Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Friday, 1 May 2009

Creativity in Business

It is always great to find creative ways to do business.
'Doing ' business can mean different things, but it definetely starts with how you sell yourself.

And this guy has found a way to make sure no one forgets his introduction.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Grafitti as a social treasure

I fell in love with Grafitti when I fell in love with my husband. In his mid teens he began stealing paint and spray from Home Depot in Miami with his friends and they ended up painting half of the guetto walls and trains of the city. In fact we can still find some of his stuff there which is rare. It made him cool even 20 years later when I met him.

But 20 years ago grafitti was a crime, kids would end up paying high fines or completing community service time for 'polluting' the walls of cities like Miami. Today artists like Banksy get paid millions for their work and have their art protected by city councils like London (see how they have stopped the work from being erased)

Banksy is a major tipper (as in he makes the point tip) not just for himself but for others around the world. Many art and culture critics have made money compiling Banksy's work as well as writing about the mysterious artist, but what is really interesting is how other grafitti artists are inspired by Banksy's work.

This is the work of Derby Blue and he does his wall painting in Joao Pessoa, north of Brazil.

His work is also amazing and you can check some more of his stuff at

Friday, 3 April 2009

You don't need a record deal but...

Good were the days when record labels sent their A&R guys to search for new bands. They would bring you back to their office, make you sign all kind of (unfair) deals that promised you fame and glory. You bought into the idea, thinking how great life was going to be now that you had a record deal.

If you were lucky, your album would be released. If you were lucky, it would make it to a decent chart. If you were lucky you would make some money after the label paid for their expenses. If you were lucky ...

Things are different now. You don't need a record label anymore. With the help of ICT and other easily accessible technology, you can produce, record, promote and sell your own record without ever stepping into a label. See what Jill Sobule says about her fan-funded album, it was actually the first time she made money from her music.

Sounds too good to be true? Because it is. The DIY hype in the music industry is teaching musicians or 'creatives' to be their own bosses, take control of their creative productions and their life.

But here is one problem: not everyone knows or interested in business. It takes time, expertise, research and dedication to walk away from a record label - which has money, expertise and a network of established suppliers - to the path of self-employment.

In the past year I have interviewed, heard from, discussed, taught and learned from various creative practitioners in the UK and abroad. A lot of them are self employed, small businesses' owners/managers, freelance artists or working for small creative organisations and they all have something in common: they don't like business.

Whether is the word, its true meaning or what it implies, many 'creatives' hate the thought that what they do (trade their creativity) is actually doing business. Profit margins, Return on investment, loans, working capital, whatever the language, it feels as if creativity and business deal in separate worlds.

There are plenty of people who write about this, including my friend David Parrish ( who believes that there needn't be a dichotomy between creativity and business, in fact they must walk hand in hand.

This is exactly the lesson that musicians' need to understand if they are going to kick off the labels to the curb: creativity and business must mix.

If you are going to record your own album you are going to need to pay and hire studios, sound engineers, producers and sound equipment.

If you are going to promote your album you need to understand the dynamics of Web 2.0 along with joining loads os social networking sites, making sure you have great biographies on sites like and that your stuff can be found wherever people are looking for and listening to new music.

On top of this you need to sort out distribution, marketing, merchandising, touring and all of the logistics of being in business. Sounds fun, freeing or too much trouble?

Thursday, 19 March 2009

The new concept mobile DJs

So we all know that the development of the iPhone has allowed a blooming of apps for the phone and although I do not own an iPhone, I think it is very interesting how a new generation of developers are finding a way to create simple and quircky things.

I have recently discovered this cool gadget which isn't completely developed yet, but I know will speak loudly to the myspace generation and I believe this is just the beginning of very niche, but very cool market place for new shapes and formats of mobile phones. I specially believe that with the iPod making its way down the ladder, music consumers will require much more from their mobile phones and these in turn will be sold on their ability to store more music, buy music easily from the internet, provide better sound rates, as well as mix, remix and create new music.
The full article on this gadget can be found at:

Thursday, 12 March 2009

No Hope for Shepard Fairey?

The Associated Press (AP) has decided to sue street artist Shepard Fairey for the use of an Obama photograph takeN by the company in 2006. Fairey used the photo to create a piece of art titled 'Hope' which became a modern campaign image for the election in 2008.

Fairey claims that his alterations are fair use and the his creation is different enough from the picture. AP claims that Fairey earned over $400.000 from merchandise of this picture from the sales of t-shirts, buttons and posters.

The problem here is AP is trying to protect its copyright and Fairey has not earned a penny from the photo alteration since he donated all of the money to charity.

" I am disappointed the Associated Press is persisting in its misguided accusations of copyright infringement. I believe that my use of the Mannie Garcia photo as a reference, which I acknowledged off the bat as an AP photograph, falls under “fair use” provisions laid out in the law.

I am even more disappointed the AP is now trying to distort the facts surrounding my work. (...)

My entire purpose in creating the poster was to support Obama and help get him elected." said Fairey in an interview.

I believe AP is not trying to get any money from Fairey, rather make a point about the wrong use of content without permission. If the photo had been under the creative commons license, this wouldn't be a problem.

I do think that Fairey could have given the right credits to the original photo on his website for legal reasons.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Pop Surrealism

I have been enchanted with female figures in the past year, mostly those falling in the pop surrealism box. I have recently found the work of Audrey Kawasaki who mixes images of women with bones, skulls, snakes and other contradictory images in a very sweet and sour manner.

Here are some of my favorites but you can check out much more at www.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Yes we can!

It turns out Obama himself gave the American economy a boost when his face became the most popular print on t-shirts, buttons and mugs. When someone becomes a pop icon, they tip a point when everything they touch becomes gold.

Most band managers and labels know that there is a lot of money to be made from merchandise if you can become an icon. If it becomes cool to have your face on someone's t-shirt you can probably make more money with merch than you can with selling music (digital, cd and live).

But if the point tips too much, then you run the risk of becoming a cheesy icon (let's think Boy George) or other people will start making money from your 'iconicness' and you start losing money.

Here is the big problem:
  • bands don't own their music anymore (either the labels have taken their 75% or people are getting it for free)
  • bands potentially don't own their merch anymore (anyone can print t-shirts with your face on it and sell it on e-bay)
  • bands don't own their image anymore (managers, label execs, stylists will try and 'tailor' your looks so that you are more marketable) Has anyone seen Lady Gaga lately? I wonder what she looks like first thing in the morning.

So what do bands own? Well if they are smart, they will keep a hold of their IP.

Bands/musicians/songwriters only own their creativity. The only thing they have that is unique is their thought process and their ideas. If they don't protect that, they are nothing more than a product on a shelf.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Blythe Dolls

You can't help but fall in love with the story of the doll who became a pop icon by travelling the world posing for photographs.

Read more of her story at

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Watch out, they are falling from the sky!

The Giant Tetris (aka “One More Go One More Go”) is part of an outdoor art exhibition called Live Lanes - By George! which runs through January 31, 2009 in Australia. The installation was put together by the people at Gaffa Gallery -

Merry Christmas, old school style!


The 'shell house' by architect Kotaro Ide, is a sculptural shell-like structure which has been built in the woodsof karuizawa, located in the nagano prefecture of japan. The house is meant to function as a vacation home,which is able to withstand the humid summers and cold winters of the region. to accomplish this,ide opted not to use the typical wood structure of villas in the area because of their susceptibility to decay easily.

Grace Jones is sweet!

The artwork for her latest album, Hurricane, designed and art directed by Tom Hingston Studio, knowingly works the conceit of the popstar as visual commodity: in this case featuring life-size versions of Jones made out of chocolate.Photographed by Jonathan De Villiers, the cover for Hurricane features a production line of chocolate Grace Jones heads with supporting imagery showing Jones inspecting a range of body parts at various stages of the manufacturing process.“The original idea was to produce a set of images of Grace being mass-produced but with her being in control of the actual process,” says Hingston. “The crux of the idea is that she has ownership of her identity. We looked at a range of manufacturing processes, from car makers to pottery factories, but there was something about her being made of chocolate that had [the right] connotations.”

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Bands that sell more than music

The White Stripes have released limited edition camera sets on their website. The whole set is themed in their red, black and white signature colors.

The band offers two different kits for sale, The JACK Holga Flash Camera Starter Kit and the MEG Diana+ Multi function all-plastic camera. They each sell for US$180 and although only 3000 of those were made, they are still for sale on their website. A lot of artists use this limited edition model but sometimes it doesn't always do its job. However Nine Inch Nails used this same model with their limited edition deluxe box and it sold out in weeks.

The camera sets are a great way to enforce the band's brand. They are very unique in many ways but loads of bands get lost in the crowd after a few years and by creating unique branded products they can have a stronger impact on their fans while also creating a culture around their image. Smart move by their managers and label - or maybe it was their idea?

Cool knitting

This is the incredible work of artist Blythe Church:

You can see all of her work at