiping, cooking classes, yoga classes, pottery classes, creative writing classes, tennis lessons, tango lessons, poker games, theatre, symphonies, art openings, magazine launch parties, opera, epicurian delights, horse breeding, ethnic restaurants, wife swapping, cult joining, celebrity worshipping, name-dropping, online forums, online rants, online dating, Instagramming, Twittering, Facebooking, blogging, cool hunting, culture-vulturing, Summers in Tuscany, Autumns in New York, Winters in Colorado, weekends in San Francisco… a totally full schedule, jam-packed with “Stuff”, all day long.
And we don’t just stop there! Because we now need our total, never-ending “Stuff” fix, it’s no longer enough to have our personal lives crammed with “Stuff”, we need to cram it into our professional lives, as well:
More product features, more product upgrades, more marketing campaigns, more advertising campaigns, more junk mail, more focus groups, more endless meetings that start at 7am for no reason, more memos, more mission statements, more white papers, more working weekends, more brainstorming sessions, more blue-sky thinking, more team-building exercises, more PowerPoint slides, more sharp-dressing employees with fancy job titles, more visually-pleasing personal assistants, more prestigious office addresses, more buzzwords, more catchphrases, more infographics, more international conference calls, more office politics, more hysterical emails sent at 2.am.
Stuff, stuff, stuff…
Which is kinda strange, considering the most successful and happy people I know generally don’t live that way. The most successful and happy people I know are very good at ruthlessly editing out “Stuff” from their lives. They tend to live calmly and quietly, like a New England pond on an early morning in August.
Leaving only time for the important “Stuff”…
December 21, 2012
It’s a story I’ve told many times over the years:
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.
It was 15 years ago this week that I started this adventure, Christmas, 1997.
Of all the early ones, “Shark Bar” is the oldest one on record [Backstory here]. Here’s a picture I took of the original, five minutes ago:
Over the years I’ve done lots of them. Ten thousand at last count, and that was a few years ago.
I’ve had many adventures in my career; this by far has been the greatest of them. I am so thankful, there are no words.
Merry Christmas, Everybody.
August 25, 2012
June 30, 2012
This was a real treat: When I was visiting my mother’s house last week I went and dug up some of my old drawings from the attic, where I had left them for safe keeping.
What I’d forgotten was JUST how many I had left there. There were thousands of them, drawn over a period of six or seven years. THOUSANDS.
Suddenly, looking there at the huge pile of business-card wallets lying there on the desk, I suddenly realized… I did it. I had created a body of work. Seriously.
It was a great feeling. Suddenly I felt that I finally had evidence here and now that, no matter what happens from now on, regardless, it’s been a good life. It’s been a good fight.
I felt so thankful.
That’s all we all really want, at the end of the day. Evidence. And gratitude.
June 14, 2012
Two things got me thinking today:
1. A recent story in the Wall Street Journal about JUST HOW HARD it is to do a start-up in Spain.
2. Yet another sad story in today’s edition of The Guardian about Spain’s very grave economic woes.
Are the two connected? Of course they are.
Start-up culture is now the linchpin of Western Civilization, and any society that doesn’t “get it” will fail long-term.
That is what I truly believe, anyway.
When I say “Start-up culture”, I’m not just talking about the little techie goldfish bowl that is Silicon Valley; I’m talking about something far more global and universal; I’m talking about the ability of normal folk to start businesses successfully with as little interference as possible from the usual suspects..
“gapingvoid is a startup. gapingvoid makes art for startups. A no-brainer, really”
Ergo, when the team talks about gapingvoid doing “Art For Start-ups”, we’re not just talking about Silicon Valley, or Internet and technology businesses.
We’re talking about something bigger. Bigger and global. Something that yes, we believe our civilization’s very long-term survival depends on.
I think it’s something worth being part of, something worth fighting for. You?
May 31, 2012
[As many people know, I’ve given a lot of thought to the subject of “Mastery” lately. With that in mind, here are the VERY ROUGH notes of the talk I gave recently at the first ever Ignite Miami:]
1. Like everybody else here tonight, I give a lot of thought to “Success”. What does it take to be successful, prosprous, happy, have a sense of purpose etc? What does THAT actually look like?
2. And by successful, I don’t mean “lucky”. I don’t mean people born rich or lottery winners. That kind of success never comes from within, that kind of success is too external and random to bother worrying about.
3. Of course, the media LOVE success models of the outrageously fortunate– celebrity artists, celebrity businessmen, celebrity spiritual leaders, not to mention the Reality TV, famous-for-being-famous crowd.
4. The thing is, I know TONS of super successful people, but none of them fit this extreme, celeb-lottery-winner TV model. Some of them are actually pretty boring, to be honest. But they lead happy lives and do VERY well careerwise. THAT is what most success looks like, if you think about it. The stuff on TV or in the movies just isn’t REAL enough to be that useful for us.
5. So I was thinking about this again, recently, HARD. What model would work for these people, folk like you and me? A model that didn’t mean you had to sell your soul to Wall Street, Hollywood or Washington? A success model that doesn’t rely solely on the unlikelihood of outrageously good fortune or plain, dumb luck?
6. Then quite by chance, I saw a great documentary the other week: “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”, a film about the world’s greatest sushi master, and a lightbulb EXPLODED in my head.
7. Our man, Jiro is eighty five years old (EIGHTY FIVE!), doesn’t have a lot of money or own a fleet of trendy restaurants in all the world’s capitals, a-la Wolfgang Puck. He’s just being doing it for 60 years; he just has just a small, plain, dingy, ordinary, low-key sushi bar with ten seats in a Tokyo subway, the kind you’d probably just walk by without stopping if you saw it. Ten seats! Yet he’s the best in the world at what he does.
8. Jiro works over 350 days a year, serves sushi and sashimi to people in very small numbers, and THAT’S IT. Just sushi. No salad, no appetizers, no deserts. Like I said, JUST SUSHI. And by sticking to this bare-bones formula, he’s become the first sushi chef in the world to win three Michelin stars.
9. A tiny little sushi bar in some random subway station. Yet people wait in line, people book a stool at his sushi bar as much as a year in advance, a prices starting around $600 a head. People have been known to fly all the way from America or Europe, just to experience a 30-minute meal. In a subway station!
10. I was lucky enough to have a similar experience first-hand when about eight years ago, I started working with the English Savile Row tailors. They make the best suits in the world; all hand-made, they go for about $5000 a pop.
11. The tailors have a similar shtick as Jiro. They’re generally not that rich, their businesses are tiny, yet the great and the good worship at their feet. Celebrities, captains of industry, people who are also world-class at what they do, like Jiro’s customers, waiting as long as a year in advance to get their next suit.
12. Like Jiro, the tailors just get up every morning and do their thing, day-in-day-out, humbly, quietly, without a lot of fanfare, totally dedicated to their jobs. I’ve seen it. On the surface, it’s quiet, calm and kinda dull.
13. And like Jiro, from my observations they seem to have this sense of inner satisfaction my Wall Street trader friends (who easily make ten times as much, on a good day) can only dream of.
14. As a result, Jiro and the Savile Row tailors are the people I really try to emulate. Because it’s doable. I can do that. I may never be as rich as Steve Jobs or Warren Buffet, I may never be literally a rock star like Bono or Jagger, but I can be like Jiro and the tailors… or at least, more like them.
15. And like them, I live very low-key; I get up every morning and quietly get on with the business cranking out my product, my cartoons. Like I said, quiet, calm and kinda dull.
16. So what’s their secret? THE secret? What is the secret sauce that lets these otherwise quite ordinary people like Jiro and the tailors, lead such extraordinary lives?
17. In a word: MASTERY. They’ve MASTERED something. Something interesting and valuable. They are MASTERS of their craft. It may be an old-fashioned word that makes people uncomfortable, but that’s only because it’s something that eludes most people.
18. Though, having watched these masters carefully first-hand, I can honestly say MASTERY is more satisfying than money (and I’ve seen both, trust me). If you’re up for it, yes, MASTERY MATTERS MORE THAN MONEY, MASTERY MATTERS MORE THAN SUCCESS.
19. And it’s portable. It travels with you, wherever you go. No landlord, no boss, no recession, no Wall Street analyst, no newspaper critic can take it away. It’s something that truly belongs to you, for always.
20. So when a young person asks me for career advice these days, I tell her, “Don’t worry about so much about money, fame, success, whatever. Worry about Mastery– that is something precious you can actually control. And yes, if you’ve achieved mastery, you’re more likely to be successful and prosperous, anyway.” Again, MASTERY MATTERS MORE THAN SUCCESS. So go for it. Thank you.
[P.S.: Thanks to Alex and Ana for making this happen for me. I had a great evening!]
April 10, 2012
March 29, 2012
The new business cards have arrived.… Very cool.
I’ve been saying this for years– a business card is not just “content”, is not just “personal details”. A business card is not just a social object; it’s a form of schwag, if you think about it.
So you have to treat it like that; you have to think to yourself, “How are people going to interact with this, when I hand it out?”
Not rocket science. Just common sense.
[Check out the new gapingvoid startup: Social Object Factory]
December 29, 2011
Thanks to Kathleen Warner for ordering the gapingvoid business card above.
I’m passionate about the idea that a business card should be more than just a way of handing out contact details, but a social object that states what you believe in, what you stand for.
If a lawyer gives you her gapingvoid business card, what does that tell you?
Like Jeff says, that you’re not dealing with a normal lawyer…
[You can get the bizcard design above here, and if you like the design well enough to hang it on your wall, the print is for sale here. Rock on.]
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.
I’m having fun. You?
December 28, 2011
Thanks to Ben Nesvig for ordering a set of our gapingvoid business cards [You can get your own here…].
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.