Harvest low hanging fruit while avoiding a paradigm shift

Is this the English language? I create content for the web, email campaigns, events, collateral, etc. I read and evaluate a lot of current web content from industry sites and industry blogs. And I have been struck by just how ridiculous ‘corporate speak’ has become. Our marketing team does our very best to avoid it. As always, I try to keep it smart and simple. But recently I found myself writing the phrase ‘best in class.’ I caught myself and pressed delete.

If you find yourself jargon-jammed and needing translation, check out the site ‘unsuck it.’ This is a fun dictionary of corporate speak words and phrases.


does a signature matter anymore?

The answer is yes if you are famous. Otherwise not so much. Admit it, you practiced your signature back in the day. Your multiple attempts were probably scribbled using a blue ball point pen on the cover of a Pee Chee folder or a denim covered binder. Today, when I sign my carefully honed signature with that fat electronic pen at the register, the electronic result looks like a preschool scribble. But the transaction always goes through. Here’s why. According to T.K. Cheung, vice president of global quality and security for Hypercom Corporation (which manufactures card payment terminals in 130 countries), when you sign your signature, the machine is not looking through a database to confirm a match. Merchants are supposed to check but they don’t. It works this way now because most sales are not contested. Business trumps formality. If a sale is contested, the signature is one more piece of evidence but it is not critical. Now when you use a debit card, your signature is numeric (your pin number) and known only to you. The personal signature does not exist in that transaction.

But while our everyday signatures are becoming obsolete, the market for celebrity autographs is becoming more popular. Value depends generally on how famous is/was the person, the scarcity of the signature and what type of item is signed. Signed photos are worth more than signed scraps of paper and signed books can be valuable depending partly on the inscription.

Courtesy NYT Style Magazine.

1. Picasso 2. Barack Obama 3. Princess Diana 4. George Washington 5. Victor Hugo 6. Al Pacino 7. F. Scott Fitzgerald  8. Eleanor Roosevelt

Hello Kitty or Hell-no Kitty

Hello Kitty’s parent company Sanrio, whose tagline is small gift, big smile, turns 50 this year. Hello Kitty herself is only 36. Sanrio took their latest art exhibition to Miami, coinciding with Art Basel Miami Beach. Introduced on a vinyl coin purse in Japan in 1975, Hello Kitty now generates licensing revenue in the “b” illions.  According to wikipedia A spokesperson for Sanrio says that Hello Kitty is not normally given a mouth because “without the mouth, it is easier for the person looking at Hello Kitty to project their feelings onto the character” and that “the person can be happy or sad together with Hello Kitty.”

The younger set adores her and you can find a Sanrio shop in almost any mall in America. But Miss Hello K has also become a kitsch icon and to some, a representation of all that is wrong about the evil corporation. Is this all just too cute or too creepy? I say both.

Wayne Thiebaud makes the ordinary, extraordinary

Happy Birthday Mr. Thiebaud on your 90th birthday! You have influenced my work since I dunked my first paintbrush into a glob of oil paint. Seeing the beauty in everyday things drives me to paint and your work was the catalyst for me to begin to paint common objects. Thank you for sharing your incredible sense of color and painterly texture with the world.

We share the same sense of painting with an art director’s eye. NYT – Mr. Thiebaud’s original aim was to be a commercial artist, a field he deeply respects. (“I still paint as if an art director is looking over my shoulder,” he said.) Over the years, he has worked a sign painter, a theatrical production designer, an art director, a poster designer, a fashion typographer and illustrator (his subjects included lipstick and shoes), a comic strip artist and a cartoonist for the Rexall Drug Company in Los Angeles.

Thank you for setting the example that an artist can work productively in both commercial art and fine art. My work as a creative director informs my work as a fine artist and of course the other way around. Above, Wayne Thiebaud-‘Big Suckers’, 1971. Below, me-‘Bocce Balls’, 2006. My work pales in comparison to his, but I include it here as a sign of respect.

Vintage poster sales brisk at auction in SF

Poster Connection held its vintage poster auction on Saturday in San Francisco. Prices edged higher with multiple bids on the majority of lots.  Popularity of travel posters, rarity, and excellent condition contributed to the results. Consignments are up as collectors seek to offer posters that are rarely seen at auction, or posters offered rarely in such excellent condition. Bidders may have been bidding in an effort to snap up inventory before the market rebounds. Bidders were able to bid live on the internet, in person, absentee and on the phone. Poster Connection serves an international community and bidders speak several languages.

I work the auction as the auction house is owned by friends. My task is to represent phone bidders throughout the auction.  One of my bidders who happens to be a poster dealer out of Boston said “This week, people woke up and took a ‘buy now’ pill.”

The allure is certainly due to the charm of the image and message, the scale (in most cases large), the transience of the item and of course good resale value. For something printed on paper and in multiples and meant to be displayed on the street or in a public place, big money is invested.

What does the success of this auction mean? It means the euro is strong and European bidders can get more for their money, but domestically it means that collectors and dealers are feeling more confident. Cheers to Poster Connection who has managed to keep moving forward through their determination and passion for their craft.

Rare 1920s Original Jean D´Ylen DIABLERETS Poster D´Ylen, Jean 1886 – 1938  Diablerets Lithograph approx. 1928 50.3 x 35.4 in. (128 x 90 cm) Printer: A. Marsens, Lausanne

A short history of the poster can be found here.

Johnny Cash memorabilia auction announced

“Sometimes I am two people. Johnny is the nice one. Cash causes all the trouble.” – Johnny Cash

A sale of Johnny Cash’s property from his life and career has been announced that will include some lesser known facets of his life. Cash’s creativity shines through in his scripts, costumes, working notes for songs, commercials and notes to and supporting his employees, letters from Presidents and his celebrity friends.

Johnny Cash had compassion for those of the lowest station in life, the criminal, “the ones who are held back.” This is reflected in his tales of crime, persecution, and redemption.

“Three guitars from different points in Cash’s career are included in this auction — a vintage 1951 Martin guitar used by Cash in studio that later became the designated tour bus guitar (Est. $20,000/30,000). The second guitar is a Grammer Johnny Cash model used extensively by Cash on The Johnny Cash Show and later inscribed by Cash, “To Richard,/ Play It Pretty/Johnny Cash.” ($30,000/40,000) The third guitar offered for sale is also a Martin used by Cash in the 1980s and gifted to his friend Bill Miller. This guitar can be seen on the cover of the live album The Survivors. It has been inscribed by Cash with the first four lines of “I Walk the Line.” (Est. $20,000/30,000) (courtesy Julien’s auctions) Auction will take place Sunday, December 5th at 10 a.m at Julien’s Auctions, Beverly Hills.

Wooly Willy Wilson-why does the beard look so familiar?

Closer Giants pitcher Brian Wilson can leverage his “magnetic personality” and pursue the obvious endorsement from Wooly Willy; the originator of the look, complete with “magic wand.” Go Giants! Fear the Beard.