The Amazing Life of Jim Riswold

I got into advertising because of Jim Riswold. I didn’t know who he was at the time. But I’d see Nike’s “Bo Knows” commercials and their “Mars Blackmon” spots and think, that’s exactly what I want to do.

Riswold was recently inducted into the One Club Creative Hall of Fame, and Dan Wieden wrote a piece about him in the recent issue of one. a magazine. I knew Riswold had left W+K, and I’d heard a little bit about his controversial art work featuring Hitler. But I didn’t really know his story until I watched Riswold’s TED talk. It might be a little disturbing at times. But that’s what makes it amazing.

Here are some of the things I take away from Riswold:

  1. He’s still a writer. Listen to how he crafted his talk. It’s like copy from a Nike print ad.
  2. He’s not a very good presenter. You can have loads of talent as a writer and a CD, and still be a bad presenter. That’s not a reason to practice presenting. But it’s a good thing to recognize and not beat yourself up over.
  3. This guy has guts. And I have to think his courage is one of the reasons he was such a great creative. Not only is speaking to an audience when it clearly makes him uncomfortable, he shows himself at his most vulnerable to a live audience. As Dan Wieden says in his article, “The ability to remain vulnerable is the ability to remain creative.”

Doodle

I often emphasize to my classes the importance of changing up your routine, particularly when you’re in a concepting rut. Take a walk. Work somewhere else. Change the music you’re listening to. If you’ve been writing for a while, try solving your problem by drawing.

Today, I came across this TED video that confirms the importance of doodles. Sunni Brown is speaking specifically about doodling in meetings as a way to enhance your focus, but her point about it engaging your brain in a different way is true not just when you’re trying to file stuff away, but when you’re digging around trying to get stuff out too.

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

So the next time you’re turning an idea every which way, remember to turn your brain every which way as well. And don’t forget, if you’re a writer and your doodling produces something interesting, please submit it to Illustrated by Copywriters.

15 Minutes with Milton Glaser

What strikes me about this piece is how willing Glaser is to experiment. And I’m willing to bet his process is very similar to yours. There are some real gems in this piece, including:

“One day I woke up and I said, ‘Well suppose that’s not true.'”

“Fear of embarrassment drives me as much as any ambition.”

“If you don’t believe in your work, who else is going to believe in it?”

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf