Our fav gal Nellie Kim is the Associate Creative Director & Art Director over at John St, and she is my first female interview since taking over the 5+ column.
Nellie © Nikki Ormerod
Many of you might know her from wicked campaigns like Stanfield’s: The Guy At Home In His Underwear and this Wiser’s spot featuring Gerry Dee, she’s one kick ass creative!
Thanks to Nikki Ormerod, we rocked the GIRL POWER on set! Thanks again Nellie!
The good half of Anna Wintour
She seems so cuddly and warm, no? Okay, the devil character in the “The Devil Wears Prada” aside, it cannot be disputed that the woman knows what she wants! And, what she wants has pretty much dictated the wants of women and men (fashionably conscious or not) since 1988. There’s something inspiring to me that one person’s seemingly solitary decisions can have such an influence on society and culture. Anna says: “Stick-skinny is in”. What happens? Stick-skinny becomes the new skinny. Anna says: “Wear fur”. Simultaneously, millions of helpless furry animals around the world DIE. What Anna says, we generally do and hold up to high regard whether we know it or not. What? How? How I’m wearing harem pants as I type this right now?
I guess we’ll never really know what’s going on behind those big, dark sunglasses in the first row. But what I know for sure is that someone who has a clear idea of what they want and is directive about it, can be a pretty powerful influencer. We don’t have to listen to her, but somehow, despite that other cruddy half of her personality we all know about, we trust her lead. But then again, maybe we’re all just terrified of her.
Before Hipstamatic. Before Instagram. Even before the digitized times itself, Nan Goldin chronicled her new-wave, post-punk existence through photographs. She doesn’t really shoot much these days for whatever reason, but to me, she is the original Hipstamatic. By that I mean, she was able to depict her sub cultural lifestyle in a really intriguing, beautiful and raw way. Many have since tried to replicate her style. Her photographs look “retro” because they are indeed from the past, and involve many heroin chic subjects, because, well…they were actually on heroin. Lots and lots of heroin. Her influence on today’s photography is apparent through countless photo manipulation apps, American Apparel ads, and all that other crazy youth-oriented-anti-slick-counter-culture-photography the kids are digging these days (but calling “so yesterday”). But, unlike her many imitators, her stuff is the real deal. And, although her real deal is not always pretty, it’s strangely beautiful in its unpolished nudity. At least to me.
I first became familiar with her work by total chance. I was taking a break somewhere between the Kreb’s Cycle and the electron transport train in my bio textbook, and decided to randomly pull out a book from the Art section in the library. Out popped “I’ll Be Your Mirror” – a collection of 300 of Nan Goldin’s photographs.
Prior to that moment, photography had never affected me emotionally. It’s been years since, and somewhere in an old, dusty, locked cabinet, a BSc. is being held hostage until I return that book. Or until I pay a ridiculous fine. Both of which I don’t really want to think about right now.
Once in a while, my writer/partner Chris Hirsch and I think we have a million dollar idea/invention on our hands. We file them away in a covertly named folder on my desktop called “Million Dollar Ideas”. We usually reassess them at a later date, only to realize that they are for the most part, $10-$1000 ideas. However, there’s a couple in there that have some promise. Can’t say we’re millionaires yet, but what I can say that I do have a ton of respect for people who have enough passion for an idea to step it up to the patenting level. Patents don’t come cheap. And they take time. And worst of all, there’s paperwork involved! That’s enough to stop most of us. But no, there are people out there like Stuart M. Stebbings, inventor of ‘The Cheese-Filter Cigarette’, that could teach us all a lesson on being persistent and just going for it. And, if that cheese cigarette ever hits the market, I will smoke one of them out of respect for the dude. Here are some other patents (NOTE: Some are more inspiring than others):
Motorized Ice-cream Cone (US 5971829)
Forehead Rest For Urinals (US 6681419) | Voice Communication Concerning a Local Entity (US 7113911)
Blow to the Face Alarm Clock (US 1293102)
We once had a piece of masking tape on the floor to separate our desks at work. One day, we replaced that tape with a foam core board. Then we replaced the board with a French Press. Now Kyle Lamb (Art Director) and I have never been better next-desk-neighbours in our open-concept office. We alternate between who buys the coffee grinds, who presses, and who cleans. We usually start the day with our coffee talk (literally talking about coffee). It’s a little ritual we have, but it makes a big difference on the rest of the day. (UPDATE: Unfortunately, Kyle has moved desks since this interview, and is currently relegated to drinking Starbucks breakfast blend and tea with his partner Kurt Mills.)
Method of Swinging on a Swing (US 6368227)
Kyle Lamb demonstrating how to use a French Press | Kurt Mills observing the French Press demonstration
The Not-so-starving Artist
Some people have asked me if I ever feel like a sell-out for “pawning out my creative services for commercial and corporate gain”. I used to struggle with this question a lot – that is, until I realized that I couldn’t be that creative on an empty stomach. Now after working a few years in the business, my perspective on the whole matter has changed.
I have the utmost respect for artists, writers and creative that can actually make a buck doing what they love to do. It might all sound a little self-righteous, but I really don’t care. When you can take a craft that is usually prefixed with the word ‘starving’ and make a career out of it, it usually means you’re pretty good, and I want to collaborate with you.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the brightest, most inspiring artists, creative’s, photographers, and directors in the country who are not starving. They are able to consistently demonstrate their crazy talent, creative vision and artistry through commercial work. They also seem to have a flair for choosing great wrap-dinner places, where can-openers are not required.