ChameleonCreativity is communication. Plain and simple. From the time cavemen painted on cave walls humans have been communicating to each other through the things we create. Try creating something without desiring a response and see what I mean. Better yet, create without the desired response and consider it even more.

Today’s graphic designers and art directors are faced with understanding how to communicate creatively in a world that has evolved through technology – allowing for cross-culture messaging in an array of new media vehicles. If there ever was a time to break down the walls of stereotyping, prejudices and empathetic sincerity it is now. Recently, AIGA and Adobe partnered to define the designer of tomorrow, specifically within the next two years. Their findings, through several years of research, are six major trends that will shape the designers of tomorrow. Basically, the development of visual, verbal and visceral communication is much deeper than mere design.

As an educator to college design students, the biggest challenge I face is convincing young creatives to abandon creative trends and develop a clear understanding of deeper communication strategies. “They must understand the social sciences and humanities in order to understand the content they are asked to communicate and they must understand how to work collaboratively with other knowledge and practice specialists.” – AIGA, Designer of 2015 Trends

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A chameleon blends in, finds safety in looking like its environment and doesn’t attract any attention. Finding the “unique” in design is nothing new. So slaying that Chameleon has been put to rest. However, in terms of today’s communication channels, jumping on the latest technologies designed for short attention spans and redundancy of content can be catastrophic to design without considering how to narrow your audience, design within a believable context, customize messaging that aligns with other social conversations and relying on engagement strategies based on cultural realities. In other words, media complacency has watered down creative executions and messaging into a pool of swirling color. Slaying that chameleon will take a deeper knowledge in design thinking than ever before.

Educators are speeding to offer the latest software and technology training without teaching the bigger understanding of how to use these new medias in a unique way. Just having an “app for that” is no longer the goal. Recommending creative solutions with these new resources, including possible considerations to product evolvement by designers, will be the key to success. Tackling creative issues within a bigger perspective outside the designer’s capabilities will now become their responsibility.

Just because a new technology is available to a designer’s creative strategic tool belt, doesn’t make it necessary. Discerning between what’s needed and what is not will be key. However, when it comes to today’s new design education practices, understanding the skills within these new capabilities will be imperative. For example: the creative development of print and e-medias will be essential to tomorrow’s designer. The creation of visual content is completely different with each user. Furthermore, adopting a “student mentality” will be the norm. Meaning, self-growth in continued education, wether on your own or within the confines of an educational institution, will be necessary to maintain continued success. In a recent article by Katia Colucci with The International Council of Communication Design, she states, “According to some experts the current half-life of personal knowledge is five years. In other words, in five years, half of our personal knowledge will be outdated. This means that to be competitive in future professional environments, we need to renew our knowledge by investing in continuous education.”

Slaying the creative chameleon has always been the challenge of graphic artists. Being unique and standing out from your surroundings is heresy to the existance of the chameleon. In contrast, it is essential to the survival of the designer. The term “cliche’ “ will now be applied to new technologies and how we use them to communicate in a transparent world.

To find out more about the future of graphic design, visit AIGA, AdobeThe Bureau of Labor Statistics or contact Bruce Stanley, Graphic Design Coordinator, Nossi College of Art.

©2007 Derek Sivers

This article isn’t about strategies for using social media on a branding level. Those plans involve individual situations that are appropriate to the mission of a brand’s campaign objectives. This conversation is about using online social networks for building professional relationships. If you’re a professional using social media, your best plan is to have a purpose and be consistent.

I’ve always been a social person and after 15 years in the ad industry I enjoy meeting people and having conversations about the biz. About two years ago I joined adgabber.com, a social community site dedicated to serving the advertising, marketing and media industry – a place to share the latest ads and news. With over 8,000 members, I realized it was a great place to have conversations, post articles and gather content. The site was formed as a sub social group of Adrants.com.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because it’s the premise to my purpose for using online social media for professional reasons. Like AdGabber, there are many tools available to establish relationships for building a solid professional network.

Linkedin.com is an awesome tool. It’s basically an online resume on steroids – it lists my work history and professional connections throughout my career including associations, books I’m reading and groups I’m affiliated with. This network is probably the most relevant relationship builder for having conversations with other professionals in the industry where you work, or within related industries. In advertising it’s especially great for connecting with say, brand managers with whom you don’t normally communicate and would want to establish a network with. If you’re not familiar with its purpose here’s a little info. on it:


Ok, so these social tools were the foundation to my online relationships. Then I joined twitter. Twitter allowed for instant real-time sharing of valuable content from whom I followed: Ad Men, Social Media Gurus, Graphic Designers, Art Directors, etc. I also used this tool to promote content from the ad agency where I worked – as the Creative Director. This was my purpose and I remain consistent with it to this day. Some use it merely as another form of personal socializing, I made sure I didn’t follow these Tweeps. The people I followed and still follow are aligned with my purpose and are all associated with advertising in one form or another. And, for the most part, the people who follow me are the same. In short, this is the real beauty of twitter. To boot, it proved to be important in research and keeping current in my industry.

All this may be elementary for a lot of you, just stay with me a little longer, I have a point to make.

Now that I had my three levels of online relationships down it was just a matter of being consistent with the sharing, conversations and contributing. I did this on a regular basis and it was part of my daily plan. If you don’t plan your day using social media this way, it can very easily consume your whole day – don’t let that happen.

This formula and the certain social networks I use is my personal strategy. There are many other social tools available for you to use. However, based on the personal professional mission I’m talking about here, this plan works pretty well.

Ok, here’s why I wanted you to stay with me – I left my job as Creative Director at redpepper. What happened next is how I have positioned myself for further employment and other opportunities with the world.

With the three networks already established all I had to do was: build this site to showcase my work (portfolio) and convey my understanding of advertising strategies; provide relevant content in a blog format to highlight my philosophies (this helps others to get to know me on a different level); share it within my established social networks to get exposure. Next I started a separate blog, I chose postereous, for the purpose of critiquing ads within the industry to stay current and to also share with others – another form of exposure.

All five social network tools allowed the user to connect with each of them – creating a cyclical way of relationship building and exposure. More importantly, having conversations with those who commented or shared on the content I provided, and likewise, doing the same with those who connected with me, gave way to new relationship opportunities.

Here’s the key: I still found traditional ways to meet people by using these social networks: I volunteered to judge shows and speak at events; I developed contests and gave away gifts to meet people and share stories to get to know them better and for them to know me.

In the end, it’s people that we communicate with. Whether it be for brands or for ourselves, “social media” or better, “social connecting” is all about being purposeful with how you connect with others and have conversations about..well, you have to find out for yourself.

On Fire.

February 6, 2010


I tend to watch programs on the Discovery channel. I think it’s because the commentary is inviting and not harsh like the news or most TV drama shows. The other evening I was engrossed in a show I usually watch called, “The Naked Planet” that was explaining how a meteor enters the earth’s atmosphere and it’s impact on the planet’s surface. What I discovered was that meteors, in this manor, behave almost like the mind when developing creative ideas.

A meteor is a piece of rock or ice that travels in space which is pulled by the gravity of a nearby planet or moon. It becomes incandescent as a result of friction and appears as a streak of light as it enters the atmosphere of that planet or moon. See what you can learn from watching the Discovery Channel? So how does this relate to the creative process? The answer lies in what happens to the rock and ice as it travels to the surface .

This meteor gets really hot as it fights the atmosphere of earth traveling at thousands of miles an hour. It pushes through the gases of space and it compresses the air so tight that the heat literally peels away the material from the meteor and it burns away, thus causing the trail of light that we usually see. Since childhood we refer to these as “falling stars”. That sounds much better than a burning rock traveling at blistering speeds headed right for your backyard.

The most important part of what happens to the meteor is that it ends up being a fraction of its original mass and sometimes is nothing more than a pebble before it reaches its destination. Now plant this image I just painted for you in your head and think about the creative process. As you develop ideas you get excited about them, you get fired up, and then you start to peel off the layers of that idea until it becomes this nugget of creativity of unmeasurable power.

Finally, this meteor – even the size of a pebble – hits its destination with such impact that would destroy entire cities. Think about that. A huge idea, narrowed down to a powerful creation, on target, on strategy, reaching its audience with such an impact that causes a result that is so explosive that everyone notices. That, my friends, is called an idea on fire.

And why would you want to stop that?