Category Archives: Blog

Creating artwork to tell a story

Last week I had a great time producing artwork at a conference break out session on storytelling. Using artwork to tell a story.

Myself and three other artists were given the brief to work with  management teams from a well know international engineering company. In the space of a few hours we had to create an engaging poster, which visually communicated the story of unity and passion in the work they did. artwork storytelling.

Listening to their ideas, as the artist I couldn’t help or offer my own input,  but did perhaps steer the conversation a little to facilitate the flow of creativity and ensure that everyone in the group had input in the final artwork.

creating the artwork from the idea n the group.

There’s something very cool and rewarding working on a tight timescale in a room with other artists.  Maybe somewhat competitive, but in a really positive hands on way. No digital, no undo buttons or layers, just a large sheet of A0 board to fill with marker pens . Also great to work alongside an old mate, Scott Tyrell. A former stand up comic,accomplished poet and creative director based in Newcastle.

Big thanks to Garry at Finite Productions, and Margot & the guys at Brand + Story for putting on a great event.

Engaging storytelling through artwork
The final artwork

Public speaking training. Presenting skills workshops. Storytelling workshops.

A Life Less Ordinary

Choosing to put comedy, illustration and my other disciplines on one website might sound obvious, but it was actually a really tough decision.

The term ‘jack of all trades’ is a phrase that has bugged me for years.  I know it’s negative connotations and consider myself an optimist, but I’ve always thought I was one. A ‘jack of all trades…and master on none’.   My thinking has been perhaps inherited from the  previous generations. The received wisdom that focusing on one career to become an expert over time was the best way forward, and taking an interest in a few different things diluted time, effort and commitment .

Since going freelance as a designer and pro as a comedian I didn’t want a design client knowing I did comedy in case they thought I didn’t take the work seriously, or a comedy promoter to know that I did graphic design.  I was terrified of not being seen as professional.

Old beliefs are very hard to shake.  I previously had five different websites. One for comedy, one for  design and illustrations, and more recently a podcast and training workshops.  Each of these things had it’s own orbit and audience, with rare overlapping exceptions.

The fear of confusing people with ‘multi disciplines’ and not being able to answer the ‘what do you do’ question’ in less than four sentences was (and still is) a bugbear.  However, I’ve known for years that diversity and adaptability are key to survive, and something just clicked. Listening to technology podcasts, reading Seth Godin books. Learning more about applied improv in my podcast. Finally something clicked and I’ve broken my old programming.

So here are ‘all my eggs –  in one basket’. Better for me, better for  google SEO and as I’m finding, people who come looking for one thing and find another and spend a bit of time on my website looking around. Isn’t the the point of a good website?

 

 

My Top 5 TEDx talks of 2016.

For a bit of inspiration  in 2017, here’s my top 5 pick of TEDx talks in 2016. It’s the end of the year. Sad though it is I’m not going to dwell on the number of famous and talented deceased. We’re all going to die one day, and I don’t mean to be morbid. If anything it’s a reminder to me to get busy, make a mark and do good work.

Tim Urban: Inside the mind of a master procrastinator

“You call it procrastination, I call it thinking.” once said Aaron Sorkin. Tim Urban has a great blog and I even have his grim but refreshing life calendar. Here he explains why people tend to put things off until the last minute, and why that’s sometimes ok. Inspiration.

Mike Rowe: Learning from dirty jobs

I chanced upon Mike Rowe as I was listening to loads of podcasts and prepping to launch my own . As well being funny and shocking there’s a valuable lesson about ‘doing it the right way’, Aristotle and goats testicles.

Dave Morris: The Way of Improvisation

Dave Morris’s seven steps to improvising is a great refresher as to why improv is such a valuable learning tool. Play, listening, allowing failure as part of the process.

Susan Greenfield: Technology & the human mind

Are our attention spans getting shorter? Susan Greenfield gives a great talk about how children’s minds develop and the effect technology. The effect social media is having on our ability to engage and have quality interactions, i.e. Texting is bad. This is stuff that comes up in some of my training workshops, when we talk about the value of unspoken communication. I do draw issue with one point. Being a gamer I’d argue there are some role playing games which engage at an emotional level in a way that books cannot, and it’s an unfair comparison, as the engagement level is different. All good points to bring up though.

Diana Nyad: Never, ever give up

I watched this on a flight to the USA at a time I was feeling pretty down and feeling old. Listening to Diana Nyad’s was akin to a hand come out the screen and slap me across the face. Good health intact, age is relative and pretty irrelevant. Every year is a year to build and improve. Swimming with jellyfish and sharks at 64?

Thanks for reading my blog, and Happy New Year.

John Cooper. Inspiration for 2017. My top 5 TED Talks of 2016.
John Cooper. Inspiration for 2017. My top 5 TED Talks of 2016.