Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Feminist talk around the advertising lunch table.

I am proud to say that the creative department I work in has many women. In fact I think it's a pretty even divide which is highly unusual in the Advertising world. Perhaps that's why our department is more collaborative than competitive. Perhaps the reason women stick around is because it's friendlier and less macho. As female Creatives we are on the front line of the fight for equality. We prove our worth in a male dominated world every day.

Recently a colleague of mine had a baby girl baby girl and returned to work. I feel that she has began our next big fight: for working conditions which allow us to be mothers as well as valued and sought after Creatives.

Sitting around our lunch table we discussed the ways in which a baby girl should be brought up in order to feel free from the limiting stereotypes that we had all faced in some degree. My colleague said that she was trying not to use the words "good girl" - words that enforced the gender in association with "worthiness". She was also trying not to dress her little girl in pink. Pink wasn't banned, but should be like any other colour.

I thought back to my Christmas shopping trip a couple of years ago in Hamleys where there was an entirely pink floor filled with dolls and a blue ones for boys full of dumper trucks and building blocks. I also thought of the way schools enforce gendered behaviour. Aged 8 I started a petition in my Primary school asking for girls to be allowed to play football. It resulted in a shouting at by the head dinner lady, a very scary lady. What hope did my friend have to keep her child free from the pressures of a labelling society? What hope was there when she would play with other children who's parents would kit them out in pink and blue and give their girls dolls and the boys trucks?

But apparently there are some children's brands who are thinking differently and seeking to challenge these stereotypes.

Princess Awesome make girls clothes in rainbow colours with patterns inspired by dinosaurs, maths and science. Their message is that you can be a Princess and a scientist when you're older. I mean, shouldn't a modern Princess have a job too? No Waity-Katie for these kick-arse girls!

Here are some of their inspirational and gender-rule-breaking pictures.

There are actually a whole host or fashion brands doing the gender neutral thing for adults - check out this article if you're interested.

Let Toys be Toys is a brilliant initiative which seems to be making some important ground in making toy shops organise their toys by theme rather than gender. Below you can see great two examples of the changes they have helped enact.

JUST BOYS? JUST GIRLS? WHY? Thank GOD these signs are gone. 

This last one is particularly lovely - having a girl's picture over the construction toys. Result!

The UK has a long way to go. But steps are being made in the right direction. Together we can help change the behaviours of brands by voting with our feet and writing to point out inequalities to companies. You only have to look at last year's Cannes entries to see the advertising world is trying too. "This Girl Can" and "Throw like a girl" are two great examples of female empowerment.

Together we can help my colleague's child, and all children, be exactly the person they want to be. Not what society tells them they must be.

So go on. Buy your baby girl a dinosaur and buy your little boy a doll if they want them. I leave you with this amazing father and son:

Friday, 6 November 2015

Tom Cruise, meet Tom Cruise. But mind out for Arnie!

Imagine a club where time is a fluid, allowing any famous person who had ever stepped inside to reside indefinitely in that moment. A place where Al Pacino could walk back in 10 years later and see himself 10 years younger. A club that acts as a time sticky paper. This is the illusion that this clever mashup creates - it's called Hell's Club.

Halloween done.

So this is how my Unicorn makeup ended up. I used big fake eyelashes that I bought at a screen makeup shop and a much better brand of hair spray which actually turned my hair white unlike before. I also stuck to gold and silver glitter since the glitter I ordered went missing. In the end I didn't need it anyway. 

At the Halloween party I actually discovered I was a novelty for people dressed up ghoulishly. Several people asked me if I would pose for pictures with them. It was like being a character at Disney land. As I was leaving the party a guy told me that I must be the winner of the most original costume. So yep. There we have it. 

Halloween 2015 done. 

Friday, 30 October 2015

Unicorn does Halloween

The time is nigh for my annual Halloween costume post.

This year I am breaking all the rules and dressing as a Unicorn! Yes, America is rubbing off on me and I am taking their licence to go as something non-scary. In the last two years I've dressed as a black cat, a werewolf and a vampire so I've done my gothic duty.

I trialled this look last week at a drinks party and here is the result:

Makeup will change for the next outing. I have glitter in three colours - pink, gold and silver. I won't be using the green as it stands out too much

And here's my unicorn horn and ears. I created then by shaping tin foil and fastening it to a white headband. Then I wrapped the horn it in plastic tape and used the tape to fasten the ears and horn more securely to the headband. Then I used layers of kitchen roll to paper-mache over the top. Finally I painted it white and gold. I may add some glitter too. 

What I didn't realise is there is actually a whole Underground Unicorn movement. And it's actually led by an Art Director (of course it is). These unicorns are more professional than me(they actually believe that they ARE unicorns so, how can I compare to that) but I will be taking some tips from them on glitter and makeup. 

And of course this is a great excuse to re-watch Charlie the Unicorn. Classic. 


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

An ode to Soho

I work, eat and drink in Soho and this video to celebrate the launch of London Fashion Week in Soho makes me very proud to be a part of one of the most vibrant areas in London.

Once Soho was full of crack dens and prozzies and the French.

Not much has changed.

That is apart from down Sex Alley which needs a new name as the police have shut down all the places of ill repute.

Gotta love it.

And props to World Poetry Slam Champion, Harry Baker. Nice script man. 

Friday, 31 July 2015

Dark, gothic, detailed, beautiful.

I'm not sure why I always find gothic images so beautiful. The sadness, the hints of violence, sex and death, mixed with flowers and beautiful faces and skulls. Perhaps it was my rebellion against the prevailing culture of townies in Kappa and surfies in Billabong that divided Swansea when I was growing up. It seemed way cooler to be cynical and pronounce yourself a goth. Wear black and smudge your eyes in a vaguely teary sullen looking way.

I think that's why I looked through all the art on Big Active's rosters and was instantly drawn to the work of Russian born artist Vania Zouravliov.

Zouravliov was inspired by an impressive array of artistry including The Bible, Dante's Divine Comedy, Disney and North American Indians. It has even been said that his work is from the Devil.

Here are a few of the ones I find inspiring. I love the shapes of fabric, the partial over the top dress compared to naked limbs, the beautiful faces, the exoticism and the gothic OTT elements.

A little lighter but still richly detailed, imaginative and beautiful is the work of Klaus Haapaniemi. Finish born Haapaniemi was also influenced by Russia - in particular Russian animation. His work is vivid and fairytale-like often with backgrounds of black. 

I loved his store takeover for Isetan Interiors which was, I think, based on his beautiful book: 

I also love his gothic cover for Perfume, one of the most vivid and richly imagined books I've ever read.

 And this is one of his layout designs for Vogue magazine.

I love coming across the work of artists that make me want to create things myself. I feel inspired to write and illustrate a children's novel. Maybe do a big sexual gothic painting to shock people with. 

Just need to find the time!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Who wins my Cannes Lions?

Cannes is almost upon us and whilst some would argue the whole thing is an exercise in self-promotion and networking, it does provide us with the opportunity to stop and think about the last year of advertising. 

This year is an important one because it is the first time that Cannes will give a special award, the Glass Lion, to a memorable campaign around gender and women's empowerment. This is obviously a hot topic in the advertising world. You can't walk through the tube or watch an episode of X Factor without getting some kind of positive girl power endorsement. I'm not complaining of course. I work in an industry where you constantly see sexism. Many a time I've seen campaigns where all the men featured were doctors, business men and architects and the women featured were mothers, cooks and nurses. So honestly, when I see an ad where a women is boxing or running a board room I cheer. 

My bet for the winner of the Glass Lion is on the "#LikeAGirl" campaign for Always by Leo Burnett, Toronto, Chicago and London. It challenges people's use of the phrase "like a girl" turning the phrase into an expression of strength. Yeh let's fight like a girl and win like a girl! A mantra for us ladies still fighting the good fight in male led agencies. 

And it's not just attitudes towards women that's receiving the attention of advertising and brands. Other entries tackle Nazi's in Germany, poverty and hunger and racial prejudices. 

AMV BBDO, London's brilliant advert for Guinness, "Made Of Black" redefined the meaning of being black, claiming it isn't a skin colour but a strong, powerful and vibrant attitude. The use of Kanye West's "Black Skinhead" created a powerful music video type piece that I just love. 

Others tackle local issues by using their products in a helpful way, like Samsung's "The Safety Truck" by Leo Burnett, Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Argentina has a large number of single lane roads and many fatalities are caused by people trying to overtake large vehicles whilst unable to see the road ahead. Samsung fitted their screens to the back of their lorries which gave drivers behind a live feed of the road ahead. Who knows how many lives this creative idea could save. This surely is creativity put to the best use. 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Capsule Wardrobe in a capsule (well...pdf)

I often have a moment of depression and disgust when looking at my wardrobe. Considering what a nice wardrobe it is maybe you might think I'm crazy. It's a huge double Ikea one which I don't share with anyone. It's got space saving velvet hangers (these are brilliant and available here on Ebay) and organised to make finding things easy. I've colour coded my clothes and divided them into skirts, jeans, jumpers etc. Yet still I often feel that I don't have anything to wear to a date/party/dinner. I don't like anything, I don't have anything that goes with that top. I have things I've worn once and then never again. I even have one dress I've never worn because it makes me look like a giant lurid pink sausage. I've even paid to get it altered in the hope of improving it. Alas. It now makes me look like a tarty lurid pink sausage.

On my trips to LA I have to select 2 weeks worth of clothes from this vast trove and time and time again I reach for the same pieces. Hanging these clothes in my hotel wardrobe I always feel proud. My clothes are widely space, good quality, fit me and are well chosen. I've picked outfits with items that work together, shoes that don't hurt me and that cover work, shopping and the beach. In effect, whenever I go to LA I take with me a capsule wardrobe. 

1 black leather jacket
1 black cotton dress  
3 pairs of jeans - black, light grey, dark blue
2 shirts - purple + white
3 t-shirts- black, blue, green
1 skirt - grey
2 jumpers - one warm black jumper, one black cardie 
2 blazers - navy and black
1 pair of nude heels
1 pair of nude sandals 
1 pair of black boots
1 pair of black trainers.
2 bikinis

Without meaning to I even had a colour pallet - mostly greys, blacks, neutrals.

Returning to my vast wardrobe in London I decided to do some research into capsule wardrobes. I quickly found some great blogs on the subject. Here they are: 

This is Anouschka's blog - a minimalist enthusiast living in Berlin. Her website provides exercises and worksheets on how to create a minimalist wardrobe and also a more minimalist life. It's my main source of inspiration. 

Caroline's blog where she details her own 37 piece wardrobe. 

Courtney's advice on how to create a wardrobe with 33 items in using the rule of 3. 

These sites are great for a step by step approach to wardrobe simplification. But for all those who are short on time, I've put together the most important advice I found. 

I'm not promising I'll get rid of 40 of my 45 dresses, but maybe I'll get rid of 15. That would be a start. And I have a new "one in one out policy" too. Having a capsule wardrobe should also help make me a more discerning shopper too. Who knows. Maybe the sausage dress will never happen again. 

Good luck with your wardrobes everyone :)

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Stop smoking because we're funny

Advertisers have tried everything to try to convince people to stop smoking. Sadly, it doesn't seem it's as easy to convince the public to stop as to have sold it to them in the first place. Since the tactics of cancer sprouting cigarettes and other shock tactics have been done to death it's refreshing to see a humorous approach. Check out these cute little animations with a very serious message. Smoking equals death. (Thanks to Camille for this post)

Monday, 23 February 2015

From Moonage Daydreams to the streets of Paris: Fashion show staging

London Fashion week is here and the town is filled with willowy models, demanding Fashionistas, photographers with sore feet and OTT bloggers. I will be reporting from London Fashion Weekend myself since Dior sent my invite to the wrong address, and someone obviously stole my Matthew Williamson invite and Stella, poor sweetheart, was too jealous of my personal glamour to invite me.

In the meantime I thought I'd look at one of the things I find most interesting about LFW - the staging of the collections.

My favourite staging recently has been done by Dior who has used poles to create dramatic modern settings that cross the line between builder's scaffolding and Tron for their Esprit Tokyo show in December.

See what I mean?

Then for their Spring Summer 2015 Haute Couture Show they referenced a David Bowie lyric (points Dior, points) "Moonage daydream" - interpreting it as an "alien journey through the past’s ideas of the future to reach the point of today".  The collection displayed was one that mixed time periods and uses decorative elements in a structural way:  

"Intricate, tour-de-force appliqued pleating heightens this sense of the decorative becoming the architecturally structured in the collection... The typical Dior ‘femme fleur’ is subverted and liberated in the collection. Made unfamiliar, futuristic, graphic and decisive in her encrusted and dripping lace florals, tattoo body suits and hyper-real plastic blossom prints, she is at once exquisitely decorated and disruptive in her mirrored, octagonal terrain of the show venue. I wanted that feeling of a sensory overload both in the collection and in the venue for the show,” explains Raf Simons. “Something encrusted and bejewelled alongside the shock of bright colour and sensuality in the clothing with an architectural structure and interior that has a similarly disorientating feeling; somewhere you cannot quite place where you are, or which period of time you are in.”

Chanel, another of my favourites for staging, went for a glasshouse effect where tropical flowers bloomed matching the shades the models wore for their Spring/Summer 2015 show. 

Here's the legend himself talking about the staging and the collection.

And here's a more fun and less delicate version in stark contrast - making a political statement for women's empowerment in a staging that looked like the beautiful streets of Paris.

In each example the staging helps to tell the story of the collection just as much as the designs the models wear - whether it's a surreal moorage daydream of time and place, a tropical garden or the revolutionary streets of Paris. 

Let's see how LFW does it this week. I can't wait :)

Thursday, 19 February 2015

3D gaming, holographs, facial mapping and projection fun

Last week my friends in the digital department brought in an Oculus Rift for us to play with. If you haven't had the pleasure of trying one then believe me it is an amazing experience. Once you put on the headset it's like you actually have stepped into a new world - a bit like the film Avatar. You can go on roller coasters and swings and your body reacts by turning your stomach upside down just as it would if you were really there. You can even peer right around yourself and look down at your own virtual reality body. In one game, after being thrown for a swing I realised that my head had been decapitated and I was staring at my own body on the floor in front of me. Freaky.

But there are many other ways in which technology is helping to immerse us in new realities and world. Another company are developing systems which project the game outwards from your TV into your room, mapping your furniture to allow elements to interact with them - snowflakes that seem to settle on your floor and bounce off your bookcases - in order to immerse you into the game.

Here's the system in action.

There seems to be a lot of interesting uses of 3D projections and mapping at the moment.
Here are two beautiful artistic pieces that really show off the possibilities of using facial mapping.

In a world where advertising is often seen as an intrusion and most things have been done already such new technology provides a real way of standing out and doing something new that really impresses the public. Fashion and luxury brands have been amongst the first to experiment with 3D mapping

Here's a 3D fashion show performed in Hamburg in 2011.

Jaguar used 3d mapping to make a static car look as if it's driving through Vegas and other cities, and then appear to become transparent to show off the power of the engine.

Ralph Lauren used 3d mapping to show off their new collection on the front of their Bond Street Store in London.

Porsche Macan used 3d mapping for the reveal of their new models

And of course there's the really famous example - the hugely successful HBO storytelling projection.

I think there might be opportunities for everyday brands to use this technology too. Perhaps Cadbury's could allow us to feel as if we were in a world full of joy, or Comfort could allow us to see everything around us made into soft knitted versions of themselves. You could revisit Sony Bravia's bouncy balls making them appear to fill the street or map clothes from top shop onto passers by. The possibilities are exciting.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

What a month of illness has taught me.

December I managed to be ill for almost the entire month. It started with a couple of low lying viruses so subtle that the nurse I saw told me I was just run down and needed to take lots of vitamins. I knew it was more than that. On the way to the office Christmas party I remarked in an off hand way to my boss that I shouldn't even be going to the party because I was ill. 

I definitely overdid it at the party and fighting and breaking up with the guy I was seeing and then crying for about an hour didn't help. But I woke up with no voice. It didn't come back for a whole week. I had viral laryngitis which cannot be treated, just has to be waited out. My boss heard me attempting to talk and sent me home with the words, "listening to you is heart breaking". Quite sweet really. From a week alone in the house without even being able to speak on the telephone I learnt a couple of things. 

Firstly I tend to talk to myself a lot. I realised this because when you have laryngitis you have to rest your voice as much as possible. I had to keep remembering not to talk to myself. Kinda embarrassing. 

More importantly isolation makes you calmer. In the past I've always felt the need to discuss every problem. I watch my phone all the time for messages. Being ill when you know you can't go out on a date or meet anyone or even talk to them is calming. After a few days I felt calmer and happier in my own company. I stopped feeling lost and bored and filled my days with solitary activities like painting. I felt content. 

A week later I came down with flu. I couldn't even get out of bed without the help of my dad holding my hand. I was too scared I'd pass out. My vision went when I moved too fast and I felt nauseous. A week of lying on the sofa with no energy to even text my friends made me appreciate small things in life like being able to stand up in the shower, feeling well enough to care about what I look like. But more importantly it made me realise what an amazing loving and caring father I had. I am so used to seeing my father as a fellow adult: a funny but slightly irresponsible person who I often argued with. I'd forgotten that he brought me up and looked after me and kept me safe when I was a child. But he stepped back into that role willingly. Feeding me, clearing up after me and holding my hand. 

Finally illness has had a couple of other positive effects on me. Not drinking has been good for my liver and my clothes are looser so I guess I've lost weight. Not wearing makeup for three weeks means my skin has cleared up - my pores are smaller. I've started reading novels again and painting and I've seen a lot of TV shows and films I can now talk about. 

But most importantly I've realised I'm fine on my own. I don't need a boyfriend - I am complete and actually having a boyfriend might be a bit of a pain in the arse. I can do my own thing, go to bed when I want, sleep in a bed on my own without being disturbed, decide how long to stay in Wales and when to return to London without a care for another. I'm not sure I want to give that up. 

So yeh, being ill is horrible and I can't wait to go to a bar and have a cocktail (honestly it feels like a bar is like Narnia to me). But it hasn't all been bad. And I have never been miserable or depressed. I've appreciated the small things like being able to breathe out of one nostril or not feeling dizzy for an hour. I've grown in personal strength and I've grown closer to my dad. I can't say I wish it was any different.