Following on from this weekend’s activities. I’ve been thinking about what a great bunch of things Jason set me to do. All could be done with little investment, they were all quite fun, and thankfully all legal.
Asi seemed to suggest that I was lucky – and I think he was right. If he’d been in charge I’d have been:
deer-hunting, try nude modeling, kidnap a kitten, learn ballet, minor shop lifting, etc…
A totally different, and much harder, set of challenges.
Anyway, here’s the first few things that popped into my head:
Go into a pub you’ve never been into before and order a drink you’ve never tried before.
Paint one wall of your house a totally new colour.
Go to a record store and buy a CD you’ve always thought you should have heard but haven’t. Then go home and listen to it. Properly.
Buy an ingredient from a ‘specialty supermarket’ and make something with it.
Gamble £5 at a local arcade.
Go to a class in something you’ve never done before at a local leisure facility (this may be more scary for some of us than for others).
Like I said before I’d love people to add to this list in the comments so we can compile a bunch of interesting things to do when the computers are off.
It also got me thinking that this is quite similar to a show that’s been on the BBC (radio and TV) called I’ve Never Seen Star Wars. Where they take famous people and get them to do stuff they’ve never done before.
Comedian Tim Brooke-Taylor buys his first pornographic magazine, tries some unusual seafood and listens to his first hip hop record.
Magician Paul Daniels reads feminist literature for the first time, learns how to swim, and experiences the film The Great Escape.
Stand-up comedian Arthur Smith watches Top Gear for the first time, eats his first Pop tart and watches Les Misérables.
All good inspiration for the start of this list of things.
I had a fun weekend this weekend. Thanks to a number of things.
1. Weekends are good anyway.
2. The weather was pretty nice.
3. I did normal stuff with Sophie like have nice lunches. Laze around. Drink a bit of wine. Get some chores done. Etc.
But in addition this weekend was a bit more exciting because of something that happened on Twitter on Friday night.
I was trying to decide whether to spend the weekend catching up on emails and that kind of thing. Or whether to go the other way and sod it all, so I posted:
To which Jason replied:
And Andy provoked me with:
Which is pretty much the same as a double-dare, and being the child I am I thought. I’ll show them guys. I’ll go offline and I’ll do them things. Then Andy will have to respect me, and not just for a bit. For the rest of eternity!
And you’ll never guess what. It was fun to do a bunch of freaky things. And it wasn’t just the act of doing the things. It’s was the other stuff around doing them that was interesting. Like having to go and acquire knitting needles and wool. Or spending time in the heavy dairy section of the supermarket.
So here’s what happened…
I started out with a shopping list.
Task One – Learn to Knit.
Acquire wool and needles first. I went to the Open Market in Brighton which is quite a place. I think it deserves it’s own post so watch out for that.
Here’s the wool stall.
And as you might have noticed on my shopping list I also needed knitting instruction. Which I got like this.
Absolutely brilliant! I’d have never had a knitting lesson off a geezer if it hadn’t been for Jason’s challenge. Although, to be honest, I did have to cheat a bit later on and look up a couple of how-to videos on the internet. The bloke’s instructions were too fast for me.
And here’s me with my sorry-raggedy-ass knitting.
It’s too tight. There’s dropped stitches and all sorts. But fact is I’d learned how to cast-on and to knit (a bit). So in my book that’s task one passed.
Needles and wool cost about £2.50 and it was quite fun after I’d got past the initial frustration. I reckon I should have got bigger needles and bigger / sturdier wool to make it easier. Would I do it again? Maybe.
Task 2 – Make Your Own Butter
Then I went shopping for some cream so I could make butter. And here’s what happened when I got home and tried to make it.
But you know what, after that minor fuss it tastes pretty good. And it didn’t work out to be stupidly expensive either. I made loads of butter out of 2 medium cartons of double cream. I might even do that again one day. I’m guessing you could do flavours and all sorts :-)
The home made butter turns up again during the Cheese Eating Task.
Task 3 – Make a Weapon
Simple. A throwing device made out of various sized screws and foil.
It may not look much. But during this photo:
It rolled off my hand and onto my bare foot. It hurt. Therefore it works as a weapon. Task 3 – complete.
Task 4 – Make a Fort
I quite enjoyed this. I think if I’d been making it with more of a purpose it would have ended up better. To be honest as a 30-something guy making a fort on your own is a bit of a sad and lonely thing so I just wanted to get it out of the way really.
Here it is.
The close up perhaps disguises the overall lameness of the fort:
But it’s a fort. And I made it. So Task 4 is technically complete.
Task 5 – Eat Cheese
Both simple and fun.
Here’s the cheese board.
Here’s cheese + chutneys + home made butter.
Here’s me eating some cheese.
Task 5. Smashed it!
Task 6 – Paint a self-portrait
Here’s the one task where I may have technically ‘failed’ but I think it would be a tough judge who failed me because of choice of media, especially under the circumstances.
Here’s my excuse. I didn’t want to get out loads of paints and make a mess because we were trying to tidy up the house at the same time. So I decided to do a self-portrait in charcoal.
If you think this is a cop out on my behalf you are very much wrong. Art was my lowest GCSE subject and I’ve never been good at drawing or painting so even trying to do any kind of self-portrait was a big ordeal.
And here it is:
Here it is next to me:
So, self-portrait done. The rules didn’t say it had to be good.
Task 7 – Write a Poem
Arse. When proof reading this post I realised that there was ‘write a poem’ snuck in the middle of the Tweet. Oh well here goes…
Writing poems is never easy,
Specially when I feel this cheesy,
I enjoyed my time making a fort,
A little more than perhaps I ought,
Making butter was a lot of fun,
But my weapon wasn’t quite a gun,
I suprised myself by learning to knit,
And home-made butter didn’t taste that bad,
I’m afraid my portrait weren’t in paint,
But it’s clear an artist, that I ain’t.
It might not scan quite right, but it’s late and it’s an emergency last-minute poem.
Anyway like I said it was fun. I learned a few things and it snapped me out of a few bad / lazy weekend habits. Like spending it doing pseudo-work on the internets.
So next time your not sure what you’re going to do at the weekend why not get some friends to give you a bunch of stupid things for you to do. You might enjoy it. And you might earn their eternal respect. Right Mr Whitlock ;-)
But there was one thing that really stuck in my mind as being totally brilliant. And it was some work that Erik Kessels showed off amongst a selection of their bonkersness He played some extracts from a series of short films called Kijkers. They are a bunch of 3 minute films that get kids experiencing TV in different ways.
I’ve searched for them online (so that I could get hold of the DVD) – and the description that I found of them online was: 57 korte kunstfilms voor kinderen vanaf 6 jaar. Which, given my lame grasp of languages, translates as something along the lines of ’57 short art films for children under the age of 6′.
I think that this Google translated text from here describes them better than I could:
Almost everyone can see, but not everyone can see. Look, you learn. Just as you must learn to eat oysters or olives. Norbert ter Hall en Erik Kessels made for Villa Achterwerk the program Kijkers: short art films that show how different things can look. The two seasons of Kijkers are now collected on this DVD. 57 films made by artists, filmmakers, directors and a sheep. About toes, clouds, beards, butterflies, a stop sign and much more. Kijkers has a gift for your eyes. See for yourself.
I could hardly find any of them online. But here’s a couple of examples:
These aren’t as good as the best ones Erik showed. There was a clip of a rubber duck in a foamy bath bobbing up and down under a running tap. And some handy cam footage of buildings that look like faces (but with someone making the noises that the faces would make if they were human). Oh bollocks, they’re almost impossible to describe and make sound good.
Anyway they all play with notions of perception in really interesting and charming ways. And I want to see them all.
I’m sure that lots of people have written lots of things like this lots of times before. But it’s a bunch of thoughts I’ve been having as Poke have been looking to recruit ‘creative strategy types’ (there’s a hint in there somewhere for anyone who’s looking)…
I’m not talking about hiring ‘creatives’ (I’m never going enjoy calling certain people ‘creatives’ – the ‘sneer quotes’ will have to remain for now). I’m talking more generally about hiring smart people to work in a creative business. Bear in mind that these are just personal thoughts and not everyone will agree. In fact if you’re a hirer of any description and you don’t agree please say so in the comments – it’d be really useful to help complete the picture.
So here’s some things I’d recommend that you consider if you’re looking to get hired into a creative company:
Get yourself a portfolio
‘Creatives’ have a portfolio of work. Portfolios are nice to look at. They’ve got pictures in them. They give you a sense of the work. Everyone else just has a CV / Resume. They’re boring. They don’t show anything, and most of the time they don’t say much either.
I’ve met a few people who have really nice ‘planner’ portfolios. That have some pictures of what the work ended up like. As well as some info about the brief, how the problem got solved, and so on. But it’s not just for planners. Project managers, tech guys, account people, everyone who works on projects can have some kind of portfolio.
Oh, and don’t be afraid to portfolio-ize things that you make and do outside of work. Those things can say a helluva lot too…
It doesn’t have to be much more than a couple of charts about each project (or thing) – in fact any more might be overkill. But it gives people something to look at. Things to react to. And something to talk around when you meet them.
And perhaps most importantly of all it shows that you can tell a story. About yourself. Blogs can do a similar thing. They can demonstrate you think about stuff and that you’re not afraid to put yourself ‘out there’. But a more direct portfolio shows you take your work seriously and have some pride in it.
Spend a bit of time making your portfolio nice / neat / test it / proof it
It doesn’t need to be over designed. It just needs to be neat and tidy. If you’re not confident in your own design skills get someone whose eye you respect to take a look. It might be as simple as making the text bigger or smaller, or spacing things out a little differently. Or you could just take inspiration and borrow layout / style from a book or a magazine you like.
If you happen to be doing your portfolio digitally (which is a good idea if you ask me) make sure that all the links work. And if you’re linking to online work make sure that the links stay live and up to date (there’s no point linking to a site that you were involved with that’s gone through 8 iterations and is now a totally different beast from the thing you worked on).
And whilst you’re getting other people involved get someone to proof read what you’ve written. It’s incredible how many portfolios and CVs have glaring typos and grammatical errors in them. They’re unacceptable. I know everyone makes mistakes. But don’t let an error ridden document be you’re (sic) calling card.
Be clear and upfront about your role in projects you’ve worked on
The world is complex. Peoples’ roles in projects are complex. But try and be as honest and clear as possible about what you actually did on a project.
And don’t be scared to big-up other people you worked with. It’s a really nice trait to demonstrate: “I worked with a brilliant team on this…”, “The idea actually came from the client”, and so on. I’d much rather work with a team player than someone who tries to claim everything is ‘theirs’.
Have an opinion on aesthetics / design / interaction / type / sound design / whatever…
Even if your role seemingly has nothing to do with any of these things. If you’re working in a creative agency it’s really bloody important that you have an opinion about them. At some point you’ll have to defend work. Or argue with a stroppy ‘creative’ about why you think something isn’t right.
It also shows that you care about creative output. Which can only be a good thing.
I’m not talking about stupid hats, or wearing women’s clothes (if you’re a man), or even having a big moustache. I’m taking about knowing what you stand for. It’s all part of what feels like a recurring theme; you ought to be doing for yourself what you’re claiming to be able to do for others.
Do some light detective work
Find out a bit about the company and about the best person to send your stuff to. It’s not that hard to figure out.
Once you’ve got their name see what you can learn about them, see if they’ve written anything that you agree or disagree with. Again, it’s always good to have a point of view.
And at the very least know about some of the work that the company’s done. Which things do you like? Which things don’t you like? And why? It’s quite common to be asked if there’s anything you don’t like – be gentle, spare their egos, but don’t be scared to answer the question. I always think highly of someone who puts up a good answer to this and can back up how they would have made it better.
Put your plan into action
Once you know all about your target, and where they live and work you can really build up a campaign to get yourself employed. Start following them home. Watch through their windows from the street (during work time and leisure time). Become totally obsessed with everything they do. Start dressing like them. Or their partner. Or their children. Send them things in the post. Things that will frighten the living shit out of them work really really well, and they’ll get you noticed.
Actually don’t do any of thatlast stuff. Of course there’s lots of stories of people doing outrageous things to land a job. And sometimes they’ll work. But for every one that does there’ll be 100s that are just plain embarrassing (and a little weird).
Normal things like email / telephone calls are good ways to start, but be respectful of peoples’ time and the fact that they might be really busy on the day you get in touch. Persistence is good. But there is a line…
Mauro, one of our lovely young creatives was talking to me about beating up a car in Street Fighter 2. And I was sort of like: “what?”. And he was like: “when you see it you’ll totally remember”. And he sent it to me. And I was like: “totally!”.
It’s amazing how that bit had temporarily slipped my mind until I saw it again. Kung-fu-ing cars – it doesn’t get much better than that.
Minilogue video by Kristopher Storm (Music by Minilogue).
Carphone Warehouse ad by Kristopher Storm (Music by Minilogue).
I’m really confused. Everything in my brain is shutting down and I’ve got no idea what to say about it. My groove has been well and truly freaked.
I saw the Carphone Warehouse ad on telly and thought this is quite a nice advertisement. Then something twitched in my brain and I thought “Fuck me, that really reminds me of that Minilogue video”, then I heard the music at the end and though “Fuck me, it even sounds like bloody Minilogue”.
Then I went and looked both of them up and realised that they’ve been done by the same guy: Kristofer Strom.
Here’s why my brain almost imploded:
I’m glad that it’s not a ripoff or ‘homage’
I like the fact they’ve gone to the source to get it made – I like the idea of people being ‘discovered’ on YouTube then being given decent budgets to make more of their ‘art’
I think it works well as a ad, I think it’s nice
It’s taking something that’s been seen by 3m people globally (on YouTube) and whacking it all over the ad breaks on UK TV where it will be seen my millions more (don’t know if I feel good or bad about that – probably just neutral)
BUT CREATIVELY IT FEELS LIKE THE LAZIEST THING IN THE ENTIRE WORLD EVER, doesn’t it?
Or does point 5 even matter? If it’s a good ad that tells the right story and engages the target market (and the creator is getting duly rewarded) why should I be such a stuck-up creative fuckwad about it?
I don’t know how anyone else feels about it, but it’s certainly raised a debate in my head that’s not dying down…
Is this the future? Does it even matter? Do I really care?