Thursday, May 31, 2012

Too close.

I've been enjoying this season of Mad Men because the show is slowly lifting the nostalgia of advertising's golden era by (finally)cutting into the ugly side of the industry.
But the most recent episode, 'The Other Woman', was simply brutal.
Perhaps now when people ask if working in advertising is anything like Mad Men I can answer 'yea, it's kinda like Season 5'. 

Why designers can't be entrepreneurs.

I dig Pinterest.
Pinterest is the digital visual diary.
If you've ever done a design course, you know what I'm talking about. 
Especially if you're a designer/art director arranging a shoot for pre-production, Pinterest is a lifesaver. 

I know everyone's concern about privacy and what not. 
But here's my recent stance: Just like organic food, we don't really care about privacy; we just want to seem knowledgable. 
(We constantly give out our credit card details to shop online, come on.)

But the real reason I like Pinterest, is how they ripped off ffffound
Just like Apple and Facebook, it isn't original. 
Again, if you're a designer, you must have, at some point, heard of ffffound.
You know, that Japanese/white elitist 'image bookmarking' site purely for designers that requires invitation from other cool Japanese/white elitist designers to join?
(If my bitterness made you suspect that I once requested an invitation from ffffound and got rejected, you're absolutely spot on.)

Pinterest works exactly like ffffound. 
And ffffound was around since 2007. 
Why didn't it take off just like Pinterest?
Because designers are too cool. 
They kept it 'designers only', so you get struggling artists and delusional designers bookmarking their own wad of masturbation onto each other's wall. (Sometimes literally.)
Pinterest opened it up to the public and in my opinion gave fffound the middle finger. 
And that is why cool designers can't be entrepreneurs. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What I learned from The Avengers.

This is 2 months late, but I am slowly going through my 'things to blog' scribbles on my diary. So bear with me.
There's this scene in The Avengers movie which involved Stark Tower becoming a source of renewable energy.
And this is going to sound so corny, but somehow I related that to our ability to learn. 
Not literally like 'our ability to learn will open a portal that leads demons and monsters into our world'.
But more of an observation that our curiosity or ability to learn is never ending.

When I was still a student I was in this constant fear that I will run out of ideas. That one day I will become this empty vessel with no inspiration or insight to anything creative.
Little did I know that 6 years later, I would end up with too many ideas but not enough skills to match.

I guess what I'm saying is, when it comes to education, there's a tipping point where our reasoning and vocabulary (and what not) will automatically generate more reasoning and vocabularies. When children learn the alphabets, they can form words, and words to sentences. They will eventually expose themselves to more words and sentences and that becomes a renewal energy.
The only time we can run out of things to learn is when we've became so arrogant, lazy, or simply dead.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Done is better than perfect.

I don't hate facebook, but I'm not a fan either.
Does this sound familiar to you?

Don't worry. I'm not going to talk about IPO.
I'll be the first to admit that I have no idea how IPO works, but apparently everyone's an expert now.

I do, however, follow the facebook design group.
Similar to hackers, the designers in facebook HQ have complete freedom to take charge and solve any problems they see fit (At least, according to their videos).

This is an employee certificate to commemorate facebook's IPO. 
I've heard about facebook's mantra 'Move fast and break things', but this is the first time I've seen a second: 'Done is better than perfect'. 
And when you put the two mantras together, facebook's IPO (or everything they've done so far) makes sense.
They are just moving forward by taking the next step.
Sure timeline sucks, but they are trying to change something.
Sure the share price is lower now, but they now have more money to expand. 

I am constantly amused by how middle-class economists criticise billionaires on their billion dollar deals.
For some reason we think we can relate to them. They should stand down to our level and listen to our rationale and live their lives as we see fit.
Can you imagine an African kid writing about your decisions in life, criticising about your extravagant lifestyle and how you should spend more money to end famine and poverty? 

Right. So why should facebook care about our opinions again? 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Or rather, create like a thief.

Recently I've caught up with a lot of friends, acquaintances, and clients who wants to 'do something' with their lives.
It is a mixture of being bored, wanting to be more creative and wanting to make an impact.
(Some wants to 'make it', but I have absolutely no idea what that means.)
And then they started saying how everything's been done, and they will never be as good or as successful as (insert personal heroes here) and I see them trapped in this loop. 

The 'bored as shit to angry and frustrated to fear of risk to acceptance and repeat' loop.

If you can relate to the description above, I think this book is a good starting point. 
'Steal like an Artist' is based on a talk Austin Kleon gave, which he turned into a blog post, which is now a book. 
To be honest, I don't know anything about him;  the book was sitting on my Amazon recommended list and I was simply attracted to his handwriting (like the love child of Matt Groenig and David Shrigley).
This book will take you 20 minutes to finish. And it will inspire you to be creative. If you're already a creative person, it will re-inspire you. 
If you're too stingy to invest $20 on a book (not a good start to show commitment to change your life), please at least check out his blog post. The click will do more than I can explain here.
From now on, this will be my birthday present to everyone. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

2 years later.

Came across this post about the completion of Kengo Kuma's tourist information in Asakusa.

I blogged about it 2 years ago when his company won the pitch. 
Two things worth mentioning: 
1) I am surprised that it only took 2 years to build it. 
2) The real thing is not as sexy as the mock up image they proposed. 

Just saying.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Agency = Restaurant

It's become my habit to buy a book every time I visit Sydney.
(Ok not true, I buy books everywhere I go.)
My most recent purchase was David Chang's cookbook, Momofuku.
I know, a cookbook isn't a real book, but the genius behind Chang's marketing gimmick was to make the book half recipes, half memoir.
Peter Meehan, the then New York Times food writer wrote from Chang's perspective, from being an English teacher in Japan aspiring to be a ramen cook, to being kicked around the New York dining scene, then starting his tiny struggling dirty noodle shop, and ended up at where he is now, award winning gourmet super star.
What bugged me though, was the evolution of a small noodle bar into a 5 star, online booking, sold out, $200 per head, fine dining empire.
What I got out of this book, is that growing into greatness wasn't his choice.
When he started Momofuku, he had difficulty hiring an extra staff. He put an ad on the internet and only one person applied. Someone who was as hungry and as frustrated as he was.
But the place was still struggling. Somehow, his old friends from previous big restaurants came to help. Presumably because his shop was so tiny and primitive, that they had the freedom to improve on the food. (Like a start up compared to multinational agencies.)
Eventually, regulation forced him to include dessert on his menu. And that's when he consulted his friend Christina Tosi, who was this pastry chef in another fine dining restaurant, and eventually became his full time staff aka head pastry chef at Milk Bar.
His staff was feeling tired of cooking mediocre meals, so he started KO, a 12 seat fine dining restaurant that focuses on the skill and craft of cooking.
Chang understood his staff,  it forced him to provide an environment where angry talented chefs can experiment and do whatever they want.
He was still an asshole, getting everyone Blackberrys so he could ask them to brainstorm on the go.
But he had the connection, and he knew how to spot and hire passionate chefs that are better than him, and he knew how to back off from a good idea.

Sounds like a great creative director to me.

image via

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Don't brainstorm. Never brainstorm.

I have always envied KesselKramer. Look into their books such as 2 Kilo and Another Kilo,  you will find work that are irreverent(european as they call it), honest, and full of impact.
As much as I question the agency's actual profitability(yes the Hans Brinker Motel work wins awards, but how much money can you make from a zero star hotel? Surely they only leave the best work in the book and leave out the crappy ones), I cannot deny that these guys have fun with everything they do.
Their agency's in an old church, they have their own shop that sells falafels, and they were the first who made ad from poo(sadly, not the last), literally.
Advertising for People Who Don't Like Advertising is their recent book that's half self-promotion, half anti-advertising, and half interviewing people who have some opinions on advertising.
It is a short and fun read and while I enjoy the crude design (leaving the grid lines on to show the love and hate of rules, I got it), my favourite was the 'laws of creativity' in the end.
"Brainstorming is ten people in a room masturbating - slightly embarrassing and always messy at the end. No great problem has ever been solved by brainstorming. Not a single one. "
" You wil go through the first part of our working life writing everything down in a cheap little notebook. You might then go through the next part of your working life writing everything down in an expensive leather-bound notebook. "
" Everyone wants to be the best. Proclaim yourself to be the worst and you will be alone, and noticed. "

No more dancing girls.

With new blog design, comes great sacrifice.
Such as the Uniqlo dancing girls on my sidebar.
And all the previous comments. 
I didn't want any of this, mind you.
Googled tricked me into it. 
Yet change is good. 
I think. 

Friday, May 18, 2012


What if someone were to tell you: in order to become an award winning copywriter, you have to become the man above?
Can't tell if this is a prank, but James Ross-Edwards is a very successful writer / ad creative. Ask Google. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

You're not your phone.

So sad to see Tyler Durden selling out.