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.
He’s a lot like me and Scoble, i.e. very much his own man, very much an individual.
I suppose that’s why we get along.
Above is a T-shirt design I’ve never showed Rob before– he’s seeing it for the first time here on the blog, the same as you and everyone else. He may like it, he may not.
That’s how Rob and I work together. Like I said in my last blog post, “he lets me just post stuff without getting pre-approval. We like doing that way because it lets him see the work for the first time in the wild, which keeps the thinking fresher, somehow.…”
The thing is, there’s a method to the madness. If the idea fails, hey, it’s just a wee cartoon on a blog post. We can quickly and easily try something else the same day. It’s not like we blew money on a Superbowl ad that ended up bombing…
But if the idea works, it works REALLY well. The idea gets emailed around, both inside and outside the company, to employees, shareholders, customers and non-customers alike. It suddenly takes on a life of its own, on its own merit.
In other words, it suddenly becomes a cultural object (i.e. a social object that articulates the company culture), as opposed to just a usual piece of commercial, “Here’s-why-you-should-give-us-your-money” messaging (You know, the kind that noboday actually cares about).
Rob and I never planned it this way, we just started talking and this is kinda how it evolved. That’s kinda how we both roll. Rock on.
We are nothing without love… We’ll do anything and everything to find it, and for a good reason. It truly completes us.
Countless songs and poems have said it all… But only Hugh could turn it into four words.
“Love, regardless of cost”
Simple, and perfect for your Valentine…
The little red heart represents Love. The squiggly black lines represent all the other external crap that gets in the way, be it other people, other problems. You know, the stuff that tries to swamp your boat on a daily basis.
From I personal perspective, I think love begins with the decision TO love, not waiting around for the right person, job or idea to come along and tick of all the magic unicorn boxes.
Sure, it can be painful. Sure, it can all go horribly wrong.
But as I get older, how much I loved (people, jobs, causes etc) matters increasaingly more to me than how much I was loved in return.
The groovy cats at Rackspace asked me to design a new t-shirt for them; this cartoon was the first (but not the last) idea I came up with.
I know it embarrasses the grown-ups to say this, but… Love matters in Business, as much as anywhere else. Rackspace knows this as much as any client I’ve ever worked with, small or large.
Nothing wrong with connecting ‘Love’ with $1 billion in sales… Without Love, their whole “Fanatical Support” thing (something they built their whole company around) would be impossible. And I doubt there are any high-ups at Rackspace who would disagree with me.
It’s nothing to do with Romantic love, of course. Love equals passion, equals care, equals real meaning and good work etc. Exactly.
This t-shirt gig got us thinking at gapingvoid Central, 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?
Our latest t-shirt design is up on Teespring. At time of writing, you’ve got 9 days left on the offer…
I got good at cartooning (and later, was able to turn it into a wonderfully blissful, full-time career), not because I had that much born talent (I didn’t), it was just that I loved, loved, loved, the actual process of doing it. And the better I got at it, the more I loved it…
Whatever your job or industry might be, I think if you can get your career into that loop, you’ve pretty already won the career battle.
Most people hate their jobs, poor souls, simply because that loop eludes them.
“Treat it like an adventure. An adventure worth sharing.” Like I’ve said often before, that’s my favorite line in my second book, Evil Plans.
It’s been my overall marketing philosophy for the last decade: Find an adventure worth having, share the adventure with people; the ones who really resonate with it will want to buy into or buy something, eventually.
And it’s working. Jason, the team and myself have a good life, a good business, and good products. Our stuff makes people happy. The more people we make happy, living this adventure, sharing the adventure, the more happiness and good fortune will come to us. It’s not rocket science.
Sure, there are vicissitudes, but I stay cheerful. I like the Dalai Lama thought that, “If your cause is just, whether it takes more than one lifetime to happen is irrelevant.”
Right now my main professional adventure is trying to get the world to think about office art differently. Sure, it’s a bit of a niche concern, a modest ambition compared to say, curing cancer, but I’m OK with that. I think office art matters. IN it’s own small way, I think it’s worth fighting for.
“Business needs more art.” Exactly.
Well, that’s my adventure I’m sharing with you. Feel free to share back. Rock on.
Another t-shirt idea: Franklin Barbecue. In case you don’t know, this is Texas’ favorite new global microbrand. Think of an Austin food truck that people are willing in wait two hours in line for, every day. You know when hipsters line up outside the Apple store for their new iPhones? It’s like that, EVERY DAY. It even comes with its own New York Times article.
Yep, the food tuck is a social object. Even the people in line think of themselves as a community, as a social network.
I’m told the barbecue is very good, too. I totally suck at waiting in line, so I wouldn’t know first-hand. What I do know, however, is that they have their own mastery riff going on, with low overheads. A powerful combination; one I’ve always aimed for with gapingvoid.
In all seriousness, it’s stories like this make me love returning to Austin. Unlike some cities I’ve lived in, if you have a cool business that gives people a good time, even if you’re not a billionaire, you are given respect; you are sincerely appreciated.
It’s what has always made Texas very agreeable to me…
My old friend (and one of my favorite writers, btw) Mike Arrington aka @arrington is in the news again. This time, he’s back writing at Techcrunch, the tech blog he founded back in 2005, sold it for a bunch of money to AOL, then left under a bit of a cloud a year ago, then slowly but surely came back into the Techcrunch fold again.
A couple of months ago, Arrington tweeted something which I thought was hilarious. I liked it so much, I thought it would make a great t-shirt; especially one for wearing at geek fests like SXSW or TCdisrupt. Voila.
Mike is known for being quite controversial in public. In private, though, he can be a real sweetheart. Whatever. He’s a complex guy. It’s hard not to be when you’ve got THAT much going on, I suppose.
Congrats on everything, Mike, I’m very proud of you. Besides that, I’ve learned A TON from you, so have countelss others. Rock on.
Very cool– I’m headed to Blogworld LA tomorrow (Wednesday). It’s the West Coast’s ginormous social media & podcsting shindig, and it’s always a blast to be there.
I was really excited when Dave Cynkin, co-founder of Blogworld asked me to draw a design for their first ever t-shirt. They’ve only printed a small number, and it will be for sale at the event, which starts on Thursday.
Me and Jason (my business partner, and CEO of gapingvoid) will both be at Blogworld through Saturday. We’ll be meeting old friends, and talking to companies who want to hire gapingvoid to help start “smarter conversations”, have kick ass content for social media and want their ideas spread like lightning.
A well-known motif, the fist raised in defiance. Yes, all good entrepreneurship begins as some sort of defiant act. Exactly.
I’m also thinking of the idea that getting one’s degree from Babson as an act of defiance as well (as opposed to say, Harvard or Wharton).
Entrepreneurship is, of course, something inside you. If you are a budding entrepreneur, the issue isn’t whether you have that quality to begin with –you do. The question is how do you unleash it. Where do you begin?
And yes, the “Fist of Defiance” is a social object. “Cool, you feel that way too? So do I!”
The kid just liked it, Rackspace or no Rackspace.
“I want life to be amazing,” he told his father.
Yes, even nine-year-old kids want their life to be amazing. Of course they do. Why wouldn’t they?
This is much bigger than Rackspace. This is much bigger than the Internet or web hosting or cloud computing or whatever it is that Rackspace does.
And it’s ESPECIALLY much bigger than gapingvoid or cartooning.
I may not be the most talented or famous or disruptive artist since Picasso. That’s fine; you’re not either.
But I’ve always believed, even before I started doing my work seriously, that art– that cartooning– can change lives for the better. Either individually or at a corporate level. Right here. Right now.
And you don’t have to be as big as Peanuts or The Simpsons or Dilbert in order to do so. Especially now that we have the Internet.
And what’s true for cartoonists is also true for your job.
You don’t have to be a rock star or a billionaire. We can all change the world, one small meaningful intervention at time.
Which is what the t-shirt was. A small meaningful intervention. No more, no less.
The power is within us. Now all we have to do is teach ourselves how to believe it.
[One of my more successful “Social Objects” of late: The SXSW t-shirt I did for my client, Rackspace. We printed 3,200 of them, and they all went REALLY quickly. The just FLEW off the table. It was stunning to watch…]
I’ve made a lot of t-shirts in my life. The one for blip.tv is without question one of my all-time favorites. The shirt had an interesting genesis. I met up with blip.tv’s Charles Hope for lunch the last time I was in New York. While we were waiting for the coffee to arrive, I drew him the cartoon, right there at the table. Within a few weeks Charles had taken the design and turned it into a t-shirt. The rest is history etc. Hmmmm… Maybe I should be doing more of these.…. [Charles blogged both the lunch and the cartoon here.]
Just thinking outloud…
AFTERTHOUGHT: I don’t think I’d want to be in the shirt business per se. That being said, a fun t-shirt now and again for my hardcore blog readers wouldn’t be a bad thing. Again, just thinking outloud…
Re. Wine marketing: Usually, when an imported wine launches in the States, a familiar pattern emerges. Hire New York or SF restaurant for the evening. Organize wine tasting. Try to get the usual freeloaders, PR wannabe’s, and random warm bodies to attend. If a C-List celeb somehow turns up by some Miracle of God, become ecstatic. Send Press Release out to the usual suspects in the media. Watch Press Release be utterly disregarded by All & Sundry. Watch absolutely nothing happen afterwards. Witness the entire story disappearing into the dustbin of history within nanoseconds. And so on.
So we at Stormhoek decided to go in the exact opposite direction, as far away from the Usual Suspects as possible. “Hey, let’s launch in Alpine, Texas! Let’s see if we can get real West Texan cowboys to like South African wine! It’s totally insane! It’s totally futile! It’s totally wrong! Let’s do it anyway!”
[The official “Dream Big” t-shirt…]
2. Our campaign tagline is “Dream Big. Alpine, Texas”. Inspired by the back label on the Stormhoek bottle, of course.
3. I think you really need to “Dream Big” on some level to live out here in the high Texas desert, 400 miles West of Austin. This is true whether you’re working construction, waiting tables, teaching elementary school or launching a wine brand.
4. You may lovee the tagline, you may hate the tagline. Whatever. They seem to like it out here. A lot. That’s all that matters.
5. We’re just going to concentrate on marketing the wine in Texas for the time being. Trying to do it nationally is just too much work. This country is way too big.
6. We’re starting in Alpine, then we’ll ripple out. Next is Marfa, Texas, then Marathon, Fort Davis, Terlingua, Presidio, Fort Stockton, San Angelo, Midland-Odessa, Del Rio… If that goes well, we’ll get ambitious. Ozona, Sanoma, Junction, Harper, Fredericksberg… We’ll keep going till we hit the bigger towns: Houston, Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Corpus Christi, El Paso, San Antonio, Amarillo…
7. Texans don’t drink a lot of South African Wine. They will by the time I’m done with them.
8. Dream Big. Alpine, Texas. Exactly.
[Update:] Talking about this blog post on Twitter:“I’m either going to make this thing fucking work or die trying.” Yes.
[A video still of the “Dream Big” T-shirt, from Loren’s camera.
Loren Feldman left Alpine, Texas this morning, heading home after a week in town shooting videos. The Stormhoek party was a great success. People really liked the t-shirts– it seemed to resonate. We printed up about 40 shirts– they were gone quickly. Most gratifying for me was how well the received the Stormhoek was.
“Damn good wine,” I heard more than once.
The owner of the biggest liquor store in town told me, “You may be on to something here.“
Loren has hours and hours of footage. Expect to see it online over the next few weeks– but that’s his department.
The first time I tried marketing Stormhoek, I did it mostly online, getting my fellow bloggers to help spread the word. This time it’ll be mostly offline. Me reaching out to real people here in West Texas etc. Trying to keep the whole thing interesting and meaningful.
If we can get West Texas nailed, we can get the rest of Texas nailed. And if we can get Texas nailed, ditto with the rest of the country.
The adventure has begun…