• Locals Only: Evan Geerlings

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    This week, the Egotist sits down with Evan Geerlings of Trailer Park who is not only one of a dying breed of LA Natives, but has also glimpsed the Mobile horizon. Check this out...

    Who are you?
    Evan Geerlings
    VP, Mobile, Trailer Park

    What is your creative discipline?
    Spinning plates. I wear a ton of different hats - business, creative and technical. I think I excel at finding creative solutions to complex problems.

    What town are you from?
    L.A. Native – one of the few…

    In what part of LA do you create?
    Hollywood and Orange, the Times Square of Hollywood. Replete with stars on Hollywood Blvd, wax museum, Chinese theater and let's not forget the occasional mob scene or beating of Sponge Bob. (see attached photos for giggles)

    What do you do?
    I wrangle Creatives and Technologists to create compelling experiences on all connected devices and screens. I work with tight deadlines and budgets all while maintaining a healthy business.

    What do you think is the most effective mobile marketing?
    A) One that doesn’t feel like you are being marketed to and is more reciprocal; B) The one with the most reach; C) The simplest experience for the consumer

    How is mobile evolving? What should we expect to see next?
    Mobile is becoming the first experience consumers have with a brand or a property. Apps are great and sexy but mobile web is imperative. Search must lead to a mobile optimized or mobile specific website. In the next 2-3 years HTML5 will be king.

    Describe your workspace.
    Communal.

    Where did you learn your craft?
    School of hard knocks. I started producing interactive CD-ROM’s/DVD-ROM’s in 1994, moved to the Web in 1998 then transitioned into Mobile in 2006. There was no school for this.

    Who/what is your greatest personal inspiration?
    My mother. As a single mom she worked her ass off to provide for me all on her own. She never called in sick, she always had a hot meal on the table and she kept me on the straight and narrow.

    Who do you admire in your field?
    Steve Jobs

    Anyone else in LA that you think is doing great work in your field?
    There are very few mobile agencies in L.A.

    What do you consider your greatest achievement or success to date?
    I’m working on it right now positioning Trailer Park as a leader in the Mobile space.

    What is the best thing about your creative endeavor?
    Engaging a wide breadth of consumers with a compelling mobile experience.

    The toughest?
    Balancing client expectations, creativity, technical excellence and profitability.

    What are your top 3 LA influences, inspirations or spots?
    Farmer’s Market on 3rd where I actually learned how to drive in the parking lot when I was a kid – it’s now The Grove; The L.A. Riots – a shocking event for a High School kid; Korea Town where I grew up which was then very rough around the edges! All factor in to the Los Angeleno I am today.

    How is LA a great place to create?
    Smart, enthusiastic, people and a great melting pot of cultures and ideas … and the weather’s not bad, either.

    What are your thoughts on the LA advertising scene? Is it viable? If not, what could make LA more relevant?
    Mobile is increasingly important to brand advertising. My vocabulary is pretty extensive in the entertainment marketing space, and is expanding more and more to the brand space. goodness Mfg. is a sister company doing very cool integrated branding. With them, we’ve developed mobile web sites and experiences, respectively, for both El Pollo Loco and ING Direct. Other projects are in progress.

    Do you have a philosophy and/or words to live by?
    It all boils down to hard work. I can sleep when I’m dead.

    Where can we find you?
    www.mobile.trailerpark.com
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/evangeerlings

  • Locals Only: Maria Salvador Smith

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    Maria Salvador Smith likes to think like a 7 year old and cites traffic as an inspiration. Still, we have mad love for working moms, especially the uber-creative, KCRW-loving, pitched-a-vodka-account-while-pregnant kind. Find out how this Phillipine-born Angeleno ACD makes it all look effortless.

    Who are you?
    Maria Smith, Associate Creative Director, M&C Saatchi Los Angeles

    What is your creative discipline?
    I’m a copywriter and associate creative director. My tools are well-crafted words and well-intentioned stick figures.

    What town are you from?
    I was born in the Philippines, but grew up mostly in San Diego.

    In what part of LA do you create?
    Santa Monica. We’re tucked into one corner of a block-long complex that’s also home to some amazing production companies and editorial/music/fx houses. It’s good company to be in.

    Describe your creative process and its results.
    Our agency philosophy can be summed up in one phrase: Brutal Simplicity of Thought. You’ll hear that around the world, at every M&C Saatchi office, whether in London, or Sydney, or Hong Kong, or here in Los Angeles. When it comes to the creative process, sometimes it can be more brutal than simple. It’s tough to get clients to walk away from the idea that the more you say, the better. That’s a safe zone for them. But the more clear and simple the message, the more effective and memorable the advertising. My task is finding the most creative way to do that.

    Describe your workspace.
    One wall of my office is floor-to-ceiling frosted glass that faces the outside world. The leaves from the trees outside make silhouettes on the glass that change as the wind blows – it’s kind of mesmerizing and good for a little bit of zen when the day gets crazy. Another wall is exposed red brick. I keep imagining the Kool Aid guy busting through it and saying “Oh yeah!”

    Where did you learn your craft?
    My first copywriting job was at TBWA\Tequila in LA, when it still existed under the roof of TBWA\Chiat\Day. It was a really inspiring place to be and I learned a ton there. I started out doing mostly digital work and learned very quickly how to adapt to technology that changes at lightning speed. It’s something I’m really thankful for because it required a lot of nimbleness of thought, and that serves me well now, whether I’m working on something more traditional or something more out there.

    Who/what is your greatest personal inspiration?
    There have been many, but for where I am right now in life, the answer is easily my mom. She was a working parent – still is, actually – and she’s managed to balance a long and successful career with a rich and nurturing family life. I have two young kids now, so I’ve recently had to learn what it’s like to be a working parent, and the one thing (is that) it isn’t is easy. My mom never seemed to let that on. Now that I’m navigating these waters myself, I see that what looked effortless was actually a finely choreographed juggling act.

    What do you consider your greatest achievement or success to date?
    When I first joined M&C Saatchi in 2008, Ketel One had just been acquired by Diageo Spirits. We put a lot of work into defending the account, but Diageo ultimately awarded to an agency within their global roster. So it was particularly satisfying to be a part of the team that pitched and won the Three Olives account and brought a vodka brand back to the agency. I pitched that creative while I was 6 months pregnant, and I figure if I can pitch vodka while pregnant, I can do just about anything.

    ]

    I’m also really proud of the work we launched recently for UGG Australia’s men’s line. It’s a really smart, multimedia approach to a tough challenge – how do you get guys to consider a brand that’s so strongly identified with women? The work has gotten people talking and tweeting and blogging, and it’s been really exciting to watch that conversation take off.

    What is the best thing about your creative endeavor?
    It’s hard to narrow it down to one thing. In the beginning, as you start to wrap your mind around a creative brief, you get the chance to immerse yourself into a different, sometimes completely unfamiliar way of seeing the world. You have to understand what it’s like to be a 7-year-old who’s never seen a rhinoceros up close, or a college freshman who’s hoping to travel to Paris, or a National Geographic photographer who’s on a crazy shoot. That’s fun, interesting and often humbling.

    Coming up with an idea that’s creative and effective – and that you haven’t seen before – is the most challenging part. When I’m knee-deep in concepting and the walls of my office are covered with marker comps, I sometimes feel like I’ve walked into that scene from the movie A Beautiful Mind, when Russell Crowe walks into his “crazy room”. Invariably, there’s a point during concepting when I wonder if any of my ideas make any sense.

    But if you can get over that moment, pluck an idea off the wall, nourish it, and get your client to believe in it, the best part comes when you get to watch the idea come to life. Just when you’re feeling like your creativity is completely tapped out, and you couldn’t possibly eke out another good thought, you get an infusion of energy and talent from a director or a photographer or a designer or an animator. And it becomes fun, and interesting, and often humbling all over again.

    The toughest?
    See above.

    What are your top 3 LA influences, inspirations or spots?
    There are a couple of things that it’s hard to imagine concepting without - KCRW is a constant source of inspiration, whether it’s music or an interesting story or an unexpected viewpoint. It’s also interesting to think about how many creative problems I’ve unraveled over a well-cooked meal. We’re lucky that LA has such an eclectic food scene. It certainly makes the late nights easier too. At one point, traffic was a huge influence too – I had so much time on my commute to just sit and think, I could work through a headline or a bit of copy or some other thing that just wasn’t quite right and have it almost figured out by the time I got into the office.

    Of all the places you could be creating, why LA? How is LA a great place to create?
    I’ve lived in LA for over a decade now, first as a college student and now as a working professional. I’ve lived everywhere from South Central to Silverlake to the Westside. It’s been over 10 years, but I keep discovering new stuff here – Victorian neighborhoods I didn’t know existed, a local taco truck with the most amazing al pastor burritos, a state park with views of both the ocean and downtown and a lake where my 3-year-old can go fishing. It feels like the opportunity to discover new things in LA is endless, and since new experiences and unexpected discoveries fuel creative thinking, LA is a very good place to be.

    What are your thoughts on the LA advertising/design scene? Is it viable? If not, what could make LA more relevant?
    In Los Angeles, we benefit from being at the crossroads of where creative stuff happens. All I have to do is walk outside of my office before I literally bump into someone who is creating music, or animation, or fashion, or film. It’s been exciting to see how all of these worlds have started coming together in advertising and entertainment in general. I think that that spirit of collaboration is going to keep pushing the LA ad scene into new and exciting territory and make it more relevant and viable than it’s ever been.

    Where can we find you?
    hellomaria.com
    mcsaatchi.com

  • Locals Only: Matt Titone

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    While Matt Titone considers himself an "east-coaster", we're not sure we've seen a more surf-punk-looking creator. Art runs in Matt Titone's blood, but that's not why you're going to love him. The real draw is that he's goofy-footed AND he thinks about what will make LA an even better creative city.

    Who are you?
    Matt Titone

    What is your creative discipline?
    Design, Illustration, Art Direction, Creative Direction

    What town are you from?
    I am originally from Delaware, but I went to school in Florida, then Savannah and lived in New York before moving out here. I just consider myself an east-coaster.

    What brought you to LA?
    I got really sick of an ad gig I had in NYC and decided I needed a lifestyle change, so I packed up and moved to North County San Diego because I just wanted to surf every day. After 6 months of not working and maxing out my credit card, I decided that a job in advertising wasn't so bad after all! I took a job at Chiat, which brought me up to Venice. 6 years later and I'm still here.

    In what part of LA do you create?
    I live in Venice and I'm currently working full time as a creative director at B-Reel in Venice. It's a great location, right on the boardwalk and Brooks. Can't beat the quick bike ride commute!

    Describe your creative process and the product that results from it.
    I have sort of switched gears recently since taking the gig at B-Reel. Being on the production side is great though, it's a whole different beast than working at an agency with totally different problems to solve. The process is always different depending on the project, but the strategy is usually not to think of a creative idea to sell something, it's to find a creative way to push that idea as far as it can go.

    We basically pitch for a lot of interactive (and film) projects, dealing directly with mostly creatives at agencies. We try to get in on projects early to help agencies sell the ideas through and collaborate with them along the way to help bring the idea to life in the best way possible. Our office is small and lean, so everyone helps out on everything and wears a lot of hats, it's a great team.

    Describe your workspace.
    The B-Reel office is awesome, it's probably the best office I've ever worked in. The building was designed and built by Frank Gehry (who still owns the place). We are right on Venice beach at the end of Brooks, I keep a board at the office, look out at the ocean from my desk, it's pretty unreal. I feel very lucky to work in such a rad space.

    Where did you learn your craft?
    Well, depends on the craft I guess. My dad's parents were both artists, so I grew up with a strong traditional drawing and painting influence. My dad was also really into photography and that sort of rubbed off on me too. He was always giving me his hand-me-down cameras growing up, so I would play around with a lot of old Pentaxs, Holgas and Polaroids. I went to college at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) for graphic design and illustration, but I definitely feel like I have learned the most (about commercial art) through the different jobs I've had and the people I've worked with since then.

    Who/what is your greatest personal inspiration?
    My dad has always been my greatest personal influence in my life.

    Who do you admire in your field?
    I really admire a few old bosses I've had. I learned a lot from Mike McKay, who hired me at SaatchiLA. He's a great creative director, he never over thought things, just knew what he liked and championed good ideas. He really taught me to simplify. Same with Ryan Jacobs, who I also worked under at Saatchi, he is a great CD, designer and friend. Also Paul Nguyen, he hired me at Chiat and really helped me to hone my skills as an interactive art director, I wouldn't be where I am now career-wise without him.

    Anyone else in LA that you think is doing great work in your field?
    I feel like there is great stuff coming out of different places. As far as agencies, 180 has done some cool stuff lately. I loved the Nike Chosen spot 72 did. The Kenny Powers K-Swiss ads were funny too. I thought the new Toyota Yaris site videos were hilarious. Mistress has also done some cool stuff so far.

    Also, individuals like Ron Thompson and Ben Tricklebank, true "Jack-of-all-trade" creatives. Both are super talented peers I look up to a lot because they consistently do great work.

    What do you consider your greatest achievement or success to date?
    I don't feel like I have a greatest achievement or success really, I just try to make the most out of every project I get so that I'm happy with the results and have something pretty to show my mom. My favorite recent project was probably my last one at Saatchi though. It was the teaser campaign for the new Prius family. There was hardly any budget for it, but the group of guys working on it were all friends, it was a truly integrated campaign that didn't center around one medium, and it was awesome collaborating with Todd St. John (Hunter Gatherer) on all the deliverables. Not to mention, Prius is just a great product to work on.

    I also have been super stoked on my new blog that I've been working on with my buddy Drew, indoek.com. It's basically a bi-coastal, creative, surf culture blog that is a way for us both to share and catalog inspiration with each other, but we are also working on putting out more original content.

    I also just did some t-shirt and apparel designs for my buddy's surf shop back east, which was a pretty fun little side project.

    What is the best thing about your creative endeavor?
    The best thing for me is just seeing projects through from beginning to end and being able to work on a diverse range of projects. I like doing everything from designing logos, websites, apps, working with directors on film projects, posters & print ads, social experiences, etc. We live in a time when there are tons of ways to creatively solve clients' needs, so it's fun to explore new ways to do so.

    The toughest?
    The toughest thing for me is always losing projects or seeing them die for various reasons - especially the ones that I've already invested a lot into.

    What are your top 3 LA influences, inspirations or spots?
    Malibu. Even though I am a goofy-footed surfer (and it's crowded as hell), this is by far my favorite wave in LA.

    Mollusk Surf Shop. Being a surfer from the east coast, I've always seen local surf shops as a community landmark or hub. Mollusk is just that. My buddy Chad runs the shop, it's a great place to hang out, bring visiting friends and put a dent in your paycheck on cool stuff. They have some fun parties too.

    My back yard. I'm kind of a home-body on the weekends. I have everything I need out there; skate ramp, fire pit, grill, garden, outdoor shower. It's a great dude den.

    Of all the places you could be creating, why LA?
    It actually took me a long time to warm up to LA, but now I love it here and would find it really hard to leave. It's a great creative place for a lot of reasons; the diversity of people and neighborhoods for one. Also, being the entertainment capital of the world helps! There's just a lot going on in general and the sunny weather tends to make people a little happier overall.

    What are your thoughts on the LA advertising/art scene? Is it viable? If not, what could make LA more relevant?
    Yea, it is definitely a viable ad/art scene. I feel like it's even grown a lot since I've been living here with a lot of smaller, successful boutique agencies, design firms and production cos sprouting up all over the place. I would however like to see more interactive stuff coming out of LA, but hopefully we can help that with the new B-Reel office.

    Do you have a philosophy and/or words to live by?
    sic transit gloria

    Where can we find you?
    matttitone.com
    indoek.com
    b-reel.com

    Yahoo House







  • Locals Only: Mia Natsume

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    We won't find another Mia Natsume: artist, Hollywood royalty, marketing guru, foodie with all the hookups. This woman is rounder than well-rounded. Her company Ticings is killing it in the sweets world and we want you to know about it. If it inspires you, even better. Yummmmmm.

    Who are you?
    Mia Natsume: entrepreneur, single mom, foodie.

    What is your creative discipline?
    I’ve been a brand identity designer/art director for advertising agencies, design firms and direct clients, before focusing my creativity on my own products (under the name Sweettoof Studios).

    What town are you from?
    I was born and raised in Los Angeles, but migrated to Los Gatos in Northern California as a teen, only to return to L.A. after a short stint in New York.

    What brought you (back) to LA?
    My ex- husband.

    In what part of LA do you create?
    In the South Bay, specifically El Segundo — it’s wonderful for its access to major points of L.A., proximity to the ocean and resemblance to Mayberry.

    Describe your creative process and the product that results from it
    I create contemporary, customizable edible appliqués called Ticings® — they peel and press onto soft-frosted desserts for a quick and easy decoration (see http://www.ticings.com, http://www.facebook.com/ticings, http://twitter.com/#!/ticing and http://shopticings.tumblr.com/. We also make natural sprinkles and sugars blended with herbal, floral and fruit essences to create artisanal decorative toppings. They make wonderful alternatives to artificially flavored cake sprinkles and drink rimmers.

    How did you come up with the cupcake toppers concept? And, what was the process for creating edible art?
    It was my daughter who commented on the unappetizing taste of the store-bought multi-colored sprinkles garnishing her frozen yogurt one day. I tried a taste and was surprised at how bitter and chalky they were. Out of curiosity, I began looking into decorating supplies in general. I also became familiar with edible photo cakes but wasn’t enamored with the garish colors and snapshot imagery; the idea of celebrating a birthday or a holiday by eating somebody’s disembodied arm or face (AKA my daughter’s) on my dessert seemed unappetizing.

    Being able to apply a customizable and contemporary graphic onto a cupcake seemed like a timely concept, however, so I utilized my design background to create a library of pre-printed edible images in late 2009. In January of 2010, I launched the Ticings website. Fast-forward to today: we offer customized and pre-printed Ticings produced in the U.S.A. on a propriety printing system that allows us to produce extremely detailed edible imagery, on demand, in sizes from half an inch to 2’x 3’ long.

    Who do you think your target audience is? Who is buying edible art?
    Our clients include pastry chefs, corporate event planners, cake designers, home bakers and design-savvy moms who appreciate modern design combined with an efficient and memorable way of decorating. By adding their own flair and touches to the designs, each design becomes unique. Our buyers support our commitment to using authentic ingredients whenever possible and look to us for contemporary decorating ideas, recipes and new products.

    Describe your workspace: the environment you create in.
    Our light-filled design studio is the incubator of our creative process. A mile from the beach and close to LAX, most of the conceptual and illustrative work, photography, styling and print production is done. The digital nature of our creative process allows us to create or collaborate from almost anywhere, though, so I’m able to work almost anywhere, and with people from all over the globe. We have a commercial kitchen in West L.A. for manufacturing, although we’re searching for a space closer to our main headquarters.

    Where did you learn your craft?
    From my parents. My mother was a fashion illustrator who enjoyed beauty in all forms. She set an elegant table no matter the occasion, and prepared international foods for her family and friends on a regular basis. My father was a set designer for Columbia Studios; he later became a designer for Walt Disney Studios in Burbank and designed Space Mountain and much of the original Tomorrowland during the time of Walt Disney. I grew up influenced by designers, sculptors, painters, directors, and writers in a home filled with creative energy. Later, when I was awarded a full scholarship to study fashion design at Parsons, I moved to New York, but switched my focus to graphic design to pursue a career in advertising. Creating advertising and brand identity for high profile companies forced me to work under pressure with short turnaround times, so deadlines don’t frighten me. The culinary arts have always intrigued me, so Ticings is really the best of all worlds.

    Who/what is your greatest personal inspiration?
    My family and heritage is extremely important especially from the perspective of presentation and paying attention to the details, as well as creating with the freshest ingredients.

    My daughter is also a great inspiration. Inquisitive and honest, she reminds me to cherish every moment and take time for the important things.

    Who do you admire in your field?
    I loved the work of Waylynn Lucas when she was at the SLS Hotel, as well as Kristy Choo of Jin in Venice. In the non-pastry category, I enjoy the work of Chef Pati Zarate and the philosophy behind Homegirl Café. Her vegetarian based tacos are yummy. Misa Koketsu of Three Stone Hearth, which is located up North in Berkeley, CA, also inspires me. Her dedication to nutrient-dense cooking and community-scale food preparation fascinates me.

    Anyone else in LA that you think is doing great work in your field?
    Locally, I admire the work of Jamie Cantor. She bakes wonderful things and we are honored to work with her.

    What do you consider your greatest achievement or success to date?
    Creating Ticings has been truly invigorating, especially to receive the attention of so many decorating enthusiasts, potential investors, professionals, the media, etc. And connecting with a broad audience who want new choices has been a wonderful achievement to have under our belts.

    What is the best thing about your creative endeavor?
    Being able to work with so many talented individuals and entrepreneurs who are forging new ground has been incredibly rewarding.

    The toughest?
    Wanting to be all-natural and organic in a category that is the antithesis of that. It’s hard but I’m trying.

    What are your top 3 LA influences, inspirations or spots?
    The Pacific Ocean provides a calming respite when things get too chaotic. I love the energy of the new Downtown LA and all the up and coming restaurants—something that was much harder to find when I was growing up here.

    How is LA a great place to create?
    L.A. is a unique place that draws people from all over the world, and thus creates a one-of-a-kind environment to pursue artistic endeavors.

    Do you have a philosophy and/or words to live by?
    Speak softly and carry a big tube of organic buttercream.

    Where can we find you?
    http://ticings.com
    http://twitter.com/#!/ticing
    http://www.facebook.com/ticings
    http://www.teacakebakeshop.com/index.cfm/a/catalog.catshow/catid/186
    http://blog.amyatlas.com/2009/11/ticings-edible-icing-sheets/
    http://blog.amyatlas.com/2010/09/new-halloween-ticings-edible-sheets-giv...
    http://projectnursery.com/projects/tralala-birthday-party-for-hannah/
    http://www.coolhunting.com/food-drink/ticings-1.php
    deandeluca.com (beginning 9/12/2011)
    http://ticings.goodsie.co

    You can also find her at the Abbot Kinney Festival this Sunday. Delicious!

  • You and Your Meaningless Career in Advertising

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    If you ask a random sample of advertising people what would make their lives more fulfilling, a good chunk of them will say the following: “I wish I had a more meaningful outlet for applying my creativity.” It’s a predictable answer, but a telling one, and an even more predictable side effect of a career devoted to consumerism.

    But despite ad folk’s general commiseration over the shortage of meaning in our day to day lives, only a handful of us are actively devoting a portion of our creative guts to the general betterment of mankind. Lately I’ve been wondering about this, because with so much apparent interest in making the world a better place, the number of people really doing it doesn’t seem to add up. What’s holding us back?

    It’s not a lack of problems, that’s for sure. No one spending 80 percent of their day on a computer can hide from the subpar-ness of some choices we made in the last 100 years, and fresh side effects of these decisions surface daily. But as our definition of ‘social bad’ continues to broaden, it’s curious to note that the definition of ‘social good’ is stubbornly refusing to keep up, with its everyday interpretation more or less hitting a hard wall at helping malnourished kiddos in remote Kenya find water, food or medicine.

    There’s a weird battle that pops up when attempting to modernize this definition, one that‘s potentially at the root of why so many of us swiftly abandon our inclination to get involved. It’s a competition of causes; a man made measure of what, exactly, counts as making a difference. I’m not sure what the point of the debate is, but I'm convinced that its core holds nothing better than a crappy sense of self-righteousness, born from finding the most CNN-ready crime against humanity and claiming that problem as your own. No more hunger by by 2020? Sure, that counts. Rounding up all your credit card purchases to give to charity? Eh, that’s not social good. That’s white guilt.

    Besides the obvious silliness of turning the social good space into yet another ego battle, the bummer is that this “problem elitism” is polarizing enough to turn 'normal' people off from getting involved. Not to mention the real bummer, which translates to a major loss in the amount of good stuff getting done, period. After all, if there’s a barrier to entry for saving the world, how can we possibly maximize the earth-redeeming potential for all skill sets, including (and perhaps especially) creative ones?

    I’m sure there’s more reasons why ad people are only wading in the world of meaningful things. But in effort to debunk at least one of those reasons, I've gotta clear the air about this one in particular: Social good is not a world owned by saints and martyrs, nor is it defined by the scale of the problem you’re hoping to solve. Social good is everybody's, and it happens each time we do something a little better, a little greener, and a little more considerately than the people before us.

    It has to be. Because the truth is, we’re long past the point where problems are confined to third world countries. Most of our most pressing, more localized issues aren’t things that can be solved by a team of lawyers specializing in social justice, they’re just things our forefathers did wrong the first time. It’s almost fair to call them White People Problems, because we’re certainly responsible for their existence.

    So what is fair cause for white guilt? Definitely not a hesitancy to relocate to Africa. But if you’re staying mum while your print production team repeatedly selects toxic processes and materials over greener ones, well, maybe you should speak up. If your client’s seeking new packaging but you’re not strongly recommending biodegradable options, maybe you should start researching those alternatives. If something of local significance has been bringing up some questions for you, maybe you should write an open letter, blow it up, and wheat paste it on your garage door. If you're not doing those things and you're whining about your meaningless existence in advertising, well, maybe you should shut the fuck up.

    Yes we’re running out of water. Yes we’re running out of clean air. But you know what else a lot of people suspect we’re running out of? Creativity. And that’s exactly what we need to rethink what’s broken. So get off your butt. Drop the guilt, grab a White Person Problem and start using a fraction of what you’ve got - anything you’ve got - to make it go away. That’s all it takes. And if the 'social good' people give you hell for helping from the comfort of your air conditioned office - just tell them it's social good enough. And maybe ask what the hell they're doing back in the US. Slackers.

    Carmel Hagen is a communication and experience designer at COMMON, a creative community for rapidly prototyping social change.

  • Locals Only: Jennifer Brysk

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    Jennifer Brysk is a creator and business owner of Qute, a design firm specializing in handmade artisan baby wear and blankets. We found her at Unique LA, but you can see her this Sunday, September 25th at the Abbot Kinney Festival. Working moms, this one's for you.

    Who are you?
    Jenn Brysk

    What is your creative discipline?
    Mostly textiles. I am a Creative Artist who loves the textures and stunning palettes of the fabrics I find. I scour the world for whimsical patterns & funky motifs to use in my designs.

    What town are you from?
    I grew up in Elmira, in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. We spent a lot of time in NYC with family growing up, so I feel lucky to have both the core values of a small town and the vibrancy & culture that epitomizes New York.

    What brought you to LA?
    We lived in San Francisco for 6+ years before moving back to the East coast. We were in Boston a little over a year and a half when my husband was offered a job too good to pass up. I have to admit I was more than a little hesitant to move to LA – focusing on the worst of its classic stereotypes. I wasn’t thrilled to pack up my business again – or to move cross-country with a young toddler, but its proven to be a good place for us. We’ve settled in quite nicely.

    In what part of LA do you create?
    My studio is in Culver City. It is such a breeding ground for the art scene here – all disciplines. And..it makes me feel like I’m back in a small town.

    Describe your creative process and the product that results from it
    I take inspiration for my designs from the most unexpected places. It’s usually when I’m just out and about – I’ll see an unusual shape, or the way the light hits something, a fountain, the color of someone’s shoe, the buckle on a bag – then turn it into the unexpected.

    There are times I look outside and see just the tree across the street and there are times I look outside and don’t see the physical tree at all, just the shadows and play of light as the boughs sway in the breeze like ribbons. I’ll translate that into my work – through the shape of a garment, the detailing of a jacket, the designs on a quilt or perhaps quite literally in the choice of fabrics I use.

    How did you come up with the your concept?
    Qute started 12 years ago a month before my nephew was born. Surrounded by hand-cut squares of carefully chosen fabric, I managed to piece together an intricate crib quilt, using a patchwork family heirloom as a pattern. It worked! That labor of love hooked me on fabric. The textures, opulent colors and diverse patterns produced a flurry of creativity. My collection & my talent have grown tremendously since that time.

    Describe your workspace: the environment you create in
    My one demand moving to LA was that I have a true workspace. We turned our garage into my studio. With French doors on one side and a 10 x 4 foot window on the other – it is always filled with deliciously perfect light. I am surrounded by shelves and shelves overstuffed with fabric, ribbon, buttons, paints, etc., my great-grandmother’s sketches on the walls and a constant flurry of activity from the backyard.

    My actual worktable is a massive old farm table made of oak that used to be in our dining room. I love it and don’t think the dining room will ever get it back. My studio is my sanctuary.

    Where did you learn your craft?
    I’m not really sure where it comes from. I don’t have formal training and can’t follow a pattern to save my life. I envision whatever it is I’m working on, the way I want it to look when it’s finished; all the details, colors, shaping, etc. and then I walk it backwards in my mind, deconstructing it as I go. When that’s done, I put it together again (still inside my head) – knowing and understanding what materials I need and how to assemble everything to make it work. I do it with fabrics, with quilts, with the clothes & bags I make. It’s a little unorthodox, but it’s the way my brain makes sense of my designs.

    My mother’s grandmother was accomplished in the fine arts – sculpting, sketching, and painting. My dad’s grandmother was an avid quilter. I was the last of the grandchildren to receive a quilt as a new baby before she died. I love that quilt, it has followed me everywhere and is still in use today. It sounds corny, but I believe I’ve been given the best of their gifts. There are times I look at my hands in wonder at all they accomplish in a day.

    Who/what is your greatest personal inspiration?
    My mom is one of the strongest women I know and has instilled in me the importance of family, the beauty of simplicity, and an appreciation for “the little things”. It is because of her that I am the woman I am today.

    Who do you admire in your field?
    In this day and age I have the utmost respect for anyone who is operating his or her business in a socially responsible way. From using local resources to reducing your carbon footprint – we all need to do our part. It’s not always the easiest or the most cost effective route, but it’s vital and deserves recognition.

    What do you consider your greatest achievement or success to date?
    My three delicious kids; their boundless energy & innocent wonder, their spontaneous laughter, silliness & love. Their smiles. I try to capture that spirit. If I could bottle it….. they are truly a wonder to behold.

    What is the best thing about your creative endeavor?
    It’s two-fold really. First, I set my own schedule so I can be present for my kids and really enjoy being a semi “stay-at-home” mom. Second, I am lucky enough to have a career that really nurtures ‘me’. When I’m in my studio, I’m not a spouse, a mommy, a homemaker or a schlepper – I’m me, the creative artist, and everything just clicks into place.

    The toughest?
    Ha! Repeat everything I just said. When you work from home it is a constant challenge to juggle work responsibilities with those of your family. When there’s an emergency or something unexpected pops up, it has to be me that deals with it. It is a never-ending tug of war and can be frustrating.

    What are your top 3 LA influences, inspirations or spots?
    The Pacific Ocean is quite awe-inspiring. It is humbling to realize how small we really are. I love the warehouse district – I’m still a one-woman show – every step of the way it is just me – it’s awesome to go downtown feeling the hum and vibe of the next step.

    How is LA a great place to create?
    LA is truly the epicenter of all things trendy and a hotbed for independent artists. Angelinos are really supportive of local designers and there are a ton of outlets for selling no matter how small or large your operation may be.

    Do you have a philosophy and/or words to live by?
    Things happen for a reason, go with it and don’t sweat the small stuff. Time is so fleeting, I really try to just enjoy each moment I have doing what I do, surrounded by the people I love.

    Where can we find you?
    You can always find Qute online.
    http://www.getqute.com
    http://www.getqute.etsy.com
    http://facebook.com/getqute
    Twitter: @getQute
    September 25th - you can getQute at the Abbot Kinney Festival.

    Direct any queries to: jb@getqute.com

  • Locals Only: Sadie and Emma

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    Sadie and Emma are clay-loving local purists with a thing for timeless design. Self-described as "a little bit country," we're going out on a limb and calling them the rockstars of pottery. Pure, delicious, muddy fun.

    Who are you?
    Emma and Sadie

    What is your creative discipline?
    We design and make hand-thrown pottery for the home.

    What town are you from?
    Emma was born in Ohio and grew up in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Sadie is from La Verne, an outlying suburb of Los Angeles.

    What brought you to LA?
    We were living in Oakland together and seized an opportunity for a live-work situation in LA.

    In what part of LA do you create?
    We are in Sunland, which is a not so known part of Los Angeles in the La Crescenta Valley. It is a little bit country and we love that.

    What do you do?
    Typical modern pottery is industrially produced in distant lands; this system is inherently wasteful and energy intensive. We desire to create a collection of pottery that is produced with similar ideals that have reawakened food culture in America. We want to be the local, organic, free range, grass fed potters. All of our pots are handmade using local materials and energy efficient studio practices. We strive towards fine craftsmanship, timeless design, durability, and high functionality. We reference early American potters in both the aesthetic and production practices in order to fulfill these goals. The pottery is also an extension of our love for each other, its our gay business baby. Our pots are full of love.

    Describe your workspace
    Our studio is the garage attached to the house we live in. It is made out of redwood, and all the beams are exposed, we call it the barngarage. Most of the design inspiration strikes while we are hanging around our house or staring at the giant oak trees in the backyard.

    Where did you learn your craft?
    Within our collaboration, Sadie is the brain and Emma is the brawn. Emma learned to throw in Wisconsin at the age of eleven, apprenticing with a potter until she went to art school. Sadie has always been a doodler and inventor, but has no formal training in ceramic craft.

    Who/what is your greatest personal inspiration?
    We are both Shaker wannabees. History says the Shakers were celibate Christians striving for an agrarian utopia. Our theory is that the Shakers were actually a bunch of homos with great taste. They were egalitarian and innovative, responsible for countless inventions. We try to make pots Shakers would use in their homes, objects equally sturdy, useful and beautiful.

    Who do you admire in your field?
    They have both passed, but Marguerite Wildenhain and Edith Heath are definitely our potter heroines. We admire their level of dedication to craft and they were both thrifty bad asses.

    Anyone else in LA that you think is doing great work in your field?
    We haven’t met any other LA small production potters, but we are all about businesses in LA that foster community, like head to tail butchers, Lindy and Grundy. We also love the Backwards Beekeepers.

    What do you consider your greatest achievement or success to date?
    Our business is still a baby... Our first big event here was Unique LA’s summer show. We had a lot of fun and it was great to see people’s positive reactions to our pots.

    What is the best thing about your creative endeavor?
    We really like spending time together. Designing and testing prototypes is fun and challenging.

    The toughest?
    Raising awareness for the importance of local hand-thrown pottery in our culture. The cycle of seed to table is not complete, locally produced food needs locally produced tableware.

    What are your top 3 LA influences, inspirations or spots?
    We use local materials for our pottery, so the number one influence would be LA clay. When we first arrived, we spent months experimenting with the different clay bodies until we found our favorites. We like going to the Sunday Hollywood farmers market and the hazy pink sunsets too.

    Of all the places you could be creating, why LA?
    The weather is great for making pottery, things dry so fast! We do a once firing process, glazed pots have to be fully dried before firing or else they explode. The hot, dry weather speeds up production time immensely. There is also great clay in Los Angeles, which is very important to our create local mission.

    What are your thoughts on the LA art/pottery scene? Is it viable? If not, what could make LA more relevant?
    The current scene is predominately hobbyist and art potters. There needs to be a sizable demand for local pots in order for production potters to thrive. So, support your local radical lesbian potters!

    Do you have a philosophy and/or words to live by?
    This is our favorite Shaker quote- "All beauty that has not a foundation in use, soon grows distasteful, and needs continual replacement with something new. That which has in itself the highest use possesses the greatest beauty."

    Where can we find you?
    www.sadieandemma.com

  • Write Better Voiceovers

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    Videos come in all shapes and sizes. Some happen to be exactly 30 seconds long and formatted for a television screen. Occasionally these 30-second videos have voiceovers. Here are some things to keep in mind when you write them.

    Write both sides of the script: TV scripts are written with visual instructions on the lefthand side of the page and the dialogue, voiceover or music direction on the right. Write that way from the start. Both sides. Simultaneously. It'll prevent you from writing your voiceover as a paragraph of body copy. And it'll get you thinking about how sight and sound can complement each other, allowing you to communicate more in less time. Screenplay format is ok, too. But it drives me crazy when I see a voiceover laid out like it's a chunk of copy.

    Cast before you write: Pick a favorite actor. Someone with a distinct vocal pattern. (Morgan Freeman, Matthew McConaughey, Cameron Diaz, Edward Norton and Kris Kristofferson have all been inspirational for me. Al Pacino might be too unique.) Then write your voiceover. Let the actor's voice echo in your head as you write. This exercise will make sure your script is written to be heard instead of read. And it'll make your tone cohesive and interesting.

    Transcribe other people's scripts: I was told that as a boy, David Mamet recorded his parents' dinner conversations and then transcribed them so he could see the way everyday conversation looked on a page. It's a mess. People interrupt each other, repeat themselves, and never speak in complete sentences. Try it. If you don't feel like eavesdropping on a conversation, go find your favorite spot on YouTube and transcribe it. You'll be amazed how sparse and odd it looks.

    Read your voiceover out loud: Act it out. Don't just mutter it to yourself under your breath while staring at your monitor. Read it boldly. This will ensure your flow is perfect. And it will also ensure that on recording day, you have a clear idea of how the talent should read your script.

    Read books: Two of the most famous spots of all time, Surfer and America , have voiceovers derived from literature. More than radio, more than copy, more than headlines or websites, a voiceover is a copywriter's chance to dream big. To write something that will make people's lives better. Go do it.

    This piece is cross-posted from Matt Ingwalson's blog.

  • Interview: David Shane

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    This week, we sit down with David Shane of O Positive (see our chat with fellow O Pos native Jim Jenkins here) who wisely doesn't buy every LOL he reads. When Shane is telling a joke, we're laughing. Here's why...

    Who are you?
    David Shane

    What is your creative discipline?
    Controlled stupidity.

    Where are you from?
    The southeastern most part of the northeast. It sounds more exotic than Long Island.

    Where do you create?
    In terms of coming up with ideas, it can happen anywhere. Sitting at my kid's little league game, at a funeral, having sex with my wife, in a jail cell in Nevada – I'm always working – much to the annoyance of those around me. I'm actually working on something as I write these answers. It probably shows.

    What do you do?
    My creative process starts with finding the best material I can. Which means boards that have moments in them. That’s all anyone remembers, whether the story is told in twenty four seconds or two hours. Then I schedule a call with the Creatives who usually explain I’ve entirely misinterpreted their work. Then I keep asking them to explain to me in increasingly simple terms until I either understand what their original intention is or they hang up abruptly. Most of my jobs come from the creatives who don’t hang up…even if I don’t respect them as much as the others.

    I do probably over prepare. I feel like I need to know more about the script than the Creatives by the time we shoot. Which allows me the confidence to throw it all out and be open to the happy accidents that you always want to at least have one eye open for.

    It’s really important to have a clear perspective about what you want to shoot and how you want to shoot it – it’s your best ally when things get muddled up by late game second guessing. But you always need to be open to smart thinking. There’s no doubt in my mind that the best Creatives are the most collaborative. Ideally, you’re looking for a situation where you’re making each other better.

    Describe the environment you create in.
    When I'm writing, I try to move through a succession of coffee shops trying to quiet the voices that say: "You suck.” I do it by asking them to stop looking over my shoulder and go back to their own laptops.
    I’m never happier than on the set though. All the low-grade worry and hand wringing and bullshit that comes with the territory in pre-production is over and now it’s all about putting your head down and shooting. It’s really liberating.

    Where did you learn your craft?
    Before becoming a copywriter at Chiat Day, I did take an advertising class at SVA in NY once. But really, like most people, I learned by doing – on the job. I also learned just by osmosis – by watching billions of commercials. My mother literally dropped me off in front of the TV when I was three and checked back in when I was seventeen. More than anything, though, I learned my craft from absorbing great comedy – on TV, in films... You don't want your biggest influence as a commercial director to be other commercials. That would be very insular – and very sad.

    What is your greatest personal inspiration?
    Without a doubt, bad advertising inspires me so much more than good advertising. It makes me feel like I could make a living directing commercials. Good advertising inspires jealousy and ideas about how I could casually imply I directed the spots without actually lying.

    Who do you admire in your field?
    I tend to dig commercial directors who actually give a shit about acting and who get great performances, which is no easy thing when the story is 24 seconds long. Mike Mills, Phil Morrison, Craig Gillespie.

    When it comes to feature directors, I gravitate towards early Wes Anderson, early Albert Brooks, early Alexander Payne. "I don't know why I don't like middle or late anyone."

    I recently got to meet one of my heroes -- Steven Speilberg, which was cool. He told me he was a fan of my work and could even quote the reel. I told him I liked some of his movies. I don't think he processed it as a joke, which says less about him and more about my shitty delivery.

    What do you consider your greatest achievement or success to date?
    Two of my kids. The third one is a real disappointment. (I guess I should add here that I only have two.)

    What is the best thing about your creative endeavor?
    For me, it's that initial moment when you come up with a funny idea. After that, the craft kicks in, and it's more hard work than laughs. 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration, as the saying goes. Incredible amounts of perspiration. I'm sweating right now. I also like that it allows me time to do things that are even more creative… things that don’t necessarily involve selling products.

    The toughest?
    To not be derivative – to always try to find the freshest, funniest way to tell the story -- or the joke.

    What are your top 3 influences, inspirations or spots?
    My dad -- he was an alternative comic in the seventies. He never did "jokes"-- he just kind of told funny stories, which was not exactly the norm back then. He died when I was a little kid but from time to time I'll look at video of him from his TV appearances. He had killer timing.

    Do you have a philosophy and/or words to live by?
    Yes. Don’t believe every LOL you read. I think some of them are meant to be ironic or sardonic… I hope I’m using one of those words correctly.

    Where can we find you?
    You might look for me in the remote mountains of Afghanistan, but this whole time, I've been in a Pakistani suburb. This joke is going to feel super dated soon.

  • Locals Only: Shannon Kennedy

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    Such sweetness is Shannon Kennedy, artist and owner of sass&peril, that she counts her mom as her greatest inspiration. She came to LA for a gig, but soon left that to start her own thing. We think she's the real deal.

    Who are you?
    Shannon Kennedy, owner and designer at sass&peril

    What is your creative discipline?
    Graphic Design and Screenprinting

    What town are you from?
    I was born and raised in Pensacola, FL and spent several years in Orlando, FL before moving out to the West coast.

    What brought you to LA?
    I relocated to the greater LA area for a job and the prospect of something new. I have since left that job to pursue my own creative efforts.

    In what part of LA do you create?
    I actually work out of my garage studio in Long Beach, CA but you can find me all over the greater LA area in shops and at pop-up shows.

    Describe your creative process and the product that results from it
    I create illustrations and designs that I then take into my screenprinting studio and print onto paper, fabric, wood and more. In short, the process begins with a design, then that design is printed from the computer using all black ink onto transparency film. Screens are coated with emulsion, which is a light-sensitive substance that when exposed to light will harden to create a stencil around the areas blocked out; hence the transparencies with black art. After exposure, screens are washed out with water and the areas blocked out by the art wash away leaving open mesh with which to pull the ink through. Squeegees are used to flood ink across the screen and are what will deposit the final pass onto the substrate. Each print will vary according to the pressure used and registration for each color employed. As you can tell, there is a lot of room for error in this process and it takes time to master. When you purchase something from my studio you are getting a one of a kind print hand applied to the item itself. They are not machine-printed therefore they are all unique with a velvety texture you can see and feel.

    Describe your workspace/studio: the environment you create in
    My screenprinting operations and equipment are located in the garage studio, however the designing takes place in my home office. Working in the garage has been nice, as I tend to make a mess whilst my office remains clean and tidy, most days.

    Where did you learn your craft?
    I was first introduced to screenprinting in college where I pursued my Graphic Design degree. I really loved all forms of printmaking but it was screenprinting that won me over. For me it is the possibility and reality of being able to take a design from concept to completion. I have the ability to design, print and package my own goods and that makes me happy.

    Who/what is your greatest personal inspiration?
    My Mom is a huge inspiration for me as she has been creative and making things as far back as I can remember. She really urged me to put myself out there and pursue what I love as an artist.

    Who do you admire in your field?
    I’m a big fan of mid-century modern design and all things Charley Harper. And although not a screenprinter, I love Jonathan Adler’s story and how he has turned his passion for pottery making into a successful multi-faceted brand.

    Anyone else in LA that you think is doing great work in your field?
    I recently had the pleasure of meeting Tim Biskup and seeing his work. His prints are incredible!

    What do you consider your greatest achievement or success to date?
    My studio is still pretty small, but recently at a design show a Hollywood set furnishing company picked up some prints for use in TV shows and movies, which I think is really neat!

    What is the best thing about your creative endeavor?
    Knowing that I am utilizing a practice that has been in use for over 100 years and that an artist such as Andy Warhol is someone I can call a fellow screenprinter!

    The toughest?
    The process. It is a labor of love. A four-color print means that I have hand-pulled that ink to the paper four times. This involves prepping and burning the screens, mixing the inks, the printing itself, allowing drying time, washing screens, registering the next color, printing it in the exact spot it will need to go and repeating the process. It takes hours, sometimes days, and can be filled with joy and frustration, but it is all worth it.

    What are your top 3 LA influences, inspirations or spots?
    When in search of inspiration, I’ll make a trip to a bookstore, a vintage shop, a boutique, an art store, or a museum. There are some great bookstores, vintage shops and boutiques along 4th St in Long Beach as well as Lyon Art Supply downtown. For museums I love LACMA and MCASD. Lastly, sometimes a simple bike ride or run can help to clear the mind.

    How is LA a great place to create?
    LA is great not only due to the sheer amount of resources and exposure but also for the amazing design and art community. I have made some wonderful friends of fellow artists at events and have had the chance to meet some highly creative people who share my passion for great design. Other than New York City I cannot imagine a US city bursting with as much creative energy and talent than LA!

    What are your thoughts on the LA art/design scene? Is it viable? If not, what could make LA more relevant?
    As a transplant to LA I would have to say that the challenge for me has been just networking and navigating the scene in such a large city. It really takes time to explore places and establish relationships within the design and art community but it is totally possible through events like Unique LA and Renegade where hundreds of artists all come together in one venue. Monthly meetups could be beneficial to keep artists connected and bounce ideas around.

    Do you have a philosophy and/or words to live by?
    I’m a firm believer in taking well-calculated chances. I like this quote by Columbus, “You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

    Where can we find you?
    I participate in art and design shows such as Unique LA, Renegade, Patchwork and other pop-up shows around the greater LA area.
    Online:
    www.sassandperil.com
    www.sassandperil.etsy.com
    www.facebook.com/sassandperil
    www.twitter.com/sassandperil

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