I’m in the middle of sorting out my portfolio on the flickr site, so that clients can see my work whenever they like. This will take a little while as I make sure that it’s all perfect.
In the meantime, I thought I’d put a tiny selection of work here, just as an appetiser.
The first two ads here are for Auto Trader, a magazine that specialises in selling mainly used cars. Each week they have random spaces to fill, as they never know just how many inserts they’ll have until the final minute. So they asked us to have a think about how they could fill those spaces and add value to the brand. So we came up with these, which warn of the dangers of drink driving. These ran throughout the magazine, and were right next to pictures showing cars as polished and buffed as it was possible to make them. Which meant a smashed-up wreck stood out like the proverbial sore-thumb.

They worked very well for the client. They were noticed by the readers, who commented on how positive a message it was, and were recognised by the awards cermemonies at the time. Which was nice.

Next up is a business card that we did for a pal who is a dental surgeon. Again, it’s a simple idea. This one was executed by printing the business cards onto X-ray film, which made it very tactile when handed to you.

When I was working at 1576 we had the National Trust for Scotland as one of our clients. Here’s an ad aimed at driving membership sales for them.

This next piece was done for The Royal Bank of Scotland a good few years ago now. It was done at the time (circa 2000) when banks were starting to really push that you could remortgage without having to move house. So we decided that the best way to do this was to take the traditional ‘For Sale’ sign and play with it a little. You can see the result below.

And the final piece which I’m going to post today is a lovely little piece for a local health club in Edinburgh. They wanted to promote their ‘Swimming Only’ memberships.
So, once again, we simplified then exaggerated. And this is the result (it might be worth clicking the image to enlarge it, as the line that runs between the two images is kind of crucial).



So, there you go. These are some examples of what I do for a living. I’m speaking to clients to try and get permission to post lots more work, so it’ll appear here as and when it’s allowed out to be seen by the world at large.
Advertising can, and should, be powerful. If you put your mind to it.


Selfish web surfers?

May 31, 2008

This is a story on the BBC website that announces that people who surf the web (that’ll be you and me then) are now selfish about how they search. Well, duh!
What the report really says is that we don’t want a site to spend 10 minutes trying to sell us something we don’t want in the first place.
Have a read at the article here.

I’d go further, however. They’re not selfish, they’re just exercising their right not to be bored by dull sites. Even sites that think they are user-friendly are almost always not really that.
Treat visitors like human beings, like real grown-up adults and they won’t just bugger off.
The reason people don’t engage with websites is that the website’s don’t engage with them. How many of the websites are actually designed with the user in mind? Almost none. They all, ultimately, want to sell you something (even if it’s only their point of view – they’re still selling it). The website is there to drive you to help them make money. It’s the same in real life. Go into a shop where you are just another number and the experience is easily forgettable. But have the luck of entering a shop where you actually have a conversation with the person who is serving you and you’ll probably go back there when you need that thing again. So web companies take note. It’s not rocket science.

Just talk to us like you’d talk to your friends. We’re not all stupid, dummies.

This is one of these unbelievable stories that you happen across from time to time. Apparently a woman who had nowhere to live managed to sneak into a man’s flat and started living in a wardrobe space.
And she lived there for “about a year” before the man started noticing that things were going missing from his fridge. A year? Not the world’s greatest detective, then. She’d even managed to bring a mattress into her bolt-hole. Which suggests that it wasn’t that small a space she’d managed to secure for herself.
You can read the whole story here.
And if you’re ever wondering if you’ve got a secret lodger in your house, just look for the giveaway footprints in the butter.

Truly astonishing.
That’s the best way I can describe the experience of seeing Ron Mueck’s work.

At the tail end of 2006 I had the good-fortune to go to the Ron Mueck exhibition at the National Galleries on the Mound in Edinburgh. What I saw was a whole room of people walking around, resembling guppies. Almost every single person was walking around with their lower jaw distended, in a look of utter amazement.
I think it’s a combination of things. One, these models are hyper-real. Each individual hair is hand stitched into the body of the model. Two, they are all of an unreal scale. Some of them are massive, others are small. And that leads me on to three. Which is that, as the whole exhibition is messing with scale, you start to lose all real perception of what’s right and what’s wrong, and that adds another level to the surreal experience.

I’ve been to quite a number of gallery openings and exhibitions over the years, but I don’t think I’ve ever experienced something that disarms people quite so effectively ever before. If you ever get the chance to go and see an exhibition of Ron Mueck’s work you shouldn’t even think about it. Just go.

I was blown away by the experience. He’s a very interesting person, who started out making puppets for Jim Henson (yes, the one of Muppets fame). He made many models for the film Labyrinth, and even contributed the voice for one of the characters. He then moved to London, from Oz, and started making models for advertising shoots. He then progressed onto the works we see today, and has managed to make the hyper-real seem almost unreal. The scale thing is what makes his work so memorable. So if you get the chance, as I said before, don’t think about it. Just go and enjoy it.

Discover more about him and his work here.

Like these new ads for Volkswagen. They publicise the fact that their new models have rear-parking sensors to make parking easy.
They’ve taken the idea, simplified it and then exaggerated it to make their point memorable.
I think these ads are pan-European, but I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that I think they’re great.

Unless you’ve been living in a sensory deprivation chamber you’ll be aware that there’s a modicum of unrest in Tibet. The monks, who’s central tenet is compassion, have felt compelled to protest against the huge oppression they face. They have been beaten, assaulted, unlawfully arrested and detained without charge. There have even been monks killed for taking part in peaceful protests. However you look at it, it smacks of the big kid at school beating up the smaller children (no pun intended). This is commonly known as bullying and is frowned upon and fought against in civilised societies.
It came as no great surprise when I was sent this picture.

It seems abhorrent that anyone could behave is such a manner. To dress up as peaceful, spiritual people with the sole aim of discrediting them is morally so wrong that Karma must be hugely busy indeed.
So stand up and make your voice heard. Don’t let this happen without at least making people aware of it. The world should not accept the way that China is behaving. I know that there are many issues for the two countries (I’ve chosen the term deliberately) to solve, but beating up the smaller one is never a smart way to solve anything. Why don’t we, as humans, learn from our previous mistakes? Why do we think that by doing the same things over and over we’ll get a different result? That’s not a bad definition of stupidity.
Post this banner in protest on your blog. Because even a journey of a thousand miles starts with just one step.

Maisie and I went to the museum at the weekend. But this time we went to the Dean Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art.
Maisie loved the big pond (the Landform sculpture by Charles Jencks) and Paolozzi’s studio that has been amazingly recreated within the gallery.
I was impressed by the works of Miroslav Balka. Born in Poland in 1958, his works are poignant, emotive and subtle. He identifies with the notions of history and our own memories, and seems to be a master of expressing the frailty of human existence.
The piece I found myself mostly drawn to was this, Entering Paradise:

I also loved the surrealist exhibits, especially the works by Miró and Dali. Miró is slightly less famous than Dail, but arguably had more influence on the artists of the genre, rather than on populist opinion. Here’s one of his pieces here.

As a Catalan, Joan Miró was used to seeing things differently. I have seen a fair bit of Miró’s work up close. There’s a hotel (one of the best in the world, in my opinion) called the Colombe D’Or in Saint Paul de Vence, near Nice, that has original works by Miró all over the hotel. It also has original works by Matisse, Picasso and Chagall. And these are hanging on the walls, open for really close inspection.
One of Miró’s stunning, huge, beautiful sculptures sits beside the pool at the Colombe D’Or. His work is simply fabulous. It is supreme and bold, and always has enough colour, emotion and intrigue to make me smile.
Whilst I’ve touched on the Colombe D’Or I might as well try to do it justice. It has been owned by the same family for generations. If you’re looking for Wifi connections and the latest flat-screen LCD TV then this is definitely not for you. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for somewhere you can really unwind and feel fabulous whilst doing so, give them a call.
They offer extraordinary Provencal cooking, based on the region’s finest traditions. So, once again, it’s not at the cutting edge of culinary preparation. It has an amazing terrace to enjoy lunch on, and you should really try not to hurry things here. It is, quite simply, the best restaurant I’ve ever had the great pleasure to eat in.
So, if you’ve got something special to celebrate go and see the Mirós in the Colombe D’Or. Or, you could go and see them in Edinburgh. The art is just as good, but the café is not quite up to the same standards.