No Exit – a play on words

No Exit is the title of this painting as well as the classic play by Jean Paul Sartre.

No Exit is the title of this painting as well as the classic play by Jean Paul Sartre.

Many people ask where I get my ideas to create new paintings and the explanation is – everywhere.
I often will peruse stock photography, looking for striking images. Pinterest is actually a great source of inspiration as I follow all sorts of art-related topics.
Recently, I ran across a photo which was so striking, I simply had to paint it and put my own spin on it. It was a photo very similar to what you see painted here, same basic set up, same kind of ugly color palette. The photo also contained an image of a man, hanging upside down, only he was facing the camera. I decided to replace that man with my man in the bowler hat, back to you, hanging upside down, hat still very much intact on his head.
There was something about the color scheme of this painting that reminded me of my grade school that had cinder block hallways that most times were painted about the same color as this newsletter. But for a brief period, they were this sickly kind of green you see reflected in the stairwell.
The harshness of the neon light was another thing I remember.
So this particular painting is more or less a recreation of a photograph, which, the moment I decided I was going to paint it, I knew the title of the painting had to be, “No Exit”.
Though the painting has little to do with the Jean Paul Sartre play, for some reason, the setting reminds me of a different kind of hell, where one is forever trapped in a building with no real exit and the world is literally turned upside down – which is actually how I painted the image of the man – with the canvas turned upside down.
The size of this painting gives it a dominance that immediately grabs your attention. It’s 36″ x 48″ and though I have no idea where this painting might ever actually hang, I do know that whoever might buy it would have a very striking image that would be sure to spark quite a few conversations.
We will see if this one ever manages to exit our home! Regardless, I like it simply because it is a strikingly weird visual.

Thanks for reading. You can view most of my recent paintings at or you can purchase prints or items featuring my art at If you or anyone else you know might enjoy reading about the art work I do and getting a behind-the-scenes look into my process, pleaseĀ  sign up for my newsletter at … Happy November!

What’s the real key to keywords?

One of John Caples most famous ads.

One of John Caples most famous ads.

Is the copywriter an endangered species?

Do people still value a well-crafted headline that stops you in your tracks, grabs your attention and pulls you into the rest of the story?

Is it possible these days to get someone to read past the third sentence of anything?

I hope so, because this is the fourth sentence.

Originally, this post was going to be titled, “At a loss for words?” The premise was simple. If you were stuck with any creative challenge that needed some big idea thinking backed by some well-crafted, on target messaging, I had a very strong recommendation for you. Me.

But then I ran across an article on HubSpot about the value of keywords, particularly when it comes to headline writing.

I read through the article and it reminded me of John Caples and his tested, proven headline formulas that he published in his book, Tested Advertising Methods back in 1932. Back then, Mr. Caples came up with 35 rules to follow for headline writers. Those rules still work today – but anyone who strictly goes by the rules is doomed to mediocrity.

So now we get this modern day list featuring the most common keywords found in the top shared articles. It’s even broken down by where the keywords are appearing in different social media. What works for twitter, may not be right for Facebook or Pinterest or LinkedIn.


Not really. Nor is it really all that surprising to read that people sharing articles on, let’s say, Content Marketing react strongly to words like ‘Content’ or, ‘Marketing’. For science topics, we’re told to use words such as brain, smart, and future.

No wonder the role of the copywriter is being so devalued. When lists like these come out, it’s so easy to stoop to using keywords in your headline just so that the search engines can find you and your odds of being shared can increase exponentially.

So is it selling out when you include keywords like ‘keywords’ in your headline?

Yes, it is. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. After all, you are trying to get people to read what you’ve written. But the real key to using keywords is still creativity. It’s not if you use them, it’s how you use them.

And if you’re still reading this, congratulations. You made it past the fourth sentence.

If you’re at a loss for words for any of your advertising or marketing challenges, I’m here to help. To see some of my words in action, visit or wander amongst a few of my other blog posts and thanks in advance for reading.



What wearables are you wearing?

“So what’s a wearable?” you ask.

For many people, myself included, it’s a Fitbit – one of those bands that wrap around your wrist that measure your steps each day – and if you want it to, the number of calories you take in, the number burned, the hours you sleep and even how well you slept. And that’s just for starters.

Fitbits are getting more and more advanced. They need to – because the market is getting more and more crowded with wearable technology.

Currently, there are close to 300 different wearable technology products in the marketplace. Plenty more are on the way.

Apple is getting closer to launching its Apple Watch – perhaps as soon as later this spring and then we’ll have a whole new set of Dick Tracy imitators talking to their wrists to communicate where they are and what they’re doing and using their wearable to pay the bill, text their friends, measure their heart rate and tell them whether they should go left or right at the next corner to find their way to whatever uber-hip place they’re heading to next.

Cell phones will become so yesterday.

Well, not for a little while at least as you actually have to have an Apple smartphone in order for your Apple Watch to function beyond merely being a watch.

It’s weird. Cell phones made wearing watches seem obsolete as all you had to do was check your phone to see what time it is and these days, it seems no one goes anywhere without their phone in hand or at least in pocket. Now the cell phone may get wiped out by the watch. Which will in turn be made obsolete by some other form of communication.

Google is still trying to recover from their soft launch of Google Glass – the eyewear that allowed you to video what you were seeing, or take photos, get directions or a variety of other tasks – all while wearing a very weird looking set of glasses that didn’t really function as glasses – in fact, if you wear glasses, you wouldn’t be able to wear Google glasses at the same time.

My first look at Google Glass reminded me of the Steve Martin movie, “The Jerk” where he turned into a millionaire thanks to the invention of his Opti-Grab glasses – that ultimately caused the wearers to become cross-eyed.

I could see similar things happening with Google Glass – with them somehow causing your right eyeball to endlessly look up and to the right or perhaps there might be all sorts of lawsuits emerging because people were checking their emails while walking into open sewer holes or wiping out trying to record what it’s like to go cliff diving or hang gliding or whatever.

It’s interesting that the early wearers of Google Glass were called Glassholes.

It’s not easy to be an early adopter.

Rest assured, though, Google will figure it out. And soon, we’ll all be wearing something that measures our heart rate, our steps, our breathing, our pulse, our caloric intake and that provides directions, advice, reviews and instant contact with all our many, many friends on LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, SnapChat, twitter, flickr, digg, stumbleupon, reddit, mixx, gather, diigo, newsvine, connectedy and whatever other social network we use to avoid actual human interaction.

We live in a connected world.

If only we could all get back to connecting one-on-one with people.

No wearable device necessary.

Information contained in this post came from an article written by Sam McMillan in the March/April 2015 edition of Communication Arts magazine and from numerous Google searches.



Better get busy on Pinterest

Another day zipped by today. And I fell that much further behind in the Social Media world.

I have a twitter account but I don’t tweet often enough. Normally, I tweet these posts and the occasional good article I run across when scanning LinkedIn or other tweets from people I follow. Rarely do I comment on twitter unless I truly have something significant to say and I guess I don’t feel very significant very often.

My foursquare account remains relatively dormant. From time to time, I’ll check in but I figure who really cares whether I’m visiting a restaurant or a Cards’ game or whatever. I figure foursquare is more for travelers who are looking for new places while in new cities. I think I was mayor of the gym in the building where I worked previously. That was quite an honor to have. I imagine I could be the mayor of the Des Peres Lodge if I tried hard enough but I just don’t quite get what the point is. Could anyone tell me?

My new Facebook page for BloodLines Creative at least has the new, updated look and I like it. Problem is, only 28 other people like it as well. I can’t even get enough people to like it to get some insights shared by Facebook on my activity.

I know what Facebook will say. You need to be more active! And I do. Problem is, I’m trying to be quite active in a number of other activities as well – like finding and keeping new business and helping other companies with their own web initiatives. It’s tough to tell them to “do as I say, not as I do.” Because I don’t do enough.

I’m in all these groups on LinkedIn which is great – but every day my email inbox is full of various messages from various group members with all sorts of stuff that rarely applies to anything I’m doing. Yet I feel obligated to at least scan the topics, because on occasion, there is useful info to be found – sometimes I even tweet it! There is one group I’m in called ‘Advertising Professionals’ and someone in it had the great idea to ask, “What’s your favorite motivational quote?” To date, there have been about 500 responses. And that little button that LinkedIn has that says, “Click to stop following conversation” – it doesn’t work. So I’m trapped in some sort of strange purgatory where every day there are new motivational quotes that are anything but motivating. Maybe I should tweet about that.

Which brings me to Pinterest. I kept reading how it was really taking off and how much fun people were having on it so I looked into it and discovered that I had to be invited to join. So I asked Hannah Johnson, a former workmate of mine and now one of the best bloggers that I know to recommend me and she happily did. I signed myself up. That was about two weeks ago (maybe three, because time sure flies when you’re having fun) and to date, I have not done a single thing other than open my account. I haven’t created my profile, posted any pictures, told about any hobbies or whatever you’re supposed to do on it – basically, I am a Pinterest failure. And over the last few days I have received notice that I now have several people following me.

I apologize to all of them. I’m going to do something on it some time, and hopefully soon.

So please, follow me on twitter. Like my bloodlinescreative FaceBook page. Follow me on Foursquare, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Of course, I barely even mentioned accounts like Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and Skype. I’m on all of them – and at this point, doing virtually nothing on any of them. But follow me. Or send me photos or videos or just Skype me and let’s chat. We’ll have endless hours of fun.

And none of us will ever get anything done.

How willing to change are you?

I had an interesting meeting this morning with a fellow entrepreneur. He’s a few years older than me and we were both lamenting how much the advertising business has changed since our early days.

He had worked for a variety of agencies and had an extremely successful career – not that this is past tense at all – he has a very successful career right now though he’s no longer directly involved in the agency business. He was just saying that he feels as if he’s forced to do social media these days – there is no other choice if you’re going to be involved in the communications business.

Obviously, there are still many agencies doing mass media advertising. But mass media no longer rules in our world. It’s so much more important to engage your prospects now, involve them in your brand – whatever your brand may be. The Cokes and the Buds and the Fed Exes all need to be out there generating brand awareness, delivering on whatever brand promise they may have – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Experiential marketing is key – immersing your brand into people’s lives, creating new user experiences and carrying on an on-going dialogue with your audience are all vital in today’s marketing world. One-way communication, simply telling everyone what you have, is no longer enough. A simple corporate website is no longer enough.

Everything is evolving and seemingly changing at a more accelerated pace than ever before. How exactly is the technically-challenged old guard supposed to survive in this new world? You gotta roll with it.

Many times, I feel like I was grabbed, blindfolded and tossed into the deep end of a pool and no one ever bothered to teach me to swim. I’ve flailed about quite a bit, but recently feel as if somebody tossed me some water wings and I slipped them on and I’m staying afloat. I’m trying on a daily basis to learn more. We all need to be life-long students, forever learning, forever searching for new ways to do things. I don’t lament that in the slightest.

I wish I could be working on some major broadcast spots right now. I wish I could be working on more radio spots for I truly love the theatre-of-the-mind that great radio needs to be. But I’m not. So I will continue to learn more about Facebook marketing and read up on Pinterest – because it’s out there and I need to know about it and how to utilize it if it seems right for any of my current clients.

I’m willing to change because change is good. It makes you grow. It keeps you from getting stale.

How about you?