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The Old Masters Renewed
Looking backward to see forward.

The old masters are just that for a reason. Let's learn.

Well, as creatives we're always asked to break the mold, think outside boxes and set precedent. That's why we're the opposite of accountants and lawyers. Those guys don't like to set precedent and want to operate in neat little sets of rules. That's their job and they do it well. We creatives dwell in chaos and "energy" and mood and whatever other ambiguous thing you can imagine. We need to be grounded and have rules but only use them as a tether to reality so that we don't get lost or completely waste our clients' time and money.

We have two ways to do this: the clients desires, needs and "sensibilities" (we'll give them that just to be nice) and reference (reverence?) to the past works that have withstood time and only get better it seems.

The client must get what they want, but we must impose sound judgement, logic and experience to their needs. They have to have their hands held and even though we do subjective work and they do have a valid opinion, none of that is framed in training and experience for solving problems. There are production, color theory, rendering, symbolistic and many other factors that must weigh in to the final product. Never mind sexual innuendo. If you laugh at any thing "sexy" in the piece can it. Cause if you see it, the world certainly will. That's why I like to ornery and am glad my mind is in the gutter most times. This way I have a natural filter. I'm off topic....

So we need the clients' input, always and must work hard to meet their needs/desires. We do subjective things so we can't just go to a client and say, well this is the answer because I said so. C'mon, are we really that good and the final authority on all that is art? No. I hope not. I hope we're continually learning and know more less than more.

How do we get the "official" stamp? Use the masters! My best work is constantly a result of looking at past work, from relevant sources. Some may call this theft, copyright infringement or whatever. It's called appropriation/inspiration. Never bite directly. Just be influenced. It's not as close as it sounds.

Why? Having several layers of logic in any work from the smallest graphic to the largest campaign makes them bullet proof. If you can go five or six layers deep you have one hell of a solution. It's robust and lasting. It also will be easier to integrate throughout the entire campaign's media/collateral. Always begin at the beginning with this logic and you will find your solution. The masters always give you a starting point. Especially if you like their work.

Research is key. You just don't look at a piece and copy it. You need to know how the person you're studying thinks, their politics, their likes and dislikes and, most importantly, their influences. You find a path of influence you've found understanding.

With that understanding you can compose very nice solutions. The three guys I always turn to are: Buckminster Fuller, Frank Lloyd Wright and Rodney Matthews. I get incredible "appropriate solutions" from Fuller, structure and beauty within rigidity from Wright and pure imaginination and compostion from Matthews. I always start there and then make my moves. It really helps.

The most boring classes to me in college were art history. I have a lot of trouble enjoying museums and antiques aren't really anywhere in my house (except Fiesta Ware which seems to be timeless and very colorful). Ironically I revisit them all to get moving on my projects. I don't understand it, but I do it and it works.

Let's always consider what's going on around us, in front of us and tap the resources behind us to get better. There's really no such thing as a unique idea, but there are collaborative ones. Just look at this "Mash-Up" trend right now.

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