Thursday, April 2, 2009

COM 390: Response to Two Newsweek Articles

After reading the Arnell story:
First thought
: Hey, that ridiculous college education must be paying off since I can picture at least 90% of the things this nut is referencing.
Second thought: But that’s probably a result of two other things: A) Lyons probably only remembered/wrote about the stuff he recognized and B) it wouldn’t be good business sense to fill an article with stuff you didn’t think your audience would recognize.

Listen, the way to make an impact isn’t going to be legislating healthy girl-image or any other agenda into the media. Trust me—creatives, more than most people, get a crazy thrill from circumventing rules.

As for a solution to combat the garbage in the media, I think it comes down to good parenting and setting kids up with good role models. There is always going to be stuff that will trip kids up, warp their brains, mess with their perception of themselves and their culture. You know it. I know it. As a parent, the point is to try to prepare them to deal well with these situations when you’re not around, right? I hope so.

If your 5-year-old is obsessed with glamour to what you think is an unhealthy extreme, do something about it. Be an adult. Limit the amount of exposure she gets to media influences you don’t approve of. I know, novel idea, right? Refuse to buy her make up—you can do that. Take away her mirror so that she can’t bemoan her haggard appearance, and set her up with a mentor who can teach her fun things besides the joys of self-tanners.

Ultimately, I think the key to maintaining personal/professional bearings comes down to three things:

  1. Knowing what you stand for. This requires some thought. And it might take effort to adjust things you didn’t like discovering.
  2. Critical thinking. Again, analyzing your daily situations through the grid of your worldview isn’t as easy as caving to public opinion.
  3. Having a backbone. After you’ve drawn your lines, don’t cross them. As simple and as difficult as that.

Monday, January 26, 2009

COM 390: Conventional Wisdom and Purposes of Advertising

This made me think of one of my all time favorite advertising campaigns, borrowed from

Produced (no pun intended) by the Gray Ad Agency in Tel-Aviv, Israel, this campaign for a monster food processor illustrates a lot of the points for class discussion.

These ads are simple, punchy and humorous. They are accompanied by the catchy slogan “Big is in”. And since it’s all about selling a professional quality food processor for home use, it’s appropriate that veggies are modeling for it. I especially like that the ads make their point without being ridiculously expensive and difficult to create and disperse.
I'm sure there is potential to tie this in with "images of men and women in advertising," too, but I have no idea where to start. :o)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

COM 390: chapters 8 and 9

One thing that threw me a little bit was the use of “text” to signify any form of artwork. That seemed odd, especially in connection with ads, which are debatable as art. But whatever, I can insert “work” for “text”.

Almost all ads (within print, electronic and television, that is) have some artistic basis. But very rarely would I consider them art. It takes a lot to impress me. Plus, I am one of the worst kinds of people to target with advertising: non-competitive (not a social-climber or consumer of social-status items), non-materialistic, creative and innovative (meaning I figure out what I need and come up with ways to make it), educated, skeptical, and artistic. I like ads for their ability to convey information with images and words, but that is about it.

I recently saw a TV commercial for some kind of alcohol that made me go, “Oh wow! That was really well done!” Since I don’t drink, I didn’t pay attention to the brand (not their goal, I’m sure) but I loved how they snagged design elements from Gatorade and iPod commercials and added their own twist.

It was cool reading about the Orwell “1984” connection to the Apple commercial. I’m excited to see the commercial when I have access to a high-speed connection.

I just looked at the websites submitted by Katie. The first one was totally interesting! It gave a couple good theories about why women are posed in such bizarre ways in magazines. This has bothered me for years!
I’ve always been fascinated with people and have spent hours drawing, painting and photographing them. As an artist, I like to have a good collection of reference material to help me tweak my images and to help make comparisons and corrections. For this purpose, I have binders of photos ripped out of old magazines.
Despite dozens of innovative, emotionally and intellectually engaging ads and photographs, the avalanche of repetitive “dorky”, “overt” or “contrived” pictures has frustrated me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Information, Links, and Personal Thoughts on freelance writing.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was, “Writers write. A lot. All the time. In their free time.” It seems pretty self-evident, but it was good for me to hear at that point in life.

So start a journal (I have 20+ spanning the last 10 years).
Or record your dreams (I have 15 little notebooks of nightmares… some day I’ll break into the horror genre).
Get a pen pal, or a couple.

People will talk:
Don’t underestimate the willingness of people to share information.

From the forensic artist I met when I accidentally interrupted a law-enforcement convention to the Klezmer-music-playing entomologist I bumped into in a junk shop while on vacation, I’m learning that people will really open themselves up when you’re interested.

I have found the same to be true when it comes to contacting authors. If you have a favorite author or writer, send them some fan mail. Seriously. I can’t believe these people even open their mail, let alone write back to lowly peons like myself. BUT THEY DO.

One guy was totally pumped about giving me advice on how to land a book contract. My favorite author/illustrator of all time (Lauren Child, UK), just wrote me back a year and a half after I sent her a letter. My letter got lost, she recently found it, and sent back a nice little reply with doodles and an offer to write again. That is commitment.

Seriously people, it doesn’t hurt to try!

Simultaneous Submissions:
There are convincing arguments for both sides of the simultaneous submissions debate. One of my successful articles was a simultaneous submission, so I know it can happen. However, it’s important to note that A) it wasn’t a big time magazine, B) it didn’t pay a whole heaping lot and C) they did a lot of pre-publication correspondence with me via e-mail, so I suspect that they aren’t as formal as some publishers.

Are like poop. They happen. It’s a normal part of life, not anything to dwell on. Don’t let the thought of rejections keep you from making submissions.

Besides, there is always that editor who balances out others’ rejections by sending Christmas cards.

Remember Anniversaries:
Paper's 1900th birthday was 2005. Big deal right? Well, an editor of a children’s magazine thought it was worth a look. I submitted a dense, plodding manuscript, and she edited it down to cute little statements that dotted the magazine pages in cheerful bubbles. Works for me.
Do a quick Internet search to see what anniversaries are coming up.

Staying creative:
I have a bunch of very creative and fascinating friends: writers, artists, military men, health care personnel, teachers, missionaries, outdoor enthusiasts, and musicians. They keep me on my toes with a constant flow of information and ideas from around the U.S. and around the world.

Freelancing is a tricky thing.
John Hewitt has some great advice if you’re trying to turn this into a career.

Just another little epiphany.

(I like the idea of Becky’s epiphany book. I’ve been having thousands of epiphanies recently.)

There is something behind that saying, “You don’t appreciate it until you lose it.”

This struck me in an especially violent way yesterday.
I should mention that yesterday was the worst day of my life. Physical pain, emotional unhinged-ness, intense sleep deprivation, and a slew of mental maladies graced my day.

That being said, I obviously didn’t get much accomplished. Oh, I tried, of course. But at some point my brain totally fizzled out… and letters and words ceased to make sense. I sat there a) not comprehending anything on the screen and b) realizing that that was a very, very bad thing. It was frustrating and scary.

So as slow as my brain is functioning this morning, I am extra thankful that these little pixilated letters mean something to me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Note to self:

For COMM 337 Still need to finish:

1) Feature analysis

2) Feature story :o)

3) Final: out of class. Get assignment on Mon. Due on the 3rd via e-mail. Probably better to come to class and hand in hard copy version, too--> Noon on the 3 (Wednesday) OR PRIOR. 1,000 words. May contain quotes. Would prefer to have both hard and electronic copy. Handing material out at Meuller Hall.

4) Add to blog thoughts/ideas/suggestions about freelance writing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

On Doc's IT article

A response to Doc's Illinois Times commentary piece:

I know you can't indefinitely subsidize the state of IL but thanks for donating your time, Doc. I'd be out there if I could; for a while my sister and I were volunteering at the Sam Hill House.
It’s disheartening to see closures and cutbacks of historical venues like Lincoln’s New Salem, the Dana-Thomas House and Fort Kaskaskia.
Thanks for reminding us of the seriousness of these decisions.