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grab bag blog

This is where I talk about my work, my discoveries, my creative process, and the ins and outs of marketing in the arts.

Goldilocks Solutions

December 14, 2016

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wisdom
This isn’t much of a secret, but I love movies. I love the experience of movies: the big screen, being immersed in a storytelling experience.

So when I moved into a new condo this summer, it seemed a great opportunity to upgrade my TV to something big and immersive. I’d had the same 32″ TV for the past ten years (and it is still going strong, props to Samsung), so I was ready for a big change. I did my homework. I researched new TVs to understand UHD, 4K displays, screen sizes and viewing distances, refresh rates — all of it. Everyone online said nobody ever regrets going too big, only too small. So I grabbed a deal on a 55″ screen and had it promptly delivered and set up.

I returned it several days later.

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The Sacrifice of Travel Drawing

November 15, 2016

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art & sketches, wisdom
Sketch of the Sicilian countrysideSicilian countryside. Ciancana, Italy. (Click any image to view larger.)

How often do you take time to really look at something or someone, to observe and study what makes them tick below the surface? We spend so much time rushing from place to place, and between them we distract ourselves with work or listening to music or reading. And then we wonder why it is becoming harder and harder to generate ideas with depth and meaning.

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The Power of Mistakes

April 21, 2016

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wisdom

A mistake is a sign of weakness in our culture. Whenever a popular figure screws up or says something wrong, they are vilified and shamed. When we make mistakes in the workplace, customers get mad, potential money gets lost, and people yell. Is it any wonder that we’re scared to death of making the slightest error?

Mic DropThere is a myth among us that artists and geniuses create perfection instantly, that inspired beauty leaps directly from imagination to reality. This myth persists because nobody ever sees the process or the screw ups. Creating an amazing piece of art happens by iteration. Artists create something, look at what isn’t working, and then try again. We create models and sketches and rehearsals and rough drafts. We experiment and throw away what isn’t working, replacing it with something hopefully better. Mistakes are the most valuable part of the learning process as long as we view them as experiments and not moral failings.

I’ve received many “Oops” emails from major companies because something wasn’t working right on their website or they advertised something incorrectly. This past April Fools Day, Google rolled out a prank called “Mic Drop” that backfired on them. Some people got mad. Very mad. But rather than implode, Google used this event as a learning opportunity and shared it with their customers.

“At Google we have a culture of sharing what we learned when things go wrong, and we want to share these learnings with you” they wrote on their blog.

They admitted their mistakes upfront, apologized, explained how they would do better in the future, and moved on. You couldn’t ask for a better response to a screw up.

So don’t be ashamed of mistakes. Nobody is interesting if they are perfect. If we make mistakes in our marketing efforts, use them to learn how to improve. Even better, use them as an opportunity to let your audience see your company as made up of real people who, like them, sometimes have “oops” days.

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How Well Do You Know Your Audience?

November 3, 2015

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art & sketches, branding, wisdom

Wedding Photo BoothWhether you create artistic experiences or pieces of furniture or you run a restaurant, your audience is the primary reason why you create what you create. How we speak to our audiences— through marketing, during their experiences with us, and in the things we make for them— can influence whether your business is one they love and rave about to their friends or just an afterthought. So you’d better know your audiences wants and needs really well. How well do you know your audience?

These ideas were front and center in my mind over the last few month as I was planning a wedding. My wedding. I got married about two weeks ago, and the process of putting the event together was an amazing example of learning about and speaking to multiple audiences.

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Research & Collaboration: The Making of BoHo’s Dogfight Poster

October 20, 2015

Out of all of the stuff I create for my clients, posters are my favorite. A poster is an opportunity to tell a story with a single image. It can communicate a lot or a little, depending on what you want. It can be bold and simple or complex, with overlapping ideas. But most of all, posters tend to be the projects that are most collaborative. A marketing or artistic director tells me the story and themes, I create some visuals, and then we evaluate what’s hitting the mark in the right way, and then we continue to brainstorm and refine.

Boho Theatre's Dogfight ad

This summer I created the poster for BoHo Theatre’s Dogfight, a musical about a squad of soldiers who use their last night before getting shipping over to Vietnam to stage a contest to find the ugliest date. This kind of contest was a real thing back in the 60s, and was called a dogfight. It’s a show full of powerful emotion and deep themes, and it was the anchor of BoHo’s 2015 season.

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