We don’t work for free

  1. 01. We don’t work for free

    As a business owner, product owner, marketer or communications director do you value creative work? Does it make an impact on your bottom line? Generate awareness? Build your brand? Get attention for your product?

    If you do, then please help persuade your peers, fellow board members, and colleagues against asking for free creative work. Stop holding logo contests. Don’t ask for volunteers to design, write, illustrate, photograph, animate, code or produce anything for free. Refuse to approve spec work. Stop expecting creative makers to work for free. Read more →

  2. 02. How to gauge brand engagement

    See me. Love me. Let me be your bestie. Everyone and every brand has the same goal. We want to be loved by you. And, like the high school experience in America, forming attachments and developing relationships can be confusing, exciting, and dramatic. What starts out as promising interest can quickly devolve into dislike and defriend.

    What makes interacting with others so confusing and difficult is our tendency to let the reactions of others guide our choices. If we let our actions be guided entirely by the feedback of others, we lose ourselves and our personality in the process.

    Brands, especially, fall prey to paralysis by engagement analysis. “Playing it safe”, “going with the tried and true,” Read more →

  3. 03. Eyeo Festival 2017

    It’s my favorite week of the year—Eyeo Festival.

    This year’s speakers, links, resources, and work:


    Eyeo Festival | Converge to Inspire

    code+resistance | etherpad.net Pad

    Read more →

  4. 04. Data journalism + content marketing

    Content marketing is very popular. 88% of marketers say they use content marketing and three-quarters of all marketers plan on producing more this year. That is a lot of content being generated on behalf of brands, despite the fact that 44% of marketers are neutral on its effectiveness. Despite having a huge number of forms of content to deliver—blogs, videos, infographics, slideshows, articles, listicles, webinars—the effectiveness of the content is really dependent upon the story of the content itself. If a brand’s story isn’t worth telling, is it really worth a listicle or motion graphic? Isn’t the real opportunity for content marketing in the data behind the story that behind the content marketing tactic? Read more →

  5. 05. A new recipe for creative work

    The classic recipe for creative work is:

    creative brief + talent = creative work

    This is an old school formula. It puts the all of the planning and intention setting in a stage separate from the creative talent it seeks to inspire. A tightly written brief asks for execution, not ideation. It directs the creative process instead of immersing the project in a process. It works wonderfully for getting large amounts of projects completed but doesn’t necessarily leave deep opportunities for real creative thinking. The challenge for large organizations that work in this method is to find ways to interweave creative thinking with planning so that they don’t always end up with the same solution over and over again. Read more →

  6. 06. Solving problems close to home

    It’s striking how easy it is to see other people’s problems. Other countries, other communities, other cultures all have lots of problems which seem pretty clear to me when I don’t experience them. Looking out at others provides enough distance—emotional and intellectual—to arrogantly assess what’s wrong “over there.” It’s much harder and much more relevant to focus on the problems we have closer to home. Solving these problems is much more actionable and in some ways more relevant than trying to figure out how to help people who are world’s away.

    The challenge is that the problems in our own homes and neighborhoods are laden with emotion. These emotions—fear, anger, resentment—can stop us from Read more →

  7. 07. Rules to design by

    I have given a lot of thought over the years about how to work as a designer. Designers are expected to design at least eight hours a day, every day of the week. It’s a lot. It’s a  challenge to keep up our creativity for 40 hours of design demand a week. While I managed a staff of creative people, I developed my ideas about what helped people continue to be creative day in and day out. These five rules to design by draw from the wisdom of others, as well as my experience creating every day. There are many more rules but these are five that never vary.

    1. Develop your own way to create original imagery

    Read more →

  8. 08. Why we make?

    Most creative people I know have always made things. Making something — art, music, dinner — fulfills a deeply innate need inside of us. Instagram is full of “I made this!” photos of afghans, snowmen, babies and other things we are proud to have made. By the time we turn that creative urge into a career, we suddenly realize that making things for a living isn’t always as fulfilling as it once was. Now making things involves other people. And it involves money. People and money can botch up any creative project, so we need to look at the real motivation for our creations so we can be clear about why we are making what we make. Read more →

  9. 09. Why you need a creative strategy

    Creative strategy is elusive. Unlike a marketing strategy or a communications strategy, your vision and plan for producing outstanding creative work can not follow a canned approach. The nature of creative strategy is to go into the unknown and return with something that is original and moving. And it is very dependent upon the people involved.

    One of the reasons creative strategy is so hard is that ultimately you can not control the end result. The goals themselves are often both specific and broad, which is why creativity is required. Read more →

  10. 10. Voting in Minnesota Dashboard

    Voting in Minnesota

    In time for voting in Minnesota, a dashboard of visualizations on Voter Turnout in Minnesota and the country.

    Developed in Tableau. Read more →

  11. 11. The Cost of Failure of the Equal Rights Amendment — Infographic

    Failure of the Equal Rights Amendment

    When Phyllis Schlafly died recently, many obituaries remembered her opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment stated that the rights guaranteed Constitution apply equally to all persons regardless of their sex. Schlafly was able to evoke fear of changes to the draft, single-sex restrooms and child custody laws to Read more →

  12. 12. The brilliant xkcd Earth Temperature Timeline

    This is so great.

    A Timeline of Earth’s Average Temperature by xkcd.

    “When people say ‘The climate has changed before,’ these are the kinds of changes they are talking about.” —xkcd.

    Read more →

  13. 13. Looking for UFOs – Mapping Project Blue Book

    Given the recent news of an unusual radio signal from a star system 94 light years away, I thought it would be fun to look at some of the evidence we have on UFO sightings. Mapping Project Blue Book is a cartographic visualization of data from Project Blue Book. Read more →

  14. 14. Three Legacies. Six Programs.

    The ways texts are adopted and adapted by different organizations fascinates me, especially texts that are essential to the members of the groups. Exegesis, the critical explanation and interpretation of a text, Read more →

  15. 15. Occupations in demand in Minnesota

    Looking to change your career or get a job? It’s helpful to know what are the occupations in demand in Minnesota right now (August 2016)? Read more →

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