Friday, 8 January 2016

Happy 2016. Christmas is over so what now?

Christmas was a blast but it's over now.
But all is not lost! January can be a great month.
Here's what everyone seems to be picking themselves back up to do, think and talk about.


Look I don't know why this seems like a fun thing to do because it's actually the opposite of fun. But I like to think of dry January a bit like a tricky computer game. You have to navigate the social calendar, avoiding the alcoholic beverages and find new tactics to be sociable without being forced to down a beer. See? Fun.

EVERYONE is doing dry January this year. My deskman Ludo reasons that it's because every year we are consuming more and more alcohol and we're scaring ourselves. Good theory. Mine is that the adverts for Cancer research in December have struck a real chord with people. See below.

Whether people would say this ad was the reason they were giving up alcohol or not I think that this ad planted the seeds of the thought in a lot of people's minds this Christmas and of course then there is a snowball effect. I said I was thinking of doing dry Jan after seeing this ad then my sister agreed and so did her bf Tim and my dad and then my friend Lisa. See what I mean?


Who isn't watching this yet? You? Well mark my words, if you have Netflix then you may as well start this weekend because you'll watch it eventually. People are getting hooked by this real life story just as they did by Serial and the "is Adnan guilty" question. Don't be behind the curve peeps.


Discontent with just giving up alcohol, many of my friends are embarking on punishing fitness routines. The problem is that the weather is not playing ball. Rain is not conducive to running and outdoor yoga sessions and so that's why gyms in January become unbearably packed places. Yes January is the season of gym wars when everyone moans about the fact that they couldn't even get on a running machine because they were all taken by tubby new gym members. The weights machines are all taken by people sitting the wrong way around and attempting to lift weights that are far too heavy. This is the season where regular gym members need to resort to stealth tactics like lunchtime sessions or attempting to cause a large proportion of other gym users get food poisoning by leaving contaminated protein balls at the front desk. No I haven't actually done that yet but it's an idea?

Also can I just say I got some boxing gloves for Christmas so you might want make way yeh?


Yes January is the month when everyone is making Mystic Meg year ahead predictions.

I've been doing a lot of reading recently about the power of the mind to shape reality. According to the law of attraction you can make whatever you choose to be a reality happen. So I've been telling everyone they're going to have an amazing year. I will be having an amazing one - I've decided.

Of course the interesting predictions for us Ad peeps are trend forecasts. Here are some of the forecasts I've read about so far for 2016, plus a few of my own predictions:

a) Brands asking consumers to prove their worth. A bit like clubs looking at how pretty you are and deciding whether to let you in. If it's exclusive the worth goes up.

b)  Micro-moments - super targeted contextual ads will be big - meaning less spamming and more adverts that people actually want to theory.

c) Virtual reality – Last year I was absolutely blown away by experiencing the Oculus Rift. This year brands will get in on the act, offering virtual reality experiences for their consumers.

d) The Internet of Things will continue to get bigger. On the Apprentice this year the winner was a guy who wanted to get into renewable energy. Instead energy firms said that he should be thinking about smart technology. Apps that can turn on your heating for example. If even Alan Sugar's getting his fingers in this pie then it's gotta be big news.

e) Ethical companies - Last year one of the nicest news stories was a boss who had taken a huge pay cut to ensure that his staff were all paid equally, a flat pay structure which meant huge pay increases for those at the bottom. This year brands will be trying to sort out their own houses, creating great PR in the process.

Other things people are talking about in brief:

Deutschland83 on Channel 4 - apparently very good.

Obama crying - def real. I'd vote for him.

The rain - for fuck's sake when will it end?

Books - I'm writing one, my desk mate's writing one, my friend Thomas is writing one, my friend Hollie has written one. How do we get publishers?

Cards Against Humanity - still the dinner party fav.

War and Peace - BBC's Downton replacement therapy with a bit of incest thrown in.

Sherlock - the last episode was shit tho wasn't it?

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!