Monthly Archives: October 2011
One of our themes on Nextness is embracing and understanding complexity: in today’s guest post, Hawker Britton Managing Director Justin Di Lollo takes aim at the simplistic view – pervasive during her recent visit – that if you like the Queen, you must be a monarchist.
A royal visit.
The Australian visit of Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh for the CHOGM meeting over the last fortnight has hauled-up a disappointing, but predictable, barrage of media group-think.
Media loves royalty – and why not? The pomp and ceremony, the hats and handbags, the horses, the Rolls Royces (apparently now Range Rovers – but British to the bootstraps either way) and the outrageous jewels certainly make for great pictures, exhaustive live coverage and lots of breathy reporting on the grandeur of the throne.
But why, oh why, must the media – and not just the electronic media – always assume that the crowds of people turning up to well-wish the Queen and her Prince are against any change to our antiquated constitutional arrangements for a head of state? It happens every time some minor royal (let alone the Queen) visits our shores. In recent times this has become a deafening chorus, with the added connotation that somehow republicans must stay at home in a churlish funk while monarchist masses line the streets to welcome our visitors.
Believe it or not, it is possible to like the Queen, support the preservation of a role the British Sovereign in Australia and want to have an Australian head of state.
These are not incompatible positions.
I love the Queen (as my friend @BalmainBill tweeted last week “Love the Queen. Most of my friends are queens after all”). She represents many of the admirable traditional qualities of Great Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations – stoicism, dedication to hard work, internationalism, resilience, justice, global leadership of parliamentary democracy, support for the armed services, charity and graciousness to name just a few. I’d love to keep the Queen (and her heirs) as part of Australian society, on the covers of our magazines, as head of our Commonwealth of Nations. I want her opening our important buildings and presenting the Webb Ellis Trophy to our victorious boys at the World Cup. (I even quietly enjoy cloying conservative politicians paraphrasing poet Thomas Ford, “I did but see her walking by, yet I shall love her ‘till I die”). I want her as a regular visitor to Australia with all the accompanying panoply. But I don’t want her as our head of state – this should be a job for an Australian citizen.
Since 1950, our Commonwealth cousin India has managed to be an independent republic with a citizen as its head of state but is still part of the Commonwealth of Nations and still accepts the British Sovereign as a “symbol of the free association of [the Commonwealth’s] independent member nations and as such the Head of the Commonwealth”.
In other words, you can still “have” the Queen but also have a citizen as head of state.
Some elements of the Australian media insist on dumbing-down the debate around having our own head of state into a simplistic “if you like the Queen, you’re a monarchist/if you don’t you’re a Republican” approach. Such stereotyping isn’t reflective of society and doesn’t help the real debate we need to have if we’re to make rational decisions about the future of our nation – however they may turn out.
Why won’t the popular media admit that we can keep all the bits of the monarchy we like and have our own head of state?
Justin Di Lollo is the Managing Director of Hawker Britton, and the Practice Director of Government Relations firms for STW Group. Hawker Britton tweets here; Justin can be followed @JustinDiLollo. His last post for Nextness was What do political speechwriters have against paragraphs?
Image: via the ABC.
For those outside of Australia, the excitement of that headline will probably mean nothing to you -- but here in Australia it’s a really big deal. In today’s guest post, James Collier (Social Media Director at Ikon Communications, Sydney) explains the unconventional program he and his team put together to spread some much-needed good news about Australia’s favourite fruit.
Banana wipe out.
At the start of the year Cyclone Yasi caused widespread destruction in Queensland -- including wiping out the banana harvest, devastating the epicentre of the Australian banana industry. This left the growers with no income for most of the year, and banana-lovers around the country with high prices (up to $17 per kilogram!) and -- since foreign imports are banned - a limited supply.
But the good news is that bananas are now back, the crop has recovered, awesome high-quality bananas are flooding supermarkets and retailers, and those high prices are coming back down. To celebrate, my team (lead by @OllyWilton) put together a less than conventional program to relaunch the humble banana!
Winning back banana lovers.
The first step was to re-engage with our existing communities whose consideration and -- we are sad to say -- love for the great Aussie banana had fallen over the last nine months. First our Facebook community got a massive update and we joined Twitter @aussiebananas, tackling the existing banana conversation head on to make sure our lapsed buyers knew they would see their beloved yellow fruit back on shelves soon.
How much would you pay for the first banana?
The next step was to get people excited about bananas again, build advocacy and generate some banana buzz. An event was planned in Sydney where the first pallet of bananas from the new crop were auctioned off with all proceeds going to McGrath Foundation! We ended up raising $35,000 dollars which was far more then anyone expected and was a real demonstration of how close to Australians’ hearts bananas really are.
To capitalise on the event and the buzz it was generating we gave away 4,500 bananas. For many the simple pleasure of a banana hadn’t been experienced for quite some time. But these weren’t your standard bananas, no no no, these bananas were #hashtagged! It promoted the fact that #bananasareback, and gave us a chance to aggregate the conversation online.
To keep the dream alive we created an amazing launch film which we teased through our Facebook and Twitter communities until October 27, when the full version was released. It was further supported by Australia’s first ever localised Twitter promoted trend!
The last nine or so months have been tough for Australians with the price of bananas becoming a running joke. But that time has come to an end with prices already halving in many areas. They’re soon tipped to reach a price point where everyone can enjoy their mushy yellow goodness again!
In the meantime, we just want to say thanks for the support and patience and if you love bananas please watch and share the film above. Long live the great Aussie banana!
This was a guest post by James Collier, Social Media Director at Ikon Communications, Sydney. Follow him on Twitter @james_collier, and subscribe to his excellent blog AdZag_, ”a rolling conversation on ideas that challenge the status quo,” where this post first appeared. Be sure to put aside some time for a browse through the archives! Has your STW company worked on something you’re especially proud of? Email us.
1. “…Steve treated the process of creativity with a rare and a wonderful reverence.”
Apple’s lead designer Jony Ive’s tribute to Steve Jobs at Apple’s Celebration of their late CEO. “He cared the most. He worried the most deeply. He constantly questioned ‘Is this good enough? Is this right?’”
2. Childs’ Own Studio.
“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Pablo Picasso. Child’s Own Studio “started with a simple project, to make a recognizable comfort toy for a 4 year old boy based on his drawing.” Their Flickr is a delight.
3. Touchscreen gloves.
MUJI has solved a big problem right in time for the northern hemisphere winter. “A conductive material is interwoven into the thumb and forefinger so that these gloves make light work of touchscreen technology whatever the weather.” (Vegetarians rejoice.)
Linyl are discs of light drawn from photos of past experiences that can be played on a special record player to create an ambience. They are inspired by our nostalgia for a time when the experience of music was slower and more environmental.
5. Happy 2 b sad.
Natalya Lobanova’s happy 2 b sad is a “half-arsed ode to adolescence,” but anyone who spends a bit of time on the internet will recognise themselves in her Tumblr/zine.
6. GIF GIF GIF.
Would your product or brand look better as a sparkling cosmic gif? Silly question; of course it would. The exact originator of this fan art is unknown. (Via inthetrees.)
8. Our little baby’s growing up.
Look how much the iPhone camera has improved.
9. Sephora Sensorium.
Make up chain Sephora’s “Sensorium: lucid dreams from the sensory world” is a 4D “sensorial environment” dedicated to the magic of scent.
10. Andy Goldsworthy.
Are you following our Tumblr yet?
If you go on Tumblr, it feels like half of the internet consists of teenagers wishing they were alive in the 60s. And one thing that I’m writing about for Rookie is about why the 21st century isn’t that bad. It’s like, “We have Miranda July you guys! - Tavi Gevinson.
For young creatives today, Miranda July singlehandedly redeems the 21st century. The 37 year old is a genuine polymath, perhaps the only person in the world who could legitimately write in her Twitter bio “Writer, author, performance, online and visual artist, filmmaker, director, actor.” (Of course, her real bio says nothing of the sort.)
July co-founded the art project Learning to Love You More, an online community whose members completed assignments. It’s now a book. Her first feature-length film Me and You and Everyone We Know won The Caméra d’Or prize at The Cannes Festival in 2005. Her book of short stories No one belongs here more than you was widely acclaimed. She helped audience members participate in her performance piece “Things We Don’t Understand and Are Definitely Not Going To Talk About,” which formed the basis for her second feature film The Future. She wrote, directed and starred in it, and it’s just opened in Europe and America to rave reviews. “On the surface, this film is an enchanting meditation. At its core is the hard steel of individuality,” Roger Ebert said.
She is an inspiration, and so is her work. Gathered here from a variety of sources are a selection of July’s own words; we hope it helps young creatives starting out on their own journey.
You don’t have to go to university, film school or get an MFA to be an artist.
July dropped out of the University of California at Santa Cruz after a year. Instead, she lived in Portland, Oregan and focused on her work as a performance and visual artist, filmmaker and writer.
For me, school was taking away from getting to begin. I was never academic. I fight all conventions until they become useful to me.
I’d never been fired before. It was a lot like dropping out of school or being arrested. All of these institutions, in their crude, clumsy way, seemed to be saying, You don’t need us, we’ll never understand you, and it’s important for you not to want us to. I took the message to heart. I labored obsessively over creative pursuits they would never recognize, hurtling through systems and hierarchies as if nothing that already existed were relevant to me.
I don’t feel that much a part of any of these worlds, partly because of how I entered them… I always felt I was crashing.
Teach yourself your craft in your own way.
In 1996, July heard there was a video-editing machine in the basement of a nearby college’s library. With an expired student ID belonging to someone else, July sneaked in to edit her first film, Atlanta.
Late one night, I stumbled out of the Reed library with my finished movie in hand. I smiled condescendingly at the students in the foyer and walked past them into the night. Finally. Finally I wasn’t just a rebellious bundle of hopes. I had some hard evidence to back me up. It was like a degree but quicker; like a job but more fun; like a boyfriend but forever.
Wanting to connect with other women, July started an influential project that became “Joanie 4 Jackie,” a video chain letter for female filmmakers to share their work.
It sounds really altruistic but I was also lonely. ‘Joanie 4 Jackie’ saved me, because I felt like I was part of something. That was my film school.
I’m not a cinephile. My films don’t reference films. I’m more interested in rhythm and feeling.
Write your own story.
At 16, Miranda Jennifer Grossinger adopted her new name based on a story in a zine she created with a friend. She changed her name legally in her early 20s.
It was part of being self-authoring. And it was vanity. I wanted a name that I liked. July looked good on everything and seemed edible. But it’s a 15-year-old’s idea of a great name.
The point of art is to transform yourself through understanding.
I guess my favorite thing in the world is when I look at a piece of art, or read a story, or watch a movie where I walk away feeling like “Oh my god — I have to do something, I have to make something or talk to someone — things are not the same anymore” — and so I try to make work where you come away with that feeling. It’s like, yeah, you’re thinking about what you just saw, but even more than that — you feel able, you feel like, kind of propelled.
This is a picture of me taken in 1996. I am opening a letter from a stranger and no doubt my heart is pounding in a way that is uncalled for. I am 22 and I am just dying to know what this stranger has to say and I’m hoping it will turn my world upside down. Not that my world is so horrible, but I know it will be better upside down and understood by a stranger. It is this desire, to be transformed by understanding, that has pretty much propelled me through every single day since 1996.
The whole time I’ve been building my audience I’ve also been trying to unbuild the walls that come with having an audience, with having power. The whole point is to be able to feel more, to connect more, and yet in some ways having power runs at cross-purposes to this. Maybe I feel more just by sitting with a friend. And can I make a career, as a filmmaker and performer, that makes this sitting-with-a-friend feeling more possible, for each member of the audience and for myself? Yes! I say yes.
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
July approached 924 Gilman, a local punk club, to perform there rather than in school plays.
I remember thinking: I have to do this [play]. If I don’t, I might as well not exist. I was so overwhelmed, feeling like I could barely pull it off. I remember going outside and getting under a car parked in front of our house, some random car, just lying under that car, which seemed like the lowest thing you could do.
While making her new film, The Future,
I had a lot of anxiety. I was like, I can’t do this. I can only make one movie. But in truth, it was pretty great. It doesn’t mean it was fun, because I drove myself crazy the whole time, worrying that it wouldn’t come together.
Nothing I can come up with these days is as scary as opening for punk bands in bars back before anyone knew who I was. Sometimes these audiences were so confounded, so unfamiliar with the idea of “performance” that they would get angry and yell at me while I performed. I remember searching the crowd for the eyes of one woman who looked like she might know I was I was talking about. I would do it for her; that would get me through it.
Ideas, big and small, accrue over time.
I’ve always had trouble finding shoes that were relevant to me. In Portland I eventually convinced a shoe-repair man that if he could fix every part of a shoe, then he could probably make a pair of shoes from scratch. We designed them together, sort of a cartoon nurse shoe, and I wore them every day. We became friends, and the character of Richard in Me and You, the shoe salesman, is inspired, in part, by him. So the shoes are like so many of my themes: they were an organic part of my life and over time they’ve accrued meaning.
I usually have the thing in my head that I should be working on, and I’m taking notes for that. Then I’ll randomly have and “art idea” which seems really fun because no one is waiting for me to do that. Then one day some art show will ask me to do something and I’ll go back and look at that list of ideas. So art and performance are a lot like that; I have a lot of notes for those things, but usually a writing thing or a movie thing is on the front burner.
I write down the idea in my notebook, and then I put a little letter in the corner of the page in a circle. S for story, N for novel, M for movie, A for art, P for performance, B for business. This makes me sound totally rigid. I am also lots of fun. Totally wild! Party!
There’s always the sense that you should strike while the iron’s hot and while there are all these opportunities, but that’s not the way I get ideas. It has to be more organic, building up through living and through experiencing things.
Miranda July’s advice for artists.
…it’s important to start facing your demons early on. That’s going to be your challenge your entire life and you’re going to have to figure out how to get through the days or hours where you don’t feel dissolved or frayed. And you can begin that process now, you are a real artist now. I feel like when you’re a student, you forget that you’re just as real now as you will be when you graduate.
You give into distraction as if it is a murderer. You lay there, waiting to be killed. Today: fight for your life.
Being self-conscious doesn’t help you at all when you’re alone and trying to create something new. It does nothing.
Image: The top image via Zimbio.
Sources: The source for each of the 20 Miranda July quotes is directly linked in its number. They include:
- The New Yorker
- The New York Times
- Miranda July’s blog
- Miranda July interview on YouTube
- Seattle PI
- AV Club
- Letter to Jane
- F*ck Yeah Miranda July (a fan site)
- Miranda July, currated by Matthew Higgs, Interview Magazine (PDF)
- Miranda July’s website
Suggestions: If you like this post, you might enjoy
- “What matters is the work”: 25 lessons for creatives in Patti Smith’s ‘Just Kids.’
- “I’m here to say something and to touch other people”: lessons for creatives from Keith Richards’ ‘Life.’
- How to get out of a creative rut.
It’s Autumn in the northern hemisphere, and one day soon it will snow in New York. When that happens, our Twitter/Tumblr dashes will be so filled with “Snowing?” “SNOW!” and blizzard shots it’ll feel like it’s fallen on our doorsteps.
But if our entire streams are Australia/USA/UK-based, we’re missing out. Our Asian neighbours are beautiful, vibrant, innovative countries unique in their cultures and history, full of incredible art and design, campaigns, trends, memes and fashion. And as innovators and communicators, it’s all stuff we need to know.
What follows is a list of English-speaking Asian-based blogs that we regularly follow here at Nextness.
- Expats: The India archives of Big Bang Studio.
- Life:This is Sheena, photographer/writer living in Bombay. | wearabout, photographer/writer living in Bombay.
- Advertising:Bhatnaturally, a survey of mainly Indian advertising by the India-based VP of draftfcb.
- Art and design: Random specific, a graphic designer/creative director who’s lived in India | Indian by design, a highbrow site that celebrates and shares “creativity in India/by Indians.”
India and South Asia.
- Art and design: Masala Chai, billed as “the first and only blog featuring South Asian Art and Design from around the world.”
- Expats:Amanda Mooney: Manager, Shanghai Digital Practice for Edelman China | Kapookababy: Monica Tan is a Beijing-based writer, originally hailing from Sydney, Australia.
- News and trends:China Smack / Shanghaiist/ ChinaHush/ Danwei
- Social media: Brand Sundae, by the Sr. Manager – Strategy at adidas China | Digicha, by an American living in Beijing | Resonance China, a social business agency
- Life: Thank you, ok’s Seoul archives | Hasisi Park Tumblr, Flickr and website.
- Art and design: Art and Seoul, “aim to reflect the diverse society of young artists and thinkers in this city in order to build a bridge of mutual understanding between Seoul and the rest of the world.”
- Life: Casual Poet, culture + lifestyle company based in Singapore since 2007.
- Expats: Hello Sandwich, an Australian artist and graphic designer living in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo
- Life: Jolly Goo, “Tokyo and Japanese stuff through Tokyoite’s eyes and lens.”
- Art and design: Spoon & Tamago, which asks “what’s going on in the Japanese art and design industry and where is it headed?” | Big in Japan, established in June 2009 in Australia by ksubi and Kirin as a “platform for cultural exchange.”
- Trends: JapanTrends, run by a company called CScout to help people “understand the Japanese market and its consumers.”
- Popular posts tagged “Japan” on Tumblr.
- Social media: Barney Loehnis, Ogilvy Asia Pacific Digital Lead | Asia Digital Map, a collaborative group blog authored by all parts of Ogilvy Group across the Asia-Pacific region | Thomas Crampton: Asia-Pacific director of social media for Ogilvy & Mather.
Who are we missing?
- This list is nowhere near complete, and is a work in progress. Comment or tweet @STWnextness and we’ll add your favourites to the list!