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Saul Bass Explains The Price Of Excellence January 27, 2010

Posted by Ivan Pols in advertising, design.
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Another sage once told me that if you just concentrate on the work, the money will follow. Which, to be frank, has worked for me just fine.
(Okay, back to work.)


Take Time Off October 9, 2009

Posted by Ivan Pols in culture, design.
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Stefan Sagmeister is an interesting, independent thinker. In this TEDtalk he explains his 1 sabbatical year in every 7 working years theory. When he breaks out the math, it all makes so much sense you just want to follow him. It’s something that I’ve thought about for a long time and may now be old enough to appreciate. I’ll have to figure out the logistics and make it happen but which other life am I going to do it in? Especially when he makes it sound so calmly possible.

9 Portfolio Night Chats Later June 12, 2009

Posted by Ivan Pols in advertising.
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Last night was Portfolio Night 7, a worldwide event where young advertising creatives get to show their books to crusty Creative Directors to get advice and criticism. It was my first Portfolio Night. Normally I see portfolios one and at a time and therefore give one crazy monologue at a time. Not last night. I gave 9 lunatic monologues while recent graduates of Seneca, Ad School and OCAD scribbled furiously in little books or stared at me. I suspect that my non-Canadian accent provided some difficulty to the kids from the suburbs (which is entirely my own fault, being a dirty foreigner).


Seeing 9 random portfolios in a row I noticed kept saying the same things. I endeavoured to be original, but there are a couple of realities that needed to be repeated until my brain hurt. I figured I may as well repeat them here one more time to save myself the effort in the future. For the next few days this will be relevant.

Firstly, I have basic disagreement with the way young creatives portfolios are assessed in Toronto. Too much emphasis is placed on tight, developed ideas and not enough on craft. I’ve had this argument with a few locals. They say that “ideas” are the gauge of a young creative, craft can be learned. I say that you either have “art” or you do not. Idea skills can be learned (ask Gerry Human) but you’ll never surprise me if there is no spark. A good idea executed typically is typical. Craft elevates communication (The Copy Book & The Art Direction Book are testaments to this belief). Why would we pressure the most pliable minds in the industry into delivering meat and potatoes ideas? That’s what experienced teams are for. Youngsters are meant to play and make things, pushing the old-timers, not doing their jobs for them. Talented young creatives need to be able to MAKE things. Creative Directors are meant to guide and shape the ideas.

  • Repeated Advice 01: More craft. (We create things where there was nothing before. It might as well be stuff worth reading and looking at.) I got great advice when I started: You’re an Art Director, Art Direct! Try stuff, make mistakes, play, experiment, surprise, scare and screw up. Sure, have a couple of straight ads and designs to prove you remember where a logo typically goes, but don’t rely on the Adobe CS4 tools defaults. Be inspired by everything but ads. And force your will upon CS4. It’s desktop publishing design hell. Powerfully easy and it makes us lazy. Be better than the software. And writers, create samples across channels to demonstrate your command of language and tone. The best writers I know all did Literature at university, they read a lot. Read more.
  • Repeated Advice 02: Too many print ads. Yes, that’s what school gave you. Print is a good way to learn your craft and now it’s time to expand across multiple channels. I have spent the last 3 years selling campaigns with deep social media components. The work we make is designed to be shared, useful, PR-able, conversational. Young creatives eat and breath social and yet none of the 9 people I saw last night applied what they practice to their portfolios. Their idea of digital was limited to iPhone Apps and microsites (a year after Modernista! dismantled the website). I can lay blame on a few doorsteps for this, but rapid understanding of social marketing is the only way to be relevant. Every young creative should be naturally light years of their CD and demonstrate some of that in their book.
  • Repeated Advice 03: Make things that people would talk about, experience or share. It’s the Alex Bogusky test and it’s a good one.
  • Repeated Advice 04: Lighten up. Work hard off but remember that if you aren’t entertained, nobody else will be.

I’m sure there was more bad advice I could hand out but we only had 15 minutes to inspire or horrify portfolio carriers. I find my own output increasingly difficult to categorise and I expect that from the best young talent. Which is the point of Portfolio Night.

If you want to add some insights or obvious advice, please do.

Visionaire 55 Is Pop Up Stupendous! April 1, 2009

Posted by Ivan Pols in art, book, design, illustration.
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This is the new Visionaire magazine. It’s a pop-up book in all regards, from the magnetic latch cover to the individual folios by Sophie Calle, Nicola Formichetti with Gareth Pugh, Cai Guo-Quiang, Andreas Gursky, Steven Klein, Yayoi Kusama, Alasdair McLellan, Steven Meisel, Guido Mocafico, Solve Sundsbo and Mario Testino. It’s a remarkable design. I am inspired today and it’s yours for $250. Not bad for a limited edition art book.

Visionaire 55 (via PSFK)

Moritz Waldemeyer Will Light You Up December 18, 2008

Posted by Ivan Pols in animation, art, design, games, technology.
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Moritz Waldemeyer is a technical designer from East Germany with a penchant for LEDs, Crystals and Lasers. He’s built custom gadgetry for Swarovski, Chalayan, Arad & Troika. Moritz has created tables with built in LED games like Ping Pong and Roulette that look and act beautifully.


I’ve done some research into projected image interactive pieces which always look clunky but these built in LEDs are awesome. Mr Waldemeyer is already famous but I think his influence on mass communications is about to become gigantic. This man has managed to hack solutions to designer dreams and execute them with style. He also has a sense of humour. It’s a pity so much of his work is almost impossible to photograph well, however, this little reading list should educate you quite quickly on the state of the art.

This is a sampler of his work.

Click here to see his excellent “Readings” dresses that he did for H Chalayan.
Ping Pong Table
Roulette Table
Go OK Stage Costumes
Operation Game

Official Waldemeyer Website

I.O.U. A Plastic Island – Welcome to Tomorrow November 5, 2008

Posted by Ivan Pols in design, film.
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Last night Barack Obama became the poster child of optimists the world over. It was a remarkable piece of history and he was not wrong when he stated that his election was not the Change that needed to be made. The Change still needs to be done.

Here are two Changes that need to be dealt with. They effect everyone. One is a problem of the USA, the other is a problem that is the World’s.

I’m not posting these pieces just for their educational value, that’s not what I’m about really. They are excellent, startling and scary presentations of BIG problems in graphic and compelling ways. I.O.U.S.A is a 30 minute free version of their film released as a public service. Obviously you can buy the rest of the content to get the real detail, but the precis is more than enough to start with. The VBS.tv documentary is distributed through their own digital channel that is ad supported (I’m not sure where the link is with Rockband (the game) and environmental meltdown, other than their ridculous packaging).

The content delivered for both is remarkable. Worth learning from and learning about.


I.O.U.S.A, the documentary explaining the United States 8.7 Trillion Dollar debt and it’s implications has released a 30 minute cutdown on Vimeo. This is perhaps the scariest film since An Inconvenient Truth and you should spend the time to educate yourself on what it’s about and what it means to your future. Words cannot explain the magnitude of the crisis, so they use pictures to help us understand.


VBS.tv have created a 12 part documentary of their journey to the island of plastic that sits in the Pacific Ocean. It is not a myth. It is not going away. This will change the way you think about plastic.

ps. Remember to Invest in Yourself.

The Density of DJ Technology September 19, 2008

Posted by Ivan Pols in culture, music, technology, video.
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DJ, Richie Hawton, has offered up a video tutorial on his technique involving a piece of software named Traktor. He runs 4 decks simultaneously with multiple loop and sampling potential on top of that. He explains how the computer takes care of all the timing so he can experiment, and collaborate with at least 4 other DJs. It’s dense layering, but I think it’s interesting how technology has helped him explore his art more thoroughly. On the other hand, the tools can have the habit of playing the operator, which can kill the joy of the mistake and create the cult of same. That’s just something I’ve noticed with design and the proliferation of Adobe CS. Same tools, similar outcomes, unless you fight with everything you have. The best DJs will avoid that bullet is my guess.

Viva Originals. Watch the video here (Vimeo is still not supported by WordPress. Tut tut.)

via PSFK

Hyper Island Interactive Art Directors February 20, 2008

Posted by Ivan Pols in advertising, animation, design, media.
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Hyper Island is a digital media school in Sweden that has a remarkable amount of cool. You’d almost be willing to trust them with your career’s future. They have a video on the Hyper Island page that has London agencies like Digit singing their praises. The concept and execution on their Interactive Art Director site is damn impressive. I like their student focus, their sense of humour and their diagrams of humans becoming digital. I also like their holistic viewpoint in the training of new communication pros. An ability to manage complex multimedia campaigns and explain them, let alone create them, is the new standard for creatives in all industries.  I may have to take one of their night classes.