Original Art Works.

Sep 5

Scott asks the question: What Makes a Good Art Director?

Teachable Moment


To help understand the creative process and what it takes to make the collaboration between illustrator and art director more fluid, I thought the answers to this question might be enlightening.

The first trait of a good art director that sprang to mind was teamwork. Art directors, creative directors, designers and illustrators are passionately focused on their work, as we know. And sometimes it seems more comfortable to work as a lone constructor, undistracted by “outside” voices. But in my experience, that’s not ideal. Besides, there are lots of ways to be a more collaborative player within the larger team. Learning more about each other’s respective roles in the artistic world is a good start. Listen to each other. That’s one route to rising above the basic differences and misconceptions, and elevating our work as well.

Here’s what Seth Godin has to say about art and where it comes from. “Art is an original gift, a connection that changes the recipient, a human ability to make a difference. Art is the very human act of creating the uncreated, of connecting with another person at a human level.” No reason you couldn’t do that with other humans, right?

Here are my favorite answers from some of my contemporaries and our own artists at Scott Hull Associates:

“What makes a good art director? A tenuous balance of humility and passion”. -Adele

“A good art director is one who can sell a good idea to an editor. A good art director is one who knows a good idea when he sees one. A good art director is one who hires me”. ☺ – Curtis Parker

“Was it Ogilvy who said “Always hire people (smarter/better) than you are? Aspire to be the dumbest person in the room.” Plus I’d add that wisdom is worth more than raw intelligence”. -Brian

“Star Trek Analogy: We are the creative Federation, Collaborating with Klingon warriors to vanquish the Borg of assimilated ideas, leveraging marketing with Vulcan precision, and all the while making our clients’ Ferengi bean counters satisfied with an increase of gold-plated latinum”. -Von Glitschka

“Like a good coach, a good art director is a visual person with a good connection between their eyes and mouth. They know how to get those involved excited about the project. They know how to supply visual inspiration and reference while still giving enough room for the artist’s interpretation”. –Lisa Ballard

“Leadership skills and good design skills: the ability to coach a designer to find their own best solution”. -Patrice

“A great director brings greatness out of others and communicates concepts simply”. -Michael Bast

“Bravery. Collaboration. Trust”. –Penelope Dullaghan

“He or she has some knowledge of the importance (and historical effectiveness) of illustration in the field being considered: editorial, advertising, multimedia, etc., and how it differs in effect and execution from straight design and/or photography. He or she is willing to trust the instincts and creative input from the illustrator, as opposed to just hiring a pair of hands”. – John Maggard

“I’ve worked for clients who’ve told me exactly what they want, and others who’ve pretty much turned me loose. Both approaches can yield wonderful results. Difficulty occurs when the job really has no flexibility, but those all-important parameters are hidden from the artist”. -Chuck

“A clear vision of what is needed”. - David Reinbold

“I’ve spent 35 years practicing. Maybe one of these days I’ll get it right”. -Tim

“A good art director can communicate a vision and then release it to the artist. Next step is partnering with the artist and giving the vision enough room to have its say”. – Andrea Eberbach

“Working as both an art director and a freelance illustrator, I’ve experienced the frustration when design is forced to fall victim to the ‘convenience’ of stock art. A good art director communicates visually and will often see an image beforehand in his/her imagination that best illustrates their desired message. Problem is, the design process is too often the reverse where we are stuck trying to find an existing image that will work, changing our concept to fit what can be found. I love opening the door to creativity and allowing an illustrator to translate my thoughts graphically”. -Clint Hansen

“An art director is good when they love their job. They’re great when they are perceptive, honest, open to communication, willing to challenge you to perform to your best but also willing to hear you out when you present an offbeat idea. A good art director gives input but doesn’t lead the illustrator on a leash– they give their views and collaborate, but ultimately trust the illustrator to deliver more than what they ever expected. They’re in your corner and work with you to produce the best work you can for their product”. –Meg Hunt

Sep 3

IKEA’s Hilarious Pitch for their 2015 Catalog Gadget

by Tim Nudd

Is print really dying? Not according to Ikea, which has good reason to still believe in dead trees. After all, the company prints around 200 million copies of its catalog every year in 27 languages for 38 countries. That’s more than twice the number of bibles produced in a given year.
But is a print catalog too low-fi for the high-tech age? Again, not according to Ikea, which just rolled out this amusing promo for the 2015 catalog, slyly suggesting that print is actually a wondrous technology that equals—nah, exceeds—the power of digital media.
The well-written campaign, by BBH Asia Pacific, invites you to “experience the power of a book” and rediscover “the original touch interface.” Amazing features include “eternal battery life” and pages that “load instantly, with zero lag.” As the charmingly goofy on-screen narrator says: “It’s not a digital book, or an e-book. It’s a bookbook™.”

I’m sure the concept has been done before. But it’s done well here. Check it out:

YouTube Preview Image




Aug 25

Danielle Evans On Handcrafted Dimensional Typography

Inventive. Daring. Handcrafted.

Danielle Evans is changing the lettering game with her spin on handcrafted type. Where others see a product, Danielle imagines a message waiting to be revealed.

Her dimensional typography creates context beyond words, with an authenticity that draws inspiration and energy from the handmade movement. The products themselves are placed in front of viewers as artful installations, adding layers of importance to otherwise commonplace items.

Danielle’s handcrafted lettering helps marketers build genuine connections, with brands that are viewed as resourceful, inspiring and relatable.

Her accessible yet evocative work is ideal for print and web, both of which are trending minimal styles partnered with rich imagery.

Learn more about Danielle, her process, and her unique ability to express your brand message with an expert hand.



Has Danielle captured your attention? Click here to talk with Scott

Aug 15

World Cup Passion+Danielle Evans

by Danielle Evans

I’ve been playing soccer since the tender age of six, and in recent years have only dreamed of doing official work for the World Cup, the pinnacle of global sportsmanship.

Nike’s now twelve year old World Cup slogan, Joga Bonito, a slightly altered expression from soccer god Pele that means both “Play Beautifully” and “The Beautiful Game”, inspired me to do just that.

To commemorate Brazil’s Cup hosting, I chose yellow shoes and green paper and over the course of three days twirled two very long shoelaces into letters and trills. The laces were bought on spools, and due to their tight weave were perfectly malleable yet firm. I added lace covers in post, otherwise the piece retained most of its original charm and magic.

Aug 10

Scott asks the question “Where do ideas come from?”

Teachable Moment



A brilliant idea can change your life. Just ask Steve Jobs. And think about it – how would one incredible idea affect your work? How would it affect your personal creating? Your career? Your confidence and opportunities?

These days, new ideas aren’t just inspiring; they’re essential. A narrow-gauge mindset doesn’t work in modern business. Consumers aren’t loyal to cheap commodities. No, they love the remarkable, the human, the unique. And those ideas don’t just fall from the sky. (Usually.)

So where do they originate? Since Scott Hull Associates is in the business of ideas, I figured our artists ought to know. They surprised me with their answers, citing everything from “cross-pollinating synergetic associations” to cracks in the driveway. Enjoy.

Aren’t you silly…Ideas come from the stork, just like babies. – Andrea Eberbach

From an ever expanding and curious mind. –Von Glitschka

I’m not sure where they come from, but I’m pretty sure – starting in 2012 – that there will be a federal tax on them. -Mark Riedy

Personally, I group them into two broad categories: surprise ideas and task-oriented ideas. There’s an enormous area of interaction and cross-pollination between these, but if I think about it, most everything I do whether art-related, fixing a faucet or otherwise, fits somewhere in the continuum. In the area of ideas for art, surprise! Ideas are just that — out of nowhere, triggered by who-knows-what…smells, memories, dreams, emotions, even stress. Task-oriented ideas are usually, at least for me, more forced and rarely complete at the beginning — they need refinement and tuning, and the trick is to retain something good and fresh enough to keep through that refinement process. Most won’t make it to the end, and many aren’t worth fooling around with from the beginning, but each has to be weighed before discarding. Working in collaboration with commercial clients, most illustration ideas are going to be task-driven, and will be a blend of your ideas and the client’s regarding concept, style and desired results.

Somewhere in here also has to be addressed the impact of original vs. derivative ideas. For a visual artist and especially one working commercially, purely original ideas are hard to come by. We’re bombarded by visual imagery from the first day we open our eyes, then later are drawn to and/or repelled by most everything we see that other artists have done – this can’t help but affect our style and how we see the world through art. How we control and channel our own likes, dislikes and influences through our work, all the while adding whatever personal flavoring we bring to the equation determines how original our artistic solutions will be. Recognizing and utilizing influences is a balancing act that’s always there when generating ideas.

Lastly, I think ideas spring from that overused word, passion. It’s why we do what we do instead of pursuing any of the millions of other occupations available in the world. Speaking only for myself, I want to add my spin and polish to whatever visual problem is put in front of me, as long as it’s something that I can relate to. Generating good ideas is more often than not hard work, and the effort needs to be applied where it will do the most good both for the artist and for the resulting work. -John Maggard

A mysterious internal response to an ever-changing external set of chance meetings. -Lorraine Tuson

My ideas come from nature. I am an avid gardener and I am always in awe of the design found in natural things. The hardest part of drawing nature is keeping its fresh and random quality. I love taking a natural theme (such as shells), and combining the many shapes and textures to create patterns. -Lisa Ballard

Ideas come from playing. -Penelope Dullaghan

Ideas are the result of a wide open mind that is always asking the question “What if?”. After that, getting a few other people’s opinions will often make them better.- Scott Matthews

The most common comment I hear when asked this is, “ideas are everywhere”. But to me that’s a cop-out because our society cannot see the forest through the trees. For me ideas come from staring at the stars, or a plant in the crack on the driveway. Yes, the Internet is also full of useful images, but where does one start? Back to the basics, I say! For me this is an endless journey, because problem solving is a passion of mine. -Geoff Smith

Now that’s a good question! Ideas are a kind of cross-pollination of thought and problem parameters that comes from combining one or more unlike things to create a third, more synergetic association. It starts with research; I look through information relevant to the problem at hand, making lists of items and key words that can drive the direction of thought. Next, I take the information and start to play with it without judgment – it’s called free association. I take some of these key words or essential elements from the lists and literally connect them to see if there’s a potential association there. For example, if you take the word magnet and library and think about what associations they make, you come up with a series of thought-play ideas. I’m hoping for some kind of visual metaphor or analogy that will help communicate the concept of whatever it is I’m trying to get across. So… Library+Magnet=What? I think of a place where information storage plus some kind of pulling force comes together. The human brain would be considered a a kind of information storage unit and the attractive force might be a lighted billboard sign. Or the Rosetta stone, the key to interpreting several dead languages, might have Space Odyssey monolith-like properties that attract the monkeys.

Once all of the play is done, it’s time to see which of the ideas might have merit for the problem at hand. Maybe some that are seemingly way off base will lead to something else by association. This is the portion of the event that we must judge or deem relevant to solving the problem. That, and a healthy amount of sketching, usually bring good results. -Larry Moore