Sunday, November 30, 2008

Human Panda

I thought I could recover from a month of not sleeping in a weekend. Then I looked in the mirror and realized I have permanent panda eyes. Sleep isn't like canned food; you can't hoard it for a later use.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A dead mooose and a kindergartner walked into a bar..

Arriving home to Hillsboro for Thanksgiving, my parents greeted me with an Argus article about my trip to China. Only in Hillsboro will my school activities make the paper.

There's nothing like seeing your picture in the paper right under a story about a giant dead moose. The cover story for this issue was titled, "A day in the life of Mooberry kindergartner." Big news in Hillsboro.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Isolated Lomography

There are some things you don’t plan for, such as being so sick that you dry heave all day or that your blog would be blocked by the Chinese government.

Seeing as I wasn’t avidly blogging during my time at the One Club workshop in China, I kept a running log of thoughts. I’ve posted a few of them, but I must admit it was nice being free of twitter updates, text messages, emails and facebook comments.

Instead, I took this time to photography our process.

Documentation, documentation, admiration, cooperation and documentation
Pressing into the unknown and emerging with one part answers and three parts questions
Hope found in the innocent and unexpected. When you think everyone is gone, look deeper and you'll find a nugget of bliss
Friendship runs deeper than languageOur peers are our strongest asset, learn, share and grow

Sunday, November 23, 2008

People are People

Landing in Shanghai, China I’ve realized that people are people. We all want to be brave. We are searching for identity and meaning in life.

Often in advertising we get discouraged and question the validity of our chosen field. The same is true in Shanghai.

One of our translators and new friends, Rachel, an advertising student at Fudan University Rachel is studying advertising, yet yearns to be a fashion designer. Rachel loves to create but isn’t sure if she wants to “sell” things for the rest of her life. She is unsure. Rachel represents a good chunk of the students in the advertising track at U of O.

We told Rachel that graduating with a degree in advertising doesn’t make her a product pusher, it makes her a cultural anthropologist, a problem solver and a producer of good ideas.

There are some mornings when I wake up and ask myself, “What the hell am I doing with my life?” These are the good days. If we settle for one pursuit we limit ourselves. Why say no to anything where there is possibility and potential in each track of our lives.

It’s normal not to know what to do with your life. We are all searching. If we stop questioning ourselves it means we’ve settled This can only lead to a life of mediocrity and white bread.

Craving a wood pencil with an eraser?

The Chinese students we worked with at the One Club China workshop were amazing artists. They took our concept of "driving growth" and busted out these drawings over night.

What went down in China

I wrote this for Ad Age but I don't think it ever made its way to the site. That's the beauty of having my own blog to bring life to my thoughts.

As four American students from the University of Oregon collaborating with four Chinese students at the One Show China Workshop in Shanghai, we experienced extreme culture shock of the creative process.

Blessed to work with Chinese students who had beautiful production skills, we learned a little about advertising, but a lot about process and teamwork.

In one day we went from American superstars, willing victims of the Chinese student paparazzi, to American rebels, fighting for the process of concept development.

It takes one brave soul to start a trend. In our team we had to push the idea of concept development. A beautiful design communicates little unless it stems from a larger concept. It turned out that working around the language barrier was not our most difficult challenge; instead, it was selling the University of Oregon’s idea of the “creative strategist.”

This was a workshop on teamwork and process development. In teaching the Chinese students about the way we work, we taught ourselves about our own creative process. While walking others through our process of idea generation, strategy formation, concept development, more idea generation then execution, we realized the importance of each step in the process. Good work is not developed by randomly bobbing for apples in a bucket of ice-cold water. Instead, good work comes from a strong concept that speaks to the truth of a brand.

Lacking Chinese language skills made us to revert to primitive communication methods. When forced to exchange ideas through hand motions and grunts, we realized that communication is strongest in its simplest form. A thumbs up implies good and a smile indicates happiness. Knowing that every sentence of our presentation would be translated into Chinese forced us to keep this simplicity in presentation dialogue. Each sentence had to be concise, succinct and strong. Imagine if we always crafted our words with such care, knowing that they must be translated before they will be fully understood.

Amidst all the pointing and hand motions, we learned to trust our guts. Humans are blessed with the gift of intuition. However, we often listen to logic over our heart, thinking our hunches are unjustified. Yet, when you boil human communication down to its fundamentals, most of it is nonverbal. We know laughter implies joy and whispering in a corner is never a good sign for teamwork.

What if we applied this level of intuition to our work during the creative process? We know a bad idea when we hear one but often have a hard time letting go of it. We birth an idea then try to write a back-story to make our idea fit the concept. We tell ourselves the back-story that we created justifies our idea. However, when you step back and look at the idea, you often find it doesn’t make sense. Your gut tells you the work isn’t good, but the heart tells you not to throw your baby down the river. We must learn to listen to our guts and know when to let go.

Through this workshop we found purpose and passion. Our trip was a lesson in communication, teamwork and cultural understanding. We realized we do this because we love it. We want to change the world and need an outlet to talk to the masses. Advertising can do more than sell products; it can create ideas that cross cultures and unite citizens.

You don’t know what you’ve gotten until it’s gone

I spent ten days in Shanghai China and came back with an appreciation for American culture. Living in America I’d always pictured it as a boastful, overweight country full of sunburn necks and too much aftershave. However, after spending 10 days in a culture where strangers don’t smile and the answer to most questions is “no” gave me a new sense of pride in America.

Not only do we have Obama as a beacon of positive change but people are friendly here. I love the American belly laugh and seeing animated faces. The skies truly are blue here. Living in a brown haze of smog for a week makes me want to fight for our green grass and cotton ball clouds. I took 20 pictures of the blue sky on the way on the way down as to never forget the simple joys of life.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Look at the giant white girl in china

I am a pop icon in Shanghai. Not because I’m famous, talented or of any importance but because I am white. It’s funny though I don’t feel alienated instead I feel unrightfully special. While listening to creative directors from around the world critique student work, the audience isn’t listening to directors, instead they’re taking photographs of me while they think I’m not paying attention.

Today my white comrade Max and I were called “movie stars” and bombarded by Chinese students requesting to take their photographs with us.

Is this racism? I don’t think so. However, I would never dream of photographing a Chinese student in one of my classes because if his race.

I guess there aren’t a lot of white people in Shanghai. What if all minorities were shown this favoritism?

P.S. I’m also a giant in China.

Welcome to Chinaland

You know you are a white only child when you feel like China is an offshoot park of Disneyland. I’ve been in China for two days and feel like I’m visiting Epcot instead of China, or perhaps that I’ve been photoshopped into a video game.

Some people could blame the media, my lack of previous travel or my ignorant mind. I’m sheltered, so sheltered that when faced with a new experience which I’ve seen in movies and amusement parks, my brain assumes that the experience is also made up.

Poverty in China

While in Shanghai we stayed at Fudan University hotel--clean, beautiful and classic-- but when venturing into the heart of the city with Andy as our tour guide a different story unfolds. Beggars kissing the floor, laying face down on the sidewalk, a plastic Dixie cup set in front to collect acts of kindness. Women clutch screaming babies as they walk down the street jangling their cups at your face. Is this China? No, this is poverty. A man wrapped in a body bag, eyes shut, lips trembling, his convulsing in prayer kneeling by his side.

Rice, Noodles, Repeat

I started photographing everything I ate for ten days in Shanghai, China. Then I realized I was eating all the same things: rice, noodles and animal cartilage.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Perception is reality until you change it

Scott Bedbury and Stu Redsun, two U of O alumni, visited today to talk about problem solving. As I’ve mentioned before, I love Scott because he hates advertising. Instead, he’s about fixing problems from the inside out. Scott also supports my post graduation plan of fleeing to Mexico.

Scott and Stu asked us to fix America’s image in four hours. While we didn’t walk out of the room with a plan of action for Obama, we did talk about what America should be at its best.

We talked about branding. But it wasn’t about appropriate color pallets, exiling golden eagle statues or selecting a new mascot. Instead, we described our ideal America and asked what it will take to get there.

We tossed around words like transparency, respect, engagement, loyalty and education but it boiled down to the idea of humble empowerment.

What is humble empowerment? It’s taking pride in your actions without boasting. It’s doing what is right because it’s right and not because someone is watching. It’s respecting others and believing in the potential of life.

Let’s fix America.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Imagine what a cup can hold

Ricky Huynh and I started exploring flash to make a brand mood piece for Dixie cup. This is the product of two solid days in Allen Hall.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hope, history and an ugly license plate

If I ever have kids, one day they will have a history assignment to ask their parents what they were doing what Barack Obama was elected president. I will have to tell my poor child that I was sitting on my bed in ugly, gray sweatpants pretending to do homework and waiting to make a quesadilla with my roommate.

Then I blogged about it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween as told by Facebook

School is kicking my butt, and I'm spending too much time on Facebook. Oh the vicious cycle of Facebooking, then blogging about Facebooking...