Working partnerships – Part III – E-Merge Interactive

I’ve been working with the fine folks at E-Merge Interactive (http://www.connectwithemerge.com/) long before they were known as E-Merge Interactive.

Barry Lee, David Smith and Kerry Brown are pretty much the brain trust behind E-Merge Interactive and I have worked with all three of these individuals for more than 25 years. I used to do quite a bit of video and audio production at Smith-Lee for a variety of clients. Dave’s wife, Sandy, is an amazing composer and gifted musician who I worked with to create award-winning commercials and videos back in the day.

But times changed and though Smith-Lee still does an impressive array of audio work, they shifted their focus more to the interactive world and formed a separate company,
E-merge Interactive, providing a full range of interactive services, primarily for B2B clients.

One of those clients is Byrne & Jones Construction. (http://www.byrneandjones.com/)

A partial look at the home page of Byrne & Jones Construction.

A partial look at the home page of Byrne & Jones Construction.

When we first began working with Byrne & Jones, their website was, to put it politely, a work in progress. Many of the sub-pages were incomplete. The home page featured rotating imagery but it didn’t really focus on key benefits of what the company provided.

And Byrne & Jones provides a lot. They’re the largest asphalt provider in the St. Louis metro area. Their sports division is one of the largest builders of tracks and athletic fields in the Midwest. They have a booming micro surfacing division, as well as perform concrete and soil stabilization work. In the past year, they also bought a company called Midwest Foundation that does marine work on rivers and lakes throughout the Midwest. (http://midwestfoundation.com/)

We recently launched a newly updated website for Midwest Foundation, a Byrne & Jones Company.

We recently launched a newly updated website for Midwest Foundation, a Byrne & Jones Company.

Over a period of time, we completely overhauled the website and began doing SEO work as well, partnering with Romondo Davis of Davis Interactive for his expertise in all aspects of social media. The Byrne & Jones blog, that hadn’t had any new posts for quite some time began getting regular entries which we pushed out via social media to help drive more traffic to the site.

Thought leadership articles and profiles of projects are now regularly posted via the Byrne & Jones blog.

Thought leadership articles and profiles of projects are now regularly posted via the Byrne & Jones blog.

Numbers have been trending upward and the growth of Byrne & Jones continues to be on the rise as well. They are a well-managed, well-run company that needed their website and social media to catch up in order to better tell their story.

Byrne & Jones is just one of the clients that I have partnered with E-Merge Interactive to help provide marketing communications. We’re in the process of launching a new website for another B2B client and there are more projects in the works. It’s been a good blend of their interactive capabilities and my branding and writing expertise.

There’s always room for more.

The business model for BloodLines Creative is fairly flexible. I work directly for clients. I also work with agencies to help with their client needs in times of overflow or for select projects. I work with in-house agencies, helping to write or produce videos. And I partner with other designers, social media providers or production companies to assist their client needs. It all results in an ever-changing, always interesting flow of assignments. I am honored to be a part of each and every one. Now, what can I do for you?

Volkswagen gets it right this time

A few weeks ago I lambasted Volkswagen for their ‘Birds and the Bees’ commercial in which a couple love to procreate in their VW, eventually, needing a bigger model to accommodate their growing family – hence the need for the new seven-seater VW Atlas model.

Now, I’m here to sing their praises as they’ve taken another iconic song, this one Simon & Garfunkel’s classic, “America” and set it to a story that is both moving and beautifully told.

The first version I saw was 60-seconds. Here’s a link to the full :90 Volkswagen Atlas commercial – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpq4NXtokNU

Not only is it a masterful telling of a story that connects generations, it’s also some brilliant editing of the song, making the most of the lyrics that are applicable to a cross-country voyage while cutting out the parts about being on a bus and smoking cigarettes.

One of the scenes from a new VW Atlas commercial using Simon & Garfunkel's 'America' song.

One of the scenes from a new VW Atlas commercial using Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘America’ song.

I was drawn into the story immediately. An immigrant father’s dying wish – for his wife to see America courtesy of their daughter and her own family. We see them leaving New York city behind and they’re off on their journey in the new roomy VW Atlas. Of course, that is never mentioned. They simply let the visuals of the cross-country trek unwind, managing to get in a few on-the-road shots as well as interior shots.

But it’s not about the car, it’s about the experience. We see the granddaughter, bonding with her grandmother and getting reassured from her mother that everything’s going to be okay. We’re along for the ride as we get to see the entire family taking the time to experience the many sights and sounds that America has to offer.

Sure, it’s a little sappy. But the cinematography is gorgeous. The on-going story, told through a few snippets of family interaction between various family members evolves and pulls you in. This isn’t meant to be Aunt Edna strapped to the roof of the Griswold family truckster. When they reach the coast of California and Grandma sets Grandpa’s ashes free into the Pacific ocean, I didn’t feel like the story had been trivialized.

And this time, the payoff of “Life’s as big as you make it. The all new 7-seater Volkswagen Atla” made perfect sense to me. I felt better toward Volkswagen as a company. I only wish that it had been Chevy that had jumped on this song and told the story rather than some German manufacturer.

But I don’t blame them for borrowing a bit of Americana and a classic American song called “America” to try and sell vehicles here in the good ole U.S.A. – that’s what commercialism is all about. And this one gets four stars in my playbook.

Watch the commercial. Then let me know what you think.

BloodLines Creative provides advertising and marketing communications support to a variety of consumer, B2B, non-profit and government-related clients. No project is too big, no budget is too small. If you’re looking for big idea thinking, you’ve come to the right place.

 

 

 

‘The Traveler’ is already making his way around the world

My latest painting has already had many views from around the world.

My latest painting is getting views from around the world.

My most recent painting, titled, “The Traveler” has literally taken off, being viewed across the United States and in countries around the world via my http://tom-blood.pixels.com website.

Normally, when I post a new painting, it may garner 50 initial views the first day and then, depending on how popular the painting is, continue to get views from time to time. Early next week, my website should go over the 10,000 view mark which is pretty cool considering I’ve only had it since July and I don’t do all that much to promote it.

Yesterday, I finished up my most recent painting and put “The Traveler” onto my pixels website around 9 pm along with my other website for art: http://bloodlinesart.com as well as on Facebook, ArtLoupe and twitter.

This morning when I checked in, I was amazed – ‘The Traveler’ has already had more than 300 views and more keep rolling in by the minute.

It’s always fun to see where the views are coming from – currently, people in 22 different states across America have checked it out. Not bad for less than a day of exposure. What’s really fun though is the list of people from other countries who have taken the time to view this painting. Canada and Mexico are nice. Germany, England, Ireland, Italy, Austria, France, Belgium, the Netherlands that’s all pretty cool. But when you’re getting views from people in Bosnia & Herzegovinia, Pakistan, Slovakia, India and Cambodia it makes you say, “Wow, ‘The Traveler’ must have some worldwide appeal.”

If only people liked it enough that they would consider buying it – or at least an item featuring it, be that a re-print or a tote bag or iPhone cover. Those items aren’t very expensive at all and it certainly does make a rather striking impression.

Screenshot 2017-04-14 08.21.56

Screenshot 2017-04-14 08.20.25 Imagine having The Traveler as a shower curtain or perhaps on a pillow.

Screenshot 2017-04-14 08.19.54

He’d make a great image for a tote bag, too, traveling wherever you go.

The Traveler would be cool to have as an iPhone cover ...

Or consider having him travel with you as your new iPhone cover.

You can purchase any of these items (along with other things like coffee cups, greeting cards and beach towels featuring my art) via http://tom-blood.pixels.com – which is home to lots of my other paintings in case you’ve never checked it out. I’m hoping that one day, I’ll be able to turn those 10,000+ views into 10,000 plus purchases.

So check it out if you’re interested – wherever you may be.

And safe travels, wherever you’re going.

 

Removing Blood On The Walls

A few of the 40 paintings I had on display at 1900 Park

A few of the 40 paintings I had on display at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery.

Yesterday was kind of a sad day as we removed the 40 paintings I had on display at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery and Blood On The Walls is now a thing of the past.

All but one of the paintings made the return trip home and as we were lugging most of them into our basement, it bugged me that they were losing their public viewing place. Many of them have been returned to the stacks of paintings I have accumulated through the years and now won’t even be seen by anyone who visits our household.

We had more than 250 people attend the “Blood On The Walls” opening night reception. It was a magical evening and people truly seemed to enjoy the paintings, the music and the good times among friends. I received many compliments throughout the night on the work.

But only one buyer.

It’s hard to say if the paintings were overpriced as art is hard to put a price tag on and I’m also well aware that almost every painting I create has rather strange subject matter. I try and paint ideas. I’ve been trying to create more story appeal with my paintings or at least more mystery as to what is going on in the picture.

But it’s not exactly living room art.

Still, I don’t paint to sell. I paint because I can. I paint because it’s like a gift I have been given – and if I don’t paint, I am wasting that gift.

So I will continue to pursue more paintings based on conceptual ideas and continue to try and get better at what I do. I have completed two new paintings since the show’s opening night on March 3 and I’m about to start a new one that I’m excited to see how it develops.

Speaking of how my paintings develop, here’s a mini-slide show that features some of the steps involved in the process … https://www.facebook.com/BloodLines-Art-904202009683682/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE&fref=nf

This last show I had was my first solo show in more than 21 years. There’s no telling when the next one will be – hopefully sooner than 2038!

For now, if you went to the show and saw something you liked, it’s still available for purchase. You can see a lot of my work when you visit http://tom-blood.pixels.com

On that site you can also order prints of my work (at much lower prices than the paintings) as well as purchase my art on tote bags, iPhone cases, pillows, coffee mugs, t-shirts – even shower curtains.

Available for purchase at http://tom-blood.pixels.com

Available for purchase at http://tom-blood.pixels.com

Available for purchase at http://tom-blood.pixels.com

“Balloon Girls” throw pillow – http://tom-blood.pixels.com

20170209_180726

“Head In the Cloud” iPhone case – http://tom-blood.pixels.com

I invite you to explore the site – in less than a year, it’s had almost 10,000 visitors from around the world and I’ve made sales from California to New York so you’d be buying work from a nationally-renowned and internationally recognized artist if you do make a purchase.

Or, if you’d like to free a painting from the depths of our basement, let me know what you like, make me an offer and perhaps I’ll agree to let you give it a new home.

In the meantime, it’s back to work.

 

 

Being responsive

Visit BloodLines Creative on whatever device you have and hopefully you'll enjoy the experience.

Visit BloodLines Creative on whatever device you have and hopefully you’ll enjoy the experience.

Yes, it took a while.

But BloodLinesCreative.com is finally a responsive website.

So whether you visit on an iPad, your phone, a tablet or on a mac or pc, the site now adapts to the confines of the device.

Yes, it should have been done some time ago. And yes, the site could use a refresh of new work that’s been done over the past year or so. That will come. In fact, the site still isn’t 100% fully functional – my broadcast reel still doesn’t play on mobile devices – but that should be addressed in the next week or so.

I have fallen victim to what so many other advertising and marketing communications companies deal with all the time – it’s tough to manage your own marketing when you’re busy helping with the needs of the clients you serve.

It’s been a busy start to the year. But in order to keep that momentum going, I need to ratchet up my own marketing efforts – and before I began that endeavor, I needed to get the website fully functional no matter how it was viewed.

So I guess I need to wait a few more days until we get the broadcast section remedied for mobile viewing.

In the meantime, feel free to visit the rest of the website – http://bloodlinescreative.com

I welcome any feedback!

BloodLines Creative provides advertising and marketing communications support to a variety of consumer, B2B, non-profit and government-related clients. No project is too big, no budget is too small. If you’re looking for big idea thinking, you’ve come to the right place.

 

Blogging takes a back seat

Maybe this was inevitable. My blogging rate has been on a steady decline the past two years. Though I have vowed to blog more in earlier posts, I’ve done the exact opposite.

I don’t want to talk about politics. There’s more than enough negativity out there as it is and I’m not interested in stirring things up.

I don’t have that much to say about sports right now. The Cardinals are already on a ledge with the loss of Reyes. The Blues are doing their usual thing of stirring up hope when in reality, they probably won’t get past the first round of the playoffs. Stan Kroenke and his endless greed is old news. April 4th will determine if we get an MLS team or not and I’d probably lean not though I wish it would go the other way.

I’d like to talk about the great progress St. Louis has been making recently. At least we’re staying out of the national spotlight and I know there are great things going on in this metro area but it seems like it’s always one step forward and two steps back or maybe a little side shuffle instead.

I could talk about the work I’ve been doing – lots of video production, some new broadcast campaigns I’m working on in sync with an agency and a few new business pitches here and there – but I haven’t really created anything earth-shattering.

Then there’s my art which I continue to pursue and I’m gearing up for my first solo show since 1994. Opening night is set for Friday, March 3rd at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery. It’s now less than two weeks away and there’s still lots to do.

Every day that goes by without posting something makes it that much harder to do the next. It’s so easy to just say no.

This blog post was like a Seinfeld episode. If you read it all the way through, you realize you’ve just read something about nothing.

I’ll try and do better on the next one but if you made it this far, thanks for coming along for the ride.

 

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.

 

Greeting cards for sale

Some of my artwork provides unusual visuals for a variety of different kinds of greeting cards.

Some of my artwork provides unusual visuals for a variety of different kinds of greeting cards.

I decided to expand my list of offerings on my pixels website (http://tom-blood.pixels.com) to include greeting cards that have actual messages on the front of them. Will they sell?

Time will tell. Currently, I only have four options from which to choose but there are more in the works. I got the idea of adding captions to the greeting cards when looking at the thousands of choices available on the site – <a href=”http://pixels.com/shop/greeting+cards” style=”font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;”>greeting cards for sale</a>

There are all kinds of striking images – but very few of them actually had any message on the outside. Those that did didn’t always seem specific to any one topic. <a href=”http://pixels.com/shop/greeting+cards/modern+art” style=”font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;”>modern art greeting cards for sale</a>

Seeing that I’m a writer, it made sense to add a few captions to some of my paintings that could then create for some very interesting messaging about topics that aren’t always found in the greeting card aisle at your local store.

The featured artwork would make for a great birthday card for anyone entering middle age – that nebulous time frame between youth and old age. (Hence the rocking horse and the rocking chair.)

Here's a little card that a husband or boyfriend can send to their significant other as a means of apologizing.

Here’s a little card that a husband or boyfriend can send to their significant other as a means of apologizing.

The greeting card featured above would be a nice little ice-breaker as a means of apologizing for any potential wrong-doings done on the part of a husband or boyfriend. Would it be enough? No, but at least it could maybe break the ice and being able to personalize your message on the inside might help even more.

Here’s another painting that I have created multiple captions that I’ll soon be posting.

Know someone who lost a job or broke a leg or just had a run of bad luck? Here's a great greeting card you could send.

Know someone who lost a job or broke a leg or just had a run of bad luck? Here’s a great greeting card you could send.

I think if you search for contemporary greeting cards, you won’t find many expressing this particular thought, even if you check the contemporary art greeting card section. (<a href=”http://pixels.com/art/paintings/contemporary” style=”font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;”>contemporary paintings for sale</a>)

Here’s another card that would be a fun one to give for someone’s retirement …

Here's a fun retirement card that is sure to stand out.

Here’s a fun retirement card that is sure to stand out.

You can order these cards one at a time. They’re blank on the inside and on the site you can either type in your own message or order the card and write it in once it gets sent to you. Turnaround time is generally less than a week and they’re pretty affordable, too. Soon, I’ll have more on my pixels site so consider bookmarking it and coming back to visit from time to time – I always have new art work in the works.

So check them out and who knows – you might find the perfect occasion for sending one.

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.

MySLArt.org 33 October Show

Tom Jr. and I in front of my 3 paintings at the My SLArt.org 33 October Show

Tom Jr. and I in front of my 3 paintings at the My SLArt.org 33 October Show

It’s always fun to have your art work on display. So participating in my fourth MySLArt.org show was a treat to be a part of and getting to meet and talk with other artists who are kind of in the same boat I am always makes for an interesting evening.

I was impressed with the variety and quality of the entrants in this month’s show. There’s truly something for everyone at these events and they’re a great outlet for artists who traditionally may not be quite gallery-worthy yet – and for others that certainly are.

I enjoy seeing people walk up to my paintings, looking closely at the details and oftentimes, talking with others about what in the world is going on with what I’m showing.

It’s also fun when people come up to me and say that my work reminds them of Magritte.

That’s probably the ultimate compliment to me. As a painter, I am a novice, still learning, still trying to get better every time I start on a new canvas. Talking to other artists at the event, that’s their quest as well.

The Juror’s Choice award went to Noelle Wagner – and deservedly so. One of her works was featured as the key image for the invite and it was even better seeing it in person. Gorgeous stuff and she got my vote!

Photography by Divine XO Photography

Photography by Divine XO Photography

Hat’s off also to Ulysses Sebastian, who received the Visitor’s Choice award for three compelling photographs that had a lot of people talking. I spoke to Ulysses (who recently changed his name) about his work and about his pursuit of creating photography that made a difference. That’s really what it’s all about – pursuing your passion, putting yourself out there and always trying to get better.

I love to paint and even though the canvasses continue to stack up in our house, that’s okay.

My best paintings are still ahead of me.