By Charlie Parker
Tonight Pour a Lil’Liquor for Stu
Yesterday was the funeral of my Granddad. It took place overlooking the panoramic views of the lush Somerset rolling countryside and to the sounds of Dave Brubeck hitting the keys whilst Paul Desmond took the stars with his saxophone. I learnt more about my Granddad in a day than I had in a lifetime and for the first time ever, I saw my father cry.
In the car on the way to the funeral my Dad informed me that Stuart Blake a mentor at SCA had also passed away. It was devastating news because Stu was not only a mentor but also a friend who shared his wisdom and experience always with a cheeky smile.
Stuart worked at DDB UK, Y&R and WCRS and awards include Campaign Gold and Cannes TV Gold amongst others. We rarely agreed on anything but that not the point, he always encouraged me and was always willing help/argue.
At SCA it is so easy to take the mentors for granted. My time was blessed with hundreds of amazing industry folk with so much to offer, they are what make the experience so great.
However, I am yet to the return to SCA as a mentor myself. When my SCA bubble well and truly burst, I was hungry for success but the thought of mentoring seemed at little arrogant. What do I have to offer?
But if my Granddad and Stuart passing has taught me anything, is that you should always take every opportunity to share knowledge as well as take it.
So here are a few aphorisms, tips and quotes I have harvested since leaving SCA.
Ideas are like furry creatures in the forest, be nice to the first one or the others won’t come out – I discovered this quote from a Grayson Perry talk discussing his favourite books that have influenced his work. The quote is from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and highlights the importance of creating a healthy and safe environment to allow creative work to thrive.
Hope is not strategy – I recently discovered a new word that perfectly describes a common trait I despise in creative, Pollyanna.
It’s defined in the Merriam Webster dictionary as someone who thinks good things will always happen and finds something good in everything.
The truth is great work is a struggle which can be rewarding but you cannot leave anything to chance. Think big, but be realistic maybe even a little cynical and as Martin from BMB once said always ask yourself ‘is this shit?’
Budget constrain many things, creativity isn’t one of them Lee Clow – The quote says it all.
Mistakes are the portals of discovery James Joyce – Someone once told me that mistakes are just answers to a different question. One thing for certain is that failure is an integral part of learning and the creative process. Embrace it, use it and learn to laugh at it.
99% is shit – I first discovered this saying in a picture of some vintage punk photography and immediately embraced it. Tony Brignull the most awarded copy writer in D&AD history told us to always write a hundred lines. You might nail it first time or the last time but it doesn’t matter- just do it.
Seek potential – People and ideas all start somewhere and as Paul Arden said ‘it is not how good you are it is how good you want to be’. As creative we should always be at the start something, if not there is little worth.
If you play the other guys game you will always lose, but if you make it good enough people will come – I heard this quote in a food documentary about a Kentucky farmer who specialised in smoking authentic artisan bacon. When starting the business during the 60’s he was presented with a choice, mass produce like everyone else or make the bacon he had grown up with and loved. The quote is what his father advised him and he is now the biggest artisan bacon producer in the US.
It’s the cracks that let the light in – This is based on a quote from singer songwriter Leonard Cohen and for me perfectly sums up why seeking perfection is not only impossible but also can be destructive.
The question isn’t who going to let me but who is going to stop me Ayn Rand – Unless you are breaking the law or there is a possibility it might cost you your job, be a trouble maker and never ask for permission.
That your lot. A big thank you Stuart Blake and don’t forget to pour a little liquor for Stu at Friday reflection on my behalf.