Are You Telling Good Stories?

“Artists love to trot out the tired line, ‘My work speaks for itself,’ but the truth is, our work doesn’t speak for itself. Human beings want to know where things came from, how they were made, and who made them.”
Austin Kleon, Show Your Work! Chapter 5


Remember the old adage “If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around, does it make a sound?” I used to think this was an absurd question (“of course it makes a sound!”), but what one approaches the question metaphorically, I have a difference of opinion.

One’s creative output is like the tree and putting in the work (chopping it down) isn’t enough. One must make sure people are around to hear the sound.  Show the work, explain the work, analyze the work, accept feedback on the work, learn from the work, and create new work.

It’s not easy and it takes dedication, discipline, and patience, but the potential for growth and reward is great. Besides, if no one at first notices one or two felled trees, they will surely notice the clearing you’ve created if you keep on chopping!

Every Hero Needs a Theme Song: Oddisee’s “That’s Love”

Motivation. How to get yourself up to do what needs to be done?! I find music to be a great motivator (deadlines, fear, and insecurity are others…) and Oddisee’s single, “That’s Love” more than fits the bill.

Oddisee, the Good Thing
Oddisee’s “The Good Thing” is a shot of sonic caffeine

The Maryland native, Brooklyn-based artist’s new album The Good Fight “acknowledges the stacked odds, but refuses to submit”.


Stream and purchase the new album on Bandcamp, support a great artist, put your cape on, and create your own!



Adobe Draw CC: Part 2, Whiplash Poster Design

I loved the movie Whiplash and I think the kinetic energy and jazz subject matter makes it a great springboard to launch into a new illustrative poster project using Adobe Draw CC mobile application (in conjunction with Adobe Illustrator and InDesign). My goal of the poster is to use modern technology to create an homage to classic cinema posters and record albums of the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Despite learning the functions of Adobe Draw CC, using a digital stylus as opposed to pen and ink, and grappling with capturing the detail, color, and movement of BOTH the subject and style; Version 2.2 is progressing well.

Keep posted as the project develops.

Adobe Draw Sketch
Version 2: Initial sketch in Adobe Draw application.
Refining sketch with Paintbrush tool.
Version 2.2; Refining sketch in Adobe Draw with Paintbrush tool.
Cuba Baila Poster
Graphic Inspiration for Whiplash Poster

The Extreme Productivity of Robert Pozen

Over the course of my career, I’ve read a lot of books on productivity and organization and Extreme Productivity by Robert Pozen is one of the best.  I first read it several years ago, and return to it again and again.


Many of the theories, techniques, and tools employed by Mr. Pozen aren’t new, but they are organized and reasoned through a lifetime of experience and success.

We are all busy and there is no substitute for hard work, but we can all learn to work a little smarter and be more productive.

The Impact of De La Soul’s Kickstarter Campaign

Kickstarter logo

The term game changer tends to be overused, but De La Soul’s Kickstarter campaign may inspire more artists to work through unconventional channels to finance and distribute their work.

De La Soul
De La Soul appeals to fans via Kickstarter for creation of latest album

In less than a month, more than 9,000 backers have contributed over 500,000.00 USD—obliterating the band’s crowdfunding goal of $110,000.00 in ONE DAY!

This method of crowdsourcing and unconventional financing sends a powerful message to established and emerging artists as well as media companies and distributors that technology is a great tool for creatives to send their art directly to market.

Revolutions on Air Documentary: The History of New York’s Golden Age in Underground Music


The Red Bull Music Academy releases a mini-documentary on the history of New York’s underground music scene entitled: Revolutions On Air: The Golden Era of New York Radio 1980 – 1988; a seventeen-minute overview of New York City’s urban music explosion, its architects, and the reverberations still being felt today.

New York City break dancers, circa 1980

First person accounts by underground music luminaries (such as DJ Marley Marl, Kool DJ Red Alert, Tony Humphries, and Stretch Armstrong) interspersed with vintage audio, photos, and video drops you in the moment when the underground broke above ground via New York radio and germinated throughout the world by cassette tape (I fondly have college recollections of students collecting,trading, and dubbing tapes from New York to Baltimore to Philly to Detroit to Chicago to Oakland to LA).

B-Boys on the block with prerequisite boombox, circa 1980

For those who choose to delve deeper into the subject, read Vivian Host’s feature on the New York radio scene.

OMG: The Expressively Ubiquitious Work of Oliver Munday

Oliver Munday Illustration
Oliver Munday’s SciFi’s unimaginative food [illustration for]: The Washington Post.
Great graphic design should stop you in your tracks and demand your attention.

This is what the preceding image did for me early Sunday morning as I fetched my paper off the front porch (yes, I still read actual newspapers). Large as life and in glorious color: a green, one-eyed alien in a metallic spacesuit holding a decorative ceramic dish of what appears to be pork and beans!

I saved the section and made a mental note to read the artist credit— this was my formal (but not the first) introduction to the work of designer Oliver Munday. After visiting Mr. Munday’s archive site and current work on Tumblr, I began to quickly recognize book covers, posters, infographics, and the 826DC design work for the Museum of Unnatural History: the breadth, diversity, and high quality of work is overwhelming and impressive.

Great graphic design should also create envy, jealousy, and above all inspiration.

Mission accomplished.

What Can An Elite Martial Artist Teach You About Your Design Business?

I had the privilege of participating in a martial arts seminar and instructor training with Kyoshi Dave Kovar (an elite martial artist with black belts in 10 Martial Arts styles) and many of the lessons learned in the dojo can be applied to the office.

In Mr. Kovar’s blog “In Martial Arts, You Are the Product”, he lists four elements essential to individual, team, and business success:

  • Your attitude – are you teaching every class as if it’s the best class ever? Are you approaching each project as your best project ever?
  • Your appearance – are you tidy and professional? A tidy and professional appearance instills confidence in yourself, your team, and (most importantly) your client.
  • Your presentation – have you spent time preparing for class, and do you have a plan? Strategic planning, organization, and goals for your team and your business are absolutely essential.
  • The attitude, appearance, and presentation of your staff – have you provided the guidelines and guidance for your team to succeed in the three areas above? Lead by example, but also clearly communicate attitude, appearance, and presentation expectations to your team.

My seven years of martial arts training and study have been a great resource for maintaining my physical and mental health and I would encourage everyone to engage in a physical activity or sport as a tool to maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

10 Reasons Why You Should Be Reading “Steal Like An Artist” Right Now

Steal Like An Artist
Complex concepts distilled into 10 easy actions

Last week on vacation I made time to read Austin Kleon’s, Share Your Work and it inspired me to revisit his previous book Steal Like An Artist one year later.

Read both of these books RIGHT NOW
Read both of these books RIGHT NOW

Mr. Kleon’s intelligent, humorous and straightforward observation of the creative process builds a persuasive case for starting work NOW and sharing it with others (one of my professional mentors refers to it as a “bias towards action”). These books are essential reading for any creative professional or aspiring creative. Happy Reading!