Ὁ βίος βραχύς,
ἡ δὲ τέχνη μακρή,
ὁ δὲ καιρὸς ὀξύς,
ἡ δὲ πεῖρα σφαλερή,
ἡ δὲ κρίσις χαλεπή.
Vīta brevis, ars longa, occāsiō praeceps,
experīmentum perīculōsum,iūdicium difficile.
Life is short, and art long, opportunity fleeting, experimentations perilous,and judgment difficult.
H I P P O C R A T E S | Aphorismi
The real work, sometimes, is getting out there. When we were working with National Geographic, one of the executives told me that they think of “getting out there,” in incremental tiers of time. There’s “the two hour jump, there’s the half day, there’s the full day, and it keeps getting further and further out”—but what if your jump to get out, to know more, to get further away from where you are, to where you could be, is more like “you’re starting with a flight, and that’s nearly a day, then you’re on a bus, then a small plane—and finally you’re there.” That’s not the 12 hour marker, it’s not the 24 hour increment—it’s the 48HR index—you’re that far out. Then you’re really out there.
While you’re looking-out, traveling the distant vista—a long road, the living of a running life [the look out there] — the journey shall continue. And in reality, for most of us, that journey could be merely
Bláskógabyggð, Suðurland, Iceland
the walk—by foot, from one section of a place of knowing,
to another place of unknowing.
New Mexico, USA.
And who said it would be easy?
What we think is that the experiment and experience of getting out there, risking the potential to learn more, get out there, satisfy your curiosity and engage—learn more—is crucial to the journey. Working on brand-design-related challenges, if you think that you can get through doing your best work is by working remotely—perhaps, even never meeting your relationship in commerce: your client—it is a way of thinking about communication that is inextricably caught up in commodity-typed thinking. You are devaluing the humanity of your community and your ability to communicate.
That is: “we don’t really need to know these people to do something meaningfully memorable—
we can just do it.”
The challenge is, you’re missing out—you’re losing out on “the where of people, the who of place, the how of experiencing more.
Of course, that changes you—since you invariably will meeting others on the road, well-traveled. And it’s every-one in that journey that counts towards experience. And in experience—the burgeoning of expertise.
You have to try.
Craft, “conscious care” in the making of anything, building the outbound relationships to people, in the truth of it, will be fraught with failure. Tries and trials, and circumstances wrestle what was once a straight path into something of a twisted labyrinth of knotted wanders. And really, getting lost is better than simply presuming you know everything, to get out there—the delivery of design, messaging, brand results.
Stick to it, the trials, the trying.
Thinking about the story of living the journey of design, brand reconnaissance, tactical solutions, it can be about the struggle in finding the right path to the answer—not every answer will ever be the same; but that challenge will be [could be] in a set of failures, in getting to the next bend in the path. Then, rightness could be found—there’s a way to go: forward.
Meeting with a friend of mine, Creative Director John Jay, we worked together for nearly 10 years on Bloomindale’s design from major campaign identities, to signing, packaging, shopping bags; it was a journey. It was fraught with great solutions that were struggled at, incendiary ideas sparked, swords clanged, shields banged and answers found—things were made. Finally.
W+K | Portland, OR
John moved from NYC to Portland, and, for a bit, was a power driver at Weiden+Kennedy, he’s since moved on. But then, and again with other W+Kists, I got a tour during an overview meeting at their offices.
There’s a big sign there. Fail harder. It’s made of several hundred thousand clear push pins.
And a couple of hundred hours of pin pushing…
the sign+the pins
Photo by DAC
As Barrett Rossie, marketing strategist notes, failing harder is a bigger win. That sentiment is echoed by others, wrapped around the propositions of failure—and the learnings of it—at Weiden+Kennedy.
Including Dan Weiden.
Failing up, with Jimm Lasser.
To the notion of the journey and the journal of the daily creative explorations of making this living matter, you’ve got to fail harder. As I contemplate the challenges of my own running — now, 35 years in the sprint of that long road, it’s still right there — the perspective of the distant longitude, the sequencing of the stride: fail big, risk, leap, roll and bolt hard-onwards. Speaking to some of the other creative directors at W+K — failure is common; it’s not celebrated, but it’s never considered anything but a learning against the curve of creative exploration.
he point will be the nature of the experiment. And the experience that comes of it—experimenting with trial, analyzing outcomes, holding that experience to expertise.
And getting started. Anew.
As a person that’s perpetually placing a positioning between people that make things and people that need them, I ponder the three key words.
FAIL. From a Latin word for falling.
TRY. From the Old French—trier—to pick out or cull.
EXPERIMENT. From the Latin, experiri: to test, to try. (experience)
It might be in the last word that the risk is summed up—one to the nature of experience, there is a journey there.
If you’ve failed plenty, then you’ve tried—and you’re still growing, learning and building experience—and what about that word? Experience comes from the most ancient linguistic legacy of all, the PIE etymology — ex, from the Latin, and *per from the PIE base “to lead or to pass over”—founding the same word as peril. Experience=peril. The trial of any effort will play to the action of risk—and the danger of striding towards one place that will remain unattempted by others. Trusting the maturation of instinct, the pleasure of the heart, and the fitness to leap — there: you go.
There is a long road, and failure will be right there, in the laying of the journey, stone on stone, stride on stride. Or, you try to get out there, get it right, get balanced—and you fail.
Osean Studios, WA
Photo by DAC
Then you’re up,
at it, again.
In risking the harder failure, the willingness to imperil—the outcomes will be more profound. And isn’t that what it’s all about, making the pathway more unforgettable?
Everything we do as brand shepherds is about building unforgettability.
“Oh yeah, are you kidding, I remember that!”
And back to the future, the beginning—getting out there? That’s speaking to the risk of journey—you’re placing yourself in potentially unrecognizable circumstances—striding out there, “you could fail.”
And you could win.
TIM | OSEANSURF STUDIOS
WAY MAKING | GET LOST: THE JOURNEY