9 11, 2017

Lesson from the pain

Marina Abramović came to our Branding studio today for Debbie Millman’s Design Matter podcast show. I had been researching her since I knew she’s going to be in the program. It got me dig into some of her famous performances. The feeling she poured into her art was very honest. At least that what I felt.

My friend and I had a discussion about female and the feeling of being in pain. Not only mentally, but by nature, we also endure lots of physical pain. We talked about why female artist tend to show painful art. I am not an artist, but I wonder what role woman had before that is different than today.

Other than Marina, I was thinking about Louise Bourgeoise’s art that I saw in MoMA while back. It was dark and unfeminine at all. My friend’s art (she’s a young painter) was not necessarily reflect painfulness. Other female artist nowadays I am familiar with is Kawauchi Rinko, who’s photographs celebrate life.

I might have overthought the role of gender as influence in art.

The question I asked Marina, was basically my friend’s. Were older generation female artists tend to show pain and darkness on their work? Why is that?

Marina’s answer were quite surprising. She thought it’s not only female, but male artists tend to do the same. The act of resistance to the bounding rules, daily routine, and dullness were the reason they make art. It is not necessarily has to do with gender.

She is right. I should have researched on artists on both gender at the same period of time to compare.

Even later in the podcast recording, she mentioned that she was glad to have her work, The Artist is Present, to be held in 2010. The fact that the year was the time when social media starting to become everybody’s 2nd life, we forgot our of presence of being in the moment. Staring each other eyes, talking without saying a word, were the experiences we missed.

Time of when the art happened does matter.

Back to my first question and doubt, it is not the gender issue, but time issue. At Marina’s time, resistance to mainstream culture was in the hype. Marina and other artists were the reflection of time and their personal life. It make sense to see it that way, as well with my fellow creative friends in whatever field they do today.

The objective of my question leads me to a completely different conclusion. To understand the time when we don’t live in, we could trace different type of art from the time and look deep into the artists’ personal life. There will be a pattern that we could see from the big picture. It is very interesting to see that in comparison with creative work nowadays (art, writing, or design). Marina today has brought my curiosity to light.

29 06, 2017

How I deal with rude feedbacks

I had to deal with some rude clients of mine. It was mentally exhausting to the point I developed a thought of quitting the job. The job I was doing for this client was the least I like to do. Can you imagine having to deal with the same project you don’t even believed in for 5 straight month?

After complaining about my work life to most of my friend and to have threatened my project manager about quitting the project and left the company, I had calmed myself and taking myself away for a moment from the project.

The problem apparently was not really about the amount of work I had to do, but more on how the client impolitely treat the designers (well that including me and my manager). It was not physically ofcourse, but verbally. Each comment they made seems rude if I pictured them saying it. Yes, I always read comments like I imagined them saying it on my face.

So this time, as I copied several feedback that seems rude when they say it. To not crushed my soul, I paste it on document and started to change the typeface.

Did you see what’s the matter with the original version?
Small text, basic typeface, no bullet points, and repeating statement.

If you are a client wanting to tell something to your designer, or just someone wanting to explain complicated stuff to the others, please do it in bullet point, simple straightforward sentences, or at least give space between statement.

I found this very helpful and fun to do, even though it won’t be practical when you’re in a rush. Beautiful words don’t need a make up, but unwanted saying needs a retouch.

27 06, 2017

How Instagram new features really tells about self-branding

 

While browsing through my instagram couple days ago, the interfaces has changed. One new session added is a favorite list, symbolized with a star ☆ on a circle. The still empty page says ‘Share With Your Favorites’ and a button to another page where you can add your friends to your new favorite list.

Since Facebook taken over Instagram, there has been so many changes the initial Instagram would never have. Or atleast that’s what I believed. The initial purpose to inspire each others, to get to geotag a picture, and advance filter options are no longer the main reasons why people go to Instagram. I was addicted with Instagram, even until now actually, because of its user interfaces. Instagram used to have a very simple flow which make it easy to use and navigate. The only hard thing to do on Instagram was to choose the filter, which back in 2010, vintage style were back in trend.

Always inventing, always adding new

Now, Instagram more fit in with Facebook than it was, as a photo sharing platform. The removal of map page was one of the first changes Instagram did. For some of us, it was a great features. And then the tagging features came. It was when you can tag a friend on the picture. And the tagging page came. In this features, there was seems no escape to get a bad picture of you got into your page. We just had to deal with it. But then they added new features where you can choose not to show the picture you were tagged with in your profile, which was a life saver. After that Instagram has a secret bookmark session that is different from “liking” and only you can see.

Instagram Story came after, and it was the biggest changes that people thought was a plagiarism to Snapchat but we actually enjoyed. The filter, effect, stickers, boomerang, and more to come.

The innovations and ability to see what trigger users to do more on the app made Instagram now reached 500 million with 45% of them are between age 18-34 (born between 1980-2000).

 

The second life

We, as human, tend to share everything. Platform like Facebook and Instagram give us ability to have our own space to share to other or likewise, to see what other share to us. It was a great tool to keep in keep in touch with each other without even meeting them in real life. It was also a great tool to connect with people from all over the world because internet has no boundaries.

Funny enough, that social media has more become a platform for ‘me myself and I’ rather than getting in touch. We have created ourselves an image for other people to see. (Even more supported by the ability for “Archive” old pictures. This way, people don’t have to see the older side of ourselves). Different than talking face to face, picking up nice photos and edit it nicely giving us a chance to shaped our profile nicely. Just like making a brand identity of ourselves.

Filter ourselves image

The newest features on Intagram, Favorite list, is adjusting to users need to filtered own image to the eyes of the followers. We would definitely don’t want to show the whole of ourselves, as we afraid people will make use of the image. But we might want to share personal stuff to people who really matters.

For many this will be a great tool to avoid creating 2 different accounts, like one for private, and one for personal pictures. But for some, this is a waste of features, and it taken away the initial purpose of Instagram to share and inspire while we actually can send a direct message with images as well if we really want to share it personally and create a conversation.

Social Media reinvented

Instagram new personal homepage group everything in a more proper manner. The four tabs were Grid, List, Tagged, and Bookmarked, now are Grid, List, Favorite List, and Tagged. The order are more consistent as it was all about the users related pictures.

Not all people use social media a tool to share personal stuff too personal. Some were great at using it to tell good news, or just news that matters to others. I still use social media to share my personal stuff, hobbies, and travel tips (therefore I had created 3 instagram accounts for different purpose). I, myself am creating image of myself through social media.

21 06, 2017

Suddenly famous cake

It’s nearly Eid in Indonesia. The great exodus or ‘going back home’ is coming. One of local souvenir people would bring with them is culinary goods.

Each city has their own speciality food. For example Bogor, my hometown, has processed taro product, assorted pickles, and assorted mini bread (which once was a great innovation). Bandung, a popular destination for culinary-hunt, has their brownies and assorted pastries. The success of a culinary product that later representing the city where its originated were backed up by brands who saw potential on local resources and researches on western culinary trend.

Lately though, there are many culinary brand that are endorsed by national celebrities. For example: Bogor Raincake (by Shireen Sungkar), Malang Strudel (by her husband,Teuku Wisno), Medan Napoleon (by Irwansha), and someone has named most of them here. They were not building the brand by challenging consumer with the taste, but by selling their name on the brand. And besides, all the typical cakes have nothing to do with the respective cities. It made some of us think that there is one company that actually managing all of these and the marketing strategy is to brand all the city with one kind of western cake and one celebrity each.

These are what I learned from Indonesian:

  • Big consumers of televisions
  • Love culinary
  • Would travel miles and queue long for a culinary souvenir
  • When travel, like to bring something locally made to bring back home

These market characteristics actually suit with the marketing strategy all this celebrities have. We love to brand ourselves with something, why not brand a city with a culinary product and an ambassador?

Many says that the cake was nothing compare to brands that has been long established. The product though, are always on sale and actually made money. The strategy works. Back to the first point of market character on top. The respect of public figure is deeply. They follow them like American follows Keeping up with the Kardishians, even they are not actively involved in the television anymore. But due to infotainment, and lifestyle report of these celebrities, their names are still up there to public.

Social Media also involve in the marketing strategy. The stores’s Instagram is full of the famous owner’s pictures in apron. (Once again, they are celebrities, though they have never been famous for being a pastry chef). Sometimes, they announced that the person will come to the flagship store at certain point, which means a free meet and great with the fans while enjoying their cake. This makes interaction happened between the brand and the costumers. Which is great.

These brands (built by celebrities-sudden-interest-on-making-a-local-pastry-shop) is actually not selling the culinary itself. But more like their name and their existences as a celebrity. It goes back to the map of Indonesia. The management company of these brands are mapping each city with a famous name and something that everybody loves, which is culinary goods. It’s about making money by making connection possible between fans and the famous ones. Questions ask, how long will it last? Will it be depend on the taste? Or on how the celebrities bring themselves to public?

1 06, 2017

Necessary to Emotional-related brand

Recently I’ve been reading text from Brand Bible (edited by Debbie Millman) and came across the chapter of strong brands that now have been the pop culture globally. And yesterday, I was ready an article from Fast Company by Brian Millar about strong brands that are still be people’s favorites among other brands in their respective category. I tried to make a link of those two writings.

There are 2 aspects that bridge consumers loyalty and the brand. Those are necessity and emotional aspects. Necessity aspect tho, was the start of it. Before the industrial revolution, brands were not even to look at as long people got what they need even in a very minimum standard of quality. The mass produced products came to market the same time as the rising of the world economic and now they pick a brand that they can relate and trust to. Therefore, they pick a brand not out of necessity anymore.

Now if we go to groceries store and we are bombarded with couples of brand of its kind, we normally pick which packaging speak the most to us. Which label sounds convincing and trustworthy. Or maybe we picked a brand just to test it out of curiosity. It already sounds like it play with people’s emotion.

On the article by Brian Millar, he mentioned that brands which advertising are still the mass attention are brands that have an emotional relation to those who watched it. That is true. And no longer the product they advertised matter anymore (if not it would be secondary). Funny, useful, beautiful, and inspiring are the qualities top-long-lasting brands have in common.

Medium in this case matters. To reach the mass means also to adapt on how they spend most of their time with. Before it was the car and the road, but now it was on the internet. Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and Facebook post is the new television advertising from back then. These are some of many ways they can emotionally relate to us without shouting about their product.

Brands do need to be necessary in order to be successful but to be emotionally relate to the target should be take into a priority after product definition. These 2 writings, on Brand Bible and Fast Company, might not be related directly but it’s like the cause and effect kind of relation. It made me think, maybe to be emotional is not bad afterall, especially when it comes to create a brand that speaks.

8 05, 2017

Flower Board: The old fashioned way, modified

The scenery you see in this picture located in the governor office of Jakarta, recently in May 2017. The current governor, is a Chinese Christian, named Basuki Tjahaja a.k.a Ahok. He just lost Jakarta’s Governor Election that could give him the second chance of being the governor of mega-city Jakarta. Despite of his lost, he got alot of fans from all over the nation, inside and outside Jakarta. The demographic of his loyal followers are young educated people, middle and upper classes, minority (including christians and Chinese defendants), and everybody who sees the good of his govern. He is also never really show any religious attribute, and very approachable. The way he talked is very straight forward, and that what made him like able to young people.

The fans of Ahok is known for their creative force. Ever since the campaign started, Ahok branding is across so many platforms. After his lost though, the fans got outside of social medias and decided to started this One Thousand Flowers for Ahok as a symbol of appreciation to the governor. Now, the amount of flower arrangement collected in the governor office are more than 7000.

For foreign people this flower arrangement might be a little “big” and unique. Yes, this flower arrangement is not common elsewhere. This is called Steekwerk, or Flower Board. The word itself is dutch. It mean flower stems stuck up together into an arrangement. It used to be stuck up into a bamboo, or empty wall, but during the time, florist use styrofoam as the platform. Now the styrofoam served as a message board and the flowers are the frame.

The purpose of this flower board is like a greeting card for big and meaningful events such as weddings, funerals, or a grand opening. But in this case, Ahok fans used flower board to convey heartbroken words for his lost and some thankful messages. The message tho, were not as common as before. The choice of words in this case are more youthful with the use of more slang words. Some are very funny. This motivates other Ahok fans to make funnier boards. Soon after that, this phenomenon was somehow being a creative platform of people expressions.

This, is a good example of how creative people force meets old media.

12 04, 2017

Indonesian Vintage Vinyl Stickers

Vinyl sticker was really popular back in the days in Indonesia. Before the age of over consumerism and advertising, stickers contain popular terms, song lyric, or some religious words. I was hunting vintage stickers in Yogyakarta. The stickers below contain romantic terms. And the terms are no longer use today, and they sounds rather cheesy.

 

Gadis Impian – Dream Virgin Girl

Badai Pasti Berlalu – The Storm Shall be Over

Taman Puspa Indah – Beautiful Flower Garden

Utamakan Kebijaksanaan – Prioritizing Wisdom

This drawing style was very common till the nineties. Right now, you can see this style still not on stickers, but painted on big old cargo truck that normally travelled from one city to another bringing building construction materials. The newest trucks don’t normally have this kind of illustrations and poetic quotes anymore. Atleast nowadays, it is hard to find one, unlike a decade ago.

This illustration style showed us how back in the days, being youthful, romantic, and poetic were necessity. There were also not many products to promote, not many political campaign to pursued. It was all about romanticism.

6 04, 2017

Humor on Creativity

Lately I’ve been watching stand up comedy and unuseless reality show such as Impractical Jokers and Billy on the Street while working. While watching I couldn’t stop admiring how they never ran out of ideas.

There’s no argument that to create a good humor you need to be smart and insane. Humor in a way, is the same like design. It needs to communicate well to the audience. But also, weird enough and beyond the audience imagination, to make the joke stick in their head longer. I remembered a joke my teacher told me 12 years ago, and that joke is remembered more than the actual lesson.

A book I read by Joshua Foer, called Moonwalking with Einstein, is a book about a journey of the author on remembering everything. One of the tips that he learned is that we need to associate the thing we want to remember with an association that is weird and unrealistic. For example dancing wine bottles with red dress when you have to buy red wine while shopping. In a way, we have to create the joke, or the unimaginable in our head to make the actual event or thing stick in our head. This is why I think we should implement jokes on graphic design work if needed.

There are some examples of humor on graphic and advertising works that I admire. Kesselskramer is an advertising agency in the Netherlands that worked with humor most of their work. My favorite piece is their work for Hans Brinker Budget Hostel. The work is hilarious, ironic, and out of the box that I kept telling the jokes to my fellows. The ads work! The low budget hostel is now famous, thanks to them.

Humor can turn something boring to a total entertainment without necessarily taking out the real context. It’s a skill that could be develop if we take the irony, turned reality up side down, and really pay attention into detail of everyday life. I guess this is the skill all graphic designer should have atleast a little.