The death of an ad guy, besides myself.

I was a Mad Man before Mad Men was a catch phrase. I rode the Merry Go Round for some of the biggest ad firms in the world at the time. I was young, my first job I was 17. Reading the blog of Linds’ I certainly knew what he was talking about – because I committed suicide years ago, professional suicide that is. As a young man in Manhattan I was fortunate to meet the right people who helped me gain access to the guilded halls of Madison Avenue Ad Agencies. I met, and worked with some of the legends, yet all the while I was categorically uninterested in the fervor of promotion, accolades and awards. NOT to say I didn’t want them just a little. I remember showing my television reel to my new wife and after 20 minutes of sitting on the couch watching them and smiling at me as if she was impressed I knew half way through we were still only watching television commercials!! I knew then I would never go back as I had lost my ad job some time before due to a catastrophic recession in ’92 in LA, I had since started painting murals. I have never looked back as my close friends were still slogging it out, One today is the head of Omnicom in LA and he was recently diagnose with stage 1 throat cancer. So read Linds Blog and please take away for his and my brief comments that to live your life for work that excludes your family and friends is the greatest sin!
Linds Redding, a New Zealand-based art director who worked at BBDO and Saatchi & Saatchi, died last month at aged 52 from an inoperable esophageal cancer.

Redding also kept a blog, and after his passing an essay he wrote about the ad business, titled “A Short Lesson In Perspective,” has gained a new and sudden life, on the SF Egotist and on Adfreak.

It will not make happy reading for the many people who knew Redding, know of his work, or anyone who works in the creative department of an ad agency.

In sum, Redding, wrote, life as a creative isn’t worth it. “It turns out I didn’t actually like my old life nearly as much as I thought I did,” he wrote, after he was diagnosed.

The screed addresses the existential problem at the center of anyone’s career in advertising: Can you marry art and commerce and be fulfilled as a human being?

Redding concludes the answer is no. His story could apply to anyone’s job, in any industry. It’s sobering stuff. Here’s an excerpt of the most brutal bits (you can read the full essay here.)

And here’s the thing.

It turns out I didn’t actually like my old life nearly as much as I thought I did. I know this now because I occasionally catch up with my old colleagues and work-mates. They fall over each other to enthusiastically show me the latest project they’re working on. Ask my opinion. Proudly show off their technical prowess (which is not inconsiderable.) I find myself glazing over but politely listen as they brag about who’s had the least sleep and the most takeaway food. “I haven’t seen my wife since January, I can’t feel my legs any more and I think I have scurvy but another three weeks and we’ll be done. It’s got to be done by then The client’s going on holiday. What do I think?”

What do I think?

I think you’re all f***ing mad. Deranged. So disengaged from reality it’s not even funny. It’s a f***ing TV commercial. Nobody gives a s***.

This has come as quite a shock I can tell you. I think, I’ve come to the conclusion that the whole thing was a bit of a con. A scam. An elaborate hoax.

Countless late nights and weekends, holidays, birthdays, school recitals and anniversary dinners were willingly sacrificed at the altar of some intangible but infinitely worthy higher cause. It would all be worth it in the long run…

This was the con. Convincing myself that there was nowhere I’d rather be was just a coping mechanism. I can see that now. It wasn’t really important. Or of any consequence at all really. How could it be. We were just shifting product. Our product, and the clients. Just meeting the quota. Feeding the beast as I called it on my more cynical days.

So was it worth it?

Well of course not. It turns out it was just advertising. There was no higher calling

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Production and career.

I wanted to take a look retrospectively at the last year’s output of paintings to get an idea as to where I am going stylistically and content wise with at least the non – commissioned work which is about 75 percent of my output. This is still only about 75% of the work I have done in 2012. A few have snuck in from times before but this isn’t a science project. as usual comments are welcome as long as they are constructive. I am starting on a number of new paintings many for holiday presents but a few for my collection. I am working to be included in next years Masters of Western Art at the Gene Autry Museum in Los Angeles with a classic large multi people in conflict painting reminiscent of the old war paintings. I had a discussion with my father this morning, who is himself a creative man, former Principal Tenor at the Met, New York City Opera and now a voice teacher at Mannes and premier school for classical music studies, part of the New School. He has just finished his second book for Scarecrow press about the Bel Canto singers of the 19th century and specifically Rubini. We compare notes on what the impact on us psychologically, emotionally and mentally when we strive to create something in our field specifically. I just got back to my easel and have found a new energy having spent the last three months learning the skills for sculpting, a long interest of mine and one I feel out of my depth about. Good to have a mutual thinker a phone call away.

 

I was wondering how I would get the high action of men in conflict without the arduous task of hiring models. Then I thought sports and specifically soccer and Rugby. This feels right.

What is art?

Image

What is art? In painting this 20″x36″ oil I had come from more conventional compositions and renderings. I liked what I was doing but I wasn’t receiving the wow that I wanted. I was asked to do a series of polo paintings for The Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club so initially I thought almost photographically. But in researching a lot of polo art on the Internet and a few times from art libraries in NYC I was unhappy with this initial approach because it lacked what a lot of the other work lacked, passion, energy and a personal stamp. I kept working all the while pushing myself, agonizing over which way to go. So as I often so I decided to try something new in the medium I was working in, oil and did a number of “Scratchboard” renderings. I then thought I would take what I had and show my client in Hollywood. He had some good things to say but I wasn’t getting that oh my God, these are great response EXCEPT from the Scratchboards. Thes were 8×10 yet his comment was he loved the energy they represented. I came back to the studio thinking that was what was missing energy! After all this is an energetic sport and most of the other traditional artwork I saw had this same deficiency.

SO I took a canvas painted Ochra raw umber gesso background and started to sketch in the figures (based on the other idea I had to use the energetic horses from another famous artist, Remington). As I worked my wife (when she likes a particular piece of work) tells me when to stop. And This time I felt it too. SO I did and now I have a style I believe expresses what I want to achieve. Is it a work of Art??

What is Art?

My comments…
“OF ARTEOLOGY” ©
CHAPTER VIII
THE THEORETICAL GROUND STRUCTURE OF THE CRITICISM OF ART
1. Introductory Remarks By Dr. Padozy, Fine Art Sculptor.

I personally enjoy an intellectual discussion. I have them a lot on all different subjects. I have not studied the thoughts of others as Mr. Padozy obviously has so I am no one to critique his work. What I may be able to add is my own life’s struggle with this question and the many discussions I have had with notable artists and the extensive reading I have done.
I have spent years listening and thinking and making art and dealing with what qualifies as art and I have come to the conclusion that defining art or the attempt at defining what is art is likened to a recipe with all the ingredients listed and the proportions described. The final result is as the saying goes in the eating =(viewing).
Art can’t be, described, defined, or quantified, skill, application of materials and intent can add attribution but the final judgement is in the eyes of the beholder! There will never be a definitive formula regardless of the thinking of scholars. The other end of any cultural expression is the elite factor that sets price and definition. I think the ultimate thing that can be said about art is how it touches an individual and in that it is art or not. Matisse may do nothing for a villager in Rwanda. And an African mask has pull on a white banker in Rhode Island.

Defining art is as difficult and ultimately as useless as trying to hold water in your hand. To quote a judge in regards to pornography “I know it when I see it!” Still this is unsatisfactory because we want a number of things resolved in our lives and one of them is some form of justification to OUR OWN likes. Defining what we as individuals think art is legitimizes our individuality and our sense of ourselves as valuable in society. So What Is Art remains to be discussed and analyzed and judged for the rest of time itself, because there is NO answer. Cogito ergo sum to play with Descartes.

We might think about changing the term “ART” and start from there rather than try to define “ART” based on older models???

To respond to the query, why art is important in our lives, I say that it is encoded in our DNA. As babies we use any medium handy (toothpaste?) to smear on any available surface (newly painted walls in the hallway) and then we come back to it after we have raised our family and have more “me time”. So revel in your creative work and take heart that maybe one day in the far away future someone will find a piece of yours and put it in a museum – with the signature of unknown artist!