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#50Auction D&AD 50th

Fig. 1 The D & AD Auction

50 creatives – designers, art directors, illustrators, photographers, film makers and typographers offered 50 pieces of art for a special edition D&AD book.

(What is D&AD?)

An auction started online on Sunday went live today at The Hospital Club in Endell Street at 7.00pm.

A Paula Scher went for ever £2k. I needed to leave before the Terry Gilliam or Quentin Blake came under the hammer.

See them all here

If you had £10,000 to go on a good cause, which would you have bought? Would it have been selfish to bid for several?

Great work inspires. Great work for a good cause inspires even more. With the money raised D&AD will start a fund to support emerging creative talent in the early months of their career hoping to keep some of them in the business.

Fig. 2. Quentin Blake for D&AD 50 2012

There was additional inspiring work from:

David Adjaye – Architect

Miles Aldridge – Photographer

David Bailey @Kiosk – Designer and Art Director

Daniel Barber – Commercials Director (Film, TV idents … )

Paul Belford – An Art Director and Creative Head … with a PhD in Biochemistry

Quentin Blake – Illustrator

Derek Birdsall – Graphic Designer

Neville Brody – Graphic Designer and Font Designer

Wim Crouwel – Graphic Designer and Typographer

Neil Dawson – Urban Artist

Tony Davidson – Head of Big Ideas, WiedenKennedy London

Mark Denton – Designer, Director, Photographer … and he blogs

David Droga – Art Director

Dave Dye – Thinking up ideas. Problem solving. Making things look nice.

Daniel Eatock – Designer

Eine – Urban Artist

Fabrica – Sam Baron & Co ?

Bob Gill – Bob Gill

Stephen Gill – Photographer

Terry Gilliam – IMDB

John Hegarty – himself

Wayne Hemmingway – fashion designer

Nadav Kander – photographer

Peter Kennard – artist

Rich Kennedy – Senior Designer at BBH

Nick Knight – Fashion Photographer

Michael Johnson – Johnson Banks

Danny Kleinman – Director

Mary Lewis – Designer (Brand Packaging)

John Lloyd – Graphic Designer

Ed Morris – Creative Director

Nick Park – Well Aardman

Grant Parker – Head of Art DDB UK

Parra – Artist

Harry Pearce – Designer

Rob Reilly – Chief Creative Officer

Rankin – Photography

Mark Reddy – Head of Art BBH

Paula Scher – Graphic Designer

Richard Seymour – The Violence of the New

Paul Smith – Fashion Designer

Philippe Starck – S+ark

Daljit Singh – Digital Design

Alexandra Taylor – Art Director

Storm Thorgerson – ‘Legendary’ Graphic Designer

Justin Tindall – Executive Creative Director – Leo Burnett

Mark Tutssel – Global Creative Officer –  Leo Burnett

Simon Waterfall – Creative Director – Industrial Design and the language of all things.

Graham Watson – Art Director

Michael Wolff – Design

Who were the couple, say age 27 and 26 who hung and clung onto each other for the duration as if we were on a raft going through the Skull Rapids of the Westwater Canyon, Utah?

Creative Problem Solving Techniques


Problem, opportunity, challenge, issue, concern …

I’ve been professionally lodged in calling everything a problem to be solved. I may think this through and stick to this concept. I was introduced to the Creative Brief at JWT, London in the mid 1980s. Through Design & Art Direction (D&AD) workshops, then a year, full-time at the School of Communication Arts the ‘problem’ as the preferred, indeed the only term, was reinforced.

The advertising Creative Brief goes:

What is the problem?

What is the opportunity?

Who are you speaking to?

What do you want to say?

How do you want them to react to this message?

What else do you need to know?

I have seen no reason to change this, indeed some 135+ video productions later, information films, training films, change management, product launch, lecture, you name it … the same set of questions, answered on a SINGLE SIDE of A4 governs the initial client meetings. If we cannot get it onto a single sheet, then we haven’t the focus to deliver a clear response. Back to the drawing board.

It works.

From the agreed Creative Brief I then write a synopsis or two, the ideas are shared and I go off and prepare a treatment or two; I offer alternatives. Then, with agreement on the treatment, based always on how well it lives up to the brief, I go off and write a script. Sometimes the script is visualisation and dialogue (voice over, interviews transcripts even dramatisation), usually very little needs to be changed at this stage; the script is a direct expression of what was agreed in the treatment. We then produce (shoot, post-produce) and review the end result. Once again, a fail-safe process that only sees the product improved upon at each stage.

It works.

So why is this page of this chapter an Epiphany?

I guess, because I know that some clients struggle with the term ‘problem’. I stubbornly refuse to accept an alternative and argue my case. Yet apparently there is a case. Or is there? VanGundy (1988) rightly suggests that

p18 ‘Each of these different terms expresses its own metaphor for what is involved and suggests its own slightly different ways of working’. Henry et al. (2010:18)

To be a problem there needs to be a ‘gap’ between what is desired and the current position. VanGundy (1988:04)

Why would I change what has always worked?

When I bring with my argument decades of experience from the most successful, persuasive and memorable communicators of all? This ‘Creative Brief is an industry standard.

My view is that if there isn’t a problem, there is no need to do x, y or z. Anything less than ‘problem’ diminishes the nature and ambition of the communications challenge (here I argue that internal and external communications, PR, marketing and advertising, are all on the same spectrum: you are trying to persuade people).

Think of problems and solutions as part of an extended hierarchy.

We then get into ‘Gap Analysis’

p19 ‘The imperative that drives creative people can transform the theoretical ‘what could be’ into a more powerfully motivating ‘what should be’.

Then drift away from the challenge when the ‘problem’ is no longer (in my view of things) considered a communications issue.

p24 The problem exists in the overlap between ourselves and the situation … this means that solutions can often be as much a mater of changing ourselves as changing the external situation’.

  1. Change the situation
  2. Change yourself
  3. Get out
  4. Learn to live with it

As an external supplier, a communications problem fixer, then only point 1 can apply, which becomes an argument for the extensive use of external suppliers. Think about it, do you want someone to address the problem/challenge you take to them, or shilly-shally about, making do, dodging it or making themselves absent?

p26 ‘Play’ – the dynamic gap between vision and reality.

Activity 2.1 (p16)

Frustration over having an audio-cassette to listen to. By sharing the problems it was resolved.

Cause: keeping up with the technology

Ans: A problem shared is a problem halved. Ease of relationships.

p17 ‘A densely interconnected part of a huge web of issues and concerns that change and develop over time and may transform radically in appearance depending on your viewpoint’.

Spend a few minutes identifying some of the features of this story that might perhaps generalise to other situations and that:

  • helped to generate the challenge
  • helped to overcome it.

Solving ‘problems’ however, is not as clear-cut as a specific problem relate to communications.

I need more of VanGundy. Is he free from the OU Library? Or even an not too expensive download as an eBook to the Kindle and iPad. Despite admonitions to spend less time reading and more time addressing the practical side of Block 2, I feel I have to read on, to investigate an issue (oops, problem, I mean) that has bugged me for more than 25 years.


Henry, J., Mayle, D., Bell, R., Carlisle, Y. Managing Problems Creatively (3rd edn) 2010. The Open University.

VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of structured problem solving (2nd edn), New York: Van Nostran Reinhold.

Like Anais Nin and Henry Miller

Volume 4 of Anais Nin’s Journal

I’m through volume 4 of Anais Nin’s Journal. I wish I could have begun with her childhood diaries, or at least 1931 in Louciennes, Paris.

I can commune with an ageing lady who evidently attracted much attention from younger followers.

One thing which could soon influence this journal of mine will be an increasingly descriptive stance on the world and the people around me rather than deep and tedious introspection. No longer the book of self-analysis but the book of observations.

As a teenager I was clear in my mind that I was an observer.

I frequently stood back from the world the better to observe it. I would go to parties not only to participate but to tick off another experience and then write about it. (Don’t all teenagers do the same?)

Adulthood brings with it a crusting over of earlier enthusiasms

Adulthood brings with it a crusting over of earlier enthusiasms, unless of course the indulgent world encourages and develops those early desires.

Character sketches. Like drawings.

Can I do them? I must. Can I picture the people with whom I am familiar, let alone newcomers? Dad, for instance, (give me two years and several million words), or Mum, neither of them simple people in analytical terms. Are any of us?

The traumas of his current break up with wife No 3 could turn into a Hardy-esque catastrophe.

If only he wasn’t so public school and conservative. He stamps his foot and thinks P will return to him to cook his meals and do his washing. He sulks and becomes ill to persuade N  to give up things which matter to her so that she will nurse him.

I don’t have the nerve to be as blasé about money as Henry Miller

What in fact I crave is enough money to do more of this, precisely this, whether it makes a bean or not!

A diary is not book keeping with words

Finding Anais Nin and Henry Miller (at last) as allowed me to escape the book keeping approach to my previous diaries. Then the intention was to do little more than catalogue the events of the day, the week, the year (the cycle). Now, hopefully I can do much more. Here I can let vent, discuss, record, consider, practice my observations, try lines, invent words and phrases. Now, reading like a graduate, I can put notes in here (not in the Arch lever files).

As before I will dip in years later and find (or not find) reflections on those years gone by.

[This visit comes over seven years after the entry was written – 9th January 2000]

[Then this visit in August 2010 comes another ten years on]

  • Do I change my mind?
  • Have I learnt owt?

I wish I hadn’t driven over to a second hand book shop in Hay on Wye and sold my collection of Anais Nin diaries and the Henry Miller books I hadn’t graffittied with notes.

Dare I compare myself with the likes of Anais and Henry?

In my teens and early twenties I shared much of Anais’s sexual hunger (I adored the erotica she wrote and knew her for this alone for a decade or more). Today I relish the gutsy frankness of Henry Miller, flavoured by sticky fingers and his insatiable appetite for cunt. He didn’t have to intellectualise about loving a person the way we did.

I don’t enjoy intimate sex for sake of having sex.

There must be a person at the other end. “There’s nothing wrong with it if both people enjoy it,” offered Suzi on one of our very few affair like reprieves in September 1989. She was justifying her repeated infidelity, a trait I worried about in her when I first met her aged 15, cared less about when we starting going out together a year later … until we started to hurt each other another five years on from that.

If I’d known Anais Nin in my youth (20’s)

I would have been her Hugo making money not in the City, but in the cash crazy world of advertising in the 1980’s. Hard when my inclination was to scrap it all and do a Henry Miller . If only my hunger had been to find a personal voice rather than a public (and paid) one.

Though I’m struggling with “Tropic of Capricorn” after the narrative and journalistic rumpus of “Tropic of Cancer” I am still inclined to pick out a few truths. I am still keen to hear someone else’s voice justifying and provoking my difference:

“At this a faint smile paned over his face. He thought it extraordinary that I should remember such things. He was already married, a father, and working in a factory making fancy pipe canes. He considered it extraordinary to remember events that happened so far back in the past.”

And so Henry Miller goes on to indulge his memory on a rock fight that killed a boy when they were only 8 years.

Like Henry Miller I relish dredging up, reliving and reviving childhood events. (And Nabakov, some to think of it). Courtesy of a diary I started age 13 it is too easy for me to relive many moments, from many days, many, many years ago. An adequate entry, as no one got to see the contents of these diaries until 2000, was enough to bring the moment alive, to trigger the memory, to tag that moment, wherever it might have been. As an exercise I went back to my earliest memories, scrambling around the recesses of my mind to put down events from when I was four, five and six … first day at school, first day at boarding prep-school, my parents splitting up … the three day week.

I love to dissect the pain and pleasure of past relationships too, especially the passion and punches of yours truly and ‘Suzi Bean’.

Satisfying this ‘must’ called writing

I write when I want, about whatever moves me

But something must move me; I can’t just catalogue the routine of my hours, my journeys, my physical and mental joys and strains. I have to wait, in ambush, and capture a thought then run with it pell-mell as if it were running over heaps of books stacked in piles on the floor.

I want to write like Henry Miller

I’m reading like I’ve never read before. At last I’ve found a rich vein of literature that I enjoy:

  • Anais Nin
  • Henry Miller
  • Bill Bryson
  • Evelyn Waugh
  • and Clive James with nuggets from
  • Bruce Chatwin
  • Ken Russell
  • and Brian Keenan.

I want to write like Henry Miller

I  to describe sexual encounters with verve and honesty, to describe my life as if it were driven – had a purpose.

To copy Henry Miller’s style would be like learning to stand upright on a log as it spins, learning to control it and guide it on calm waters and through torrents,  over falls and through the sawmill ’til the wood-pulp has been turned into paper, the words written on the paper and the resulting novel is on display in the window of the book shop on Gosforth High Street.

Let it be so.

And so eighteen years on from writing the above, a  hundred sexual encounters relived or invented, look for readers and a home. (Not here, I think.)

Four books on the go

I somehow manage to have four books on the go at any one time.

Only this can satisfy my boredom threshold:

  • ‘Sexus’ Henry Miller
  • ‘Volume Five: Journals’ Anais Nin
  • ‘Neither Here Nor There,’ Bill Bryson
  • and ‘The Letters of Henry Miller and Anais Nin.’

Is that all?

In between I have to dip into old (and find new) enthusiasms:

  • Bernard Levin, ‘Enthusiasms,’
  • Clive James (autobiography
  • and Evelyn Waugh

(because his letters are being read on BBC Radio 4 each morning).

For the first time I want to quote from them, mark their books as I read them, read what they read, pursue my passion, stir harder the feelings they unsettle, then have a go myself, turn my own hand to these pages.

My problem is that a burst of enthusiasm gets me to 2,500 words.

Then I rethink it, rework it and like running into a tall fence of chicken-wire I can suddenly get no further, I become enmeshed by my own re-writing.

I must learn in one breath, not to need to go back over and plod about. Find your ‘Voice’ through writing honestly.

Again, on writing, on the experience, satisfaction and method of writing Henry Miller says, ‘It was revealed to me that I could say what I wanted to say if I thought of nothing else, if I concentrated upon that exclusively and if I were willing to bear the consequences which a pure act always involves.’

His search for ‘truth,’ for his ‘voice.’

Satisfying this ‘must’ called writing.

If only I had my Anais.

Life Drawing

When I drew Lucinda I drew the sex and warmth of a horny 19 year old, I drew the revealed lust and smell of her, I drew with my organ. I held it in my write hand and stroked it across a series of pages capturing what I saw and the way in which I saw it. I wouldn’t sleep with her because that would extinguish the passion I was playing with at my finger tips. I was letting my excitement add fluidity and texture to each mark on the page. I wasn’t just drawing from the shoulder, I was drawing with my entire body, with my whole being. Each time I tore off a page to start again it was like squeezing my balls to stop me coming, each time I got Lucinda to pose differently, to close her sex and turn her back on me I was reducing the volume, turning down the heat, keeping my dick at heel! If I’d slept with her I wouldn’t continue to have wet dreams about the moment, after such a heated game of ‘look and see’ I would have burst my body on first touching her.

She is a story I must write and rewrite, draw and redraw.

We lived in France too

On France Henry Miller says how his friend Ulric had gone to Europe and how this man’s experiences so differed from his own approach (and my own). ‘I had more in common with Ulric than with any of my other friends. For me he represented Europe, its softening, civilising influence. We would talk by the hour of this other world where art had some relation to life, where you could sit quietly in public watching the passing show and think your own thoughts. Would I ever get there? Would it be too late? How would I live? What language would I speak? When I thought about it realistically it seemed hopeless. Only hardy, adventurous spirits could realise such dreams. Ulric had done it for a year by dint of hard sacrifice. For ten years he had done the things he hated to do, in order to make his dream come true. Now the dream was over and he was back where he had started. Farther back than ever, really, because he would never again be able to adapt himself to the treadmill. For Ulric it had been a Sabbatical leave: a dream which turns to gall and wormwood as the years roll by. I could never do as Ulric had done. I could never make a sacrifice of that sort, nor could I be content with a mere vacation however long or short it might be. My policy has always been to burn my bridges behind me. My face is always set forward to the future. If I make a mistake it is fatal. When I am flung back I fall all the way back to the very bottom. My one safeguard is my resiliency. So far I have always bounced back. Sometimes the rebound has resembled a slow motion performance but in the eyes of God speed has no particular significance.’ (Sexus, Henry Miller)

Thrill seeker or career builder?

Have I fallen? Not so far. Have I been the adventurer seeking experiences about to write about?

Quitting JWT and tumbling from a flat in Whitehall Court to a bed in a Lewisham Terrace?

My trip to Gottingen, my run, safe run to Grenoble and the Alps?

My even safer return into Darlingest’s arms?

Have I been neither one thing nor the other? Neither reckless idiot on the streets of Paris, begging, nor the die-hard executive in the UK.

God don’t let me become Ulric.

Nor let me stumble so far into misery that I will be a pain to myself and my family. The time is right to write I have enough experiences to keep me writing for the rest of my life.

Like Henry Miller I make the idle boast about the number of words I have written.

These diaries alone (paper form and online come to 2.5 million words +. Then there are the screenplays (eight), TV adventure series (six), short films (thirty) and songs (seventeen).

Here in 2010 there may be a million more words in boxes, on floppy discs and zip drives, on CDs and memory sticks and boxed in one memory block to splat across cyberspace should she so please.

As Thoreau wrote, ‘How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.’

To an outsider it is like a revelation of a serious malady.

‘How could I do this to myself?’

My earnings to date?

£500 for the rights to a short film (That’s Nothing Compared to Passchendale) that never went into production.

I could see it at one of my mum’s coffee mornings, doing a Henry Miller, happy to join in as the scrounger of lives, picking their brains for snippets. I suddenly announce to the genteel Gosforth gathering:

“I’ve been xxxxxing since the age of 11. For the first 15 years I kept it up once, twice, sometimes four times a day. Nearly 5,500 times.”

They look at me in dismay, then look at Mum and sympathise. I hear them remarking how much better it is to have me at home than in an asylum.

And so I feel when I tell Dad I have diaries and stories of various half finished kinds making up another million. It’s not that tears fill his eyes, its not that his lip begins to quiver, but you know he is feeling despair.

‘Too many words,’ were his words of dismissal or encouragement for lyrics to a song. Lyrics.

Not that I’ve failed to climb the ladder of some multi-national, not that I’m so impoverished (and inclined) that I’m temporarily living at home, but because I have expended so much time and effort getting nowhere (flagellation in a corner for my own self satisfaction).

Must I prove anything to him (or anyone else?)

I’ve shown that I’m capable of writing for a living, but incapable of boxing my words into a neat publishable package, incapable of deriving any satisfaction except from my own way of doing (and saying) things.

My life in a box

Moving my life from place to place in boxes has become my way: from mother packed trunks and tuck boxes at school, to the castle and stately home covered Post Office cardboard ones I filled with my books and stationery in London, to the yellow French cardboard boxes filled with the scraps of Paris.

‘My Life in a Box,’ always (nearly always) on the move.

Where next? It’s something to be settling, but back to Paris first, then Prague or Milan? Anywhere to fill my words with experiences (or my experiences with words). The awfulness of television – a 1946 perspective Anais Nin wrote in 1946 about the awfulness of television. Fifty years later I feel we have gone (are going through) a new phase. So much of experience is television that fiction must go beyond the first reflection of reality and reflect the reflection.

Decades on my boxes are now ‘Really useful.’ Is this because we cannot afford the furniture or don’t want to purchase the furniture or because I want to be ready to move on?

Instead of holding a mirror up to reality, we must hold up a mirror to the reality already reflected in TV. Our fiction must be that much more extreme, more violent, more cookie, bigger, bolder, brasher, faster. I’ve gone this far. Crude. Violent. Pat Califia kind of stuff. Scary. Nightmarish.

Gulp it down – TV overload

Audiences (and readers) are used to gulping it all down in an over-spiced smorgasbord of channels. Can I deliver?

‘The secret of a full life is to live and relate to others as if they might not be there tomorrow, as if you might not be there tomorrow. It eliminates the vice of procrastination, failed communications, failed communions. This thought has made me more and more attentive to all encounters, meetings, introductions which might contain the seed of depth that might be carelessly overlooked. This feeling has become a rarity, and rarer every day now that we have reached a hastier and more superficial rhythm, now that we believe we are in touch with a great amount of people, more people, more countries. This is the illusion which might cheat us of being in touch with a great amount of people, more countries. This is the illusion which might cheat us of being in touch deeply with the one breathing next to us. The dangerous time when mechanical voices, radios, telephones, take the place of human intimacies, and the concept of being in touch with millions brings a greater and greater poverty in intimacy and human vision.’ (Anais Nin, Vol 4, Journals, May 1946).

Inspired to be up and at it!

For the second night in a row Darlingest has been up typing a marketing essay into my Amstrad. This morning I came down at 5.00 a.m. and joined her. Two hours later I am still writing.

We are joined by Mum; she too wished she was ‘up and at it.’

I agree. She should be painting, not worrying about the time of day (or night), what the neighbours think or the would be purchasers of her house. We joke in the family that Mum likes to keep the house tidy and bare as if it is up for sale. I must get her to read Anais Nin’s Journals about a woman’s struggle to find her creative outlet. To write you have to read. If you want to read a ‘how to write book’ (or books), read Henry Miller and Anais Nin.

Between them, across everything they wrote, Henry Miller and Anais Nin have produced a library on how to write.

Ray Bradbury, with an abundance of gusto, does the same in one slim volume, ‘Zen in the Art of Creative Writing.’ Zen in the Art of Creative Writing. Whilst I don’t hold Ray Bradbury in the same esteem as Henry Miller or Anais Nin, but ‘Zen’ is worth reading.

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