Sunday, December 31, 2006

Old & New

Last year during new years eve it wasn't just a change of year, it was a change of life. But it was all for the best. This has probably been the best year of my life. It has certainly been the most extraordinary year of my life.

Tomorrow my parents will bring me to Brussels, Belgium. The 2nd of January I'll start my internship at Duval Guillaume. The trip won't be as hectic as last year. Then we had to go to Hamburg with two cars full of stuff. Looking back at it, I brought way too much stuff with me. Now I only have a suitcase and a big bag.

I remembered almost feeling dizzy last year January the 2nd when I went to the shopping mall with my new classmates. I looked around, my parents were already gone, there was no way back and I was eating a sandwich in a German shopping mall as if it was totally normal. For me, a guy who lived in a small city in Holland for 29 years, it was an almost surreal experience.

I think, no I hope Brussels will be really impressive, but I will never feel the tension I had last year. There won't be much surprises. I know what it is to live abroad. I know what it is to move (I lived in three different places last year). And I know what it is to work in a big agency. My new art director Daniel is probably even more relaxed with the situation. He will arrive in Brussels with his suitcases on the same day as we have to start our internship (!)

Well, I will probably get used to travelling a lot in 2007 because I'm going to at least three different places in the world and after that I go back to school for three months again. I'm certainly going to miss the school this coming nine months, because I had a terrific time there. I wish everybody a new year that's as good as mine was this year.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The hope of Alkmaar

What is it that makes Alkmaar so great, even though nothing changes here? I always describe my home town to foreigners as 'little Amsterdam'. That's because everything that makes Amsterdam so famous is also there, but in small. We also have canals, but not a lot of them. We also have coffeeshops, but only about ten of then scattered throughout the centre. And yes, there's even a small red light district in Alkmaar. It's all in one street.

But I realized this week that there's one thing that makes Alkmaar really interesting: it's punk. That's right: punk. I'm not talking about the music or the fashion style (real punks don't even exist anymore in Alkmaar. The real ones are sleeping on the Reeperbahn in Hamburg). I'm talking about the anarchistic mentality of some inhabitants of Alkmaar. There's a history behind it.

In Alkmaar there were two places that are punk: Parkhof and The Raad. Parkhof is a youth centre sponsored by the government, but one that is totally going their own way. A lot of famous punk bands have played there. I even played gabber house there (until extreme right youth came to my parties and I wasn't allowed to play that music there anymore).

The other one, The Raad, was a famous squatter house. The huge building was painted in all colors of the rainbow, so you couldn't help but noticing it. I used to go to illegal parties in there. Every friday there was electronic music and every Saturday there was a band -most of the time punk music. And there was no closing time. The parties ended when everybody left. A lot of bands used to practice there and there were a lot of art projects initiated there. The police didn't do anything agains the illegal parties. In fact, the police station was about 200 metres away from it. The Raad is the perfect exemple of where the Dutch tolerance policies (that also brought us the coffeeshops) create something good.

But last year the Raad has been demolished. The government planned to build appartments there. In the meanwhile, another group of squatters found a new location. It's a place called Wunderbaum on the outskirts of the city. I was there on Saturday. There was a punk band playing, there was cheap beer and there were the same people I knew from the Raad. It's not as cool as the Raad, but at least it's a good alternative and the place totally rocked!

These kind of places are necessary in Alkmaar, where the pubs close at 2:30 and where there's only one club open until 4:00. Now these closing times is often frustrating the young people of Alkmaar. One way to deal with this frustration is to get aggressive or to use excessive amounts of drugs. Often people demolish things or get into fights because of that - I even saw a massive fight last night, on Christmas eve (!). It's good that there's a place where everybody can party on. It's the medicine against the strict and totally unnecessary closing policy of Alkmaar. If there's hope, it lies in the underground...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Attention attention!

Still nothing has changed here. Time stands still in Alkmaar. That doesn't mean that I'm bored. I'm trying to combine appointments an plan a lot of them during the day. And it took me a lot of time to arrange a new passport. They have such strict regulations for a passport that I had to come back four times because there's something wrong. The last time they send me back to the photographer because on my passport photo a piece of hair was too close to my eyes.

Holland is rules and regulations land. It is the same in Germany, but the difference is: if I only had the notion of falling into a whirlpool of obligatory registration forms in Germany, I just didn't do anything anymore. I just did all the basic things that the Miami Ad School forced me to do and for the rest I gave German burocracy the middle finger.

But I can't do that in Holland. A passport is actually something I'm going to need a lot these coming years so I wasted a lot of time sticking to the rules of civil servants who look at my forms while drinking coffee behind a desk.

There are also good things about Holland. Did I mention before that everything in this small country looks like a themepark? Everything has bright colors: the tiny houses, the grass, the trains, the uniforms of the police. It's a big contrast with the functional grey you see in Germany. And the inside of a supermarket looks like a themepark with all the lights, decorations and colorful packages.

What also struck me is that everybody here seems to be dying to get attention. It could be something typical of Alkmaar, but the modesty of German people is hard to find here. If people here don't get attention they will scream for it like little birds squeaking for a worm. Which is kind of sad. But at least it gives complete losers the chance to look like they are somebody.

The advantage of the attention drawing people that you don't need theatre anymore. The theatre is on the street. For example: three guys of at least two metres each sit on a barstool in the pub and sing a Dutch song so hard that you couldn't even hear the normal music. Or there was this guy on wooden shoes (if you think wooden shoes are normal in Holland, they're not). He screamed through a mobile phone about some deal that didn't go through. Everybody within a range of 30 metres could hear him swearing. I'll end with the biggest live theatre I've seen this week. There was a junkie woman walking on the street with a bicycle. The bike was locked on the back, but she held the back part up, so she could walk with it. In the meanwhile she screamed: "In broad can just steal a bicycle!".

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Back in Holland!

Dirk shows that one of my posters is hanging in New York

It's feels kind of surreal to be back in Holland again. The environment that was once so reassuringly familiar, seems like a foreign country after being away for half a year. Even the cheese tastes different -more salty. Right now it feels like I'm in a dream and it's great to see my parents and friends again. But I know that I'm going to get used to it really soon. Another two days and it seems like I haven't been away in the first place.

In a way, it already seems like I haven't been away in the first place. The only change I've noticed in the city of Alkmaar is that there's a new jewelery shop around the corner. In the 15 minutes I've been in Amsterdam, I've noticed that the entire harbour area has been renovated. The water behind the central station has so much lights that it seems like one big christmas tree. But 30 minutes to the north everything is the same as it ever was.

Nevertheless, it's good to be here. I'm busy meeting up with friends, going out, arranging a new passport and giving suggestions for the execution of an ad. Together with Jung von Matt, we're making an ad for a well known tea brand. As soon as it is published, I will show it on my site.

Talking about things that are published: I just saw in a video that the poster I made for the Alessi competition is actually hanging in the Alessi store in New York! See the video above. The guy with the beard who talks the strange gobble-language is Dirk, my Dutch schoolmate. The intranslatable Dutch sentence: "daar hang je dan, pik!", means something like: "that's your work hanging there, man!".

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Goodbye Hamburg

Photo: Andres Maldonado Posted by Picasa

It was bound to happen, but now it´s there: today is my final day in the Miami Ad School Hamburg. I had a great night of partying behind me and tonight I'm staying with my ex-girlfriend Sandra. Although we weren't meant to be, she's one of the sweetest girls I've ever met and she deserves a proper farwell. Tomorrow I finally go back to that small Dutch city I lived for 29 years: Alkmaar.

I will miss Hamburg but I'll certainly miss my classmates. All of them. Because in my first quarter away-location (Duvall Guillaume in Brussels) there's nobody from my class. There will be really cool people from the later quarter there, so I certainly won't get bored.

But hereby I want to say goodbye to all my classmates. First of all to Caroline. One of my first teampartners and a very talented young art-director. I wish her lots of good luck at her internship in Bejing (!). Ann-Katherine. There's nobody like her in the class. She has a broad interest in everthing that is creative and it's not limited only to advertising. Jessica. She was in my class for only for two quarters but I got along with her really well. Partying is in her blood and in that sense we had a lot in common. Gunnar. The most controversial person in the class. I had a lot of trouble working with him. He has much more potential than he showed before and I'm sure that when he manages to plan his work better, he will be unbeatable as an art-director. Whenever he knew to annoy me, he always made it up somehow and I end up just liking this guy a lot. To Lea I have only one word to say: Bam! Alex. Already was a great designer before he came to school and when I worked with him he proved to be great in concepts as well. He's going to intern with Caroline in Bejing. Karime. A mexican girl who came in our class later. She has a contagious laugh and a wonderful sense of humour. Julien. With him I won the Alessi competition. He's extraordinary motivated. A great designer and a great concepter. I would love to work with him during one of my interships. Dominik. I won the top dog with him. In planning and workflow he's by far the best teampartner I had in this school. He is the living proof that good planning and discipline is already half the work.

And last but not least: my Italian friend Salvatore. One of the best friends I've ever had and a very good copywriter. He probably suffered as much as I did when he tried to break through in advertising. Both of us have faced a lot of disappointment -each in our own way- but it made us stronger. Salvatore is streetwise and determined to make it big time. He's one of the few people of whom I'm certain he's heading for great succes in advertising.

This is my last e-mail from Hamburg. I came to this city just for the school, but it also proved to be a great city where I can even see myself living in the future. I met some good people, but I also met some bad people (see my earlier post 'Living with the Twits' about my former landlord Martin). I've had some difficult times, but I had much more good times. It has certainly been a great experience. I wish all of my classmates a great, educational quarter away and I'm looking forward to meeting everybody again during my last quarter. "Auf wiedersehen!"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Big silver star!

I thought my face to face week was over, but I was wrong. On Monday I had to arrange the entries for the Andy Award. It´s a competition in the US and I was from 9 till 9 in school to prepare all the work of the students and to answer their questions.

At the end of the day I was completely finished. I said to my good friend and flatmate Salvatore that I really needed to go home and eat. Downstairs the jury was busy judging the work in the exhibition room downstairs. I was curious if my work won something, but I was so tired that I just wanted to go home. Sal convinced me to stay and after ten minutes we could go in. First wall of work. No star for me. Big gold for Salvatore. Second wall of work: yes! Next to a long copy campaign of Sal (which got a small star) there was a big silver star on a campaign that I’ve made.

I was more than satisfied with it. Okay, I´ve won less than other quarters, but I´m much happier about my work in general. And moreover, every quarter I won a big star for something. I know by now that you can´t draw too much conclusions from winning stars or prizes, because sometimes not so good work also get stars by accident. But winning a big star every quarter isn’t coincidence anymore and it means at least that I’m consistent.

Unfortunately, I can´t show the winning work yet. It´s going to be send in for a competition and to avoid that people might get ´inspired´ by the work, it´s nowhere to be seen but in school. Tonight I´m going to have dinner with some people from school and tomorrow I´m going to clean my apartment and start to pack my suitcases for my trip back to Holland. Because this weekend I officially have to say goodbye to Hamburg and to my dear friends at school. I will miss this place, but I´ll have a lot of new adventures in return.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Face to face = finished

Students waiting for their face to face meeting Posted by Picasa

My very last face to face week has been a memorable one. I'm getting quite used to students sleeping at school, students freaking out and crying, computers or printers that crash exactly at the most important week of the quarter. I will see it again when I come back to Hamburg in the 8th quarter, but I will never be part of it again. Funny enough, I think I'm going to miss these weeks of hardship.

The work is done. It feels good to have nothing to do after you've done a lot. We can actually go outside the boundaries of the school and that's probably what most students are going to do tonight. It's partytime! And I'm going to enjoy every minute of it because next week I'm coming to Holland again. I'm looking forward to it, but I'm really going to miss this school a lot. In a way it's like leaving your home to go back home.

Still going strong!

Me performing for stand up comedy class Posted by Picasa

Buddy the school puppy Posted by Picasa

Some students still working and making a mess Posted by Picasa

Everything is going really good this face to face-week. As I said before, everything is on schedule. I slept really well and I had all the time to give my ideas a proper execution.

Not all students have their work as finished as I have. I already saw the first student who 'freaked out' because of the pressure. Which is not a good idea here at school. It's a good attitute to think: let's see how far I get. This attitude might not get all your work finished, but it sure saves you a lot of stress.

A team that is really working like hell is my former roommate Emilia and her teampartner Armands. They have been in school every time I left. So at 3.30 they were still fighting against their sleep to get their Photoshop-work done. Today they ordered about 15 cans of Red Bull to get them through the night. It kind of reminds me of myself last quarter, but the difference is that they are making better work than I did then. These two really deserve to win a top dog.

By they way, I'm doing pretty well with the work. One of my campaigns for copy-class is presented to the client this week, one of the best ads I've ever made is about to be produced and I get one good grade after the other. The coolest face to face ever was for Stand up Comedy class. Everybody had to do their own sketch. If there's one thing I like to do it is to perform for a crowd, which I haven't done since I had drama class at highschool. I managed to make everybody laugh, including my teacher, who rewarded me with a straight A.

And there's even more good news. Today I heard where I'm going to do my internship. I knew it for a long time already, but today it was official: I'm going to Duvall Guillaume in Brussels. And they've teamed me up with one of the best art-directors of the school. Tomorrow is my last face to face. I'm going to work a little more to get everything finished and then this week is over!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Face 2 face week!

The trash made in two days (!) Posted by Picasa

It´s 1:30 in the night right now and I've just finished the layouts of a campaign. Tomorrow, a teacher is going to present the campaign to a big client of Scholz & Friends. In case you haven't red my earlier posts: these kind of working days are normal in the face to face week. This week all the work is going to be evaluated by the teachers and everything must be executed perfectly.

The difference with other face to face-weeks is that this time I can actually sleep pretty good. I've planned everything better than last quarter. This week I'm just perfectionizing executions and doing reshoots of photo's that need to be better. Furthermore, I only spend time on the most interesting concepts right now, which means it saves me a lot of time. I haven't been in a lot of stress yet.

Compared to earlier face to face-weeks it's not very crowded here. But some people are always in school. As always, some people even sleep here. There's also somebody from a radio program walking aroung here. This monday, he recorded the snoring of two students who stayed up all night and slept on a couch in the morning.

But most people left before 12:30, when the last subway leaves. Nevertheless, it's a big mess here in school. The reason is that the cleaning company didn't leave any trashbags in school, so nobody of the staff can clean it up. But the cleaning ladies who forgot to leave the trashbags are up for a big surprise tomorrow morning, because then they come to clean up the building.

Right now I'm going to send the campaign to my teacher and after that I'm going to walk home. So far, my face to faces went pretty good and I've got almost everything prepared for the last three. It's nice to be on schedule.

Friday, December 01, 2006

And...action! part 2

4 hours of sleep and still dancing Posted by Picasa

Monday we did our ´guerilla filmshoot´ in the garage, only to find out that all material we shot was worthless. At least we knew how we should not film the super complicated scene. In these moments you just have to swallow away your dissapointment and think really practical: Thursday we planned a new shooting.

To be able to color the background of the iPod dancer (played by me), we had to shoot the scene against a white background. This time, we didn't shoot the scene in a garage, but near school. We bought four big white bed covers, cut out the elastic with a pair of scissors and put it against the wall to use it as a background. This way we had all the time to shoot the scene properly without having to worry if somebody calls the police. This time the results were good. We presented the commercial to our teacher at Jung von Matt and he loved it.

By the way, monday the face to face week starts again. And as always right before the busiest week of the quarter there's some big party again. Tonight the messias of electro-punk is playing in Hamburg again: T. Raumschmiere. I had four hours of sleep last night and I still have a lot of work to do for monday. But tonight I'm going to party. I'm going to dance like the iPod man!