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Art Month Archives - d.trio marketing group

The Art of Business

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In honor of Creative Summer, one of our awesome clients has written a guest blog about how her art has made her better at business.

by Renée Vevea

It’s always a bit difficult for me to answer the question, “What do you do?”. A common question oftentimes asked by people just met or haven’t seen for a while. My answer is not a simple statement or a one-liner. I’ve come to fear, in my own way, answering this question because I’m not sure where to edit myself. It would be easy to say I’m a teacher, a banker, a marketer, a salesperson, a stay-at-home mom, a student. But my answer goes something like this:

“I work full-time as a digital senior business project manager for a large corporation downtown Minneapolis, am a part-time adjunct faculty (teaching two times a week) at a local college, am working on my doctorate and am also an artist specializing in acrylic painting and have an art studio in St. Paul. And, by the way, I’m a mother to a college senior, am preparing for my third solo art show this year, and spend lots of time in the social media arena – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and blogging – under various nomenclatures. “

Eyes start to glaze over midway through my description and heads start to shake.

But I don’t think I’m alone in not having a one-line answer to the question “what do you do”. In our current culture of digitization we have at our realm smart phones, wireless tablets, GPS navigation systems, and everything in between. We are becoming a culture of multi-taskers whether we like it or not. We can order our groceries, make doctor’s appointments, pay our bills and send a birthday card all online. Instead of sitting on the couch and watching television for four hours a night, we can sit on the couch, watch television, pay our bills, send emails to friends and family, connect thru social media, take college classes, check our work email and write our grocery list. Some say technology has improved and streamlined our lives; others state it has isolated us.

I’ve always been both analytical and creative, using the left and right sides of my brain. Finding a career that both challenges and satisfies both sides has in itself been challenging. Always easier to find jobs that were more analytical, the creative side started to atrophy a few years ago and I felt like I was losing part of myself. After trying jewelry making, knitting, quilting and card making, I took a painting class. It lasted 6 weeks. The first night I was so afraid – I had never held a paintbrush in my hand nor made a color wheel. Blue and yellow make green….red and blue make purple….how glorious it felt to blend and swirl the paintbrush with the wet acrylic paint into a variety of sumptuous colors. The first stroke of wet paint on the canvas made me feel uplifted, airy and light. I wasn’t nervous anymore. I took the class six more times and began to introduce myself at each first session as the student the teacher wouldn’t pass – it was a joke – but I couldn’t get enough of painting and the classroom gave me the three hours a week to be free. Free from thinking about work, about deadlines, about schedules, about to do lists.

Nuages Pleurer, acrylic with multiple compounds, 2011

Nuages Pleurer, acrylic with multiple compounds, 2011

Finally, after the sixth time taking the class, my teacher, a wonderful woman with two MFAs, took me aside and said I should go it alone – she could teach me no more. I had started using many multiple compounds with the paint and my paintings, very abstract and textural, took on a style all of their own. Fortunately, I found an artist’s cooperative in St. Paul who, after an interview and viewing of my work, accepted me into the co-op. My art has flourished and is ever-changing – with the seasons, with where I am emotionally and spiritually, and with the different and myriad inspirations that come my way. My first solo art show was this past January – over 40 pieces. I was very excited to have the opportunity to show my work – and only my work – in one location for three months but also apprehensive and a bit anxious feeling vulnerable about my paintings. What if people didn’t like it…what if no one came to the opening (fortunately over 200 people did come to the opening!).

Naptime, acrylic, 2012

Naptime, acrylic, 2012

Art is art. It has its own subjectivity which cannot be controlled, nor edited. I paint what I like to paint. When I paint I’m in a place like no other – my mind is free and I feel the most creative. The time I take to paint – usually 4-6 hours per week is very important to me and I have realized, thru the practice, exercise and commitment to painting, I have grown in my career. Painting has taught me to be more patient, to not be so hard on myself, and also, if I don’t like something, I can do it over. It’s okay to show someone your art – or at work to share with your co-workers your successes – it’s okay to be vulnerable, it’s okay to open up. Rejection is something we put on ourselves.

I still don’t have a short answer to the question, “what do you do”, but am happy to share all that I do and have realized that sharing the part of my life, art, that is so important, has not only filled the creative side of my personality but also allowed that side to show at work and through some of the projects I work on. Art and creativity are everywhere…including the business world.

bulles d’air, acrylic with multiple compounds, 2011

bulles d’air, acrylic with multiple compounds, 2011

Renée Vevea lives in the Twin Cities and works in the interactive field. Renee is also an adjunct faculty at the Art Institute International. A member of the Old Town Artist’s Co-op in St. Paul, Renée has been painting for over three years and is busily preparing for her third solo art show this October. She is excited to have her son graduate from college in December so she’ll have more funds to purchase painting supplies.

Principles of Improv

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Note: As part of our Art Month theme, some of us are sharing the creative pursuits that enrich our lives, both at work and outside of it.

by Jordan Bainer

If you look hard enough, you start to see connections between various components of your life. For me, improv comedy is a hobby that strangely blends into my work life interactions. Many times in my career, I’ve utilized improv rules to simplify and improve my work. I’ve identified a few improv comedy concepts below and explained how they link to life in the agency world.

  1. “Yes, and…”: A cardinal rule of improv is “yes, and…”, meaning that if someone says something, their partner on stage should accept it and build upon it. Denial or minimizing something your partner gives you quickly halts any progress in the scene and stifles creativity. For example, if I tell you “we’re in a helicopter” and you respond with “no we’re not, we’re in a canyon”, sounds like a weak story, right?This improv rule applies nicely to brainstorming. A common trap in agency and client brainstorming sessions is to rule out or filter ideas as the group comes up with them. During these times of free idea sharing, we have to remove all filters. All ideas are accepted until the brainstorm is over and the group is narrowing down ideas. Those ideas that are thrown out early on could have sparked other ideas that eventually become the winning concept. In brainstorming, the rule “yes, and…” supports and builds on creative suggestions.
  2. Tagouts, swipes, edits: In a slight contrast to “yes, and…” are tagouts, swipes, and edits. “Yes, and…” teaches you how to accept and move forward a partner’s agenda. Transition tools like tagouts, swipes, and edits cut a scene and move on to another scene or time period. Since it’s important to end scenes on a high note, players on the back-line need to listen to the audience and move the story along where appropriate.During client presentations, a common practice is to review each concept in a linear fashion until all material been exhausted. The client can then “react” to those ideas presented at the conclusion. Unfortunately, this presentation strategy doesn’t allow for open discussion, which could potentially save an idea if there is any client skepticism or misunderstanding. Those involved in client presentations need to be cognizant of what’s happening in the audience and ready to jump in when ideas or concepts can be explored further. Editing or tagging out your presentation partner isn’t bad manners as long as you are building on the larger story and ending on a high note.
  3. Finding the Theme: For many long-form improv performances, the group is looking for an overarching idea or theme to link disparate scenes together to create an overarching narrative or story. Themes can be decided upon by the audience or formulated throughout the course of the improv performance.Themes are crucial for organizing complex ideas or recommendations for integrated campaigns. Taking a step back and identifying the theme will make it easier showcase work and link back to a larger strategy. Clearly stating themes and concepts early on demonstrates your knowledge of the client’s brand.

Once you start to think about general concepts behind different experiences or interests, it’s amazing how everything begins to blur into one another. That’s why I’ve made it a priority to try new artistic endeavors to fuel those links and continually learn.

Just because they call them creative pursuits…

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Today’s Art Month guest post is by Paul Santo of Santo Creative, a copywriter extraordinaire, and, as you’ll see, a multi-talented creative guy.

I write for d.trio, but that’s just one of my creative pursuits. I enjoy playing classical and blues guitar, piano, and turning storm-fall trees into beautiful bowls, goblets and toys. Apart from my professional life as a writer and creative director, though, more people seem to know me for my nature photography than for any other reason.

Capturing a great nature photo is not so different from writing a winning headline or creating a breakthrough marketing concept.

Sometimes it’s an accident, but typically not. When I shoot nature, I usually set out intentionally, camera in hand, to capture something amazing.  When I create concepts or copy, I set out to do it intentionally, with pencil or keyboard. The reality, though, is that when I start, I never know exactly what I’m going to get.

Eagle in Flight

One thing is certain  – the more frantically I chase, the harder it is to succeed.  For me, the best strategy is to do my homework, know my subject, master my tools, then wait patiently for amazing to creep up on me.

Fawn

Any nature photographer will tell you that you have to embrace the waiting. When you’re quiet and calm in nature, that’s when you find that extraordinary things are all around you.

It’s the same with writing and concepting. Advertising and marketing are rush-rush businesses. The deadlines are constant and relentless. The pressure can be enormous, especially when multiple beloved clients have simultaneous “emergencies.” It’s a business that chews up and spits out those who can’t perform under pressure, those who can’t seemingly create on demand.

Loon and Chick

After more than 25 years and thousands of projects, I still get stressed out by deadlines…but not like I used to. That’s because I don’t focus on the deadlines. No good can come of that. I focus on the process, the “active waiting.”

I won’t ever allow myself to sit and fret in front of blank Microsoft Word* document. I move. I scribble. I walk. I write anything and everything, no matter how stupid, irreverent or off-target it might be. I even take photos of the birds outside my office window.

Oriole

By removing the pressure, enjoying the waiting and embracing experimentation, I put  myself in a place where creating is joyful. Like when I shoot photos, I’m perfectly willing to try 100 different ways and throw out 97 without regret. If my first 20 headlines don’t seem just right, it doesn’t mean I’ve failed so far. It means I’m getting limber, putting myself in a position to succeed.

Creativity is like a muscle. It performs better with exercise. That’s an important lesson, whether you’re shooting a photo of a baby loon or being creative on demand, project after project, year after year.

Paul Santo
Santo Creative

Wingtip in Water