I’m a firm believer that you need to pull back the curtain and show the process. I’ve been an art director and creative director and the stakes are always high for someone in that position when they chose an artist for a project. I always wondered how did the artist arrive at the solution?. What was the process? Too many artists hide their lack of drawing and painting skills with dazzling computer skills or styles that keep them away from their weaknesses…drawing, painting and conceptual thinking. That’s why I put this anthology together to give a bit of insight into the way I work and how detailed my concepts and drawing are. Click here to see the book
Earlier this year my good friend and fellow artist Patty Haft agreed to come to my design agency and mentor our people in recovery in the art of marketing and sales. She was a great help to me and those people as she advised, cajoled and prodded budding creatives to learn to how work as a professional in a design agency.
I’ve known Patty since high school when she was one of a group of young girls we guys used to admire at on the beach in Santa Monica. Years later I hired her and her husband, illustrator Dan Long to work on many projects for me when I was the executive creative director at Saban Entertainment. To return the favor she and Dan hired me as a VP of Entertainment Advertising at their ad agency in Valencia. Patty and I spent many days pitching business to all sorts of entertainment companies and worked on many campaigns for Disney, Sony and others. Over the years we both got divorced and remarried and divorced again but maintained our friendship.
When I asked Patty to help me earlier this year I had no idea she was in a major transition in her life. As she tells me now her search for what she wanted to do in the future galvanized as she worked with us at BTS Communications. The result of which is shown here. Artwork pieces that use discarded paper and recycles them into beautiful pieces of art that are fun to look at and have messaging in the art with the use of pictures, graphics and typography. All of her pieces are three dimensional and some move.
Patty is a graduate of Art Center in Pasedena where she majored in illustration and design. Her career has been in entertainment advertising where she successfully ran her own agency along with her then husband Dan Long. Now she is enjoying the creation of fine art.
As we talked over some Mexican food at Sharkey’s in Beverly Hills Patty told me she was going to start exhibiting and selling her work in the late Spring at local fairs and art walks, which I enthusiastically supported. I will follow up with Patty as the months go by and update you on the results of her efforts.
I’ve ask myself this question many times. Is creativity in my genes? To be specific I mean is the ability to create art in any type of media. Cause when I look at my parents, grandparents and sisters I am hard pressed to think so. Or better, why me? Don’t get me wrong I live to make imagery, to execute concepts, to come up with stories and characters that have never existed before. But, I wonder if it would be an easier life to love selling whether it’s insurance, cars or some kind of widget. It’s certainly a way to make more money on average if money is all that important to you. I must admit it is somewhat important to me but it isn’t the end all by any means. But I diverge.
I spent some time looking on the internet to see if I could get my question answered and I came to an article by Andrea Kuszewski. Here are a few excerpts that were enlightening.
The Essential Psychopathology Of Creativity
By Andrea Kuszewski | September 20th 2010
Andrea is a Behavior Therapist and Consultant for children on the autism spectrum, residing in the state of FL; her background is in cognitive
If we could identify a gene for creativity, let’s call it the “creativity gene”, you would be hard pressed to find very many people who would consider it a “negative gene” or a hazard to possess or carry. But what if, purely hypothetically, we could identify a gene for Schizophrenia? Or Bipolar Disorder? Or Depressive Disorder? Or ADHD? Would you select for those traits if you could genetically engineer your offspring at will? If you wanted to give birth to a creative child, the answer should be yes.
The very traits that make someone creative, passionate, and likely to achieve a high degree of success in their domain, are the same traits that define psychological disorders such as Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and ADHD. So what is the difference between creativity and psychopathology? Where do we draw the line between functional excess of extreme traits and the point at which they define a psychological disorder? Is there a discriminating characteristic that separates these two groups? Yes, there is, and it’s called cognitive control, or high executive function.
Ok so slow down…I call this controlled chaos. I’ve always thought of my own thinking and work as that. Jut saying…
An article in the NY Times titled, “Just Manic Enough: Seeking Perfect Entrepreneurs”, described individuals that were unnaturally creative, passionate, energetic, charismatic, and those most sought-after by venture capitalists as “hypomanic”. They go on to describe how these individuals, while successful and gifted at what they do, meet the criteria in the DSM as suffering from Hypomanic Episodes (one of the defining features of Bipolar Disorder). From the DSM:
DSM IV Criteria for Hypomanic Episode:
A) Distinct period of persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood, lasting throughout at least 4 days that is clearly different from the usual nondepressed mood.
B) During the period of mood disturbance, three (or more) of the following symptoms have persisted (four if the mood is only irritable) and have been present to a significant degree:
Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
Decreased need for sleep (e.g. feels rested after only 3 hours of sleep)
More talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking
Flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing
Distractibility (i.e., attention too easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli)
Increase in goal-directed activity (at work, at school, or sexually) or psychomotor agitation
Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences (e.g. engaging in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments) Sound familiar?
C) The episode is associated with an unequivocal change in functioning that is uncharacteristic of the person when not symptomatic.
D) The disturbance in mood and the change in functioning are observable by others.
E) The mood disturbance not severe enough to cause marked impairment in social or occupational functioning, or to necessitate hospitalization, and there are no psychotic features.
F) The symptoms are not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication or other treatment) or a general medical condition (e.g., hyperthyroidism)
Now, I don’t know how many of you creative-types out there began to panic when you started reading this list of defining criteria, but I know I did. In fact, of all the creative people I know in various fields of work and study (and I know a lot), I don’t know too many who don’t meet these criteria. It’s called being In The Zone, or Flow, as defined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This is usually that happy-productive-place that we all love to be in, and don’t seem to get enough of. However, according to the DSM criteria, it appears if you are too intensely creative, you might very well be suffering from Hypomanic Episodes.
The Essential Truth of Creativity
The truth is, in order to be truly exceptional at something creative in nature, whatever domain it may be, you need to have those extreme traits that get you labeled by the DSM as meeting the criteria for some kind of a personality disorder. However (and this is the catch), in order to have those extreme, intense traits and not suffer from a disorder, you also need to have some sort of regulatory mechanism that helps to control those traits.
The psychologist interviewed for the Times article, John Gartner, and author of the book The Hypomanic Edge, essentially describes this type of excessively-creative-yet somehow-able-to-function-normally individual. He says that the “attributes that make a good entrepreneur are common in certain manias, but are harnessed in ways that are hugely productive.” That harnessing, or cognitive control, is the one thing that really separates extreme, yet functional traits from dysfunction and psychopathology.
I’m going to stop here and let those of you who want to read more click on the link. Look, no one ever said being creative was an easy way to live life. But a creative life well lived and explored is an adventure that can be satisfying and exciting. And if you manage to become successful at it highly rewarding monetarily. The bottom line is you are who you are so don’t fight it, enjoy the ride!
Over the last year I’ve created a few company characters or icons. Here are a few examples. More are coming thru the pipeline as people discover this is an expertise of mine. It’s always a perfect storm situation when you can help a client expand their reach and do something you love and are good at.Think Geico Gecko and how that character has become part of the fabric of our lives beyond what it symbolizes. I’ll cover this area more in the next “Illustrator” newsletter coming out on Monday.
I read the LA Times today and buried in the first section of the paper was this wonderfully insightful article by Meghan Daum. In it she mentions Louis C.K.’s rant on Conan O’Brien’s show about cell phones and kids and why we all cannot be alone for a moment these days. How many times have you seen someone pull out their cellphone and check messages?….or better yet how many times have you done that? I know I have. God forbid anyone sees me staring out into space thinking about something. Look this syndrome has gotten so bad we have people all over talking on cellphones with hidden headsets and it appears like they are talking to themselves. Fact is it’s harder to tell whether someone is talking on their phone or just plain crazy these days.
To top that off I was channel surfing last night and I landed on the Sci-fi channel and there was a scientist talking about how he had a chip inserted into his brain or nervous system and could now operate a mechanical hand that was sitting on a table just by thinking about it. And he could feel the sensations of the grip in his hands. The far reaching implications of this are obvious according to him. We could all be wired together so that we could collectively think and create better solutions.
I’m all for advancement but to get back to the cellphone issue, I think we need to mandate a timeout. Perhaps have a group where we all meet and agree to talk and share and no electronic devices are allowed. Perhaps we do this on a hike or at the beach and just enjoy what nature has provided. Here’s the Louis C k video rant. I hope you enjoy and get as much out of it as I did.
Some time ago I created and published the Illustrators Journal, a magazine which ran anywhere from 15-36 pages and was published quarterly. After four issues and a failed kickstarted campaign I wound it down. It was too much for one person to publish while working fulltime as well. Since that time I’ve toyed around with other versions of the journal but I couldn’t bring myself to jump back into it. I just didn’t have the time to do it justice. However, I could see myself doing a weekly one page newsletter covering various aspects of being an artist in today’s society. What I like about this effort is it takes less time to put together and less time to read. In this era of sound bites and 140 character messaging it seems more appropriate. So here’s the inaugural issue. Sound off and give feedback. The more I get the better I can serve, Thanks,
Our still-primitive social skills haven’t adjusted to modern technology. Information ubiquity, amplification and preservation have cursed our social interactions. As a result, our conversational indiscretions can’t be hidden. “Oh, that? I was just mumbling!” Instead, our mistakes are etched in digital granite. And no platform presents greater problems than Twitter. In fact, of Mashable.com’s eleven greatest social media disasters of 2012, nine involved wayward Tweeting, each of which are summarized here in less than 140 characters:
1. With McdStories, “McDonald’s paid to promote a trend that showered the company in bad publicity.” #oops
2. Snickers paid celebrities in the UK to tweet pictures of themselves eating Snickers bars. Not allowed. #illegal.
3. American Rifleman posted a pro-gun tweet as the mass shooting in Aurora CO was unfolding. #dumb #whatweretheythinking
4. CelebBoutique posted a promotional Tweet using #Aurora to exploit a trending topic, without knowing why it was trending. #insensitive #stupid
5. A Microsoft employee criticized conservative pundit Ann Coulter from Microsoft’s Twitter account, not from his own. #oops
6. A KitchenAid employee made a disparaging Tweet about Obama’s grandmother. #firethisidiot
7. A Stubhub employee used the f-word in a company Tweet. #firethisidiot
8. American Apparel offered discounts to ‘bored customers’ during Hurricane Sandy. #insensitive #stupid
9. At the height of Hurricane Sandy, the Gap encouraged people to do online shopping. #idiotic
“Somewhere, somehow, somebody will Tweet something stupid.”—a corollary to Murphy’s Law for the digerati. The ol’ slip of the tongue, seen by 13,797 followers, viral, searchable, and archived forever for millions more!