Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Computer fixed

Me holding the Luerzers Archive copywriter symbol

Life doesn't have ups and downs, it's a straight way but sometimes you wander off and go sideways for a while.

No matter how careful you are, you can't expect things to go like you expected. Should you feel depressed about it? Can you hit rock bottom? Well, maybe there are a few exceptions where grabbing a bottle of Prozac is a solution. But in general it's better to think that you're just temporarily out of route. You're going back to your old road again, but it's going to take a little longer before you reach your final destination.

The following is a small example of that. As you can read in earlier posts, my laptop crashed last week. I thought at first that maybe there's just a problem with starting up Windows. I thought wrong. My harddrive was total loss. Total costs for replacing the drive and retrieving the data: 450 dollar.

Now I have a positive view on life, but I stay realistic: sometimes it's healthy to swear and to curse the world you live in. I know, it's very un-zen of me, but 450 dollar to have your computer fixed was for me a reason to swear in all six languages that I know. I wanted to go to Stockholm in my quarter break to show my portfolio at agencies there. But the money I reserved for the ticket now went to the computer repair store.

I could have bought a new computer for 450 dollars. But then I still needed to transfer my old data to my new computer, which costs the most. And I wanted the data back. I had back-ups of most of my Miami Ad School work, but for me the photographs that I made the first month in New York were important as well. Guess what happened? Most of my data could be saved, except for the photographs that I made the first month in New York. Now that's bad luck. That's like going sideways and ending up at the Children of the Korn.

Luckily I put some pictures on this blog, Hotmail and MySpace. They're not the same resolution, but they were my favorite pictures. One of the retrieved pictures was the one above. I must admit that I'm not at my most flattering when I pose like a monkey while holding the Luerzers Archive pencil. But I like it because for some reason this photograph is really 'me'.

One quick look at my Miami Ad School files learned me that all the work I've made in the last few years is still intact. Just when you think you've lost a lot you're even happier with the things you find back again. Even when it costs 450 dollars...damn!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Computer crash!

After more than 3 years of loyal service, my computer finally crashed. Yes, I can still write this post. But that's because I'm still in the agency. Yesterday I opened five internet pages at the same time and in the meanwhile I was unpacking a file. And suddenly my laptop refused to go further.

It happens to a lot of people in the Miami Ad School. A lot of times it even happens during the face to face week. You see, computers have bad timing and even tend to be a little sadistic. When you need it the most...there it goes. A good advice to all Miami Ad School students: make back-ups now!

Luckily, my computer chose the best time imaginable. I didn't have any work on my laptop this quarter, I made backups of all other quarters and I can probably get back some of the photographs I've made here. I use my laptop only at home to read my mail and to talk to my parents in Holland. Which I can only do in the weekend because when I get out of work it's already too late. And maybe it's still possible to repair it. It's probably going to cost me more than the laptop is worth. But I guess I have no other choice. "Houston, we have a problem".

Friday, August 17, 2007

City of dreams

I finally did it. I bought a T-shirt that says 'I LOVE NY'. It's not a shirt that you can actually wear in New York. It's like going to Amsterdam and wearing a shirt with a joint and the text: 'I went to Amsterdam and didn't remember it'. It's like wearing a shirt with 'Reeperbahn loves me' in Hamburg. It's like wearing a shirt with a print of a little pissing boy in Brussels. If you live there, you're not going to buy the shirt. But I couldn't help buying one of New York. It was only $ 2,50.

But when I got home I found out there´s more to this shirt than just the fact that groups of noisy, drunk tourists wear it. The actual I LOVE NY-logo was designed by an artist called Milton Glaser. He developed the logo in 1977 as part of an advertising campaign for the New York State (not just the city New York). Glaser agreed to do the work pro bono because he expected the campaign to last only a couple of months. But the design became a major success and has continued to be sold for years. Now every tourist shop in New York sells T-shirts with his logo on it.

On the Adobe site there's a video of Milton Glaser: http://av.adobe.com/studio/miltonglaser/miltonglaser.html. One of his most interesting quotes: "If you can sustain your interest in what you're doing, you are an extremely fortunate person". I can certainly identify with that. It's not always easy to sustain your interest in what you're doing. Life, and society in general, learns us to stop dreaming. Learns us to get a job from 9 to 5, always stay on the surface and never stick out.

But some people want more than that. I noticed that New York is a city of dreamers. People want to stay here cost what cost. Even if they need three jobs to be able to pay the high rent. And everybody here seems to hold on to what they're interested in. I've never seen a city with such a high percentage of fashion designers, models, actors and advertising creatives. New Yorkers have a dream. And they hold on to that. And they're right. Cause if you stop dreaming, all that is left is reality. And reality sucks.

Once, during a job interview in Holland somebody asked me what my ambitions are. I said: "I want to be the best copywriter there is", and I was serious. "Do you really think you can achieve that?", the creative director asked me, frowning with doubt. I said: "Yes, I do". He obviously thought that I would be out of there in no time (and he was right), so I didn't get the job. But I got something else. I kept on dreaming and I got a life full of travelling, doing what I want to do and learning from the best. And now I'm learning from the very best creatives in New York. I truly love this city and when I go back to Holland for my quarter break I can show it to everybody. Been there, bought the shirt.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Change the pitch up

On Wednesday, I totally misjudged the amount of work that was ahead of me. Thursday was not as chaotic, but finetuning the ideas took me another day and evening. And in order to have a normal weekend, we had to work like hell on Friday. The reason that it took so long is that finetuning didn't took just one round. It took as many rounds as necessary. This agency is the most perfectionistic I've ever worked in. Even using the wrong kind of comma is a reason to be send back to the computer.

These were the first nights that we had to go back after midnight. I expected an empty subway on Wednesday. Instead, the stations were full of life. On the platforms of Times Square station musicians played and there were a lot of people waiting for the subway trains. I guess this is why they call New York 'the city that never sleeps'. It's not because of the nightlife, because most of the clubs are closed at 4.00. But you can be sure that when you're asleep, in New York enough people are working to keep the entire economy running. 24 hours a day. That explains why the lights in Manhattan are permanently on.

And for three days we were part of this ever continuing business. It looked like a half face to face week. As always, in the weekend I went out again. But me and Julien still had to recover from the lack of sleep and the pressure from this week. On Friday I probably used more swear words than in the entire quarter so far. "You become a real New Yorker now", someone told me.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Chaos in New York (yes, again...but different)

That's just typical... The very first day that you really need to be at work on time, the whole public transport system of New York is down. And with that I mean it was total chaos. Julien and I are working on a pitch. For this we had to come up with great ideas in half a day. Today we had to execute all the ideas that were not killed. We already thought: 'how are we going to do all that in just one day?'.

So this morning I went to the subway and there was no train coming. Once in half an hour a subway train came and it was totally stuffed with people, like sardines in a can. Even though I'm thin as a stick, I didn't fit in there anymore. Then we wanted to get a taxi. There was no taxi anymore and we heard that if we could get one, it wouldn't go to Manhattan because the bridge to it was totally stuck because of all the traffic. Then we went to a different subway station. It was empty! It looked like a ghost subway station. It was dark, there was nobody there and it was closed.

So we went back, held our breath and squeezed ourselves into a subway train full of people. We had to switch trains numerous times, and we even had to leave trains numerous times because they didn't go anymore. The stations were full of impatient travellers as well. And it was so hot that I was sweating from just standing to wait for the next train. We even had to walk the last two stations.

This whole situation gave me so much stress that I tripled the amount of cigarettes I smoked in the morning (normally it's one, now it was three). But I have to say I've been in worse situations before. And it always turns out well. You just need to stay calm, take a deep breath and just see what you can do about the problem. If you look at a problem with a helicopter view, it's easier to have an overview and find the solution.

At Saatchi they were prepared for the fact that we were late, because half of the employees didn't even make it to the agency. Under the supervision of creative director Leo Premutico, who is very fast in making decisions, we managed to make the work very fast and contact all the people that could help us.

It's already the next day now. 12 o' clock. We have pretty much everything finished and tomorrow we're going to finetune all the work. I can't say it was a tough day, because it's the same as some days in the Miami Ad School. With the only difference that we got free sushi in the evening. I even managed to do some sporting in the only break that I had today. I felt really good when I was running at the track on the top of the building. I was looking over Manhattan and ran in the hot sun. It was like all the stress of the morning was sweating out of me. It's now 12.30 and we're going home. Well, the advantage of being late is that the subway will be really quiet.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Although I don't consider myself old, the numbers prove differently. Today I became 31 years old! I celebrated my birthday yesterday. One of my favorite bands, CSS, gave a free concert at Studio B in Brooklyn. Now that's what I call a great birthday gift.

CSS (Cansei de Ser Sexy) is an electro/rock band from Brazil. I discovered their music the first time when I was in Italy. Since then I'm totally addicted to their songs. It's a formation of one man and five women who behave like men: drinking beer on stage, stagediving and playing powerful music with gutsy lyrics. I knew in advance that there were going to be a lot of people. So in order to be sure that we could get in, my Italian friend Salvatore and I were 2,5 hours before the opening in front of Studio B. Everybody was still busy with the preparations. They thought we belonged to one of the bands so we sneaked in the concert hall even before they let in the first guests.

Good things come to those who wait. And CSS certainly was worth waiting the whole evening for. Although it was bloody hot in Studio B, singer LoveFoxxx got the audience totally crazy. There was an energetic vibe and everybody at the stage was moshing and crowdsurfing. This was certainly the best evening I had in New York so far and I couldn't imagine having a better 31st birthday party than this one. CSS roxxx!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Good day, bad day

Team Julien-Robin in the New York underground

This day sucks. Yesterday ruled. Yesterday Julien and I had one good concept after the other and we couldn´t figure out why. All the odds of having a good concepting-day were against us. We slept too little, didn't eat very well and it was Monday. Today was a bad day for concepts. Todya the words "shit" and "eeeeehhh..." occasionally interrupted the painful silence. During these moments your teammate is often the person that can drag you over the mental numbness. But today when I saw Julien staring emotionless to nowhere in particular I thought: "Oh no! His brain isn't working either".

I guess some days are better than others. But I rarely had two days after another where the difference was this extreme. The weirdest thing is: you can never tell in advance when you'll have a bad day or a good day. Every is like a big lottery and today I lost.

Copywriter Luke Sullivan says in his book 'Hey Whipple Squeeze This' that sometimes he and his teammate are staring at the ceiling for days in a row. So I guess one bad day is not a complete disaster. And overall we're still going in the right direction. I work with the right art-director, am in the right agency and get guidance from the best creatives in the world. There's no doubt in my mind that this quarter we're going to make our best work ever. We just don't know on which day yet.