2016 and beyond for BloodLines Creative and BloodLines Art

So on this last day of 2016, I take a few moments to look back on the year and try to project what lies ahead for 2017.

Business wise, it was a good year. Not a great year. But a good year. I worked with a variety of new clients, lost an established one and still maintain ties with a long-time relationship which is very rewarding.

Though not a paying ciient, the invite that I created for our SLUH 40th Year Reunion was great fun and so was the Reunion weekend.

Though not a paying ciient, the invite that I created for our SLUH 40th Year Reunion was great fun and so was the Reunion weekend.

I created a number of videos, helped re-vamp one client’s website and we’ll soon be launching a new branding effort for another one. I began blogging for one client, worked on some PPC ads and I’m in the midst of working on a new TV and radio campaign as well. (Sorry for not naming client names – I only do that when I have permission and for this particular piece, I’m not even bothering to ask.)

On the art side of things, I was happy with the progress I’ve made as a painter. I created 11 paintings in 2016 – I don’t exactly churn them out, but I do stay at it and I continue to try and improve my brushwork, executing a variety of ideas that come from all places but always seem to circle back to Magritte in one way or another.

This painting was probably my favorite one that I created in 2016. It will be one of more than 30 on display at a solo show coming up in March.

This painting was probably my favorite one that I created in 2016. It will be one of more than 30 on display at a solo show coming up in March.

I began to more actively market my art this year as well. I now have two websites devoted to my art: http://bloodlinesart.com and http://tom-blood.pixels.com

The first site looks nice but has basically been useless due to a lack of promotion on my part. The second site enables you to take your art and have it show up in the form of pillows, tote bags, iPhone covers, coffee mugs, greeting cards and a variety of ways to order prints. That site continues to draw about 25-50 visitors a day and I’m approaching more than 8000 views since I started it back in July. The sales effort though has been somewhat disappointing – I’ve made enough to pay for the site but that’s about it.

Nuts and Bolts - one of my 'stick' paintings looks really cool in the form of a pillow and I've sold a few of them in 2016.

Nuts and Bolts – one of my ‘stick’ paintings looks really cool in the form of a pillow and I’ve sold a few of them in 2016.

There are more than a million works of art on the website. So I’m not overly surprised that my work isn’t selling like gangbusters. I don’t do art for a living. I do it for fun. I do it because I can. And I will continue to try and get better with each painting.

Prospects for 2017 look solid for both BloodLines Creative and BloodLines Art. Currently, I have a number of projects already in the books, some that will be on-going thru the Spring. I’m hoping to have my website fully optimized by the end of January and then I’ll begin more aggressive new business pursuits.

I hope to ramp up my blogging efforts in 2017 and have them be more focused on advertising and art. I dropped off the blogosphere and I’ve lost a lot of regular readers. Hopefully, I can earn them back.

I’m going to be ramping up for my first solo art show since 1994 over the next two months. It’s going to be at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery. It’s both an art gallery and a music venue which will be awesome as I’ll have more than 30 works on display throughout the month of March. Opening night is going to be on Friday, March 3 and feature the music of Tom Blood, Jr.

More on that will be coming.

1900 Park will be the site of my first solo art show since 1994. Opening night will be on Friday, March 3rd.

1900 Park will be the site of my first solo art show since 1994. Opening night will be on Friday, March 3rd.

I have learned in this business that you never know what’s around the corner. You do your best, try your hardest, be honest with the people you work with and have fun in the process and generally, good things will happen. I have been blessed to work with so many gifted individuals through the years. I continue to learn and explore new ways to market – but bottom line, whether you’re doing a website or online ads or developing a trade show booth, you still need big ideas to stand out, get noticed and acted upon.

I’ve still got a lot of those.

Happy New Year and I’ll see you on the other side of 2017.

 

All in a day’s work – augmented reality, vehicle signage and video script writing

I don’t often post about the work I’ve been doing for BloodLines Creative – which is probably bad for business. Yet I’ve been so busy doing things, including continuing to paint in the evening hours, that I just haven’t found the time – or the energy to tout some of the recent projects I’ve been involved in.

That’s okay because business continues to roll along – never at the volume that I would prefer which would be 40+ billable hours a week – but at the end of each workday, I often wonder where did the time go.

These past few weeks I’ve been working on a new business pitch and part of our proposal involved using augmented reality. In case you’re wondering, Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

In case you’d like to see it in action, here’s a little demo you can view – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaO5tXzj58U

I won’t go into the actual applications that we were proposing but suffice it to say, it has the potential to be pretty cool – if we actually get the business.

I’ve also been involved in creating new vehicle graphics for an electrical contractor we’ve been working with via The Epstein Group. Recently, we got the opportunity to see some of the new graphics put into place on a variety of vehicles in their fleet – vans, bucket trucks, pickups and even a trailer where we wrapped the entire vehicle in graphics.

What’s really exciting is this is part of a comprehensive re-branding effort that will include a new website, print and collateral materials along with new videos.

Speaking of new videos, I’ve written a number of them recently. One for a construction company, another for a new product launch along with a series of internal award videos recognizing the collective efforts of groups or individuals.

No, I’m not naming names or showing the work as some of the projects are confidential in nature or haven’t been approved for public release.

But the work has been both fun and rewarding. And I continue to learn new things and new tactics to utilize in the ever-changing world of advertising and marketing communications.

Regardless of the tactic, they still take smart, strategic thinking in order to stand out, get noticed and acted upon.

Big Ideas Start Here.

BloodLines Creative provides Big Idea Thinking to a wide variety of consumer, B2B and government-related and not-for-profit accounts. The work we do ranges from individual projects to full-scale advertising and marketing communications across all media. If you’re looking for something out-of-the-ordinary, then resist the ordinary. Give us a call at 314.973.9197 today.

A big pillow fight on Pixels.com

Something's Wrong with America throw pillow

Something’s Wrong with America throw pillow

The last few weeks I’ve been totally occupied with trying to launch a BloodLinesArt product line on http://www.tom-blood.pixels.com where you can see a range of my paintings that are now also for sale on a wide variety of items – greeting cards, tote bags, iphone cases and throw pillows, just to name a few.

For some reason, I love seeing my art on throw pillows and that has caught a lot of my attention.

I’ve had this website for not quite four weeks. In that time, I have amassed more than 1500 views of my artwork and yes, I’ve also had a few sales. But like anything, you’ve got to do your homework if you want to succeed and I have a lot more homework in front of me.

Last night, I discovered that I had been vastly underusing the key words that you use to describe each painting. You’re allowed up to 500 characters and with the majority of works that I have on the site I was using about 30. So I dug a little deeper and saw that I should be using descriptors like surrealism throw pillows for entries like these two …

One of two throw pillows that would look awesome on a couch! This one is called 'Night'.

One of two throw pillows that would look awesome on a couch! This one is called ‘Night’.

This one is called ‘Day’. Imagine having these two side-by-side on your couch.

A little more homework told me that this is a very crowded market. And you’ve got to do everything possible in order for your work to be seen. There are literally millions of items for sale. For example, I would love to sell more of my paintings – I have quite a backlog of them – but I’d be just as happy selling items that have my paintings on them. So you’ve got to resort to certain tactics. Here’s one: a link to the surrealist art painting page: <a href=”http://pixels.com/art/paintings/surrealism” style=”font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;”>surrealism paintings for sale</a>

Copy and paste that link into your browser and it will take you to that section. It will also put a few of my samples in the third row!

But what about selling more throw pillows with some of my surrealist paintings on them? Copy the ‘http: through surrealism’ link into your browser and it will help! <a href=”http://pixels.com/shop/throw+pillows/paintings/surrealism” style=”font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;”>surrealism paintings throw pillows for sale</a>

I have a wide range of work. Some of it is kind of experimental. You might call it modern art. Others might call it abstract. I just know that this is a really cool looking pillow.

Nuts and Bolts - one of my 'stick' paintings looks really cool in the form of a pillow!

Nuts and Bolts – one of my ‘stick’ paintings looks really cool in the form of a pillow!

But to get it seen by anyone, it needs a little help: http://pixels.com/shop/throw+pillows/paintings/abstract

I like this one a lot, too. It just so happens that there is a link to Jackson Pollack throw pillows that might get it seen by more people looking for such a thing: http://fineartamerica.com/shop/throw+pillows/paintings/jackson+pollack

http://fineartamerica.com/products/purple-splatter-thomas-blood-throw-pillow.html

http://fineartamerica.com/products/purple-splatter-thomas-blood-throw-pillow.html

Bottom line, I’m fighting for attention. I have a long way to go. And a lot more homework to do. I would love to see sales of some of my art take off – it’s possible.

Problem is, you spend more time trying to market what you’ve done than you do working on whatever’s next. We’ll see what happens.

For now, can I interest you in a throw pillow?

 

And now, a few words about Snotes

Snotes? What in the world are Snotes?

Snotes stands for Secret Notes – they’re a way to send secret messages – via email, Social Media or you can print them off and either hand them or mail them to friends, family members, fellow co-workers or send anonymously to that special someone you’ve been admiring from afar.

For the past several months, I have been working with the Snotes team, helping to refine their website (snotes.com) and also helping to develop a wide range of licensing materials designed to help companies, game manufacturers, businesses and organizations see the potential power of Snotes to engage either customers or employees.

Much like a fortune cookie, once you know how to read a Snote, (http://snotes.com/how-do-i-read-a-snote/) almost any time you see one, you just have to know what they say.

Soon, we’re hoping that you begin to see more and more Snotes in a wide variety of applications.

Making and sending them is easy – you can do so from the Snotes generator, found on Snotes.com (just hit the Create and Share link at the top of the Snotes homepage).

Go ahead, try it out … I’ll wait …

If you really want to get into advanced Snotemaking, you can get a premium account for just $1.99. That’s like paying for a 16-ounce soda – and once you have the account, it’s yours to keep – and it will enable you to send all kinds of animations along with your Snote message, scramble your message via the Snotes Secret Decoder, make them more colorful and allow you to print them out in high res quality with vector files and do a wide range of other tricks to make the Snote deciphering process as hard as you want to make it.

That’s one aspect of Snotes. The other falls in the area of licensing – because you can put Snotes on almost anything – we find new uses for them almost every day.

We’re particularly excited about the possibilities for Snotes in a few key areas.

Jewelry is one of them. Imagine a special wedding anniversary gift – you take your initials and your significant other’s initials – you go to the jewelry manufacturer’s website, enter them into the Snotes Love Knots generator, choose your border, place your order and you have a very personalized gift that at first glance appears to be art – but in actuality, it’s two sets of initials, intertwined together. Cool looking, isn’t it? They’re not available yet – but we hope they will be soon.

Snotes Love Knots make for a very personalized piece of jewelry.

There are so many other potential licensing applications. We’re looking to align with a wedding supplier to help us create personalized wedding invitations featuring the initials of the bride and groom that can be carried through at the wedding, putting them on glasses, napkins, mementoes and personalized gifts for the bridal party or groomsmen. It’s just a matter of time.

Combining the bride and groom's initials into a Snote makes for a very classy wedding invite.

wedding4_napkin

We’d love to work with a company that could sell personalized placemats featuring the names of the family. Or find a manufacturer of coasters or perhaps a brewery that could put trivia questions related to beer to help move more product with time-based games or even use our Snotes app to play triva games on line – table against table or one bar versus another.

We’re ready to engage with companies who specialize in employee recognition and engagement programs, creating Snotes-related awards that would be conversation starters as well. Temporary tattoos? Educational games where either the answer or the question is contained in the Snote? I could go on and on about the many ways that Snotes can be used. If you’re interested in seeing more, visit http://snotes.com/licensing-opportunities/

There’s also a Snotes Quotes app and a Snotes app (both fun to use, both available for free via Itunes or on your android)

Visit Snotes.com – look around. Create and send a Snote or two and then let your imagination run wild as to whom you might send your secret message and what you might say.

The $1.99 cost to get the Premium feature is well worth it as it opens up so many more possibilities for your Snote-making.

Get creative.

Have fun.

Discover the world of Snotes. And imagine the possibilities.

P.S. – I’d love to know what you think – we’re just now beginning to push Snotes out so any and all feedback is welcome. If you’re interested in learning more about how your company could use the power of Snotes or have your own ideas for uses, just let me know!

MySLArt.org’s Best In Show Showcase

This past March, I put a few of my recent paintings on display at an event called the MySLArt.org 33 Show. Each month, artists from throughout the metropolitan St. Louis area can submit 3 works of art into the show. If you’re chosen, you become one of 30 artists featured in a monthly showing at the Old Orchard Gallery in Webster Groves.

I chose two of my recent works and one of my older favorites and was pleasantly surprised when I was informed that I made the cut. (Whether or not everyone makes the cut, I have no idea.) I was even more pleasantly surprised when I discovered that someone at MySLArt chose one of my three entries as the key visual used to promote the show.

I invited a number of friends and family to the opening and a good time was had by all. At the end of the evening, yet another surprise came my way – not only did I sell one of the entered pieces, I also received the dual honor of my work being judged as the People’s Choice award and I also won the Juror’s Choice award – making me one of only two artists to receive that honor.

So now, MySLArt (MySLArt.org) is having their first ever Best in Show Showcase, featuring 5 works of art by each one of the 12 monthly winners of 2015. Opening night is on Friday, January 8th at The Chapel, which is across the street from Forest Park off of Skinker Blvd. (http://chapelvenue.weebly.com – 6238 Alexander Dr.) It’s all part of a fundraiser for MySLArt.org – so even though admission is free and open to the public, they do ask for a small donation at the door. There will be food and drink and live music by The Riverside Wanderers.

I had a tough time deciding what I should enter.

Since I resumed painting in July of 2014, I’m now on my 13th canvas – so I could have gone with all recent works – but I decided instead to be slightly thematic with these paintings that now span a period of more than 25 years as all five entries feature a little man in either a black suit or a long black coat, wearing a black bowler hat. There will be two recent paintings and three from my painting days in the late ’80s into the ’90s.

The man is basically my tribute to my all-time favorite artist, Rene Magritte who also created a number of paintings featuring a man in a bowler hat, almost always with his back turned as if he also were looking into the painting. Looking at photos of Magritte, I can see that his version was somewhat of a self-portrait. I don’t quite see my versions that way but I do love putting this little guy into extremely odd circumstances. Magritte was a surrealist, fascinated with painting what seemingly existed but could never quite be. I’m not quite sure what I am other than a hack who enjoys putting paint on a canvas.

I’m also donating a painting for a live auction that they’ll have at some point during the evening. It will be interesting to see if it sells and yes, it, too, is another homage to Magritte.

Some might say that I am ripping him off, using some of the same thoughts and concepts in my paintings as he had in his works. To that I say, “yes”. Still, Magritte passed away in 1967. If he were around today to see some of my work, he might laugh at its amateurish quality – he was a master. I’m still in kindergarten. But I also think Rene would encourage me to keep painting to see where it leads me.

I invite you to visit The Chapel next Friday night – not just to see what I’ve done but to also enjoy the works of 11 other extremely talented artists. If you can’t make it on the 8th, the show will be up through February 6th.

I also invite you to explore more of my work on my Pinterest page (https://www.pinterest.com/bloodlines/paintings/) There you’ll find a wide range of paintings and a wide range of styles, too.

I love to paint.

Sorry, but recently, it’s been getting in the way of my writing endeavors.

I hereby resolve to do more of both in 2016.

Hope you can make it to the show!

What to paint next

I’m in the midst of a new painting right now and hope to finish it in the next week or two and upon finishing, it always takes me back to the question of, “What to paint next?”

I am thrilled to even be confronted by this quandary.

I have always loved art, loved to draw and loved to paint. In my teenage years, I actually contemplated going the route of an artist but knew how difficult it would be to actually make a living creating art. I was good, but certainly not great. So I focused my creative talents more on writing, pursuing a career in advertising, which, to me, was all about the power of ideas and represented a perfect blend of words and pictures, coming together to help sell more product or services.

I’m still creating advertising and marketing communications, still learning and I believe my best work is still in front of me.

So that’s good from the writer’s perspective.

Yet I still love to paint, even though I went on a serious hiatus back in 1996 when we converted what had been my painting room into a downstairs bedroom. I had been utilizing a combination of airbrush and acrylic paint and had grown accustomed to painting on rather large canvases. The fact that I no longer had any room to work on those large canvases or the proper ventilation needed for doing airbrush work in effect, shut me down and I had vowed that I would paint again either once we moved or once the kids moved out of our current house and I could reclaim a new painting spot.

Tom Jr. gave me a whack on the side of the head two Father’s Days ago when he presented me with two small canvases and some acrylic jars of paint and issued me the challenge to resume painting again on a smaller scale.

Turns out, it was the best Father’s Day gift I have ever received.

It took me a while to get going.

I couldn’t decide what to paint. That’s always the problem.

What to paint next.

I decided I would paint a ladder leaning up against a house. Why, I have no idea. When I sketched it out on the little bitty 8″ x 10″ canvas, it seemed totally pointless.

So I removed the house and just had the ladder angled against nothing out in a field of grass with some very crude looking clouds in the sky. That created a sense of mystery, a sense of, “why?”

It wasn’t a very good painting. http://www.bloodlinescreative.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/A-step-up-217×300.jpg

But it served as a re-introduction to canvas and paint. And it got me going again.

These days, the largest painting I have done is 30″ x 24″. The airbrush is gone and it’s all either brush work or a palette knife.

I continue to explore some of the fundamental ideas of Rene Magritte who, to me, is the most phenomenal painter I have ever been exposed to simply because of his ability to challenge conventional thinking. He painted what seemed to be real, though it could never be real. His talent was immense. No one has ever done clouds the way Magritte can do clouds.

More important, in the words of Rene, “The art of painting is an art of thinking, and its existence emphasizes the importance to life of the human body’s eyes; the sense of sight is actually the only one concerned in painting. The goal of the art of painting is to perfect sight through a pure visual perception of the exterior world by means of sight alone.”

So determining what to paint next is never an easy decision.

I approach painting similar to how I read books. I never start in on a new one until I’m finished with what is there before me.

Time to get back to my current work in progress.

If you would like to see a full range of some of my paintings, I invite you to explore https://www.pinterest.com/bloodlines/paintings/

 

Random thoughts from a soon to be 58-year-old man

My 58th birthday is now just hours away and as I get ever closer to that very strange number of 60, it’s got me thinking all kinds of weird thoughts.

How did I get this old, this fast?

I know, getting older is a gradual process. When you’re a kid, you wonder what it would be like to be a teenager, to be 20 and beyond that, you really have no clue. I have vague memories of wondering what I would be like when I was in my 50s. I still wonder what it’s going to be like when I’m in my 50s as they’re not done yet.

I wonder about the world and where it’s heading. Doomsday chronicles seem to populate my inbox with more frequency these days. The world is coming to an end. The U.S. is going to be hit by a terror attack unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. The grid is going to go dark. Chaos will reign. Become a survivalist, pack some water, batteries and lots of beef jerky and get ready for the worst.

Yikes.

Yet you’ve still got to keep on keeping on. The lead story on the local news tonight was about a cat that had been shot with an arrow and there was a frantic hunt to find the perpetrator. If that’s the lead story, somehow, the planet should be able to carry on. With or without the cat.

I wonder what I’ll be doing two years from now. Sometimes, I wonder what I’ll be doing two weeks from now. You can’t predict the future.

This is coming from a guy who has had two hip replacements, 64 stitches to his head to close up a wound from an errant golf ball, a broken nose from being an idiot behind home plate without wearing a catcher’s mask, a few broken wrists, a broken ankle, more stitches to my head when a neighbor’s buck teeth pierced my skull playing King of the Hill and numerous other close calls with death, danger and dismemberment.

I’m lucky to be alive.

I’m glad to be alive.

I’ve got a loving wife who puts up with my eccentricities and makes me a better person every single day that I’m with her and three great kids who are immensely talented and unique in their own respective ways. I love our extended family. I love our dog. I love Brian Piccolo – well, I’ve always loved that line at least.

We’ve been blessed with good health, good fortune and overall, lots and lots of good times.

My career is still a career. I’m still doing what I set out to do upon graduating from Mizzou – create advertising and marketing communications. I have a journalism degree with an emphasis in advertising and I have put those skills to good use for a lot of clients through the years though I sure wish I could get back to making TV commercials again. I always thought that was my best strength – print, radio, TV, outdoor, direct marketing – I loved to do TV. These days, TV spots seem to have been removed from the equation.

So I adjusted my skill sets. I’ve learned new skills. I realize that I have to be a lifelong student and that I need to learn something new every day.

I was thrilled when my first Vine video went live courtesy of Pickett Productions. Five months ago, I had never even heard of Vine.

Have you?

We live in an ever-changing, always evolving world. It seems to get crazier everyday. It seems people respect life less and less. I don’t long for the good old days. I don’t know when the good old days actually were.

To me, all the days that I’ve been around have been more than just good, they’ve been blessed.

When you get to be 58, you wonder how many more laps you’ve got around the calendar. You think back to the many things you’ve done in your life – some good, some bad.

And then you set your resolve to learn more. Do more. Give more.

There’s so much I haven’t done.

There’s so much I need to do.

Tomorrow’s another day.

Bring it on!

 

 

New York city in a day

Tom Blood, Karen Lamerick and Brian Schultz, all decked out in our Ikigai wear (including the Rival backpack).

Tom Blood, Karen Lamerick and Brian Schultz, all decked out in our Ikigai wear (including the Rival backpack).

 

Any visit to New York city in a day is always a whirlwind. It was even more so on my recent visit to attend the Photo Plus Expo, the largest photography event in North America on behalf of Ikigai, the new line of professional photographer camera bags that just hit the market at the beginning of October.

We didn’t have a booth at the show – Ikigai officially launched the first week in October and currently, the only product offering they have is their Rival backpacks featuring a removable, configurable camera cell on the inside. So we didn’t exactly have a full line to be touting though that will be coming soon.

So instead, we went as observers and thanks to Karen Lamerick, our new PR person, three members of our team managed to get in on a tweet-out event that took place Wednesday night where members of the media could see what’s new and check out the merchandise. Through that little affair, we managed to get a fair amount of both press and tweets and the reviews continue to be extremely favorable about the Strength from Within of Ikigai.

I needed to call on my own Strength from Within to roust myself out of bed and be at the airport by 4:50 in the morning, knowing that when you fly Southwest, any time can be a busy time to get through security. By the time I made it through the scanner, the plane was boarding and long before the sun came up, Brian Schultz and I were heading east, arriving just in time to catch the tail end of rush hour as we had a nice 90-minute cab ride to the Javitts Center. Brian’s represented the design arm of our Ikigai marketing team and we’ve paired up on quite a few projects now in the print and online world.

Upon arrival, we immediately had a quick meeting with a new distributor for Ikigai. That in itself was a good start. Then it was time to hit the floor. I’ve been to a number of trade shows featuring mammoth booth displays and Photo Plus certainly held their own.

Nikon and Canon had huge areas featuring demonstrations, speakers and some of the most absolutely gorgeous photographs of just about anything, enlarged to about 4′ x 6′ formats. Special note was made of the super soft carpet in the Nikon area – after walking the floor for several hours, your feet became very happy when they made acquaintance with this deep plush carpet.

All the major camera brands were there as well as a wide assortment of accessory items and of course, our reason for being there – backpacks, sling bags, messenger bags and a variety of other carrying solutions all catering to the needs of the professional or at least the quite serious photographer.

We checked out our main competition – there were three primary brands that we paid special interest to – LowePro, Manfrotto and Think Tank. Each had a wide assortment of bags, each had their own positioning. But none of them had quite what Ikigai has – a removable, configurable camera cell that provides an added layer of protection to a photographer’s most valued possessions; an easy carrying solution for when you’re out on shoots; and thanks to the removable liners and adjustable Velcro pads, a customizable packing solution that keeps all the gear safe and secure.

We took notes. Took a few marketing brochures. Took pictures. And our net takeaway is that Ikigai is ready to grab its share of this market.

Once people get to know and understand the brand, there is a strong likability factor. And once Ikigai hits the market with a few more product offerings so that a photographer can begin to employ an actual system for packing their bags, this brand is going to take off.

For now, we were content with a one-day up and back.

It was all a blur. It was last Thursday which actually seems like it was already last month.

We have a lot of work to do. And as for next year’s show?

We’ll be back.

The Strength from Within of Ikigai

This is the second of at least four posts about the total teamwork that went into the launching of the new line of Ikigai professional photographer camera bags.

Developing theme lines for companies that can stand the test of time has always been one of my favorite parts of branding. Through the years, I have had the opportunity to help position companies or products with just a few select words. Though I can’t claim anything as resoundingly successful as “Just do it” or, “Good to the last drop”, I’m proud to have helped all sorts of companies position themselves or their products to their respective target audiences with lines that were memorable, focused and that ultimately, helped sell a lot of product or generated a lot of interest.

So I was thrilled to be given this opportunity when I became part of an international team that was helping launch a new line of professional photographer camera bags called Ikigai.

I had heard a lot about Ikigai from Jeff Pickett, president of St. Louis-based Pickett Productions, a graphics animation company. Jeff was going to be creating some new videos on Ikigai’s behalf and said he might need a little copywriting help. I was definitely interested but wanted to learn more.

At first, we  had a conference call with one of the founding members who filled us in about where they were with product development and told us a little about the Ikigai name. Ikigai is a Japanese concept that essentially means your reason for being – what wakes you up in the morning. It seemed like a cool name but I wasn’t quite getting the correlation between Ikigai and a line of camera bags.

So we asked to have a meeting where we could actually see the product. We met at Jeff’s office. Brian Schultz, owner of Brian Schultz Design also attended as Brian and his team had developed the logo and an initial themeline that they were moving forward with. Upon seeing one of the new backpack prototype models featuring a removable, configurable camera cell, I was intrigued.

It was kind of a bag within a bag. The camera cell fit snugly inside the backpack and it was inside the camera cell where precious items like cameras and lens packages would go. Since the interior of the camera cell featured removable velcro linings, you could adapt the insides to include other key gear like flashes, battery packs or miscellaneous essential items for any shoot away from the studio.

“Does the competition have anything like this?” I asked. No was the answer.

“Does the bag within a bag give an extra layer of protection for the cameras and gear?” I asked. Yes was the answer.

The backpacks were very cool looking. They were made of this honeycomb ripcord nylon material that is tough, weather-resistant and gives the bag a distinctive look. There were all sorts of other features and benefits to the bag as well – from ergonomic zippers to a detachable waist belt and tripod carrying system. But the unique selling point?

That was on the inside of the bag.

I took all of this info and put together an overall creative strategy document that we all mutually agreed upon.

Then I went to work, trying to create a theme line that played off of the Ikigai name but also dealt with the key selling feature as well.

I discarded the obvious and tossed out the obtuse. When I hit on three simple words, something clicked with me.

Strength from Within.

The whole concept behind Ikigai is that there’s a strength within all of us that is a unique guiding force. Check.

The unique selling point of the Ikigai line just so happens to be the removable, configurable camera cells that can be switched out from one backpack to another – though there is only one model on the market right now, more are on the way and the larger versions will all feature these camera cells that make packing for shoots easier, add an added layer of protection and you don’t have to lug the entire backpack around when you’re out on a shoot. That’s truly strength from within.

Finally, there’s the whole inner resolve that any photographer who’s committed to getting that awesome shot has to have – photographers need their own strength from within to endure harsh environments or put themselves in precarious positions or wait for just the right moment to come along to turn ordinary into extraordinary.

It was a trifecta – a theme line that worked for the product name, the product itself and the target audience.

The old theme line was retired, replaced by ‘Strength from Within’.

With that as our base, it was time to begin to build the brand messaging.

And we had just the team to do it.

 

Great news is just around the corner

As usual, my apologies to the few followers that I actually have. My blogging has dropped off the face of the earth.

I blame it all on my time management skills and a BloodLines Creative workload that has been heavier than I’ve probably ever had in my career.

The dangerous thing about working from home is that your office is always just a few steps away. And I’ve been spending a lot of time in it over the past few months.

I have been blessed to have an abundance of work – and it’s been challenging, fun, great work at that!

Three different accounts have provided a variety of opportunities for me to display my skills as a writer, a producer, a marketing and brand strategist, a Social Media planner and contributor, a project manager and given me the opportunity to work with a wide range of extremely gifted individuals not just here in the states, but across the pond in London, as well. Most mornings I’ve been clocking in before 7 am and clocking out … well, I never really clock out.

I’m excited about the work I’ve been doing, energized by the people I’m working with and I look forward to sharing some of that work in the near future once it’s out there for the world to see.

In the meantime, I have a backlog of blog posts that I hope to begin pushing out starting late next week on a more regular basis. Soon I’ll also be putting the finishing touches on a new painting I started last week which will be the first in a series where I’m fascinated by the possibilities and the simplicity of the sketches I’ve done before taking them to canvas.

So thanks for reading and I plan on firing up my creative blog juices to get this thing rolling again.

As I said in the title, great news is just around the corner.