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 idea of these little critters was to unoffically, or at least, indirectly represent the actual humanity of the company, as opposed to the “company brand”, which is something else altogether. A simple device that actually works, somehow.
The lesson here is, if your marketing ends up being turned into sugary goodness without it having to be imposed from above by some top-down, executive contrivance, it’s probably actually working on some level. That’s my take on it, anyway.
Thanks to Rob, Jeremy et al for thinking of us, I was really touched, seriously.
Told [Mark] my story. Told him about being laid off in Chicago. Told him about this new job I got in New York. Told him I only knew I got the job officially 5 days before Christmas– only about a week previously. Asked him how he was liking New York.
“It’s great,” he said. “Everybody’s insane with loneliness, but that’s OK. After a while you realize that’s part of the edge.“
I was hit with a paradox. I wanted to be in New York, I wanted to be “part of the edge”, but I didn’t want to be “insane with loneliness”. Was one necessary in order to have the other? Was it a price worth paying? To this day, I still have no answer.
A couple of months later (July, ’98) I drew this, sitting on a barstool. Thinking back to that conversation with Mark, suddenly I had a realization: The simple truth about big cities is that people don’t go there to give. They go there to take, or at least, to get. If you feel like giving, good for you, somewhere an angel is smiling yada yada yada, just don’t expect other people to follow your example. And if you’re feeling lonely, at least now you now know why. This drawing is partly about that.
Mark had been my regular bartender, first in Chicago and then later in New York after we had both moved there around the same time. He’s one of the first people to have seen my “cartoons drawn on the back of the business cards”. Ever. He was right there, across the bar, while I drew the first ones.
Like most people hanging out below 14th Street, those were young, crazy, unsure days for both of us.
One thing that bonded us together was at the time was that we both lived in constant fear of the same thing: That we would both end up, together or seperately, one of those people who move to New York… and never make it in the end. The people who just get eaten. Devoured. Crushed. Thrown into the incinerator of history.
And what happens to those poor souls? The lucky ones get a bit older, grow up, get a job, find a spouse, move to the suburbs, have some kids. You know, the normal, boring stuff.
The unlucky ones… well, they just end up as characters in the film Mark just directed, “Generation Um”
Yes, Mark made a film. And not just a no-budget online video, but a proper Hollywood movie. With a real cast and crew, with Keanu Reeves playing the lead (and Mark’s alter ego, pretty much).
It’s a film about 24 hours in the life of three New York failures. And it ain’t pretty. No. really. It is REALLY bleak, dark and ugly. But it’s also very, very real. Yeah, if you fail in New York, this is kinda what it looks like.
It’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my friend. I was genuinely stunned by how much it hit me, right in the gut.
After the movie ended, I came away with these questions, which don’t necessarily need an answer:
1. Having just watched season one of “Girls”, I’m thinking, this is soooooooo unlike that. This is NOT a hipster New York movie about New York hipsters hanging out with other hipsters, doing hipster stuff. This is not a “rich kid’s talent show”; this is not Holden Caulfield in skinny jeans. But the latter is kinda what we’ve grown to expect from New York.… That, plus Sex & The City, mobster films, Wall Street thrillers, McInerney/Easton-Ellis/Janowitz lifestyle porn, yuppified romantic comedies (Woody Allen, Nora Ephron and their cheap imitations) etc etc. Kind of a sad commentary on the film business, wouldn’t you say?
2. I confess, I spent most of the movie waiting for the usual “Holywood moment” that never happened. You know, like what they did with “Leaving Las Vegas” in the end i.e. give it a mandatory Hollywood morality framework so the audience doesn’t feel lost: The stuff we’re kinda used to, the same way we’re kinda used to airline food: Standard motifs like the prostitute with a heart of gold. The guy the with the substance-abuse probelem who admits the errors of his ways and finds true love and redemption, before he dies tragically so we can now end the movie, roll the credits, go out and get sushi afterwards and wait for Oscar season to roll around again. You know, the usual stuff. Without these standard motifs to navigate with, how on earth did you manage to sell this to famously risk-overse studios?
3. I had a strange disconnect with the movie at first, because it had that same gritty, downer realism of old John Cassavetes movies. That’s really weird, because those kind of movies never get made any more. I had fogotten what it was like to sit through one of those gritty-downer movies, especially with a bankable stars in it like Kneau Reeves, anyway. Besides liking the script, why did you think Kneau Reevs decided to make the movie?
4. The funny thing is, that as bleak as the film might be, nothing that bad happens to anyone. Nobody gets sick or beaten up or killed or maimed. The bleakness just comes from people stweing in their lives and the choices they made. And we find it utterly horrifying, much more so that seeing actual valiolence on the screen. Bizarre, no?
5. The other disconnect for me was the movie was very hard to figure out at first. Like David’ Lynch’s “Mulhulland Drive”, nothing in it made any sense whatsover until the very last few minutes, then everything made total sense. Did you know that would be a risk?
6. From bartender to film director took fifteen years. You still have a lot of friends in the bar & restaurant trade, who knew you way back when. How has your success affected your realtionship with them?
7. What advice would you give to the scores of young New York wannabe filmmakers out there, trying to break in the business? Is living in New York and making movies as feasible idea as it used to be? Was it ever?
Anyway, if you like a smart movie that’s a wee bit different from the usual cinema fare, you might want to give this one a try. It’s now available for rent on iTunes, premiered last week, rolling out to cinemas in the next couple of weeks etc.
Congrats to Mark for making what I think is an increasingly rare bird: an original and compelling New York movie. Rock on.
Last August, instead of YET ANOTHER infographic thingy (Is it just me or are they all starting to look the same?), Cisco commissioned us to produce a cloud-related “gapingvoid All-Over” for their #vBrownBag event that they sponsored at VMworld, the big cloud computing conference. Cisco’s Amy Lewis blogged about it here.
My favorite line: “The future is alive and well and living inside your skull.” Borrowing heavily from Churchill’s great insight, “The empires of the future will be empires of the mind.”
48 years after his death, it’s amazing how right he turned out to be.
These empires of the mind will live in the cloud, of course. This iss why it’s so worth paying attention to, this is why I like working with cloud companies.
[AFTERTHOUGHT: Yes, the whole Cloud thing is nebulous– that’s why it’s called “The Cloud”. If it weren’t, they’d call it something else.]
I’ve done a few all-overs over the years, when they’re properly framed and hung on the office, they start A LOT of converssations.
[If you’re in the market for an “all-over” like this, feel free to contact gapingvoid CEO Jason Korman anytime: jason at gapingvoid dot com. Thanks Again…]
[Barbara Kruger. Untitled (I shop therefore I am). 111″ by 113″. Photographic silkscreen/vinyl, 1987. Courtesy of the Mary Boone Gallery.]
Back in my young, early-1990s hipster days, I got really interested in the work of Barbara Kruger (she uses words and pictures, so it makes sense, right?).
I hadn’t discovered her work through an art gallery, book or magazine etc.
I discovered her stuff because Christian S., a friend of mine at work had hung a Barbara Kruger postcard (published by Fotofolio) on his cubicle wall. I thought it was terrific.
But more than that, it gave me this sudden moment of insight:
The way I saw it then was, Christian had put the postcard up on his cube wall not just because he wanted his cube to be pretty. Christian didn’t really decorate his office, it was very Spartan and minimal, the postcard was THE ONLY piece of decoration he had.
Back then, Barbera Kuger’s art was considered pretty cool, hip, not to mention, angry.
Christian was also kinda cool and hip, and also kinda angry as well. And he didn’t seem to mind other people knowing it, either.
In other words, this art was being used by Christian to “signal”. Signalling. “I’m cool, I’m hip, I’m angry, don’t you forget it” etc.
Signalling in the work place, exactly.
Back then I lived in pre-gentrified Wicker Park, the trendy bohemian Chicago neighborhood. I knew a lot of artists personally, a lot of them doing insanely great work, some of them even became famous– Chris Ware, Dan Clowes, Dzine etc.
What’s curious to me looking back is, of all the artists I knew then, I was the only one who was really geeking out about how art worked specifically in the office, as opposed to the home, gallery, museum, magazines and newspapers, TV, etc. etc.
It was a big obession of mine.
Why the obesession with offices? Because they’re important. It’s where we spend a HUGE chunk of our lives, every day. And if you’re the workaholic that I was back in 1990, the office is pretty much your real home, the place where you sleep and eat and watch TV becomes your second home. So art in the office becomes EVEN MORE imporatant.
The office is also where homo sapiens do a major proportion of our signalling, just like our buddy Christian was doing.
Twenty years later, Jason and I have taken that obsession and built a business around it: we help create “signalling” for our clients, as it were. This may all seem pretty obvious to gapingvoid fans now, but back then it would’ve seemed like a pretty strange idea to most people. Heck, even nowadays it’s still pretty “out there”.
But I’m okay with “out there”.
The less “out there” ideas tend not to work nearly so well, and even when they do, they are generally MUCH more expensive (e.g. corporate TV campaigns).
My conclusion? Easy:
Just as the Internet blurred the work/life divide, I believe the Internet is also blurring the art/business divide.
And gapingvoid is at the very epicenter of it all, gapingvoid has a front-row seat. Twenty years later, the pot is finally beginning to boil. Very cool.
[Photo courtesy of Augusta Scott, Zappos Insights, Inc. Life/Goals Coach.]
This photograph is of Augusta Scott, Life/Goals Coach at Zappos Insights. For those who have been on the Zappos HQ tour, her office is one of the first stops.
Augusta’s proudly hanging “Souls” and “Inspire” right above her coaching certifications.
Augusta says:“Finally, everything is done! I hope you like the picture. I had my training and certification certificates framed and purposely selected a white frame to go with my prints. I feel it’s perfect with my prints above them.….
Thanks again … for such beautiful and inspiring work. It’s changed the entire feeling and look to my space, and I love it!”
Yep. Having a soul is hard without any inspiration nearby. Makes perfect sense why the two cartoons would be paired up. Rock on.
As y’all know, I got my start from “drawing cartoons on the back of business cards”…
A couple of years later, after drawing a few thousand of them, I started letting others publish my cartoons on their own business cards, as well. I thought it would be fun, people handing out these little subversive drawing-ideas, as opposed the usual boring-corporate-formal etc.
Just as the right cartoon on the wall of an office can spark “smarter conversations” around the water cooler, the right cartoon on your business card can change the conversation around you and your business.
Actually, Moo’s Founder & CEO, Richard Moross and I go way back, when we used to go to the same seminal “Web 2.0” parties in London, back in the heady, early days of blogging. I always liked the fellow, frankly, and I always thought we should be working together.
You can use just one cartoon as your design, or have a different image on every card (a cool bit of printing magic Moo offers with their packs).
And if you do make some gapingvoid cards over there, please share a picture of them with us, and please let me know what kind of reactions your cards get. Perhaps we can pimp your business by showing a picture of your cards here, or something like that… Sound like a plan? Email: hughATgapingvoid.com
[Originally posted by Rebeka on the Moo blog, 28th March]
It should come as no surprise that we’re pretty big fans of Business Cards here at MOO. We’re passionate about great design and standing out from the crowd.
We believe Business Cards should be a conversation starter – something to be kept and acted on. After all, handing out a business card is often the first impression people make of you and your business.
Hugh MacLeod began drawing cartoons in his teens and later they were popularized on the back of business cards. We’ve been longtime fans of Hugh and gapingvoid. Hedraws cartoons on the back of business cards. We print business cards. It was meant to be. And with that, we teamed up with gapingvoid to offer a selection his cartoons printed exclusively on our Business Cards. The perfect conversation starter!We worked directly with gapingvoid to curate thousands of designs down into 5 different packs. Each pack comes with a range of cartoons, anywhere from 15 unique designs to 30. So you won’t have to choose just one gapingvoid cartoon, you can have as many as you want!Inspiration by gapingvoid
We caught up with Laura Fitton, of OneForty and HubSpot fame, who also loves Hugh’s cartoons. Her personal favorite? ‘It’s not what the software does – it’s what the user does.’
“That was the first card I put my Twitter handle on, which seemed a little insane at the time. It’s worked out well, though. I reprinted that card several times because its impact was always fantastic. It breaks the ice. It makes people laugh. It says a lot about what I am all about.”
Thanks Laura! Now that’s a conversation starter.
We think all of Hugh’s cartoons are pretty remarkable, and we hope you do too. Be sure to check out all the gapgingvoid packs, and let us know which one is your favorite in the comments below.
As longtime fans of artist Hugh MacLeod and his work, it was a no-brainer for us to ask him to create custom sticker packs to be used in messaging. Here, Hugh chats with us about his work, his inspirations, and his creative collaboration with Path.
Q: Among other things, you’re known as a blogger, a marketer, and a cartoonist. Tell us a bit about the road to the career you have carved out for yourself. When did you first begin creating/drawing?
A: I drew cartoons in college, then got a day job in advertising. I landed a job in NY, and one night just started drawing cartoons on the back of business cards. I’ve often written about the power of ‘small art’. I get to create with little risk, put ideas out there and see what happens. It’s really an art form that parallels marketing. Pushing ideas out and seeing what happens.
I drifted off into blogging territory once the Internet came along. In 2004, I met my business partner, Jason Korman, who showed me that my art form could have real business applications. Off we went, and the rest is history. Q: What are a few adjectives that you would use to describe your work?
A: Adjectives and phrases: Inspirational, Subversive, Culturally Relevant, Honest, Transparent, Real, The Voice of Contemporary Business.
Q: Where do you seek inspiration (other contemporary artists, publications, friends, etc.)?
A: Most of my inspiration comes from people watching. This is what made my years in New York so wonderful. The artists who inspire me the most are composers and musicians. Visual artists inspire me less. I am a voracious reader.
Above all, I am a keen observer of business and entrepreneurship. I love big enterprise. It is a stage where people play out every form of human behavior. I am always looking for what motivates people. Why people really get out of bed in the morning, and how can I help communicate what really matters. Business people think that business is about making money. At it’s core, it isn’t – the money flows from doing other stuff really well. Usually the better you do it, the more you make. If you understand human behavior, human needs, you can accomplish anything you want in business. I help real leaders do that.
Q: How did you become interested in marketing? How important is good marketing to the contemporary artist?
A: Marketing at its core is just about human behavior. As I said above, I am a student of human behavior. You can have focus groups, you can survey, or you can read my cartoons. The latter is just as insightful and a lot cheaper
I believe that there is a special place for art in business. Art allows for expression that transcends ‘normal’ business communication. One reason why enterprise marketers are panicky these days, is because there is no such thing as ‘normal’ anymore. I’ve found that by using art, I can have discussions at work, that would be really hard to have otherwise.
To answer your question directly, I challenge anyone to name a famous artist who lived within the last hundred years who wasn’t a good marketer. There might be a few, but post 1960, there are almost none.
Q: Tell me a bit about the experience and creative exchange working with Path. Why did you agree to this collaboration?
A: Dave Morin, the CEO and founder of Path, is a long time fan and collector of my work. Dave is one of the guys in the tech world that I really admire. He’s got vision and strength, a good combination. I also like the idea of social where you aren’t talking to the world. God knows, I spend much of my life talking to the world. But, there are times when I just want to see what my closest family and friends are up to. I like the way Path is a proxy for what’s really important.Q: Talk about the sticker packs you created for us. How did “the Best” and the “The Worst” come to be?
A: In social media, we love sharing both the stuff we really like (The Best) and the stuff we really hate (The Worst) with our friends. The two extremes are the bookends of our lives. Friends sharing their lifestream is of course one of Path’s most important functions, so I wanted to make stickers that made it easier and/or more fun to do so.
Q: How do you envision/what is your hope for how your work is used in Path messaging?
A: I just want people to have random fun with them. Random fun is the best kind. The “usefulness” comes later…
Q: Has the experience working with Path differed from any other commissioned work you’ve done in the past?
A: I’m often producing work for clients who aren’t certain how they are going to use it. This often creates anticipation on my part that is unmet. I like that.
One other point that really mattered: Since I am used to working in small spaces, my ‘normal’ canvas is 3.5 × 2 INCHES. So, I am really comfortable working in tiny spaces. Most artists aren’t, and this is why working in a postage stamp sized space actually felt good.
Aside from that, Path was really great to work with, Jenny Ji, Path’s Design Director, was a joy, and let us get on with our work. I say this mainly because not all clients are so nice to deal with, or respectful of the process.
Q: Any advice to budding cartoonists?
A. 1. Practice every day, regardless. 2. Embrace the web. 3. Most cartooning business models suck, so try to invent a new one. 4. Be the most tenacious SOB in the history of the planet.