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A blog about creativity, culture and why it matters...

 

Stuck On Your Ideal Customer Profile? - maybe it’s time to get creative...

Helen Davis

Ideal Client Avatar Collage

When my ideal client avatar was alluding me I realised I was thinking about her all the wrong way. So I got out the scissors...

Why a special someone?

Writing for your business 101: If you’re speaking to everyone you’re speaking to no-one. The solution? Write like you’re speaking to one person. Your ideal client, in fact. But just who is she? And how do you find her? I say: Collage her.

Playing with ideas

Yep, that’s right, create your ideal client with cut out paper pieces and glue, like a more mindful Frankenstein. Mmmm, maybe not. For me, collaging my ideal client avatar is what my artist self would call an idea catalyst - a starting point on which to build.

Stuck in your head

Having completed numerous ideal client avatar questionnaires - namely with Marie Forleo’s B-School - I realised my ideal client avatar was stuck in my head. As the girl who gave up art school to go hide behind writing essays at uni, it’s dawned on me that I’m a frustrated artist who writes. So, there was nothing for it - time to get artistic.

Creating your ideal client

I got out some A3 card and some old magazines, and began filling the page with words which resonated, brands my ideal client might buy into, items they might own, thoughts they might have. I tried to let these things flow.

You can get really specific with this ideal client avatar thing - which is what I think trips some of us up. But viewing my ideal client avatar as more of a guide than a blueprint helped free up the creation process. It’s all too easy to get perfection procrastination - I know I do.

Refining your ideal client

I like Danielle La Porte’s take on goals, which she calls ‘core desired feelings’. Feeling your way into an idea and seeing it as a work in progress means you’ll be more flexible and responsive. After all it might turn out your ideal client avatar isn’t quite who you thought she was…

Speaking of which, PR and marketing maven Janet Murray reckons, that while you do indeed need to be talking to that certain someone, you shouldn’t be too wedded to your ideal client avatar.

Remember, we’re talking about connecting with real people here. Get too hooked on the idea of your ideal client and you could be ignoring loyal client needs or creating products aimed at a fantasy following.

Check out Janet Murray’s podcast for some useful tips on what to consider when creating your ideal client avatar.

Where will your ideal client avatar take you?

For now, I’m looking at my ideal client avatar as a kind of communications compass - not a map. I’m playing around with more collages as questions or ideas come up and I’ve been sketching out ideas in my bullet journal.

Where my current clients are mostly established brands, who aren’t likely to be reading this post, I’m now looking to reach a new audience and make meaningful connections with them. And, at the end of the day that means finding out what real people want.

Over to you

Have you had trouble envisioning your ideal client avatar? What got you stuck? Or did the one you create lead you up the garden path? If creating your ideal client avatar in a more creative way resonates with you I’d love to know.

The Month in Mood Board - heat waves, creative restrictions & Stoker

Helen Davis

This month I was laid low by the heat wave which, while so invigorating to others, seemed to feed on my energy reserves. Cue afternoons holed up in darkened rooms like a limp Lady of Shalott who’d seen better days.

Which got me thinking about creative restrictions. You know, things like:

Can tragedy inspire great art? How does fear impact creativity? [Cos, I'm brainy like that :)]

But mostly, I turned my mini malaise into a movie-watching opportunity. Hitchcock rewatches, yes. But also new-to-me movies like Stoker: a film inspired by Hitch, fairytale, coming of age, and more...

Why don’t you cover a big cork bulletin board in bright pink felt, banded with bamboo, and pin with coloured thumb-tacks all your various enthusiasms as your life varies from week to week?
— Diana Vreeland
Mood Board July 2018.jpg

Stoker - Alice in Wonderland meets Norman Bates?

A dark-haired girl in white (Mia Wasikowska playing India Stoker) is running barefoot in the grounds of a Gone With the Wind-esque house. A be-ribboned box contains a key where shoes should be. Spiders between legs. Boiled eggs crack like bones.

The whole thing is ripe with Freudian and Jungian setting...

Says Mark Kermode.

A father dies. A beautiful but cold mother (Nicole Kidman) drinks. And a handsome, charismatic uncle - Charlie (Matthew Goode) - arrives:

Oh, in about sixty seconds your mother is going to tell you that I’m going to be staying here a while. But I want it to be your decision too. ... It’s… important to me.

He says, with a smirk, like a vampire or something.  India Stoker, like an anti-Alice in Wonderland, is about to go down a very dark rabbit hole:

You could pitch the film as ‘Alfred Hitchcock psychological thriller meets Tim Burton coming-of-age freak-out’, but in fact the whole thing thrums with a blackly comic eroticism that is Park [Chan-wook]’s own...

A Telegraph review muses.

 

Inside Jaws - a podcast on plastic sharks, fear & creativity

The work that I’m proudest of is the work that I’m most afraid of,

Steven Spielberg once said, which is kind of a good thing, cos according to the podcast Inside Jaws - about the making of the 1975 classic - Spielberg was pretty darned scared a lot of the time.

I think I was born a nervous wreck, and I think movies were one way to find a way transferring my own private horrors to everyone else’s lives. It was less of an escape and more of an exorcism,

The director has confessed.

While another thing to remember about Jaws is that Jaws - or Bruce, the remote-controlled shark - didn’t really work. Which meant Spielberg had to get creative:

I had no choice but to figure out how to tell the story without the shark… So I just went back to Alfred Hitchcock: ‘What would Hitchcock do in a situation like this?’ ... It’s what we don’t see which is truly frightening.

Something generations of terrified movie-goers would agree on. 

Find the Inside Jaws podcast here.


The War of Art - Steven Pressfield’s seminal classic

The Jaws theme tune - you know, duunnn dun… dun dun - tends to be my inner critic’s backing music of choice. In the middle of the night it might Carmina Burana.

Which is maybe why I’ve needed to read Steven Pressfield’s highly acclaimed book The War of Art - break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles.

But of course I’ve resisted facing my resistance:

What does Resistance feel like? First, unhappiness. We feel like hell. A low-grade misery pervades everything. We’re bored, we’re restless. We can’t get no satisfaction.

Pressfield continues:

There’s guilt but we can’t put our finger on the source. We want to go back to bed; we want to get up and party. We feel unloved and unlovable. We’re disgusted. We hate our lives. We hate ourselves.

Oh, yeah, so you have that feeling too? And it’s no small thing says Pressfield:

Fear of rejection isn’t just psychological; it’s biological. ... Resistance knows this and uses it against us. It uses fear of rejection to paralyse us and prevent us, if not from doing our work, then from exposing it to public evaluation.

Sound familiar? Well, there’s only one thing to do, according to Pressfield, and that’s “go pro”:

This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. … When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetised rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.

Which is exactly what began to happen when I started - and before I stopped - the #100DayProject...

 

Heat Stroke - time out

I saw a pimped up painting of Mary Magdalene on Twitter the other day.  She was holding an electric fan and apparently writhing in ecstacy. The caption beneath read, something like: "Come on winter…".

That’s how hot it’s been this summer.  And, being a warm-weather-wimp I promptly got Exorcist-style heat exhaustion.

The upside? I got to watch some movies. And found some clear headspace.

Neverending to-do lists - and procrastination - can play havoc with creativity. But sometimes being pushed into a corner - like being stuck in bed, say - can wind up providing the very place from which to innovate:

In 1943 ... Matisse was a bedridden invalid, living in a war zone in south-east France with German troops in his basement and allied shells exploding in the garden.
It was at this point that he cut a man out of white paper, a drooping pinheaded figure, all sagging limbs and blazing red heart, mounted on a black ground with bombs detonating around him. He called it The Fall of Icarus… It turned out to be the first step in a process of radical reinvention…

He continued.

I don’t mean to suggest my mini-convalescence had any such effect. It just gave me a glimpse into what can be possible when you give yourself permission to create or even simply percolate.

Obviously the key is to let go of to-do list guilt without the need to get sick first

 

Can Tragedy Inspire Great Art?

One thing about travelling uber early when I go to London is I get to listen to the BBC World Service. Recently I caught this programme from The Cultural Frontline which asked:

Can tragedy, loss and death inspire great art? Matisse may have answered that question, but here a contemporary take -

Artist Petrit Halilaj uses his experience of conflict to inform his work.

His piece at the 6th Berlin Biennale in 2010 was a slightly larger reconstruction of the scaffolding erected when his parents rebuilt their house in Kosovo after returning to their then-levelled home after the war.

Says Frieze.com.

Writer Laia Jufresa explores the impact of the murders of over 30,000 people known as ‘the disappeared’ in her native Mexico:

It would be naive to claim art can do very much in the face of violence. But … I don’t think art is completely useless either. What it can do is focus on the individual stories, amplify the personal losses and make space for feelings, instead of leading us to the numbness that statistics often create.

While Lithuanian artist Julijonus Urbonas has designed a ‘euthanasia’ rollercoaster - yes, you read that right! And poet, writer and asker of questions Ben Okri is deeply inspired by Greek tragedy, in particular The Oresteia, which he said “burst him right open”.

Listen to the episode here.

The Month in Mood Board - storytelling, size matters & sassy networking

Helen Davis

From shrinking mammoth wardrobes to accidentally generating a B-movie monster, June was focused on the humungus. And the surreal.

I met some colourful peeps at the Blogtacular conference. Watched Bates Motel - which did a funky origami thing with stories and time.

I saw my hometown through a French photographer’s eyes. And, I exhibited some art in a railway waiting room...

Why don’t you cover a big cork bulletin board in bright pink felt, banded with bamboo, and pin with coloured thumb-tacks all your various enthusiasms as your life varies from week to week?
— Diana Vreeland
Mood Board June 2018.jpg

 

SEVEN Go Large at #LAT2018

Every June Leigh is taken over by artists. Hairdressers. Churches. Banks. Boutiques. Even personal car hire dealerships become galleries for one week only. Leigh Art Trail 2018 was SEVEN collective's second year showing our A5 sketchbooks at Planet Leasing.

But this year, we also got to share our work with curious commuters as the tall white walls of the station waiting room became our number two venue. So, we took the opportunity to go large - A2 to be precise.  

The concept: to show just how one starting point - vintage timetables - could lead in seven unique and unexpected destinations. The question is, where will we go next?

 

Retelling Psycho's Backstory - back to front, sorta...

Hopefully, we won’t wind up at the Bates Motel - although Psycho seems to be a recurring theme for me personally.

This time it’s in the form of the box set, which is billed as a “contemporary prequel” to Hitchcock’s classic. And when it says ‘contemporary’ it means, yes, ‘contemporary’:

...I would not have done the show if it was period… Then I think you can really feel the pressure to be living literally in the shadow of the movie and that felt way too confining.

Said Bates Motel creator Carlton Cuse.

nd the concept is already confined enough by it’s inevitable ending:

Turning Bates Motel into a contemporary story gives the creative team the space to choose the directions they want to follow for the characters.

Suggests a Screen Prism piece.

[T]here’s a sense that the Bates family’s “present-day” life is colored by the past.

Which seems weird, because that past is also the future, but really when you watch it’s kinda not.

To me, the series has a whiff of the true crime documentary about it. While Psycho (the film) was told largely from Norman’s warped point of view. In fact Mother’s voice is the harpie-esque harrangue-ing in Norman’s own head.

BM, on the other hand, takes its time to unravel the tangled web that is Norma and Norman’s relationship. Norma, here, is a sexy, funny, determined, deeply damaged, single mum.  

We watch her juggle work, her troubled kids, unwelcoming neighbours, corrupt police, her past, and, of course, the ever threatening highway...

 

What If Your Mistakes Became a Monster?

Of course, it’s always easier to watch “all those innocent victims” from the comfort of your sofa. From TV murders to the tea-time news, we thank our lucky stars that wasn’t us.

But what if your actions here could literally be felt over there?

Because this is the theme of Colossal.

Starring former Princess of Prada Anne Hathaway, as an out of work writer with a drink problem who gets dumped, Colossal starts out looking a bit rom-com.

But when she returns home and reunites with her childhood chum things wind up going all Godzilla. And not in the way you think. Because the people getting terrorised by that world-famous radioactive T-Rex are in Seoul. Whaa?

Film critic, Mark Kermode, puts it thus:

After much nervous head-scratching, Gloria concludes that she is somehow controlling this beast. Is she a delusional paranoiac? Or are her personal problems being played out in super-size fashion, with catastrophic results?

A very unique take on a very well worn theme, whatever the answer, methinks.

 

Heat Wave Wardrobes - a mini style revelation 

Of course, the whole carbon footprint problem was another message you could read into Colossal. Something I’m frequently wrestling with when it comes to my wardrobe.

As summer got a helluva lot hotter my planned capsule collection was just a tad too warm. Simply going sock-free wasn’t going to cut it. Everything had to be light, light, light.

And so, I had to rethink. The thing is, people - and fashion - seem to imagine that less is more when it comes to sun.

But has anyone seen Southend seafront at 5pm on a sunny Sunday afternoon? It looks like a Hieronymus Bosch painting, that’s what. But with more pork crackling pink skin.

My solution? Men’s tops. Why? They come in cotton. They’re loose. They have sleeves. And, you can find them in many a charity shop.

 

Blogtacular! - a colourful conference for ladies who do their stuff online  

Speaking of wardrobes attending Blogtacular came with a style request:

Wear something beautiful.

And, so my fave 80s Etam dress - with red socks and silver shoes - it was. I could wax lyrical about the wonder of this dress but we’re actually here to talk about a monster conference.

Colourful. Creative. And crammed with juicy content Blogtacular:

[I]s a place for people who create vibrant and original content to discuss their work, fill their minds with new ideas and to collaborate with fellow bloggers and indie business owners.

Full of friendly and uniquely fashionable females this a web-focused conference which is as dedicated to great graphics as it is to meaningful messages:

No matter what you do online; if you love great quality content and beautiful design you’ll find yourself at home at here.

 

Southend Through a French Eye

They say home is where the heart is, but it’s often the place we most take for granted. Remember Dorothy?

Which is why it was eye-opening to see our hometown through the photographer Franck Gerard’s lens.

The Nantes-based French artist and photographer first visited Southend in 2016 to study our estuary, no less. Which is when local paper The Echo caught his imagination.

So, this June he was back at Metal, as artist in residence, working on a project with that very publication:

Of course the newspaper is for news, but I had the idea for the newspaper to include a photograph every day, something giving news of a poetic situation, to go into the paper every day. Take a picture of today, for tomorrow.

The result? Charming. Funny. And often kinda surreal. As Franck explained at June’s Future Park:

[Y]esterday I took a photo of a man sitting on a bench at the seafront, holding an ice-cream, looking at it, like Hamlet, ‘to be or not to be?’ you know? As if it were ‘to eat or not to eat?’

He went on:

But I like the ambiguity of a photo, the surreal and the reality which exists in it. Do you see the same? I don’t know. And that is the reality.