In case you missed it

A new Creative Lube is available. Get it here or on iTunes.

I had screwed up the link when I first posted the podcast–it is now corrected BUT at last check, iTunes still had the wrong podcast. You can get the right one from the link above, but for now, iTunes is hosed. I will post when (if?) I can get that fixed. Sorry for the confusion!!!!

UPDATE, part 2
It’s been fixed on iTunes as well. It should appear as Creative Lube 31a. Thanks for your patience!

Photo Nite

While I can’t stand the spelling (yeah, I’m weird and want it to be Night), Photo Nite is a local gathering of photographers and others who want to see their work. It’s not organized by one of the professional groups–it’s much more organic than that with the photographers themselves putting it together (particularly Kat W.).

Saturday I went to the 4th Photo Nite and it was great to see the crowd of people. Lots of interest and appreciation. Lots of camaraderie and support. None of the snippiness and back-biting that people claim they sometimes find in a community of photographers.

Me, I think there is a lot less of that negative all around. Maybe I’m being too optimistic, but I think that photographers actually like each other, mostly. I think they are interested in each other’s work and if we could get past the isolationism of the profession, the openness and dialogue I witnessed Saturday night (and which I have seen at APA and ASMP events) could help each of them in their businesses.

Getting ready for the upturn

It is no longer about “managing in a downturn,” said Thomas L. Harrison, chairman and chief executive at the Diversified Agency Services division of the Omnicom Group in New York, but rather “leading toward the upturn.”

This is from an article in the NYTimes about what is happening in the advertising industry now. The timing is funny–just yesterday I was talking to a potential client and I told him that I thought things would be making the turn this Fall. As I explained, I’m no economist or anything–this is just my hunch. Then this article appears–maybe I’ll be right.

Regardless, there will be an upturn eventually. For those who are working now at their marketing, they will be better positioned to take advantage of the turn. When the clients start opening their wallets, these people will be top-of-mind when the projects get greenlighted.

What are you doing to be one of them?

I like what CPB had to say in the article–that they’ve never been a company that plays much defense. In my opinion, that’s smart business. You can’t grow if you are too busy protecting. Risky? Yup. But business is risk.

It is also reward. Go for it.


Heather Morton has a series of recent posts about promos. You NEED to be following this. Here is the latest one, the Honourable Mentions (note the Canadian spelling), but look at the submissions and read the comments. Note quality of images and of materials and design.

This is what your promos are up against! How does that cheap, quickie postcard you whipped together last week feel now? Think it has a chance of breaking through?

Promos take time, thought (concepts!), money, and a team to put together. You can’t make butter with a toothpick (a favorite Southernism) and you can’t make a great promo by yourself with your Mac and for minimal printing fees. These days you need to think video/multimedia/sound & fury along with fabulous images… and don’t forget campaign. All these pieces need to reach out and, as Douglas Adams might have written, slap the target upside the head with a lemony-fresh, tasty gold brick.

It’s time to rethink for many of you. Let go of whatever is keeping you from going for it. As I posted to my BAP Facebook page earlier today:
When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap. -Cynthia Heimel


I spent yesterday evening with local San Diego photographers at a casual APA event. Somewhere between a roundtable and a bunch of comrades meeting in a bar, I think it was a successful experiment for how to encourage dialogue between photographers.

There was a loose agenda and gentle moderating/leading by Greg Lambert, but mostly it was good, naturally-evolving discussion. The topics last night were very much about marketing, so I ended up talking way too much of course (as I have a tendency to do–seems to go with the lawyer-thing too, btw), but everyone contributed. People listened and took notes and asked questions and offered their perspectives. I think it went quite well.

I have only one complaint about the event (okay, 1.5–the .5 was that venue was a tad loud): not enough photographers showed up. The event was free (buy your own drinks–it was in a bar after all) and it was promoted appropriately. And yet, only about 10-12 people showed up. This drives me nuts. Photographers everywhere are clamoring about how they are struggling. Here is this wonderful opportunity to do something positive for one’s business, and only a few people showed up.

What do you want people? A magic business fairy to appear and tap you with her wand and make you successful? Won’t happen, of course. This is work! It can be joyful work, if you choose to make it so, but don’t let anyone fool you–it is work. You have to do your end of it to make it. Sitting back and complaining or burying your head in the sand won’t do any good. You need to get out there and keep learning everything you can to find your own best path.

Meetings like the one in SD are great. Meetings with other creatives are great too. Tony Blei from Arizona wrote me recently and I wanted to share part of his email (he gave me permission):

So I’m a member of a creative group that is so creative that there really isn’t a membership. We just know the secret handshake and know where to show up on the second Tuesday of each month. Last night the place was packed with designers and photographers.

I’ve been working to get to know as many designers as I can and last night I handed my card to a guy who had just gotten laid off. He said, “Oh! I just got your postcard.” The art director let him come in to use the company computer and check his mail. Poor guy. I bought him a beer and told him about Agency Access.

How much you want to bet that offering that helpful info and the beer will result in a gig once that AD gets a new job? This is the kind of thing that can happen when you reach out. Talk to people. Colleagues and targets. Open up. Good things will happen.

Wharton updates

In the newsletter I just got from the Wharton School of Business there are two articles I think creatives need to read.

The first is about Guy Kawasaki’s Ten Commandments. Pay special attention to number 6.

The second is about how important right brains are in the new economy. Note the end of the piece where it talks about docs going to art museums.

CRAP, redux

(This is a slightly altered repost from several years ago…I think some people need reminding…)

Do you believe you are a creative; that is, a person with a gift, a talent, a set of abilities like no other person? Believing that is an act of faith and, rather surprisingly, it’s damn hard for some creatives to do. Are you one of those creatives who honors that gift or one of those who acts almost embarrassed or ashamed of it? Do you put down your abilities, your gift? Ever catch yourself saying things like “Oh, it wasn’t anything special” or “I just kinda shot it–got lucky with the light?” Do you refer to yourself and your path as “the guy who liked to draw as a kid and ended up in art school” or “the adult version of the kid who liked taking pictures for the yearbook but couldn’t do anything else?” Do you feel, on some level, like apologizing every time you get a check for your creative work? Are you waiting for the day when someone finally tells you you’re a no-talent hack who has only managed to fake it this far?

If you answered “yes” to any of those statements, you’ve got Cognitive Reduction of Art Pathology…or CRAP*.

One of the main signs that you’re afflicted with CRAP is that you refuse to use the term “artist” for who and what you are. The popular variation “commercial artist” is often used as a work-around, as if that makes you somehow less of an artist. If it’s commercial, it’s not real art–-that’s what you tell yourself. Your art’s value is downgraded in your own head, and yet you admire people like Annie Leibovitz, Frank Gehry, and Chip Kidd; people who are (commercial) artists. Famous artists in any field, no matter how commercial, are somehow different and are (real) artists, but not you. Not in your CRAP-filled head. No sir!

CRAP Facts
CRAP afflicts many people in the creative industries: designers, photographers, writers, architects, illustrators, musicians, actors, etc.
CRAP can bog you down just as sure as walking in a muddy, well-used cow pasture in a pair of high heels. After all, if you’re not a “real” artist you don’t have to push yourself creatively, right?
CRAP can be insidious; it’s one thing to be modest (a good thing) but one step too far and you CRAP all over yourself.

But you can rid yourself of CRAP. Here are some simple steps you can start today:

  • Call yourself an artist and what you make art. Do it out loud, every single day.
  • Remind yourself that if an ad costs $300K just for its space (placement), the art for that ad is worth a hell of a lot more than $2K.
  • Most people will not like your art, after all, most people like Wal*Mart and lawn ornaments; but the ones that will like it are the only ones that count and they’re the ones to market to.
  • You have every right to get paid and paid well for your abilities, just like a doctor or a plumber or any other pro; your skills are just as rare and valuable.
  • And, most importantly, you deserve to be happy–you are doing what you love, what you should be doing in this life–don’t crap on it.

[* CRAP was, of course, entirely invented by me. That makes it no less real in many ways.]

Interesting idea

As magazines and newspapers fold in greater numbers with each passing day, it is interesting that this new site has launched: True/Slant. There, individual journalists post their own stories. Each journalist is her/his own brand and the site is merely a place to centralize the information.

It used to be that journalists were lucky to get bylines. Now, they are the brand.

We need to look at this new model for other creative fields. How might this work for photo-journalists for example? (Hey Rob @APhotoEditor…thoughts?).

I have sent T/S an email asking if they are considering adding PJs to the mix. If I hear anything significant from them, I’ll let you know.

Impossible may take a little longer

The subject line is part of one of my favorite quotes (attributed to many people, my personal fave is Billy Holliday): The difficult we do right away; the impossible may take a little longer.

Seems to fit this project: the impossible project to make instant film again.

I think it’s great that people are trying to do this. I love that the passion is there to try. I have only one, very minor, complaint: all the “team” look alike–older middle-aged white men. Where are the women and the people of color? Where are the youth? At least for the younger folk they may never have played with Polaroid and so don’t know the excitement of anticipating the reveal. Too bad.

Still, good luck the the new IM force. Hope they make it happen.