Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas crap

I've never been a big fan of Christmas. It reminds me of coldness, cheesy decorations and being nice to each other not because it comes from the heart but because you're supposed to. Non-profit organisations realize that Chrismas makes people hypocrites and that's why during this time there's more advertising for charity than ever.

Considering my opinion about this, you can't imagine how bored I was by seeing the Christmas speech of Queen Beatrix, the queen of Holland. She talked about how social networks like Facebook and Hyves are a bad development because it keeps people on a distance and makes people too individual. After that she made a plead for more personal contact.

I understand how much value our Dutch queen has for the PR-value of our country, but a woman who's so old that she's got one foot in the grave should think twice about giving an opinion about new media and the social role it plays in our society. Since I left Holland, instant messaging, social networks and this blog were the only means to stay in contact with my friends and family. Yes, it's more superficial than seeing my friends for real. But thanks to the internet, I stayed in touch with most of them and I could make appointments with them even before I went to Holland.

And our majesty also neglects the good impact of social networks on society. Millions of people all over the world are now connected to each other. They talk to each other, discuss with each other and learn about each other's culture and language. And despite having less time, youngsters nowadays stay more in contact with their friends than ever.

But maybe Beatrix wants us all to go back to the 80's, when people turned into couch potatoes to watch television in their spare time. When we needed to get along with our neighbours. Not because we wanted to but because we were supposed to because they're our neighbours. Far friendships slowly died and people were dependent on their local environment. It was an autistic society compared to now.

Unless you're a total geek, I think everybody understands that nothing beats personal contact. I also understand that and that's why I go back to Holland today. I'm going to have dinner with my parents and drink a few beers with my friends. Because no matter how much I dislike Christmas, this time of the year is a good reason for a party. In my opinion, people should party and enjoy each other's company more. Not only during Christmas, but the whole year through.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Brussels - Hamburg - Berlin

Bear statues at the main station of Berin

What was originally meant as a fun vacation, ended up as being a fun and useful (not to mention necessary) vacation. Last week I had several appointments at agencies during the day, in both Hamburg and Berlin. And during the night I was seduced by the bright lights of the many bars and clubs that make Hamburg a city that rocks.

I can't say that this trip made my decision easier. In fact, the interesting talks at the several agencies and the fact that Hamburg is my favorite city of them all, makes the dilemma bigger than ever. One thing's for sure: I'm going to speak either more French or more German in my next job.

Highlights of the week: seeing my good friends Salvatore and Andres again, going to the Miami Ad School, meeting headmaster Niklas and my former teammate Hannah again, buying a new woolen hat at the St. Pauli fanstore, going for a small drink with former schoolmate Kanak and ending up totally wasted. And last but not least: seeing my former teacher Dennis Lueck playing drums in a punk band.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Goodbye Marton

Another Miami Ad School quarter has ended, another intern leaves. On Friday I said goodbye to Marton Jedlicska, who has been my art director for the last 2,5 months. When I first saw his portfolio, I expected a lot from him and he totally matched those expectations. Together with him I made three things that ended up on the best of-wall in the agency and next week a TV-commercial is going to be shot. That's a really good score, considering we had to plough through really shitty briefings in the beginning.
He has been the last intern before I leave Duval Guillaume. I'm leaving because I want to work with a permanent teampartner, but that doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy working with Miami Ad School interns. In fact, from all of them I learned a lot. I profited from getting the knowledge of the freshest Miami Ad School-students while working on real briefings. This also has its disadvantages. Because in an agency you're never seen as a full team. So every time I had to prove all over again that we can handle the big briefs. Of course you can argue that every briefing is another chance to make good work. This is true, but having to do the tough jobs without getting the 'cherries on the cake' is something that doesn't make you happy.
Marton is one of the creatives of whom I'm sure he's going to be very successful. Besides being a very good creative, he's also a really nice person to work with. He has the tendency to be stubborn, but he never tries to push his ideas. Instead he keeps on looking for that one concept that is so good you can't argue about it. And the incredible thing is, this was only his first internship so who knows how he's going to develop in his final three quarters. I wish Marton a lot of success in his next, well deserved internship at Sapient/Nitro New York.

Monday, December 07, 2009


In the 80's it was the bomb and acid rain. In the 90's the UV-rays were going to kill us all because the ozone layer was disappearing. In our decennium it's the GLOBAL WARMING.

I put these last words in big capitals because that's how people talk about it. Sincere, with the same tone you'd talk about some evil god. And that's what I think is wrong with it. The global warming issue starts to go from a well meant set of measures to improve the quality of daily life to a religion. And Al Gore is Jesus.

Of course even I can't deny that the earth is warming up. But let's see first what exactly our place in the universe is. We are living on the earth. The sun and the circulation of our tiny planet around this enormous ball of plasma has the biggest influence on our climate. The sun is 120 times bigger than the earth. The largest known star is 1900 times as big as our sun. See this scary video here to see how small we are. To me, it's absurd and downright arrogant to think that humans are responsible for changes on such large scale. We are small organisms, micro-bacteria. It would be like saying that ants can bring down a skyscraper. Climate change is such a complicated process, to say humans are mainly responsible is just too simple. The universe continues to puzzle even the brightest scientists. But anybody who's seen 'An Inconvenient Truth' thinks he's all of a sudden an expert about global warming.

And climate change has become business. Eco jeans, recycled handbags, eco-tax, bio food, fairtrade, sustainable packaging, energy saving lightbulbs; everybody seems to jump on the bandwagon of global warming. Nowadays it's so easy to be correct. You don't need to donate anymore to the third world, just eat a fair-trade banana. And science seems to be profitable as well. Just say you're going to investigate global warming and you get so much support that you're employed for at least ten years and live like a king.

Could it be that we're just afraid of getting extinct and we hang on to every little thing that still gives us hope? It won't be much different than believing that gods can protect us against natural disasters. Maybe we should let go of the idea that humans are going to be there forever, because that's scientifically impossible. And what did we ever deserve to be there forever? Humans are responsible for wars, torturing animals, the extinction of animals. Oh, and one part of the world is eating a burger sandwich and the other part is starving from hunger. Maybe global warming is just the earth's antibiotics to kill the bacteria that gives him a nasty flu.

But of course humans are survivors. And therefore we think that a climate conference in Copenhagen is going to make a difference. Should we just give up then? No, I think we should know our limits before the hype is going too far. And maybe we should focus on treating all inhabitants of the earth with more respect so that the human race truly deserves to survive.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Agency hopping

I'm not the jobhopping type. Actually, I'm very dedicated as soon as I start to work for an agency. But sometimes you have to draw your conclusions... So recently I'm hopping from one appointment to the other, while dragging my portfolio with me.

I remember the first times I went to agencies to get an intership, about 10 years ago. I had a huge portfolio under my arm. Countless times I went from Alkmaar to Amsterdam by train and then by bus. On the way to the agency I looked whether the scribbles I made are still straight in the plastic sleeves. Every trip I was hopeful: will this be the agency where I can do an internship? By the time I found the right address I was shivering from the cold. With a mixture of admiration and relief I entered the doors of the agency. I also remember how big the disappointment was when they didn't give me the internship. Or worse, when the creative director didn't have time and his secretary came to say sorry and to make a new appointment. And I made the new appointment. Without complaining. Because every chance is another one.

This week I've had a few appointments. I put my portfolio in a small DJ-bag. By train I went to places I've never been, stations I've never seen. Some trainstations were so small and dark that it makes a bus platform look big. It almost made me want to hold up my arm to signal the driver of the train to stop. On the road there I felt a bit like that young, aspiring creative again. Hurried, hopeful, cold. The only difference is that there are no more confused frowns from creative directors when they look at my work. No more well meant advice on my book to compensate for the fact that they don't want to offer me a job. Just compliments every time a page is turned.

To all young dogs out there: it's a long road... But the porfolio is getting lighter and the people are getting nicer.