As a little kid, I remember seeing a cartoon that left a deep impression on me. A character had been banished to a fantasy land called ‘The Doldrums’ and given the task of digging a tunnel through a mountain – with a pin.
If you’re a freelancer, you probably know what this feels like.
The phone hasn’t rung for days, the only emails you get are spam-flavoured and it seems like the world’s forgotten you.
Was that my last brief ever?
Will my next job be directing old ladies to aisle 23?
Well, this happened to me a couple of months ago.
After several juicy projects, the well dried up.
Any earmarked briefs had gone AWOL. Half promises were broken, clients went on holiday, Brexit had hit.
That was it, the end of a lovely career as a freelancer.
Or it could have been.
Luckily I had two secret weapons – Everything and Nothing.
I employed the two with equal gusto.
– Wrote three blog posts and pushed them out into the big wide world.
– Hit LinkedIn mercilessly like Tyson Fury v A Ripe Strawberry.
– Twittered so much it put the dawn chorus to shame.
– Gave myself ear burn chatting to old compadres on the mobile.
– Answered a stupid amount of freelancer job ads and posts.
– Met Art Directors and designers I’d been meaning to catch up with for ages.
– Set myself an imaginary brief.
– Did my year’s accounts.
– Went admin crazy – clean desktop, a squillion old emails deleted, files all ship-shaped…
– Went for long walks by the sea.
– Had breakfast out and coffee with the missus.
– Read a couple of cracking books.
– Went to the flicks.
– Lay on the beach daydreaming.
– Raided charity shops and had an 80s/90s DVD blowout.
– Spent time with friends…
Not sure I was conscious of it at the time, but with hindsight I can see how this approach worked for me.
I banged on a load of doors – it’s a numbers game, so theoretically, the more doors, the more chances of someone being in. At the same time, I didn’t let it get me down. I trusted that something would eventually click and gave myself the space to actually enjoy the process.
And the result?
Of course there are no guarantees, but some of those doors opened.
I picked up four new clients, turned project work into a retainer and best of all, those doors have led to other doors seemingly opening themselves. I’ve had two projects come via recommendations from people I’ve never met, never mind worked with.
As Coleman Cox said, “I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more of it I seem to have.”
So, if you’re struggling to find freelance work, treat yourself to a healthy dollop of Everything and Nothing.
I just saw a snippet of a TV programme where they were talking about people posting pictures of their boarding cards on Instagram.
The expert spoke about the hidden data that scammers can glean from these images and how in some cases, it leads to burglary.
What starts off as “Hey guys, look at me, I’m off on my hols” turns into having your house turned over while you’re sipping Daiquiris in Marbella.
This got me thinking.
We’re all at it. Through our social accounts and blogs, were exposing ourselves for the world to see. Dirty laundry and all. And if we think there are no possible negative outcomes, we’re fooling ourselves.
You need to get noticed
I’ve worked much of my career in advertising, so I’ve had it drummed into me that to get noticed, you need to get noticed.
Bold opinions and big ideas get talked about and help build brand presence.
I can’t argue with that.
The thing is, having a public profile only used to apply to products and brands, not individuals. The exception perhaps being politicians on the election trail or celebrities needing to be seen at the right events with the right people.
Joe public, like you and I, was just an observer.
In the late ’60s, Andy Warhol said that “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”.
At the time, there was obviously no such thing as the Internet. So even if someone did make the headlines of the local paper for nicking traffic cones (not a real story), that 15 minutes would quickly fade into the mists of time.
Now everyone’s at it, wittingly or unwittingly, promoting ‘Brand Me’ and clamouring for their 15 minutes of global celebrity.
“Look at me. I’m eating tofu, I’m walking the dog, my baby just hiccuped, I’ve got a silly hat…”
All pretty innocent stuff, but there are potentially more dangerous undertones to be found if we dig deeper.
“Hey look at me. I’m pro foxhunting, I’m an atheist, I’m a Conservative, I’m depressed, I’m angry…”
We very quickly build up a picture of the online notoriety-seeker. His or her digital portrait may be totally out of kilter with their true persona, but unless we know them in the real world, this online version is all we have to go on.
There are people on LinkedIn and Twitter that feel I know intimately. If we passed each other in the street however, we’d have no idea that we were connected in data land.
One person on LinkedIn, let’s call him ‘Mad Bob’, constantly rants about politics and swears angrily about anything that’s the slightest bit PC.
He’s probably as nice as pie, takes his Mum to tea every Sunday and says his prayers. I don’t know; but the way he dumps his views online draws a very vivid picture, and not a pretty one.
Subconsciously, I’ve already decided I don’t like him.
Should you really expose your private bits in public?
There are certain things I feel maybe we should only share privately with our loved ones, or ought to be left swimming around in our own noddles.
Unless you’re an activist driven by an unrelenting passion to change the world, or at least have nothing to lose by publishing your innermost feelings and opinions, sometimes silence is the best option.
I’m on Twitter most days. Why? I learn stuff, I connect with other creatives and I gain exposure for my business.
To twit or not to twit?
Everyone knows that Twitter isn’t a great place to ram commercial messages down people’s throats, but it’s a perfect platform for selling your wares in much subtler ways.
On Twitter I don’t pedal anything other than my sense of humour and hopefully, in a roundabout way, my copywriting skills.
I keep it light; with silly jokes, gentle banter, links to stuff I like and signposts to my blog; that sort of thing.
I steer clear of politics, religion and negativity. I’ve gone into more detail about online negative criticism on my guest post on the Lucidity blog, but tweeting about politics and religion can also open up a can of very angry worms.
Going back to basics, sometimes we need to remember why we’re using social media.
Q. Why am I on Twitter?
A. To get exposure for myself as a Freelance Copywriter.
Q. Any other reasons?
A. To connect, amuse myself, learn stuff… but ultimately it’s a self promotion tool.
For me, social media isn’t a chance to furiously beat my chest, scare little children, troll the innocent, expose the guilty, promote bigotry or proselytise.
I want to make friends and influence people, not get my head kicked in behind the bins at the back of the sixth form block.
The point is, if you’re using social media, you are exposing yourself.
From an advertising point of view, this is really good, but if you’re also exposing your political, religious or sexual persuasions, it can be really, really bad.
At best, you might attract people who live in the shadow of the dark side. At worst, you could be hung out to dry with a potential audience of around 3 billion.
What about Mad Bob?
I’ve been seriously tempted to dis-connect, or whatever the term is, from Mad Bob on LinkedIn.
The only thing holding me back is that he might be notified by an uncaring algorythm, track me down and drink my blood.
So for now at least, I just ignore his posts and read stuff by people I’ve decided I like.
I got my rugged good looks from my Dad and my doodling skills from my Mum.
Being this handsome is a curse, but doodling… ah doodling.
There’s something about a bit of noodle-doodling that soothes my soul. And a stroll through my doodle-doings is just as rewarding.
I love flicking through old note books and looking at the contents of my subconscious mind scribbled in the margins. 9 times out of 10 it’s a face. They’re usually bizarre or grotesque (according to some psychologosts this means I am mistrustful and needy), but for some reason, the human face seems to be a recurring theme.
30 Stupid Faces Last month, I set myself a little Twitter challenge: to draw and post a 30-second ‘stupid face’ every day for 30 days. The rules were simple, 30 seconds, just let the hand do the work with no thinking or planning, and no editing. Doodling with a direction, if you will.
Some came out pretty well in my humble-ish opinion.
I don’t think I’ll win many awards or commissions, but here’s November’s rogues gallery for your amusement.
Doodling is fun, but there’s more to it than I’d imagined.
On theEpilepsy Action blog, handwriting analyst, Ruth Rostron says:
‘Doodling helps relieve boredom and frustration and the urge to doodle gets stronger as stress levels rise. Doodling is like a safety valve that allows pressure to be dispelled in a playful and creative way.’
On the Harvard Health Publishing blog, Dr. Srini Pillay says:
‘Doodling keeps you from falling asleep, or simply staring blankly when your brain has already turned off. The permission to “free-draw” keeps your brain online just a little while longer.’
And going even further, in her 2011 Ted talk, doodling evangelist, Sunni Brown says:
‘People who doodle when they’re exposed to verbal information retain more of that information than their non-doodling counterparts… it has a profound effect on creative problem-solving and deep information processing.’
So, if you want to boost your creativity and brain power, switch off your devices, pick up a pen and get a-doodling.
But, quickly before you hit the off button, here’s one last tour around my doodle-addled bonce with 6 more stupid faces (as ever, I over-delivered on the brief).
Are you a Copywriter or Art Director working in a two-person creative team?
You know the quote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…?”
If you’ve been beavering away as a team for more than the honeymoon period, you’ll know why it goes on to say:
“…it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness… it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…”
Makes you wonder if Charles Dickens was an adman.
Being in a creative team can be like waltzing on rose-scented marshmallow clouds. Ideas, banter and giggles. Riding the crest of a big fat sexy creative wave, winning awards, rising through the ranks; you and your mucker against the world.
Then again, it can be a bloody war of attrition.
How to survive in a creative team
I’ve worked with a dozen creative partners over the years.
Before I go any further, may I take this opportunity to thank you all for some magical moments and also to apologise for any episodes, tantrums or AWOLs that I may have subjected you to along the way.
Without you, I wouldn’t be half the creative Herbert that stands before you now, so here’s to you, Ladies and Gents.
A recipe for success
When the planets align, the synergy of Art Director and Copywriter working together in harmony is a joy to behold.
Now, this beautiful relationship can go one of two ways:
1) The creative work flows and the boss loves you. Your production rate goes up, you’re given the best briefs and the portfolio just keeps getting better.
2) You’re the star team and everyone wants to hang out with you. You’re having a right laugh. It’s all 8-hour lunches and sleeping under the desk. What deadline? One more for the road? Ay-I-reallyreally-luv-you-yermybezfreninth’world-fanzee-a-kebab?
It’s great to be mates. But, if the work isn’t being done, the cracks will eventually show. When you get to the end of the year and you realise that you’ve done nothing portfolio-worthy, and half of your salary went on fine wine and pork scratchings, you know trouble will be poking its snotty nose around the next corner.
A recipe for disaster
Creative teams can be thrown together in all manner of ways. You meet at college, through a headhunter, online at singlecreatives.com or you get hired and the CD shoves you in a cell with a stranger that you’re going to have to learn to get along with.
Here are the signs that it may not work out the way you’d both hoped.
1) One of you is in 2 hours before the other every day, trying to make up for lost time.
2) You won’t share ideas until they’re almost fully formed.
3) You enjoy the days that your partner is off more than the days they are in.
4) You never do anything socially together, not even popping out for a coffee.
5) They close their laptop and look guilty every time you walk into the office.
6) You have their picture on a dartboard at home.
How can you rekindle the magic?
If you work with someone 5 days a week, you spend more time with them than your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/spouse…
Like diving buddies or Arctic explorers, you rely on each other for your survival.
And like an old married couple that stare into space at the dinner table, sometimes you need to spice things up.
1) Get out of the office to walk and talk to each other.
2) Get out of the office to chat ideas over a cuppa or a pint.
3) If you’re not getting the best briefs, nick them or make up your own and come up with something for the book that gets you excited.
4) Be honest with each other. If they’re driving you mad, get it out in the open (don’t forget to tell them why you love them too).
5) Do something together that takes you out of your comfy jumper zone: white water rafting, karaoke, pottery classes, whatever makes you feel slightly uneasy, but in a nice way.
What do you do if the magic’s completely fizzled out?
If you’ve stopped learning from each other, if it’s getting progressively more difficult to tease decent work out, or if you want to smashtheirflippinfaceineverytimetheyopentheirstupidmouth; it’s time for action.
Stick two creative egos in a room together 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for two years and the oddest things can happen.
I worked with a creative partner who went completely off the rails. One minute they were their usual lovable selves, the next they were tearing up my layouts because they were convinced they could see the devil in them.
I tried to cope with it for a few weeks, but in the end I had to talk to the Creative Director.
Cut a long story short, we were split up and teamed with different Art Directors and Copywriters from the same department. My new partner was a genius and we had a fantastic time until mass redundancies hit (see my previous post ‘Problem Schmoblem‘).
Last thing I heard, my previous creative partner found his niche in fine art and the guy he ended up with went on to do great work at some of the best agencies in town.
If you’re in an unhappy, destructive or non-productive creative team; move on as soon as you possibly can. Life and your career are far too short to plod along miserably with a Copywriter or Art Director who’s the wrong fit.
And if you do find the Yin to your Yang, play nicely together. You’re career may depend on it.
At the risk of getting a bit deep and philowotsical on you, I’ve come to realise that problems are our friends.
Without problems, we would grind to a halt.
Not that I’d wish great big problems on anyone, but the right problem has a habit of manifesting itself at exactly the right time for the right person.
Let’s take redundancy as a good example of a fairly juicy problem.
Being a member of the creative department in an advertising or design agency is a fairly precarious place to be. The curse of the big account win, followed by the big account loss, leaves us all vulnerable. In a money-saving exercise, even the senior creatives and creative hotshots are at risk.
If you’ve been in advertising or design for 15 years and not been made redundant yet, you’re either some sort of bullet-dodging superhero, so badly paid that it makes no sense in getting rid of you or you’ve always been self-employed.
Redundancy saga 1 Two years into my advertising career, I was called in to the Creative Director’s office and given the bad news. Something about recession, budget cuts, wiffle-waffle and the sound of mashed potato hitting a sponge in an echo chamber with the reverb button set at 11. The Head of Art bought me a bottle of Champagne and told me it was the best thing that could’ve happened to me (while I stared into space).
I spent the next 3 months in a daze, wondering what the hell I would do next. No one was hiring and more and more creatives were being shown the door. The competition was intense.
Then out of the blue, a senior Art Director who’d also been made redundant from the same agency (bless your cotton socks Keith) got me in for a chat with the boss at a big PR Agency in Bloomsbury. They’d been invited to pitch for a project, jointly funded by Harrods and the Spanish Government, to promote a month of Spanish fashion and culture at the world-famous Knightsbridge store.
This was my first foray into freelancing and culminated in three weeks in Spain (Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Granada and Toledo), Art Directing press ads and a TV commercial. I was working with a great photographer and commercials director, was on a fab day rate, being paid to see the world, staying in stupidly expensive hotels and hanging out with beautiful models. Crumbs.
Besides the fact that I’d managed to worry myself to the verge of a nervous breakdown after being made redundant, things were pretty good.
Redundancy saga 2 Fast-forward a couple of years, I was working in Soho’s Greek Street with the very lovely John Jessup. An old college friend had introduced us and it was a smashing little agency. I’d enjoyed freelancing, but it was good to be back splashing about in the full-time pool.
Then great news, the agency was going to merge with another bigger, better agency, headed up by some serious creative big-hitters. Exciting times, but they were going to be overstaffed, so it was back into the CD’s office for the “sorry, but…” pep talk.
Now this time I took the news very differently. No blind panic or “nobody loves me” dramas. With a nice little pay-off in my pocket, I picked myself up and waltzed out of the door with every confidence that things would work themselves out.
I disappeared to Kashmir for 6 weeks and forgot all about ad land, came back raring to go and pretty much walked straight into my dream job.
Redundancy Saga 3 A proper, big agency with proper, big accounts. A creative department of 32, two Creative Directors, smack-bang between Soho and Seven Dials… what could possibly go wrong?
Ha! About 3 and a half years in, having survived one mini round of redundancies, a new CEO came in and decided to have a spring clean.
I was out on my ear again and fell back into freelancing. This was to be probably the most creatively consistent and stable patch of my career. 11 years, great work, wonderful people and no one could make me redundant. In your face – the man!
Then one thing led to another and I got back on the PAYE rollercoaster – Creative Director then Agency Partner then full time employee – and jumped back off in 2017.
The point is, on the surface and especially when you’re in the thick of it, redundancy is easily mistaken to be a bad thing. With the wrong mind-set, it brings pain, worry, confusion, fear, anger…
Seen from a different vantage point, every redundancy has added depth to my life experience and strength to my character. It’s opened new doors and shown me new possibilities.
It’s only life (or, it’s all good, especially the bad bits)
Nothing goes too smoothly for long. Life is meant to have ups and downs. We just need to work out how to deal with them.
So if you’re facing redundancy or any other life-changing ‘problem’, know that no matter how bad it may seem; it’s exactly what you need to help you move on to the next chapter.
It may be easier said than done and I’m sure that many will disagree, but for me, the best thing to do with a problem is welcome it in, tickle its tummy and make it your friend.
Oi, what’s your problem? If you’re facing problems of a creative nature, give Uncle Jonathan a shout and he’ll help you you through it with a new blog post (maybe, no guarantees).
The books Bleak House – Charles Dickens
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Murther and Walking Spirits – Robertson Davis
No Matter What – Debi Gilori
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – JK Rowling
Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace
A Month In The Country – JL Carr
Uprooted: On the Trail of the Green Man – Nina Lyon
Naive, Super – Erlend Loe
500 Bus Stops – John Shuttleworth
Winter of the World – Ken Follett
The Third Policeman – Flann O’Brien
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
The luxury items A flask of tea, a laptop, a towel, coffee, a bottle of Glenrothes 12yr old single malt, a reflective jacket, a typewriter (with paper), a tea caddy, a crate of cider, a big blanket, good health and a driver.
With the driver (a cheat, but thanks anyway Ben McKinney), looks like we’ll all make it off the island alive, but we’ll be very hungry and some of us will have stupid hangovers.
You’re hitchhiking to Edinburgh and you’re dropped off somewhere in Gateshead. After a protracted visit to a working men’s club and several yards of subsidised ale, you find yourself wandering and befuddled, but remarkably chipper for someone who’s forgotten what day it is.
Ahead, look, an oasis, a green and pleasant land to rest your weary head for the night. Snuggled up, safe and warm, the only things missing are three righteous tunes, a good book and one luxury item to make your sojourn in this slightly scary urban jungle a little more comfortable.
Welcome my friends to Traffic Island Discs (based on a true story).
Choose three tunes: one to soothe and gently lull you to sleep, one to perk you up/get you busting a few moves in the morning and one that pushes all your nostalgia buttons as you slurp your first cuppa of the day.
Choose one book: something to raise your spirits/help you make it through the night/let you know everything’s gonna be all right.
Choose one luxury item: it won’t get you off your island, but it’ll make the experience more bearable.
So, shooting from the hip, here goes my choice for Traffic Island Discs.
Tune 1 (the chill-out one) Albatross by Fleetwood Mac All of a sudden this little island of mine is starting to feel a lot more tropical.
Then I asked the Twitterati what movies they’d want to see in their own list.
Crumbs, that got tongues wagging.
As a highly intelligent (some might say hugely intellectual) creative person, I am in no way endorsing this list. There’s been no editing or quality control whatsoever. Don’t blame me, the people have spoken. Oh whatever, here it is:
The 39 Steps (1936)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
The Godfather (1972)
The Warriors (1979)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Escape from New York (1981)
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Blade Runner (1982)
Back to the Future (1985)
The Breakfast Club (1985)
The Goonies (1985)
Flight of the Navigator (1986)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Running Man (1987)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Withnail and I (1987)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Die Hard (1988)
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Total Recall (1990)
Miller’s Crossing (1990)
Kindergarten Cop (1990)
Wayne’s World (1992)
Forest Gump (1994)
Before Sunrise (1995)
The Rock (1996)
Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Con Air (1997)
The Big Lebowski (1998)
A Room For Romeo Brass (1999)
Fight Club (1999)
Black Hawk Down (2001)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Finding Nemo (2003)
Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
The Prestige (2006)
Gran Torino (2008)
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Stats time: 4 Arnies, 4 Ridleys, 3 Clints, 2 Meadows’, 2 Cages and only 1 de Niro.
18 from the ’90s, 17 from the ’80s, 1 each from the ’30s and ’60s and nothing from the ’40s or ’50s.
Of the 60 films in the list, I’ve seen (or at least remember seeing) 45 of them. Of those, I reckon I’d watch 25 again, any day of the week.
Thanks to everyone who cast their vote. If you didn’t and your favourite film isn’t here, tough – this is now The Official People’s Top ‘You Gotta Watch’ Movie List. End of.
I’m not talking hurricanes, terror attacks or The Donald. I’m talking about my little world. For most, pretty unimportant, but for me; well it’s all I have really.
The year got off to an interesting start – selling the agency that I and my business partner had poured blood, sweat and tears into for the best part of 14 years. It had been an amazing journey through thick and thin together, but it was time for change.
Come January 1, the curtain closed on Remedy Creative, the scenery changed and the stage was set for a new drama to unfold.
So here’s what I learnt in 2017:
Health first – unlike chocolate, you really can’t live without it. The build up to the business sale was traumatic. For months, three huge questions loomed over my head like inky black clouds:
1) Who, if anyone, would buy the agency and how on earth would I find them?
2) What would happen to the team and what was I going to tell them?
3) If I did sell it, then what?
As you might imagine, this dominated my every waking moment (and my nightmares) until the questions were answered. This in turn led to a knot in my stomach the size and consistency of the world’s largest ball of string. My blood pressure went through the roof and there were times when I thought I might seriously be losing the plot.
Later in the year, my best friend dropped the bombshell that he had aggressive cancer. Maybe we weren’t invincible after all.
Health, I have learnt, comes pretty high on my list of priorities.
Once the dust had settled on the sale (the team all kept their jobs in the new agency, my business partner now juggles two regular freelancing gigs and I am freelance copywriting again), I took the family on a month-long holiday in the sun. My blood pressure came back down to something like normal, the knot slowly loosened and things started to make sense again.
I’d forgotten how to look after myself, but lesson learned. AND, my friend just got the all clear – double Brucey bonus!
Playing to my strengths – hey, I’m a creative copywriter, plus a few other things; but ideas, words and pictures are what I really understand.
We’re all good at something, and whilst stretching myself is definitely a worthwhile pursuit, making the best of my natural talents is where I’m currently at. This is what I hope to continue concentrating on to keep the wolf from the door – at least for the forseeable future.
It’s my natural vocation, it’s constantly challenging, the variety keeps it stimulating and I love cracking creative briefs – so why wouldn’t I?
Social media can be fun – like gambling (don’t get me started on that), I’ve made the conscious decision to ‘keep it fun’. There’s enough bile out there to float a battleship, so I don’t think there’s any need for little old me to add to it. As my Mum used to tell me – “If you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.
It’s just too darned easy to slag other people off. Belittling others on twitboxface just isn’t my style, so I tend to use social to spread the love, be a bit daft and generally amuse myself (and a bit of sly self promotion too of course).
I’ve been tinkering with what I call #badphotoshop of the day, #madeupword of the day and #mildlyamusing name of the day on twitter. Here are my favourites so far:
#madeupword of the day: SMUNJE – borrow money off someone poorer than you #madeupword of the day: FLUMPTYHOO – very happy #madeupword of the day: BUMSQUAGGLE – non-specific detritus
#mildlyamusing name of the day: Annette Curtain
#mildlyamusing name of the day: Stu N Dumplings
#mildlyamusing name of the day: Wendy Boatcumzin
Besides being a little more grown up and businessy-fied on LinkedIn, I have (quite innocently) put the cat amongst the pigeons a couple of times.
In November, somewhat frustrated at freelance copywriting job posts insisting on ridiculously specific work experience (‘must have worked on South African women’s niche fashion brands and purple sandwich toasters’), I posted this:
[Have you worked in FMCG? Yes. How about biscuits? Yes.
Chocolate biscuits? No.
Sorry you haven’t got the gig.
Why do clients/recruiters insist on such specific sector experience?]
Music, Music, Music – It’s a never-ending journey. As a copywriter, music can be my best friend or my worst enemy. Now that I’m freelance copywriting from home a lot more, I get to be DJ all day long. No more arguments about volume, invasive lyrics disturbing my train of thought or bad taste ’80s nonsense. Sorry, but anyone born in 1995 will never understand the mental scars that the New Romantics left on my impressionable mind.
Five artists/producers provided the go-to soundscape for writing in 2017. Please stand up Aphex Twin (as much as I love the bonkers stuff, I can only work to the mellower tunes), FSOL (as beautiful now as it was in the ’90s), Solar Fields (G-G-GENIUS in my opinion – every album, sonic perfection), Carbon Based Lifeforms (it’s what going green would sound like) and Aes Dana (Oh My Gurnard, it’s everything I’d been looking for – THANK YOU).
Doing your own thing – ain’t no one gonna do it for ya! Freelance copywriting is a wonderful way to pay the bills. Different briefs, people, agencies, sectors, challenges… a great big wobbly pile of variety means no two days are quite the same. Hallelujah to that.
The down sides? Well, not every brief lends itself to being a portfolio-stuffer and often the really juicy bits are tied up in NDAs, so what’s a boy to do? Simple, work on your own briefs whenever the paid works slows down enough. No restrictions, no Queensberry rules – just a bit of harmless, extracurricular creative exploration. I’ve already got half a dozen ideas in incubation which, time permitting, should see the light of day at some point in 2018. With no one to tell me “the client won’t buy that”, no doubt I’ll go a bit off-piste, but that’s the fun of it.
Feel good knowing you’ve set those forgotten images free.
It’s a bit scary leaving the image choice to lady luck, but it can also be exhilarating if you just go with it. If you don’t totally subscribe to the ‘So, What If… anything’s possible’ school of thought, at least you have plenty of artistic licence, zooming and cropping within each square. At the end of the day though, it’s all about random juxtapositions and giving your sadly neglected images a chance to shine.
If you don’t have Photoshop
Photoshop gives you ultimate control, but if you don’t have it, there are various online tools and apps that you can experiment with. Here are a couple that may work for you:
No.2: Clouds, Image editing in progress, NCP typography, Promenade shadow, Bexhill seascape x3, Brighton’s West Pier, Sunset over the South Downs.
No.3: Me and one of the nippers on the beach, Bexhill seascape, Promenade houses, Ganesha temple Jaipur, Monkey temple Jaipur, Backstreets of Agra x2, Man and goat Jaipur, Shirdi Sai temple.
No.4: Inside a kids’ play area in Epsom x2, Accidental paddling in Hove, Me face-painted by one of the nippers, Cracked fridge door evidence, Café typo, West Kent College Art School exhibits x2, Graffiti in Hastings.
No.5: Pick up at Dubai Airport, A modest drink selection in hotel bar, Exhibit at Dubai trade show, View from Burj Khalifa, Sign at Jumeirah Mosque, Hotel Aquarium, Ski Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah, Armani Hotel sign.
And if that’s tickled your creative whatsits, why not try a bit of fun with pumpkins – ah go on!