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Friday’s favorite things: April 17th

Every Friday we round up some of our favorite finds on the web this week, from illustrations and videos to fonts and photography.

Art attack
Wieden & Kennedy’s new campaign for New York’s Cooper Hewitt design museum is pretty provocative, especially if you’re a Soho-based modern art gallery. Artnet News certainly took offense.

Cooper Hewitt ad

 

Designer confessions
Online design asset website, Creative Market has launched a print series of 15 funny designer confessions. Check them all out here.

Designer Confessions poster

 

C3-POster
It’s not exactly new but this Star Wars 30th anniversary poster by Hightail user, JAKe is great.

Star Wars poster by JAKe

 

What did you see this week that grabbed your attention? Feel free to share your favorite finds in the comments section below.

Five creative process tools for the right-brain marketer

Wanamaker store advertisement19th century department store tycoon John Wanamaker is credited with inventing the money-back guarantee, hiring the first full-time copywriter and being the first retailer to realize the power of full-page newspaper ads. Despite his belief in the power of advertising, this pioneer of modern marketing was also enough of realist to recognize its limitations, as summarized by his famous quote:

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Lacking the analytical tools to understand cause and effect, advertisers in the golden age of Madison Avenue considered marketing as more of a creative endeavor dependent on intuition, inspiration and a sprinkling of stardust. Measurements of quantitative return on advertising spend were, at best, approximations based on focus groups and consumer surveys or assumptions made when a boost in sales coincided with a new campaign.

The internet and e-commerce has swung the pendulum dramatically in the opposite direction. In the modern era of advertising, there are a plethora of analytical tools for measuring every online campaign right down to the nearest penny. Search engine and display ads can track impressions, clicks and conversions, while cookies can tell you if a new customer saw your ad weeks before they actually purchased your product.

Pop psychology often defines creativity as right-brained, while scientific people are considered left-brained. In reality the brain is far too complex to be so neatly segmented but to use the convenient metaphor, marketing has increasingly become a left-brain exercise thanks in part to software that’s focused on quantitative analytics rather than intangible artistry.

What would John Wanamaker think of a world that could replace copywriters with software programmed to fine-tune SEM ads, much like how news agencies use algorithms to write articles? He may delight in knowing exactly which half of his advertising budget was being wasted, but he would probably also realize that modern consumers need more than just keyword-optimized copy.

Great marketing has always been a symbiotic union of the left and right brains. You can’t simply peddle a product when today’s consumers are more interested in brands that connect with them at an emotional level – with who they are and the lifestyle they lead. But how does a CMO or marketing manager balance the demands of the left and right brain? Do you need to be a modern-day factotum or middle-brain savant that is both highly creative and deeply analytical?

As a peddler of SaaS software myself, I believe the answer lies in the tools you use. The marketer’s left-brain is buzzing with a range of software solutions that analyze everything from website traffic and email conversions to ad views and SEO clicks. There are all-encompassing tools like Google Analytics or Adobe Marketing Cloud (still known as Omniture to most) and a myriad of niche apps that excitedly offer ever-advanced insights. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t receive a left-brain buzzword-laden email boasting of “big data analytics that will identify the best customer prospects through advanced machine learning.”

New Tech City white board with Post-it notesMeanwhile, the right side of the marketer’s brain is atrophying. With a paucity of software tools built for the creative process, many marketers still manage creative projects with an esoteric mix of Post-its, spreadsheets, email and overly complex project management tools spitting out Gantt charts. Perhaps the creative process, which is messy, spontaneous and has as many dead ends as successful outcomes, is not disposed to control by software?

Not so. For many years, file sharing services like Hightail have helped creative professionals working with large files to not only deliver final artwork, designs and video to clients, but to work with extended teams of freelancers and agencies to evolve ideas from concept to production.

File sharing is just one among a wave of new software tools that help facilitate the creative process. Finally, the marketer’s right brain is getting the help it needs and vendors are recognizing the market opportunity around creative collaboration. The following five apps are some of the most innovative ways to get a better handle on your creative process.

Trello
Kanban is a project management system widely used in manufacturing and software development. Trello is a simple and elegant take on Kanban that lets you easily progress projects using cards that are organized into stages. We use Trello at Hightail to manage the backlog of ideas we want to test on our site. As ideas turn to rough mock-ups, initial designs, and ultimately coded pages, the cards progress across our Trello board.

Hightail Spaces
This new beta service from Hightail is designed to help you gather feedback. You share an image file with others and they can add comments directly onto the image. It’s great for working with visual creative assets like photographs and illustrations.

Screenshot of Hightail Spaces

Remark
Remark does for video what Hightail Spaces does for images by allowing your team to have time-stamped conversations on specific sections of a video, avoiding the tedious process of providing feedback via email. (We’re currently working on a video commenting tool for Hightail Spaces.)

Rocketboard
Rocketboard is a mobile app that lets you share your physical whiteboard with people not in the room. Continuous screen refreshes and snapshots make it easy to have effective brainstorming sessions with remote clients and contractors.

Screenshot of Rocketboard app

 

Asana
For more complex creative projects, Asana is a simple yet powerful project management tool to keep track of tasks and deliverables. In addition to shared projects, Asana provides the ability to have conversations based around projects and tasks, which is ideal for the creative process.

These five apps should prove useful for bringing organization and efficiency to that hard-to-pin-down creative process. Though they each only solve a piece of the overall creative collaboration puzzle, they are welcome improvements to assist the marketer’s right brain in the era of left-brained big data analytics tools.

Volunteer week

Last week, everyone at Hightail got out of the office and spent a day volunteering for some local non-profit organizations. Here are some of the highlights of some fun and worthwhile days.

RAFT activity kits assembly
RAFT is a non-profit organization that aims to transform teaching and inspire the joy and discovery of learning through the use of engaging hands-on educational activities. We helped assemble activity kits that would be donated to teachers and schools educating students with developmental learning. Our hard-working team made 640 kits in just three hours.

RAFT welcomes Hightail volunteersHightail volunteers assembling activity kits at RAFT Hightail volunteers at RAFT

Guadalupe River clean up
The Guadalupe River originates in the Santa Cruz mountains and flows through the Bay Area peninsula before it meets San Francisco Bay. Any trash dumped into the river usually ends up out in the ocean, so the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy is always looking for volunteers to help clean it up. They gave us gloves, plastic garbage bags and trash picker-uppers and sent us to the riverbank where we collected multiple bags worth of trash.Hightail volunteers picking up trash at Guadalupe River

Trash collected from the Guadalupe River Hightail volunteers at the Guadalupe River

Humane Society Silicon Valley dog petting
The Humane Society Silicon Valley is a non-profit animal shelter that offers new homes for pets, provides affordable services like spaying/neutering and vaccinations and much more. We toured their facility to meet the cats and dogs housed there and were encouraged to spend time with as many dogs as possible to help socialize and comfort them—petting a dog for 20 minutes helps to keep their spirits up. We also featured in a short video about a dog named Reyna, who’s current available for adoption.

Kobe at Humane Society Silicon Valley Hightail volunteers at Humane Society Silicon Valley

Thanks to the all the organizations for letting us be a part of their great work.

Friday’s favorite things: April 10th

Every Friday we round up our favorite finds on the web this week, from illustrations and videos to fonts and photography.

Endless road
The new Honda ad campaign by agency McGarryBowen features an infinitely looping road and an interactive, non-stop YouTube video. Watch the ad below and click here for links to the infinite video and to go behind the scenes of the making of this inventive campaign.

 

Office space
Interior designer Lauren Geremia is profiled as part of The Huffington Post’s series The Cool Kids. Read her story and check out photos of her artistic interiors for various tech companies, including Hightail’s San Francisco office here.

Hightail office designed by Lauren Geremia

Now showing
The website Alternative Movie Posters is a brilliant showcase of interesting takes on movie posters by a range of artists and designers. Our favorite was this gorgeous image for Finding Nemo by filmmaker Rory Adams.

Finding Nemo Alternative Movie Poster by Rory Adams

 

What did you see this week that grabbed your attention. Feel free to share your favorite finds in the comments section below.

Customer spotlight: Kevin Murray Golf Photography

Kevin MurrayKevin Murray is a photographer specializing in golf, whose clients include St. Andrew’s Links Trust, Golf Monthly, Troon Golf and Footjoy. He talks to Hightail about bringing an artistic eye to the game and the major U-turn that changed his career.

My background is in advertising
I was the art director at an ad agency working on an account with Callaway Golf. We needed photos of one of the St Andrew’s Trust golf courses for an advertising campaign, but I had been frustrated by the general lack of great golf photography so decided to take them myself. When St. Andrew’s saw the results, they asked me to shoot all of their courses for them. That was about eight years ago and it led to a massive U-turn in my career.

St Andrew's 11th hole photograph by Kevin Murray

The first two years were a learning curve
When I first started working as a golf photographer, I didn’t even have any of my own equipment and had to do a lot of research about what I’d need. But I had studied visual communication at college and, as an art director, had worked with the ad industry’s top photographers. So I was comfortable behind a camera and ultimately it wasn’t that difficult for me.

St. Andrew’s Links Trust never had an official photographer
It was a great honor to have that title bestowed on me last year. I’m also staff photographer for Golf Monthly and I cover Europe and the rest of the world for Troon Golf, which manages about 250 courses globally. I’ve done fashion shoots, usually for golf apparel, and I occasionally join the European Tour where I get to work with the players. There’s a lot of travel involved. I’ve been away five times already this year and have another six trips coming up.

St Andrew's 9th hole photograph by Kevin Murray

My training allows me to change styles
As an art director you don’t just work on one account. We had a host of different products and clients to promote so you had to be flexible in the way you approach different problems. That experience has helped me switch my photography style from landscapes to editorial and fashion, even more technical stuff, like capturing a golfer’s swing sequence. Whatever you’re shooting, it’s about making sure you deliver the best quality image you can at any one time.

I do the critical thinking for my clients
At the ad agency, I was highly critical of any photographs we’d use in campaigns and I apply that thinking to all the shots I provide to my clients. When they employ me they’re not getting a photographer who’ll just go out and shoot. I think about it, look at the angles, push the boundaries and try to make it different.

Doonbeg photograph by Kevin Murray

I photograph landscapes that just happen to have golf flags
I try to make my images for everyone to enjoy not just golfers. I want to make them a little different to the usual golf photography. I’m inspired by the Impressionist painters and try and get the same kind of drama into my images, while American artists like Frederic Remington have influenced my color palette. I see my work as more art based than completely commercial.

St Andrews 18th photograph by Kevin Murray

Getting artwork ready used to be a labor of love
In the pre-digital age, all the post-production work could have taken you a week to do; now it’s an hour. We embraced new technology very early at the ad agency. It cost us a lot of money: I remember we bought two Apple computers, software, a scanner and printer and it cost us £33,000. Your iPhone probably does more now than all that equipment did.

Kevin Murray office

I do all my own post-production work
People like my work because it’s totally me. I don’t farm out any retouching because I want to ensure the pictures accurately represent what I remember seeing. You get 95% there when you take the photo and do the rest in post-production. But you always have to make sure the image remains real and doesn’t become over-stylized.

Kevin Murray golf accreditation badgesI’m a big fan of Hightail
It’s the easiest way to share photos with my clients. Plus, I can track what I share and make sure my client has seen the work before I go back and ask if they need anything else. Being able to see how many times the files have been downloaded is a good way to know if there’s a potential problem. Multiple times means they’ve may have been passed on to others for a second opinion. It’s useful to be prepared for situations like that.

I was a latecomer to golf
I took it up as my main sport after I finished playing soccer. When we won the Callaway account, I had been playing for about four years so that was great fun for me. Now, when I go to the Open and other major tournaments, I get to work with some of the legends of the game. That’s a great experience for me as a golf fan.

To learn more about Kevin and see more photos, visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

Tool tips with Tim Ciano

Tool tips is a regular series where Hightail employees share their life’s most essential apps, online services and websites. Next up is Systems Administrator, Tim Ciano.

Tim Ciano's tool tipsWorking tool
As a recovering app junkie, I have been through an adequately long rehabilitation process to achieve a minimalist app-life. Minimalism is key to keeping it lean and clean. As a strong proponent of modernizing IT processes and services in order to provide better end user experiences, become more efficient operationally and to reduce the impact of IT on the company’s bottom line, I have found that 1Password is an amazing resource. The daily grind of corralling runaway systems to complete tasks while simultaneously discussing designing less fragmented systems can feel like herding cats, but 1Password allows me to keep track of complex passwords quickly and helps me hyper-task between systems. It’s easy, clean and available on multiple platforms so I have it handy regardless of where I launch my navigation session. It also allows creating variable password complexity beyond the human imagination without having to memorize each individually complex password.

Playtime
Although I enjoy console gaming (PS4 is my poison of choice), I’ll leave that out of this section. The app that I would say I find invaluable is Nike+. It just helps me get going and allows me to track progress on how active I’ve been for the past couple of years. You can share out to friends and family on Facebook for cheers or get a customized program (if you’re into that sort of thing). I particularly love the heat maps. You can find out the most popular running routes in a given area based on other Nike+ users, challenge and compete with them on the leaderboards or design your own routes. It’s a great digital coach that also allows you to generate those power playlists that push you when you need it most. You can also buy gear conveniently from the app as well…the shiniest newest sneakers at your fingertips.

General resource
As someone who appreciates patterns I have grown to love Sigalert. Sigalert is a great app to find out traffic patterns and current conditions on freeways. I heavily rely on it to evade the heavy traffic load windows in the Bay Area (yes there is a pattern). The interface is quite simplistic almost as if to spurn design aesthetics. But it beats almost every map app out there when reporting accidents, current conditions etc. I’ve been able to optimize the best hours of productivity by spending less time and mental “road rage restraining” energy because of Sigalert.

Credit Karma is my other favorite resource. Like the Nike app does fitness, Credit Karma aids with personal finance “fitness” habits.

Hightail illustrations: 2015 part 1

Each week we send an email to our regular users with feature information, discount offers and interesting things to read. We often include an illustration specially created for these emails and we thought it’d be fun to showcase what’ve we come up with so far this year.

Big thanks to our illustrators Dominic Flask and Luke Bott for their excellent work. To see more Hightail illustrations, check out our 2014 roundup.

Happy holidays illustration by Dominic FlaskOne from late last year: holiday greetings and a beautiful snow globe. Illustration by Dominic Flask.

Back to the Future 2 illustration by Dominic FlaskRinging in 2015 with some Back to the Future Part II references. Illustration by Dominic Flask.

Productivity illustration by Luke Bott Extra arms could make you more productive, but Hightail is probably easier. Illustration by Luke Bott.

File tracking illustration by Luke Bott

Is file tracking on your radar? Illustration by Luke Bott.

Valentine's Day illustration by Luke Bott

A Valentine’s Day card for you. Illustration by Luke Bott.

Cabin fever illustration by Luke Bott

If you had cabin fever, we offered a cure for your winter blues. Illustration by Luke Bott.

Password protection illustration by Luke BottPssst…don’t mention password protection (or Spy vs. Spy). Illustration by Luke Bott.

St. Patrick's Day illustration by Luke Bott

A pint for Paddy’s Day. Illustration by Luke Bott.

Spring illustration by Luke BottWelcoming springtime. Illustration by Luke Bott.

That’s it so far for 2015. Keep an eye on your inbox, follow us on Twitter or Like our Facebook page for more great illustrations to come. To learn more about the illustrators, read our interview with Dominic Flask and check out Luke’s Bott website.

Privacy policy update: April 2015

We recently made a few small updates to our Privacy Policy page to finalize our APEC certification and want to ensure you are aware of what’s changed. 

APEC certification requires posting of TRUSTe’s APEC seal code on our privacy policy page. That code has now been added and our “last updated” date has changed to reflect the addition of this seal.

You can find the full policy here.

Friday’s favorite things: April 3rd

Welcome to a new series where we round up some of our favorite finds on the web this week, from illustrations and videos to fonts and photography.

Stamp of approval
The illustration work of Mexican outsider artist Martín Ramírez has been selected to appear on a new set of USPS postage stamps. This Design Observer article showcases all five stamps, plus interviews the art director who designed them.Martin Ramirez USPS stamp

Nuclear energy is awesome/terrible
This pair of beautifully animated videos by German design studio Kurzgesagt offers fascinating counter arguments for and against the use of nuclear technology.


Big Bend
Bend is a very funky contemporary ribbon type family designed by Paris-based Art Director Juri Zaech. Best of all, the Bend One font is free to use — you just pay with a tweet or Facebook post. Check it out here.Bend One font by Juri Zaech

What did you see this week that grabbed your attention? Feel free to share your favorite finds in the Comments below.

Customer spotlight: VSI TV

VSI TV logo“Everyone’s a potential filmmaker.” John Gubba gestures at the collection of video cameras, tape players, editing equipment and lights scattered around his studio. “The barriers to entry used to be huge as you needed a lot of money to buy the equipment. Now you can get a laptop and a decent HD camera for less than ten grand and work out of your bedroom. Even smartphones shoot decent quality video.”

John is the owner of UK-based video production company, VSI TV. Looking out over the beautiful English town of Marlow where he is based, he notes how the digital revolution has made his industry very competitive. He’s even seen journalists using iPads to record press conferences where once a professional camera crew would have been hired. But in a world increasingly hungry for video content, he believes quality will always win out.

“Anyone can press record,” he explains, “but you need skill to make a good film. People will still pay for quality. You just have to ensure people know that’s what you provide.”5R1A8091-resizeA nephew of British TV sports commentator, Tony Gubba, John accompanied his uncle to soccer games from a young age and got an early taste of broadcasting life. At the age of 18, he was already sports editor at a local paper in his hometown of Manchester. After a stint presenting a Sunday night radio show, he moved to London to write about sport for the Sunday Mirror newspaper. Later, while working as a reporter and producer for national TV broadcaster ITV, he decided to start his own company.

“We’d send 25 cameras around the country to cover the weekend’s sports events,” he recalls, “then supply this content to broadcasters. We also published our own sports compilations on VHS and, later, DVD, to sell in high street stores.” This lucrative market allowed John to leave ITV and focus solely on VSI in 1992. At its peak, the company had 10 fulltime employees and an annual turnover of one million pounds. John smiles wistfully, “Now the DVD sales wouldn’t pay my wages.”MGN_freeDVD_FRONT PAGE 2005-resize

Digital technology and the decline of the DVD retail market forced VSI to rethink its strategy. The company now works on a commission basis: filming events for broadcasters or corporate clients and creating online videos and TV commercials for small businesses. And though the competition for these jobs is fierce, John believes his multi-faceted experience gives him an advantage.

“I’m a lot of people rolled into one. Sometimes I’m the director of a shoot working with a crew but I can also just turn up on my own and be the director, producer, editor, cameraman, reporter, narrator, scriptwriter and publicist. People come to me because I’m a storyteller. Because I have all those skills, I see the overall picture.”

An eye for the bigger picture suits John’s entrepreneurial spirit. He once developed an entire TV series for Animal Planet on a whim. “In 1999, an animal handler named Trevor Smith was taking some cobras to Egypt for a movie shoot with Omar Sharif,” he recalls. “I thought it sounded like fun so went along and filmed him. I brought a seven-minute edit called Wild Thing to Animal Planet, which had just set up in Europe. Three minutes in, I had money for one show. But we made a full series with our own money because I believed in it and they ended up buying all 13 episodes.”Behind the scenes of Wild Thing for Animal PlanetJohn’s latest venture is also animal based. He’s filming the story of an unusually talented raccoon named Melanie. After failing an audition for TV show Britain’s Got Talent, the raccoon’s owner Kimberly Unger commissioned VSI to make a short film. “She was so blown away by the four-minute short, she wanted to expand it to a half-hour documentary,” he explains. “Her family is putting up half the money and I’m investing the other half. I’ll take the finished film to MIPDoc in Cannes in April and sell it to film buyers from around the world.”

During production, Melanie’s owner needed to share her archive of photographs with John, so he immediately directed her to his Hightail Uplink page. “A lot of my clients don’t use file sharing services, so Uplink is really great. I use it all the time. I made a promotional video for an interior designer who sent me time-lapse footage of a home makeover via Uplink. It’s very useful.”

Hightail first became an essential tool when VSI started working with MUTV, the official TV station of one of the world’s biggest soccer teams, Manchester United. Making 12 documentaries for the channel over the past five years meant John has had to make regular 350-mile round trips to Manchester. Rather than take portables drives with him each time, he started using Hightail.Paddy_MUFC 1920x700“Hightail is essential,” he says. “When news broke that David Moyes was replacing Alex Ferguson as manager of Manchester United, MUTV asked me to go to the Football Writer’s Awards that night in London and interview people about him. I filmed the likes of England manager Roy Hodgson, returned to my studio later that night and sent them the files via Hightail. MUTV was able to broadcast the footage the next morning. Being able to share videos quickly can be crucial in my business.”

Effective file sharing will become an even bigger issue over the coming year thanks to upcoming changes in broadcasting standards. Currently, the UK’s major networks still receive the final, high res version of a show on tape. But new digital file standards have now been agreed so that broadcasters will soon go fully digital.

“A 60-minute HD show will be 50GB,” adds John. “I think it’s great. I wish all my old footage was digitized. I have more than 5,000 tapes here but transferring all of them is a fulltime job. At the moment, we just digitize specific requests, but even that’s a lot of work to manually search our library for the right tape.”DSC_0787-resize

Though VSI can no longer survive on DVD sales, the company also monetizes its archive by publishing clips on YouTube, Blinkx, Yamgo and SPB TV, receiving advertising-based royalty checks for each view. Last month John hosted a panel at the Broadcast Video Expo on the subject of digital monetization where guest speakers from successful viral video firms Endemol Beyond, Maker Studios and Barcroft TV discussed how valuable the right content is.

“I’ve always said that content is king,” says John, “but the real truth is that quality content is king.” With more than 25 years experience in telling stories and making high quality films, VSI TV remains perfectly placed to succeed in a video-hungry world.

To learn more about VSI TV visit www.vsi.net, watch videos on YouTube and follow them on Twitter.

Three key shifts in the design industry

This article was originally published in Computer Arts.

Fred Deakin is Professor of Digital Arts at University of the Arts, London and runs Collabology, an experimental educational initiative that readies students for working in the creative industry by encouraging greater collaboration. He outlines three key shifts happening in the design industry and shows how new talent and established players can prepare for the future.

Fred Deakin - photo by Rankin, DestroyIt’s a confusing time to be a young creative. We are in the middle of the biggest cultural and technological revolution in centuries, and anyone who tells you they know what the digital world will look like in six months, let alone six years, is a liar.

There is always wisdom to be gained from studying the past, but trying to replicate a previous generation’s career paths in the current climate of relentless innovation is clearly misguided. How can our emerging talent respond appropriately to this situation and how should education be helping them?

I believe there are three key shifts that need to be considered. The first is that we now all have access to professional tools and resources that will empower us to engage with pretty much any creative task. Affordable technology and software brings us tools, while Google provides basic understanding.

1. The shift from specialists to the multi-skilled
Specialists will always have their place, but a multi-skilled career will be the norm for the majority. Despite the stated specialisms of their respective courses, most students I teach are embracing this possibility and are refusing to classify themselves as designers, musicians, filmmakers, sculptors or performers, preferring instead to allow their creative instincts to lead them into whichever medium they feel is appropriate.

This can be problematic when an instant solution ignores fundamental design principles, but more often than not genuinely new synergies emerge. Working in this way also encourages the ‘T-shaped’ principle originally coined by IDEO.

Alongside a deeply developed core discipline (the vertical line of the T) practitioners also have a basic understanding of a diverse selection of skills (the T’s crossbar). This enables them to collaborate more easily with experts in those other fields.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 7.54.40 PM

2. The need for greater collaboration
Collaborative skills are crucial when we consider the second shift. Today’s projects are vastly more complex than before. The need for a truly integrated digital element, as well as the constant innovation demanded by a rapidly changing landscape, means that a far wider range of skills is necessary.

The power to deliver excellence is now beyond the capacity of any one individual or a single discipline team, and the need to collaborate with others who excel in different areas is paramount for success.

But collaboration is not as easy as it sounds. Humility, trust and generosity are required to accept feedback on your half-finished work, explain its intentions in ways that others can comprehend, understand why feedback is important, honor others’ concerns and value their expertise as much as your own. Egos need to be left at the door – the age of the rock star designer is fading fast.

3. Closer ties between education and industry
Collaboration is a muscle that needs exercise. In my new role as Professor of Interactive Digital Arts at University of the Arts London I’ve been organizing a series of pop-up design studios in which 20 students from a range of courses are brought together for two weeks within a workspace donated by a pioneering partner from the creative industries.

Still from The Workshop

 

The invitation to the students is to come together to imagine and then deliver ambitious cross-media projects that have a positive impact on the world: so far the results have been brilliant. There is some initial resistance from the students, but after letting their egos relax a little they embrace these new possibilities with enthusiasm.

Cross-disciplinary and collaborative skills are important because of the third shift. It is a very exciting time to be a young creative. There has never been more opportunity: it’s still possible to have a great idea tomorrow and see it change the world within a couple of years by accessing an online audience directly.

How to prepare for the future
You’ll need some like-minded colleagues, lots of hard work, a damn good idea and a bunch of luck, but no generation has had more ability to create its own future.

In the last few years I’ve seen the internet become increasingly monetized by a new breed of corporates and snake-oil merchants who have weakened the original spirit of discovery and community that made us all fall in love with it.

This is inevitable with any emerging medium, but the internet is continuing to transform on a daily basis and it’s our responsibility to make sure that the next phase of the digital revolution is a genuinely creative and communal one.

I believe that embracing these practices will empower us for this challenge – watching them spread through education and industry, I’m optimistic about the future.

To learn more about Fred and his design, video and music work, visit freddeak.in

Five ways to embrace your inner perfectionist

Perfection - the gameThe world of tech has a popular maxim: f*ck it, ship it. It means that a new app, website or software update should be released once it’s good enough, even if it has a few bugs. This attitude powered Facebook’s “move fast, break things” ascent to becoming the world’s biggest social network. Netflix founder Reid Hoffman famously said, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

In a fast-paced age of instant gratification, it seems like there’s no space or time for perfectionism. It’s often seen as a psychological disorder and perfectionists are people who need to be controlled. But some of the greatest modern creators are acknowledged perfectionists, from Steve Jobs at Apple to Pixar’s John Lasseter. Film director David Fincher is infamous for shooting multiple takes—one scene in Zodiac was done 56 times.

Perfectionism isn’t dead but how you get the most from your inner perfectionist has changed. You need to produce and share work faster than ever, but even if you aren’t aiming for Oscar glory or a record-beating share price, it’s worth getting details right so you’re creating high quality work and not fixing problems later. These five tips will help you embrace your inner perfectionist while remaining productive.

1) Decide how perfect it should be
Think about what you’re working on and how perfect it really needs to be. A flyer for a one-off event that will end up in the trash next week may not need you to spend hours poring over the smallest detail. A video you hope will still be watched on YouTube five years from now demands more attention. Of course, even ephemeral creations have long-lasting potential, like these beautiful hand lettered tickets that people at a whiskey tasting event preferred to keep instead of claiming their free drink.

Hand-lettered drink tickets

2) Be more collaborative
As Professor of Digital Arts at University of the Arts, London, Fred Deakin noticed how his students rarely collaborated effectively. “Students are marked on individual work so collaborating isn’t an obvious thing to do. My students would tinker endlessly with a piece of work until they feel it’s perfect before showing it to anyone. But the best creations often have little in common with the first draft and other people’s feedback is invaluable. I now run Collabology, a workshop designed to encourage collaboration and to show that aiming for perfection means sharing imperfect work.”

3) Focus your perfectionism
Italian philosopher Vilfredo Pareto’s observation that 20% of the pea pods he grew in his garden produced 80% of his total peas formed the basis of the Pareto principle. The 80-20 rule has become a business standard and can also apply to your creative endeavor. If you assume that the majority of your audience are really just interested in a small part of what you create, figure out what that is and make sure it’s perfect.

4) Impose strict deadlines
Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels said about the weekly sketch show, “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30.” Deadlines are great for limiting perfectionism so even if your client or project doesn’t have a deadline, impose your own. Before work starts on every Pixar film, the studio sets a release date. As this amazing contribution to Letters of Note shows, John Lasseter’s opinion is “Our films don’t get finished, they just get released”.

Letter from Pixar

5) Remember that imperfection is relative
While you may see every flaw in your work, most other people won’t. At the end of a project, if your client is happy or your audience approves, then you’ve succeeded. Learning from mistakes lets you produce even better work next time so you’re always improving. Even an outright failure can be considered a step towards success—remember that the greatest baseball players of all time failed to hit half the pitches they faced.

Are you a perfectionist? How do you ensure your work is as good as it can be without missing deadlines and being unproductive elsewhere? We’d love to hear your tips in the comments.

Customer spotlight: Scales Advertising

Scales Advertising business card

 

When Scales Advertising describes itself as a “full-service agency”, it’s not messing around. Lots of ad agencies use the term, but few have such definite proof they mean it as this Minnesota-based firm that specializes in outdoor and recreational markets.

Working for a ceramic grill brand, Scales not only created a website and animated promotional video, but also developed a popular social media campaign and designed packaging, brochures and merchandise. A unique, outdoor fashion label came to Scales for a website, TV commercials, fashion photography and label designs.

Scales Advertising creative area

 

Whether it’s coming up with a tagline that helped a client get listed as one of Inc. Magazine’s fastest growing companies, or designing stunning, appetizing packaging for chocolates; Scales thrives on creating and sharing ideas. But that wasn’t always very easy.

“We used to send files to clients using FTP,” recalls the firm’s IT Director, Andrew Satnik, “but clients frequently had trouble using it. I was tired of fielding calls from people telling me they couldn’t download the work we had sent. We needed a new approach, but we had to solve the problem without breaking the bank.”

Andrew tried Hightail and was impressed with its simplicity. He knew both the Scales team responsible for sharing files with clients would find it fast and easy to use.

“With a service like Dropbox, using folders means there are a lot more steps. No one else seems to get the simplicity of just sending a file except Hightail. Switching to Hightail eliminated all the problems with clients not being able to download files. It made things a whole lot easier for us.”

Scales Advertising studio

 

In the competitive outdoor market, brands need to be fiercely protective of new products and campaigns until they’re ready for launch. With such a deep involvement in all aspects of their clients’ promotions, Scales is always very security-conscious.

“It was definitely on our minds when we chose Hightail,” says Andrew. Around that time Dropbox was getting a lot of negative press about security, which is why we didn’t consider keeping it. Another key thing about Hightail is that when our clients get a file link email, they see the Scales logo. This branding is very important as it assures them they can trust this link.”

With simple file sharing, trusted security and customizable branding, Hightail offers the kind of full service that Scales Advertising understands and needs.

Learn more about Scales Advertising at scalesadvertising.com and find them on Twitter and Facebook.

Tool tips with Lindsey Robinson

Tool tips is a regular series where Hightail employees share their life’s most essential apps, online services and websites. Next up is HR/Staffing Specialist, Lindsey Robinson.

Lindsey Robinson and a pirateWorking tool
HR is a special department where we save every document of information. It is usually daunting to keep track of all the reports, job offers and forms that we depend on, but Hightail’s Desktop app is our silent hero. It allows us to save everything virtually while granting access to the whole department (all three of us), which helps us stay green and efficient. Anytime we need to look back at an old offer or report, we effortlessly peek into our shared folders instead of frantically searching through cabinets full of loose papers.

Playtime
Pinterest is the holy grail of everything. It helps me organize projects and events and is also there for me when I am bored out of my skull. Anytime I have to plan a work event, find out a friend is getting married or want to make house upgrades, I bust out Pinterest to get the ideas flowing. I love that you can collect your ideas on boards to keep your projects separate and make comments…very similar to our amazing new beta product, Hightail Spaces.

General resource
I love following the Humans of New York blog by Brandon Stanton. The stories he gets people to share are often nothing you would expect and it’s a great reminder that everyone has some kind of battle or struggle and to just always be friendly, kind and understanding. To get real world news, I recently started reading theSkimm. I usually don’t have time to catch up on world events so this daily newsletter is a quick update on what’s happening outside of work.

For more Lindsey, follow her on Pinterest

Customer spotlight: Polyvinyl Records

Polyvinyl Records logoSeth Hubbard is Label Manager for Polyvinyl Records, an independent record label. He talks to Hightail about the label’s history, making music videos and why he strives to not have a Polyvinyl sound.

Who started Polyvinyl Records?
Husband and wife duo Matt and Darcie Lunsford started the label while they were dating in high school. It has now been around for 18 years and is home to bands such as: of Montreal, Japandroids, Deerhoof, STRFKR, American Football, The Dodos, The Rentals and Alvvays, to name a few.

How did you come to join the label?
I majored in music business in college and while there helped run the campus radio station, which led to my internship with Polyvinyl. I’m now Label Manager and oversee all aspects of the label, most specifically all things promo and A&R related.

Polyvinyl single series

How has digital technology changed the music industry?
Technology has changed EVERYTHING about the music industry over the past decade. The way things are now vs. how they were when I started are night and day. Polyvinyl is a small enough company to have been able to adapt quickly to the ever-changing musical landscape. We strive to be at the forefront of new developments in how people listen to music and discover new artists.

How has the kind of music that Polyvinyl releases changed?
When I first started the label was beginning to branch out from its roots in the Midwestern DIY/emo scene. One of the first bands I worked on when I started was Mates of State, which was a major shift stylistically from our previous bands. Six months later we signed of Montreal and that was a major turning point in broadening our palette. I love how labels like Sub Pop and Merge have such varied rosters. My goal is to not have a “Polyvinyl sound”. I want music fans to know if Polyvinyl Records is releasing it, then it will be good no matter the genre.

OfMontreal album cover


How much involvement does the label have with producing music videos?
A music video usually starts with the band and label sorting out what the single is and if we should make a video. The label figures out budgets, deadlines, concepts, etc. and I’ll go through our pretty large Rolodex of video directors if the band does not have someone specifically in mind. I deal directly as the go-between for the band and the director – it’s one of my favorite parts of my job.

How does Hightail fit into your process?
I use Hightail every day. There are always WAV files, remix stems, video files, etc. that need to be sent to people. It is one of our go-to places to send files online. When we’re making videos, a lot of work-in-progress ends up on private You Tube or Vimeo links to sort out editing and FX choices.

Sonny and the Sunsets

Sonny and the Sunsets photograph by Alice Shaw

Where are you based and what’s it like?
We are based in the Bay Area and last year moved from the Mission in San Francisco to downtown Berkeley. The scene out here is great and very supportive. We’ve been lucky to work with some of the best local bands, including The Dodos, Sonny & The Sunsets and Painted Palms.

Visit the website to learn more about Polyvinyl Records and check out the label’s latest releases on its YouTube channel. You can also follow Polyvinyl on Twitter and Facebook