Posts Tagged ‘Cartoons on the back of business cards’
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.]
February 3, 2013
[Buy the print here etc.]
This is an old cartoon of mine, dating from circa 1994.
The original was small, 4” x 6”; I was already starting to shrink my preferred format down to my now-familiar “cartoons drawn on the back of business cards”.
It’s amazing how strange and sad sleeping alone feels, if you’re not used to it. Yes, it’s part of life, yes, we’ve all been there.
That doesn’t mean it’s not very, very painful.
But that’s what I’ve always liked about cartoons. Complex emotions, simply drawn. That’s what I still try to do twenty years on.
[This was orignally sent out earlier today in the newsletter etc.]
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.]
July 4, 2011
A friend of mine was in Paris last week, where she went and checked out the massive Anish Kapoor sculpture, Monumenta 2011, now on exhibit at Le Grand Palais.
This got me thinking…
I like Kapoor’s work. He makes very big art.
I, on the other hand, make very small art i.e. the “cartoons drawn on the back of business cards”. And the prints aren’t too large, either.
Though I like a lot of “Big Art”- Kapoor, Serra, Gormley, Smithson etc etc– I’m pretty happy I stuck with “Small Art”.
Small Art can impact another person on a meaningful level, just as powerfully as Big Art. Fifteen lines from Shelley’s Ozymandias had as much impact on me as fifteen hundred pages of Tolstoy’s War & Peace did, as much as I loved the latter.
And Small Art is A LOT less hassle to make.
And you can make more of it. More often. Without bankrupting yourself or putting your life on hold for months on end.
And perhaps more importantly, there’s the “Personal Sovereignty” angle. With Small Art, there’s no need to wait for someone else to deem it worthy beforehand, no need to wait nervously for the rich patron, the movie studio exec, or the illustrious museum director to give it the greenlight. There’s no need for the politics or the schmoozing or the bureaucracy.
Or the sleaze and corruption. The Big Art world is rife with that, as we all know full well.
With Small Art, you just go ahead and make it, and then it exists, and the rest is in the hands of the gods. Your work is already done, and you can get to bed at a decent hour. And not lose any sleep over it, either.
Hey, it worked for Joseph Cornell, Saul Steinberg and Edward Gorey… three artists who I rate WAY higher than Kapoor or Serra.
And what is true for Art is probably true for your thing, as well. Worry less about how BIG you want your business to be, instead think about how much LOVE you actually want to give out while your still have time left on this earth. “Meaning Scales”.
Taken at SUSHISAMBA dromo
May 19, 2011
Today’s Daily Bizcard goes to the celebrity property developer, Donald Trump, who’s been having a whale of a time recently.
All that razz-ma-tazz must be terribly exciting and all, but damn, I know I would tire of it quickly. I prefer a more quiet, spiritual existence, which I guess is what this cartoon is all about.
[Mr Trump, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll send along a free box of 100 printed business cards for you, with this cartoon on the front, Thanks!]
[The Daily Bizcard archive is here.]
[NB. Yes, the Daily Bizcard is up n’ running again, after a year offline. We finally got our act together etc etc.]
May 7, 2011
Taken at Starbucks — Lincoln & Pennsylvania
May 6, 2011
Taken at SUSHISAMBA dromo
Taken at Books & Books Cafe
March 24, 2011
1. Silicon Valley was born in 1939, when Messieurs Hewlett & Packard started their company in a small garage in Paulo Alto.
2. In his book, “Delivering Happiness”, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh speaks of in great length about “The Loft”, a place where all his friends used to hang out and party, and how this sense of “meaningful gathering” went on to inform the core values of his now-famous shoe company.
3. A very dated-looking photograph from 1978. Eleven young, goofy-looking techies. They turn out to be the founding members of Microsoft, including Bill Gates.
4. Michael Dell founding his computer empire in his dorm room at the University of Texas.
5. Ben & Jerry’s started making ice cream in a converted gas station in Vermont.
6. The business guru, Tom Peters often writes about how his time as a young man serving in the US Navy helped evolve his now-famous worldview.
7. Rock star physicists, Brian Cox talks passionately about the Big Bang Theory.
8. How a despondent, burned-out, second-rate advertising copywriter FINALLY got his groove when he started drawing cartoons on the back of business cards.
9. The Beatles playing those early gigs at The Cavern Club in Liverpool.
10. The famous tech blogger, Robert Scoble talking about his job working in a discount camera store, back when he was a kid.
11. How a bunch of young, angry social misfits start a small nightclub, the Cabaret Voltaire, in 1916 Zurich [at the height of World War One] and in the process invent Dada, one of the 20th Century’s most influential art movements.
12. Abe Lincoln was born in a log cabin.
So… What do these all have in common?
They’re all Creation Myths. That’s right; just like The Garden of Eden.
We humans seem to need them, somehow. They manage to articulate who we really are, somehow. The help explain our core values, somehow.
And for whatever reason, REALLY successful people are even more likely to have them, even more likely to need them, somehow.
Does your schtick have a good creation myth? If not, maybe it needs one?
Think about it.
February 17, 2011
I took this photograph when I was in New York last week, back in my old neighborhood…
The Corner Bistro was my regular watering hole, back when I lived in the West Village in the late 1990s, back when I was first drawing my trademark “cartoons on the back of business cards”.
I’d stumble in there late-at-night a few times a week. Great hamburgers.
Jeff would pour me a drink. Maker’s Mark on the rocks.
Jeff was a photographer. Nice guy. Great bartender. He liked my cartoons. I’d show him the new ones. He’d tell me which ones he liked.
I liked Jeff. We had a rapport. This was before I was ever published. This was long before blogging or Web 2.0.
This was when I was still unknown. A nobody. A goofball nobody in a tweed jacket, who would sit at the end of the bar for hours on end, doodling on the back of business cards for no reason.
So the Saturday I was in New York last week, I walk into The Corner Bistro, again.
Jeff was working; he’s still there. He’s married and has a kid now. He’s got a regular job doing something, but tends bar once a week for the hell of it.
He remembered me!
I give him a signed copy of Ignore Everybody [I had brought one with me, with the express intention of giving it to him], the book that was inspired by my days when I lived in New York– my lazy weekends in the West Village, my Saturday afternoons at the Corner Bistro, enjoying a drink, watching the cabs through the window, driving up Hudson, as Charlie Parker played on the best jukebox in Manhattan.
It as really good to see Jeff again. It had been over a decade. It felt like coming home. It was nice to be able to say to somebody from the old ‘hood, “Yeah. I made it. Finally.”
“This is an awesome New York story,” he said.
He’s right. It is.
Thank you, Jeff. Thank you, New York. Seriously…
January 16, 2011
Another one of my “Cartoons Drawn On The Back of Business Cards”, created while sitting at the bar of Sushi Samba two nights ago, while doing my harmonious infusion thing etc.
This one is entitled, “Goodness And Mercy”.
As in, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
January 14, 2011
This is everything I use to make my trademark “Cartoons Drawn On The Back of Business Cards”. Clockwise from left:
1. The Marfa bag. A small, military surplus bag I bought at the Marfa Book Co. about a year ago. Lots of pockets. Nice and sturdy.
2. Vinyl business card wallet. Where I keep the drawings after I’ve completed them. Ten dollars or so from Staples.
3. Aluminium business card holder. Holds about fifty blank cards. Bought it at Muji in London circa 2006. All the cards are cut from Strathmore Bristol 300 Series.
4. Silver Ipod Shuffle & headphones. Good for blocking out unwanted noise etc. Bought that from the Miami Apple Store on Lincoln Road. Current playlist consists of mainly Steve Reich and Mice Parade.
5. Moleskine blank sketchbook. Don’t use it too much, but it comes in handy for scribbling stuff down on occasion.
6. A tin of Peppermint Altoids. Always lovely to have.
7. Small X-Acto cutting mat. I don’t use it for cutting; I use it as a portable drawing surface. Not too big so it’s good for drawing on small cafe tables and whatnot.
8. Koh-I-Noor Universal India Ink. Highly permanent. One small bottle lasts for months.
9. My pens. Bundled with an elastic band. Four Kohinoor Rapidographs [0.3mm & 0.35mm], One Papermate “Tuff Stuff” Eraser Stick [good for cleaning smudges etc].
10. Large plastic box of blank business cards. About 250 of them for backup.
And that’s it. Nothing else goes into the Marfa bag– I like to keep it as pared down as possible. I see the bag as a sort of “portable studio”, which travels with me everywhere I go. Sure, I use other things in my office– a Motion digital tablet etc– but what fits into the Marfa bag is THE cornerstone. This is where the adventure starts; this is how it has always done so for the last decade or so.
Thanks and Godspeed.
June 9, 2010
Well, BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg didn’t want my first business card design, how about this one? Just askin’…
[Daily Bizcard archive]
May 11, 2010
Today’s “Daily Bizcard” design, “All Control”, goes to one of my favorite marketing thinkers, Mark Earls.
Mark is one of the most respected advertising planners in the UK. Nobody besides him and Cluetrain have done more to credibly trash the idea that “The Brand controls the conversation”. He was one of the very first people in the agency world to take that sacred cow out the back and shoot it in the head.
I came across Mark’s books about five years ago and it changed my life. Since then we’ve become really good friends. To get an overview of his work, check out the interview I did with him back in 2008.
[The Daily Bizcard archive is here etc.]
[Mark, please send me an e-mail at email@example.com with your shipping address and the details you want on the back of the bizcard, and I’ll send a free batch of 100 to you. Thanks!]
May 10, 2010
Today’s “Daily Bizcard” design, “Make Love To My Imagination”, goes to my art-world buddy in Toronto, Amrita Chandra.
Amrita ran her own art gallery for a while, which is how we first got talking. We were on the same SXSW panel earlier this year, talking about how Web 2.0 affects the art world. She has some very interesting thoughts on the subject. She also has a day job as Marketing Director for Asigra, a computer cloud backup service.
I guess we’ve been kindred spirits in this whole “Art World 2.0″ thing for a while now. It’s still early days for us all, but there’s A LOT of artists currently out there, trying to figure this new world out. An exciting time to be alive.
[The Daily Bizcard archive is here etc.]
[Amrita, please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with your shipping address and the details you want on the back of the bizcard, and I’ll send a free batch of 100 to you. Thanks!]
April 28, 2010
Today’s “Daily Bizcard”, “God Created” goes to Web 2.0 guru, Chris Brogan.
Chris is in that enviable position of not only “totally getting” social media, he also makes A LOT of money helping other people do the same. He’s a bit of a rock star/poster-child success story in this space.
Chris prides himself on being very open and accessible, which he is, in what we both believe to be a very democratic form of media. That being said, human beings can only scale so much, so you don’t want to start taking it and yourself TOO seriously. This card plays around with that.
[The Daily Bizcard archive is here etc.]
[Chris, please send me an e-mail at email@example.com with the details you want on the back of the card, and I’ll send a free batch of 100 to you. Thanks!]
December 8, 2009
I drew this one last night, sitting at the bar at Harry’s. A fun evening all round etc.
[About Hugh. E-mail Hugh. Hire Hugh. Buy Hugh’s Art. Cartoon Archive.]