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.
When I was doing my most formative work back then, I was working all the time. ALL the time.
I’d have my advertising job by day, then I’d hit my regular watering hole/cafe, pull up a stool at the bar, and get drawing.
And that’s kinda what I did for many years. While many of my peers were “getting a life”, doing all that normal stuff: Watching Monday night football, getting married, shopping in malls, mowing the lawns on the weekend. Not me. I was just working ALL the time. day and night, either at the office, or the cafe. I didn’t hang out at home much, except to sleep.
And I got asked humorously, “Don’t you have a life?” all the time by the people who saw me around– the waiters, the bartenders, the other barflies. ALL the time.
I kinda felt embarrassed when I had to say, “Not really”. But it was the truth.
Two decades later, it seems to have paid off, for the reasons expressed in the cartoon. I’m glad time proved me right. Imagine if it hadn’t… Ouch.
The big news for us this week was, we were part of the Path 3.0 launch that just happened at SXSW.
Basically, we designed a bunch of e-stickers for the new store they built inside the app. It was a fun gig that will hopefully get our work in a different, new context. From The Next Web link above:
The stickers have been put together in collections called ‘packs’ that run $1.99 and contain a dozen or more stickers. Two packs are free with the latest update and Path says that it has worked with artists like David Lanham, Hugh Macleod and Richard Perez to make more packs that you can snag via the shop.
Very cool. Jason and I visted the their offices in San Francisco last week for the first time, just before the launch.
What struck me was how the dining tables were the most architecturally dominant part of the space. By far the largest room in the office.
There’s a reason why families have always eaten together, down the ages (and you could call a startup a ‘family’, of sorts). Sharing food is one of most important and inclusive rituals.
The “friends gathered round” idea seems to be an apt metaphor for Path itself…
Congrats to the Path team for the new launch, very exciting!
[P.S. Dave Morin, the founder and CEO of Path is also a good friend and long-time customer of gapingvoid, he’s bought a ton of art from us over the years. We also met for the first time last year at Techcrunch Disrupt. Thanks for bringing us in, Dave!]
We started off talking about the children’s book Seth and I made together, “V Is For Vulnerable”, but the conversation went way beyond that.
Seth, as always, was his very lucid self. As always, he’s pushing us to raise our game in the meaningful” and “creating art” departments.
My big takeaway was, that in spite of Seth being very successful and well-known in my circles, he really isn’t trying to reach “Everybody”, just the small few who are ready to hear it. It’s easy to think that everybody digs Seth’s message, that’s not actually true. Most people just aren’t ready.
But that’s OK. Though Seth fans are a definite minority, the good news is, that’s still enough people to make a huge impact.
We can all learn something from that…
Todd’s Show Notes:
1. “If Dr. Seuss wrote a book that would make a middle manager cry, that is what we set out to do.”
2. It is about being hopeful and brave again, like we were as children.
3. Making art is about being vulnerable to the world.
4. “If it is certain to work, it’s not innovation. And if it is not innovation, than it is not art.”
5. Too many organizations are afraid to say to the world “This might not work…” And that fear holds most back from creating art.
6. “Failure is something I look forward to, because it shows me I’ve gotten to an edge.”
7. “Work is love.” Or at least it should be.
8. Imbalance makes good things happen, and makes real, honest connection possible. And it’s that feeling of almost falling from imbalance, that you really begin to start feeling alive.
9. Hard work vs. Doing something that is hard, risky, meaningful.
10. How people apply “one-buttock playing” to their daily lives.
11. Hugh and Seth discuss the creative process in how they created this book.
12. “Surround yourself with people who are on a journey…and help them make that journey with more gusto. And to make more of a ruckus.”
13. Mattering, is more important than focusing on quality…And mattering, is doing something that cannot be specified…
Awwww… We were sent this photo, a commission for Dan Sullivan and Babs Smith, the husband & wife strategic coach team, that was done as a Holiday present to them, from our old buddy, Joe Polish.
“Entrepreneurship completes us.” Exactly.
Thanks Dan and Babs for taking the lovely photo, and Thanks to Joe for the great commission. Awesome.
[N.B. Sure, we do personal commissions all the time; feel free to email me at hugh AT gapingvoid.com for more info, Thanks!]
We’re doing more and more events these days. I call it “Live-Tooning”… It’s what I do instead of “Public Speaking”. A little bit more unique. Here’s what we wrote recently:
Here’s how to supercharge your event: The gapingvoid team was engaged by TechCrunch to create a range of content for the 2012 TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco. Gapingvoid produced original animations to launch each day’s programming, designed the official event T-Shirt, and cartoonist Hugh MacLeod was “live tooning” during the event, capturing the vibe and inspiration of speakers including Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Benioff (Salesforce.com), Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Twitter founders Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey, Path founder Dave Morin, and many more. This reel features highlights of the gapingvoid presence at TC Disrupt For more info contact email@example.com.
As part of the service, we also offer Merch– animations, t-shirts, all that fun stuff. See video for examples etc.
So if you have an interesting event come up, again, feel free to reach out etc: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks. Rock on.
[Techcrunch and gapingvoid have been friends for a while- since 2006 or so, actually. And here’s the art to prove it, hanging on a wall in the main Techcrunch offices in downtown San Francisco. Those smaller ones are 9“x12”, larger ones are ginormous. Jeff Sass took the picture while visiting there a couple of weeks ago…]
Keith Thomson, Managing Director up Stonegate Private Council (a wealth management firm up in Toronto) liked the “Dent” cartoon so much, he commissioned a special large one: 40x40 inches, printed on metal with a gloss surface.
It came out looking awesome. Very slick, very solid, very professional.
And then he graciously posed in front of the piece now proudly hanging in his office [with gapingvoid props scattered everywhere, tongue slightly in cheek etc etc.].
There are few better ways to let the people who walk into your office know, exactly where you and your company stands [Feel free to ping me if commissioning one would interest you: hugh at gapingvoid dot com].
Thanks to Keith for the great gig. I’m very, very excited about this new gapingvoid offering, there are no words. Rock on.
We launced a new podcast– “Gape Into The Void”. A behind-the-scenes look at gapingvoid.
Episode One is me and my business partner, Jason Korman, yakkin’ about how we got started working together, eight years ago and the how and the why of what we’re doing now etc. !5 minutes long. Rock on. [Subscribe here.]
[I talk a lot about “Social Objects”. Click here if you don’t know what those are.]
Thanks to the spammers and the hucksters, e-mail marketing went out of vogue for a while, at least with the cool kids. But I think it’s making a comeback; I certainly couldn’t do what I do without it.
So yeah, five-star recommedation for MailChimp. They rock. Use them. And I REALLY hope you watch my interview. That is all.
Mailchimp, as you know, is what powers my daily cartoon newsletter. With email newsletters, at least with Mailchimp, the average “open rate” is around 6%-8% i.e. for every hundred people you send out to, six to eight people actually open it and read it, as opposed to just sending it to the trash.
Our newsletter is 40%+. That’s amazing.
We were impressed to find out that Hugh MacLeod‘s MailChimp campaigns consistently maintain a fantastic 40%+ open rate. What does a cartoonist know about email marketing? Well, as it turns out, he doesn’t worry about all the typical “email expert” stuff like A/B testing, sending at different times of day, experimenting with subject lines, etc. Instead, much like Email Inspiration, he just sends a fun image, and the people love it.
“I think it’s because we keep it simple — a nice cartoon to brighten your day, delivered to your inbox every morning,” Hugh tells us. “People like getting that a whole lot more than, say, a daily, long-winded spiel about why y’all should give me your money, make me rich, yak, yak, yak…”
I highly, highly recommend doing the newsletter thing. More than the blog, more than Twitter, Facebook or Google+, these are the people who who REALLY WANT to support your business, who REALY CARE about your brand, who really want to interact with it. What Seth Godin calls a “Permission Asset”.
And best of all, with a good list, these people– the people who REALLY allow you to do what you do– are easy to identify, This makes your marketing A LOT easier, because the people who REALLY matter to your brand are RIGHT THERE in black & white, on your list. Nobody subscribes to a newsletter unless they really want to, unless they really think what you’re doing is important. Life is too short.
P.S. Yes, I highly, highly recommend Mailchimp as the service provider. They kick ass, they’ve been very good to gapingvoid. Thanks, Mailchimp!
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.
[Official Blurb:] “Everyone has an Evil Plan, maybe it’s tucked away inside your mind or maybe you are developing one this very minute. But for the lucky few, we are executing it daily! Join us in this episode as we talk with the artist, innovator and evil genius Hugh MacLeod himself about the book “Evil Plans”.
After a decade or so since I last devoured his books, these last few weeks I’ve been happily, gloriously rediscovering the work of Joseph Campbell, the famed mythologist.
My story is a common one among Campbell fans. A clueless, socially inept, lost kid with no idea about what to do or where to fit in the world, and suddenly along comes Joe Campbell with three simple, life-changing words:
“Follow Your Bliss”.
Boom! A moment of total clarity. A moment of incandescent lucidity.
Of course! FOLLOW YOUR BLISS! What else is there worth doing, besides that? How better to spend one’s life?
At the time, it made total sense. I mean, REALLY!!!!.…
I only first heard of Joseph Campbell the day I read his obituary, back in 1987 (A fact that still makes me sad, I’m not quite sure why). I then checked him out at the bookstore, and I found his work, quite frankly, mind-blowing. Transformative!
A floodgate of possibility being opened. Whoosh! Like being hit by a spiritual tidal wave.
But the thing is…
Joseph may have told me to follow my bliss, but he never told me how. He really didn’t have to many concrete tips or pointers. He just told his readers to just do it.
Much to our chagrin, it was something we were just going to have to figure out all by ourselves…
I was a bit intimidated by that. I think we all are, when we first encounter Campbell’s work. Do we have what it takes, do we have the guts to take what he said, make the necessary sacrifices etc etc and ACTUALLY apply it to our own lives?
I remember that fear well, a quarter century later…
So, now that I’m older, now that it seems I’ve followed my bliss pretty well, and it also seems to have panned out pretty OK for me creatively and careerwise, I now have young people asking me the very same question that Joseph’s students once asked him– “How do I do follow my bliss?”
Experience taught me well that there’s is no definitive answer. There is no instruction manual.
You just decide to do it, and then you go and do it. Or not. Whatever. It’s your call. It’s your path.
And it takes as long as it takes. Decades, maybe. An entire lifetime, even. There is no timeline. Nor any guarantees that you’ll succeed.
Nobody can do it for you. Nobody can go there for you– that mysterious place where the central energy of your being finds its source. Yes, you may fail in your quest to find it. But that risk is what makes it so damn powerful and interesting.
And Joseph Campbell would’ve told you the exact same thing.
Thinking about this earlier this evening, I drew the above cartoon just for the heck of it. I hope you like it, but I’m fine if you don’t.. Those little squiggly abstract drawings I do; well, that’s my bliss. Your bliss is something else. Your bliss is your own, not mine or anyone else’s.
Bliss. You have it within you, we already know that. The question is what you’re going to do about it.
Thank you, Joseph Campbell. Thank you all for reading. Godspeed!
“South-By” is pretty much over for the year. So what’s next?
gapingvoid is having its first “Evil Plans” salon on Wednesday evening, the 23rd of March at 7.30pm, just under a week from now. Downtown Miami.
It will be limited to 15 people. The theme of the evening will be “Unifying work and love”, a subject very dear to pretty much every gapingvoid reader alive.
If you’re in town that evening and want to attend, please RSVP my business partner, Jason Korman, for a slot: email@example.com. He’ll send you the details. Thanks.
This is going to be the start of something– something big, I hope. As much as I love SXSW, it’s gotten too big, Austin is too far away and it’s only on once a year.
I want to do something cool in Miami, about once a month. Something meaningful. Something where the cool kids can hang out and meet each other. A very miniature mini-conference, as it were, centered around our collective #EvilPlans. Rock on…
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.”
Like I said on my last post, I’m here to sign prints new Intel limited edition prints (suitable for framing yak, yak, yak). We editioned only 50 of each image for the show, and when they’re gone, they’re gone etc.
To kick things off, we’re going to offer you free CES swag! It’s not just a t-shirt, magnet, or coffee mug. It’s high quality artwork with key themes from Intel and CES. Check out the images we’ve got for you below. (click on any image for the full-size version).
Throughout CES this week, not only will we be showcasing the visibly smart technologies from Intel, we’re going to be working with GapingVoid, otherwise known as Hugh MacLeod. You probably already know Hugh. He’s famous for creating cartoons on the back of business cards. Plus, he authored Ignore Everybody, a book about creativity that was a Wall Street Journal best seller.
Hugh is going to be at the Intel booth several times each day creating live artwork and signing prints for you. If you’re at CES, stop by the Intel booth, look for Hugh, and you can get an autographed cartoon. If you miss him, or you’re just going digital this week, check back every day here at Inside Scoop for digital versions of Gapingvoid cartoons that speak to CES 2011 and Intel technology.
I’m excited about lot of things this week.
I’m excited to be at CES– I’ve never been before.
I’m excited to have Intel as a client. A huge company doing interesting, world-changing stuff from the very heart of Silicon Valley.
I’m excited about the idea I created for Intel- the idea of a processor being akin to a painter’s blank canvas (see the drawings above). I’m also excited about the line I wrote for them, “The processor is an expression of human potential”.
I drew this cartoon this morning. My first of the year.
The fellow in the cartoon is “Gloop”, a character I’ve been using since college. He pops up in my work now and again. Part Alter-Ego, part Everyman.
Most people who read gapingvoid are creative people; that’s not just an opinion, that’s just how it worked out. This cartoon is for them. For you.
“Bring new light to what life might be.”That’s what Creativity means. That’s why you were born; that’s why you are here. To bring some new angle to the human condition– if not to the broader world in general, then at least to your family and the people around you.
You don’t have to believe this– this drive may not be your drive, may not be the thing that propels you forward. That’s fine.
However, if you DO have that capacity within yourself and you DON’T act upon it, then everything around you turns to desert.
“Bring new light to what life might be” is my wish for you in 2011. Godspeed.
1. The market for something to believe in is infinite. We are here to find meaning. We are here to help other people do the same. Everything else is secondary. We humans want to believe in our own species. And we want people, companies and products in our lives that make it easier to do so. That is human nature.
2. The most important word in marketing is “complicity”. It’s not enough for the customer to love your product. They have to love your process as well.
3. Your customers are becoming smarter about your market a lot faster than you are. Thanks to the internet, your customers are able to talk to each other. They are able to find better information about your product than you are able of willing to give them, much quicker than you are capable of giving them. The conversation will happen with or without you, you’re better off joining in.
4. The primary job of an advertiser is not to communicate benefit, but to communicate conviction. It’s not about what you have; it’s about why it matters.
5. A company’s primary role is to function as an “idea amplifier”. A company’s primary role is not to make or do stuff. Making and doing are mere subsets.
6. The future of advertising is internal. 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.
7. Your job is no longer about selling. Your job is about firing off as many synapses in your customer’s brain as possible. The more synapses that are fired off, the more dopamines are released. Dopamines are seriously addictive. The more dopamines you release, the more the customer will come back for more. Your customer thinks he is coming back to you for sane, rational, value-driven reasons. He is wrong. He is coming back to feed.
8. Good-bye, Messages. Hello, Social Gesture. A well-executed marketing campaign is an act of love.
9. Control the conversation by improving the conversation. Choosing to have a “smarter conversation” with the market is not a marketing decision; it’s a moral decision.
10. The more porous the membrane that separates your business from your market, the easier it is for both parties to be in alignment. And the more porous the membrane, the easier it is to fix non-alignment.
[Last Friday I was signing prints– 175 of these puppies.SAP, the large, German enterprise tech company put in a very large order, to give out to certain key people within the organization. Trying to have a Smarter Conversation. Exactly.]
“Don’t be the best in the world at what you do; be the only one in the world who does what you do.”
That quote is me paraphrasing Jerry Garcia, lead guitar of The Grateful Dead. The thought always resonated with me.
If people like what you’re doing, and you’re the only one who’s doing it, you win.
Which is why I like doing Cube Grenades. Compared to what most people are selling out there, they’re fairly unique.
It’s also what makes blogs so powerful a marketing device. People can just see your own unique shtick evolving right there on the page, over time. They’ll either get it eventually or they won’t. No sales pitch needed. No need to compare yourself to somebody else. No need to fit into some pre-existing model, if you don’t want to.
It has never been a better time to be unlike anyone else. I hope you’re already taking full advantage…
[UPDATE:] Oops! Andy in the comments corrected me: “The paraphrased quote needs to be correctly attributed. Rock promoter Bill Graham said of the Grateful Dead said of the Grateful Dead, “They’re not the best at what they do, they’re the only ones that do what they do.” So there ya go. Peace Out.