The deadline for the Omnicom Summer School has been extended to the 7th of July. So get your applications done and send ’em off to Steve.
Whack your questions in the comments.
I’ll just launch into this one. My partner is a Sculptress; she travels pretty much all over the world on private commissions, competitions, residencies or is in the UK on public commissions. As a result I pretty much have to spend 60% of my spare time in art galleries and exhibitions…..you can usually find me outside sighing, smoking with…I won’t go into that again.
Anyway, I’m currently doing the university final year shows. Goldsmith’s, Central St Martins, Royal College, Camberwell etc and one thing is a consistent thread throughout most which is that apart from an elite 5% of these shows I am distraught to the self indulgent matter that is produced. This may seem harsh and this may seem from someone who isn’t educated in art but then what is a qualification to critique? Essentially art is as subjective as the people you find attractive, the music you like and food you find tasty so I’m well in my right to say I find most university work quite appalling. On the flip side you are quite entitled to say you find it great…
…but let’s focus on it being so appalling. If you walk around these shows you’ll notice that the majority of the work has no appreciation of the end audience in mind whatsoever (a lesson taught on all art courses so I’m told). Presentation is bad, appreciation of space is lazy and even take away documents such a business cards are shoddy and ill thought out. Essentially a final year degree is to show case your best work to the public, it’s already marked so this is the beauty contest with the end objective to either get a scholarship to an MA course or get work. Why the fck then would you confuse the public with conceptual, self indulgent meaningless, ill presented wank? It just supports the statistic that 82% of art graduates aren’t working in the arts. I mean, one girl had a cardboard wall, with sand at the bottom and a projector at the top which gave a faint bluey effect – water I guess. She’s only put it in the most light part of the gallery so you couldn’t even see the projection. One had cut her business cards with blunt scissors, oh how very rustic, bin. One guy had filmed his shitty back yard in Stoke Newington with his bed in it and a lamp on the floor…..for 3 hours.
Go to one and I dare you to write your honest thoughts in their comments book. It’s liberating! No longer will little Johnny waste his time under the delusion that because he ticked all the right boxes with lecturers, got a 2:1 and his Ma and Pa said ‘great’ will he think that drawing the 12 most influential people in the world, 6 good, 6 bad and calling it ‘The Balance’ is any reason for him to think he has a pubic louse’s size of a chance of working in the commercial art world. Now when it’s good, it’s good. It does everything that art is meant to do, it engages by using some sort of drama or craft skill, it has a visual impact that registers making you curious and you always walk back to it.
I was then dragged kicking and screaming to queue for Damien Hirst’s recent exhibition at the white Cube, Beyond Belief. Now I like Hirst I was just tired and annoyed of walking all around Brick Lane seeing gash. However, when entering the White Cube, fuck me, that man is a genius. Knowing every single button to press when creating things that people will just gape in awe at is a bloody strong talent.
I wont get conceptual about how his work transcends from birth to death ending in a skull encased in £12m worth of custom cut diamonds (which strangely enough is shown first and not last) but I will say it’s just an amazing solo exhibition and should definitely be seen to instil confidence in the Brit art scene. It makes you angry that Tracey Emin is representing the UK at the Venice Biennale and that Hirst should be there destroying every artist that claims be the next best contemporary thing. It’s cliché to like the guy Saatchi made famous with the populist Shark and rotting cow head, but it’s a cliché because it’s true. He is populist because he’s just so fckn good. Anyway, I’ll leave it there. Just wanted to write how pissed off I get with degree shows and how much I melt at high profile, high budget and high expertise stuff. When put like that, don’t take any notice of the above, I’m clearly just a grumpy c*nt. ……but…… Deluze did say. ‘I don’t claim to be an artist, but knowing what I like puts me in a more powerful position than one’.
Before I start this isn’t destroying those who network or enjoy it. It’s my humble view of why I care not to be a social butterfly with my occupational gain in mind. This could very well be a downfall of mine and as a result I may suffer in the future for having such a belief in an industry which is obviously quite populated with considerable top end favours being exchanged. So, shamelessly indulgent of me with no delusions of anyone being interested (I just care to write it down in a public place) why I don’t like networking and a type who network? Well, it’s again a fault of mine. I have this social flaw of being completely unable to act interested in anyone I spot with the pretense of verbally climbing the career pole all over their greasy little hands or like to spray those around them with their suspicious achievements.
Now Sam, Sam is gifted, he can quite gracefully (even with an American accent) work and charm the room and come across engaged with all those he passes. He’ll introduce me to a group, one will lean forward shake my hand give a nod, the overtly thin short lady to my left scopes me out, assesses my worth, forces a smile and tries to start a conversation with someone else, as karma would have it no one is interested in her so she pretends to read a new text message. A rather jittery researcher introduces himself to me. He gives me a card, I explain I didn’t bring any and the group all chuckle to themselves ‘didn’t bring a card’ they snigger. Sorry, last time I checked I wasn’t here to fckn flyer. I move away, partly because I would rather socialize with a disgruntled rattle snake than with these just human group that for some reason I’m in the same room as. Sam is still doing a great job, I sneer when he looks over, I’m going for a cigarette.
Outside, at last, free from feeling guilty that I won’t pretend that just because someone is talking on a raised stage it must be of gospel quality. A man barges past me, pacing up and down, talking on an ear blue tooth thing, I step around him so that I can’t see the side with the blue tooth so I can see what looks like him talking to himself, I imagine he’s insane and smile, he’s loud enough for me to hear which of course is on purpose and given the inane content could be convincing that he is in fact a mentalist. I sigh, I look back seeing lots of heads snapping back, mouths gaped open with exaggerated laughing. My spine shudders, I can’t do it, I won’t do it. A planner I use to work with stands next to me and lights a cigarette. At last, salvation. We chat about how much we hate these things, that certain speakers were great and some were, well, let’s just say not really as great as all the camera flashes will have them believe. Either way, we’re out of the office which seems the best thing right now.
Time to go back in, I spot the skinny little women chatting to one of the speakers as he nervously looks past her, waiting to have his cue to get mike-d up. Her rude compose with me and now her desperation with what she sees as an opportunity is in my eyes the very shallow, self serving and dishonest reason I don’t like these things. I’m filled with disdain for such people, I don’t trust them, I don’t like them….and I have a chip on my shoulder with those who play an arrogant card with me and alas it’s usually true to say that these were brought up in the ‘old skool’ and probably don’t ‘get it’. I’m told that she’s on the way out and that that neither office she applied to within her network want her due to being impossible to work with. I understand now why she’s putting so much effort into keeping this poor guy’s attention and dismissed abruptly anyone who can’t give her a helping hand. Mad blue tooth man barges past, still rabbiting to himself, maybe he’s in his own world of 24 and clearly has just learnt that a bomb is placed within this venue. That can be the only reason for the urgency, that or he’s just gagging to get to the front, open his gills and take in everything he’s told to.
The day goes on, some drag, some engage, some I’ve worked with and do in fact talk to, I enjoy their natural and good way. There is no glazed greed in their eyes, they are funny, they are natural, there is no agenda, they usually turn into friends who I would never dream of calling up for a career opportunity for the very reason they are friends.
But did I ‘network’? No Sir, I certainly did not, I had conversations with no ambition of gain but for the interest and enjoyment of my fellow tise men and women and to my detriment it maybe, so I’ll grim and bare that punishment if and when I feel the consequences. But if you feel the same way at such events which sporn this behaviour, look outside for the ones smoking and sighing with their backs against the wall, curled up spitting venomous comments
…come outside and network with us..
I was on my placement year at Leo Burnett working on McDonalds and thoroughly enjoying it. However my time was nearing an end at Leos and the Saatchi & Saatchi Scholarship Scheme was approaching. I rang Saatchi & Saatchi who told me that my brief to enter into the scholarship was to take their logo “Nothing Is Impossible” which would be supplied on an A3 poster and place it somewhere topical and interesting.
I toyed with ideas which were terrible, like taking a photo of a homeless person outside the Dorchester holding the poster. Really base line poor stuff. But, whilst having a cigarette outside Leo’s with my friend who was working in Arc (same building) we were talking about hacking websites and how people do it etc. Then, I thought, that could be a sweet idea to place the Saatchi & Saatchi poster on a website, and what better place to do it than on the agency they love to hate and vice versa M&C Saatchi. We both pretty much pissed ourselves laughing at the audacity of the idea. We were then joined by another of my friends from Arc (both worked in digital one being a project manager and the other a designer). We ran the idea past him at which his face broke into a smile. I had no idea on how to hack a site, make a website or anything like that so these guys were really the people who made this idea work.
However, everything got a bit out of control and I’ll explain why. There was quite a bit of press coverage about this, namely The Times and Campaign. Both thought that I had actually hacked the official M&C website. Thing is I hadn’t, I just convinced digital illiterate people that I had, such as the press. My friends constructed a site that replicated the M&C one. I had bought the domain name http://www.mcsaatchi.gov (Maurice and Charles are avid Tory fans and create their campaigns so it seemed like a potential money earner in the unlikely event the Conservatives won the 2004 election). Anyway, the site was constructed showing the image of the Saatchi & Saatchi poster falling on top of the M&C Saatchi logo.
I then took it upon myself to spread this far and wide to stir a bit of noise before I sent it on to Saatchi & Saatchi. I posted it as the actual M&C website on advertising forums and emailed it round to as many contacts as I had as well as the whole of Leo Burnett who in turn passed it on to their contacts. Before I had even sent it to Saatchi & Saatchi I had a viral website as we were able to track it being viewed up to 300 times a day and travelling from London to New York to Rio.
I then thought it was best to get this over to Saatchi so I emailed their HR department telling them this was my entry to their Scholarship Scheme. I rang them up the next day asking them to make sure that the people who needed to see this saw it and quick as my spidey sense knew there was trouble ahead. They applauded my audacity and from there I had an telephone interview and was told that I was accepted onto the scheme. Sweet I thought, but this viral website started to travel further and further.
Cue the phone call from M&C’s lawyers informing me of my breach of intellectual property, that the website had been pulled down by the domain owners and that I was facing court action. Laughing in the face of danger isn’t exactly how I would describe my reaction, more like a desperate need for my mum and that I was unable to stop saying sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. After this lovely chat I rang Saatchi & Saatchi who calmed me down, told me it would be fine and if there was going to be any trouble they would step in. That was great and I had started a little fisty cuffs with two adversaries that had been quite dormant in dispute..
To cut a boring story short, Campaign and The Times covered the story, convinced that I had actually hacked the real M&C site, which was fine by me, M&C dropped any court action as they were starting to look silly for chasing me, I rocked up to Saatchi & Saatchi where most had seen my website and the pats on the back were very encouraging indeed and then the website stills I kept were entered into the DMA Awards 2004 and helped to win Gold.
So that’s how it happened. I placed the stills and the Campaign article in my portfolio and flashed it at every interview which went down a treat. Other than that it’s not the kind of thing I bring up over dinner with clients.
You can check out the website here on a secure server: