Archive for "Things That Inspire Us"

Filmspiration: An Unparalleled View from Yosemite’s El Capitan

Creativity, Things That Inspire Us Aug 24, 2017 No Comments

Jimmy Chin On Location in Yosemite for Nat Geo

If you’re looking for natural inspiration, no where is there more than on the side of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Athlete, adventurer and photographer Jimmy Chin takes you on an extreme journey through some of the most beautiful terrain in the world in this video shot while on location for National Geographic in Yosemite. A simply stunning piece of cinematography, photography and extreme mountain climbing. Film by Camp 4 Collective. Music from Green Button Music and Random Rab.

On Assignment from Camp 4 Collective on Vimeo.

Artspiration: Breathtaking Aerial Photography of Namib Desert by Mario Gerth

Creativity, Photography, Social Action, Things That Inspire Us Mar 21, 2017 No Comments

Photographer Mario Gerth Flys Above the Sands to Capture the Beauty of Southern Africa’s Namib Desert

Great photography is always a source of inspiration for our creative team, especially when it comes from someone with such a passion to make a difference in the lives of others. German photographer Mario Gerth is just such an inspiration.

Gerth, who spends much of his time on the African continent, recently traveled to southern Africa to shoot a series of breathtaking, mostly aerial, photos of the Namib Desert. Previewed here, and included in detail on his Flickr Stream, Gerth’s images capture the beauty and elegance of the sometimes harsh natural biosphere that is this coastal desert.

Gerth’s work is quite remarkable, highlighting the intricate beauty of this expansive desert that stretches for more than 1,200 miles along the Atlantic coast through the countries of Angola, Namibia and South Africa.

Mario Gerth is an accomplished photojournalist who has shot on location in more than 65 countries on 5 continents. His passion for capturing the graceful beauty of these locales and highlighting the cultural dignity of its peoples truly makes him one of the good guys.

His images can viewed on his Flickr Stream, licensed from Getty Images, or you can visit his site at Mario Gerth Fotgrafie.

Mario Gerth - Namib Desert
All images by: Mario Gerth Fotografie / Mario Gerth Fotografie




Developing Innovative Creative is Like BASE Jumping

Advertising, Branding, Creativity, Graphic Design, Things That Inspire Us Feb 25, 2017 2 Comments

Is Creativity Counterintuitive to the Business Community?

On a basic instinctual level, our whole purpose for life as human beings is to survive and thrive. What that means has been different throughout time. In the modern world, survival is living happily; enjoying the company of friends and family; finding a job–any job these days–hopefully one that challenges us professionally without causing too much stress; and being able to put enough food on the table to feed our kids. So, if our instinct is to survive and hopefully thrive, then it’s completely counterintuitive to human behavior to voluntarily jump off a cliff.

The pursuit of truly creative ideas is just like hurdling oneself over the edge of a cliff and free falling. And, it’s as counterintuitive to self-preservation, professionally speaking, as is BASE Jumping from a 10,000 foot mountain peak.

Creativity Is Not for the Weak-Willed

Not for the squeamish, the task of developing innovative and inspired marketing concepts can be considered dangerous. It instills downright terror in the hearts of many a brand manager or marketing pro. Some don’t even attempt it, preferring to maintain the status quo. Others would rather someone else first take the risk; choosing later to read about competitor successes in industry pubs like AdAge, HOW or Communication Arts.

Like BASE Jumping, the pursuit of creative innovation can be dangerous, costly, and challenging, but also entertaining, exhilarating and supremely rewarding when properly executed.

1. It’s Inherently Risky

It’s common, among the unadventurous, to avoid taking their lives into their own hands and leaping from a mountaintop. Developing innovative creative can be a risky undertaking, especially for less-enterprising marketers. Pushing the envelope on creativity crosses the line of comfort for many. Doing so entails potentially risking your professional career, often giving even the most seasoned brand manager night sweats. When considering stepping off the creative ledge, it’s important to have a professional creative team that understands your business and is invested in your brand. To develop truly innovative ideas, it’s crucial to have partners who have the ability to lead you safely through the process and appropriately deliver on your brand promise.

2. It Can Be an Expensive Undertaking

BASE jumping is by no means cheap. Those awesome looking wingsuits that make you look like Rocky the Flying Squirrel can set you back several thousand dollars alone. Then there’s parachutes. Head gear. Travel costs and more. Developing inspired creative, executing graphic design, building web apps, and securing media placements has the potential of busting your budget.

Creative development is considered a luxury for many businesses, primarily the smaller ones. Others question the inherent value of forking over money to pay for it. But in order for a brand to remain relevant in a world where we’re bombarded by innovative creative, it’s more necessity than luxury. You must invest the appropriate amount of dollars and time into developing creative for your brand. Otherwise your message is likely to be drowned out by the media cacophony.

Budgeting for creative development is frequently low on the priority list for small businesses. It’s just the opposite for the big brands. If nothing else, that should tell you if you seek to control the message, you first need to be heard.

3. It’s a Challenge Getting There

You don’t just wake up, get out of bed and leap from El Capitan. Unless you spent the prior night on the face of a rock wall, which is another challenge altogether. And you don’t get outstanding creative “Click, Bang, Zoom.” The process takes time. There’s planning. Collection of consumer insight. Strategy sessions. Creative brainstorms. Establishment of goals. Definition of measurement criteria. And more. The creative process is like preparing for a long climb up a shear rock wall. It requires planning. You need the right tools. You need to plan a careful and thoughtful path. Work your way to the jump point. Psych yourself up. And then run toward the precipice and let fly. It’s the “fly” part of the process that everyone is most excited about, but it can’t be rushed.

4. Don’t Chicken out at Last Minute

Even the most experienced BASE Jumpers still experience a twinge of fear, no matter how fleeting, just before letting go. It’s normal to question whether actually jumping into the chasm facing them is a good idea after all. Once you’re there, the prospect of decidedly sprinting toward the edge and off, beyond the comfort zone is something most creative teams struggle with. The secret is not to question a decision already made. Remember, your gut once told you this path was a great idea. And, you’ve done your due diligence in planning. But now, your gut is telling you the opposite. That ain’t your gut talking. That’s fear. Don’t listen, or it’ll take you back to the comfort of your cushy sofa of mediocrity.

5. The Final Results are Exhilarating

Then there’s the payoff. The rush of free fall. The satisfaction of landing on both feet with your head held high. Your goals are realized. Customers are storming your website. The telephone rings off the hook with qualified leads. Your products are flying off the shelves. You get that nod from your boss. Or even better, your competitors. You took the risk, and your efforts paid off. Truly relevant, innovative creative generates measurable results. And, a job well done is truly an exhilarating experience.

Giving Credit for Inspiring This Post

Giving credit where it’s due, inspiration for this post came from Camp 4 Collective and Jimmy Chin whose innovative talents have resulted in this amazing video shot in Yosemite National Park while on assignment for National Geographic. And also to our friend Thomas Marzano for originally sharing the video link with us on Twitter. You can follow Thomas yourself @ThomasMarzano.

Artspiration: Wonder Brother Mike Esparza and His Impressionist World of Superhero Mayhem and Madness

Creativity, Graphic Design, Things That Inspire Us Oct 14, 2016 No Comments

There’s No Need to Fear. Wonder Bro’ is Here!

Self-proclaimed ‘ninja, underwear model and Navy Seal,’ Mike Esparza — member of the Wonder Brothers trio — claims to have decided on a new calling, that of painter. Now, we don’t know how much truth there is to Esparza’s claim of bopping around for photogs in the near-nude; but it does say that on on his website, so it must be true. And if it’s any consolation, we’re happy he put his clothes back on, decided to embrace his love of pigment and set brush to canvas, or the world would never have seen what may be some of the most awesometastic superhero art ever created.

No Indiana Jones Here, Just Artwork to ‘Melt Your Face Off’

Noting pop icon Andy Warhol, comics genius Alex Ross, talented sister Rachel Esparza and Spanish expat Pablo Picasso among his many influences, it’s very apparent where Esparza’s inspiration for the following series comes. The website says his Picasso-ized portraits of famous superheroes (and a few famous super villains) are said to have the capability to “melt your face off.” Just take a look for yourself, if you dare.

The Brotherhood of Art

Mike, along with siblings Matt and Eric, together make up the Wonder Brothers of artistic endeavors and maintain a website chocked full of fantastic dreams, screams and new art memes. Their unique collection of pieces are drawn from Hollywood celluloid, popular culture and perhaps even the flash-dimmed and demented mind of a modeling industry escapee. Included are works of fine art, graphic design, illustration and photography, that make the Wonder Brothers a ‘can’t miss’ the next time they come to a gallery near you. But if you can’t wait that long, visit them at Etsy and buy something from them. Art is a sometimes thankless industry, and Mike and his brothers deserve a round of applause for adding so much to our lives. In the meantime, have fun looking at the images below.

All images Copyright © Mike Esparza, Wonder Brothers.


Mike Esparza, Wonder Brother - Spiderman

The Flash

Mike Esparza, Wonder Brother - The Flash

Iron Man

Mike Esparza, Wonder Brother - Iron Man


Mike Esparza, Wonder Brother - Venom

How a Doberman Helps Me Champion the Cause of U.N. Refugees and the Blue Key Campaign

Agency Initiatives, Blue Key Campaign, Cause Marketing, Social Action, Things That Inspire Us Oct 12, 2016 2 Comments

They Say That ‘Dog’ is ‘Man’s’ Best Friend

Like most dogs, mine’s an uber-loyal companion. He’s the best four-legged pal I’ve ever had; and I’ve had many. I jokingly tell my human friends that my dog is treated better than a whole lot of people. And sadly, I’ve realized that’s no joke…

My dog is a 120-pound Doberman Pinscher named Oberon. Some people, mostly other dog owners from the neighborhood, believe he’s named after a character in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” I don’t have the nerve to admit that rather than taking my dog-naming cues from literary icons, I’ve instead taken them from a craft beer brewed by Bell’s Brewery in Michigan. Oberon Ale is a really outstanding beer. And Oberon Dog is a really outstanding dog. So, I guess the name fits…

The Charmed Life of an American Doberman in Chicago

Oberon came into our lives when he was only 12 weeks old. A quick six years later, I’m told he’s now considered a “senior” for his breed — something I find hard to accept, since he suffers from a chronic case of arrested development. Standing 28” tall at the withers, he’s still more puppy than old man. And that’s how I’d like to keep it…for a while anyway.

Oberon leads a very charmed life. In the summer when I’m hard at work, Oberon hangs out on the balcony of our 38th floor condo located in what some may consider a “fancy” high rise on Chicago’s lakefront. He despises the constant buzz from the engines of small planes dragging advertising banners that encourage beachgoers to buy coconut rum or find love online. And, he shares his displeasure for these intrusions every chance he gets. Something my neighbors really appreciate…

Oberon eats some of the healthiest dog food money can buy. He drinks only filtered water, mainly because that’s how it comes out of the dispenser on the refrigerator door. And, he’s got a whole hoard of organic treats and indestructible toys stashed away in his own oversized ‘goodie’ chest – or what we call the hall closet.

He enjoys being chauffeured around in our late model, gas-guzzling SUV and often drools down the passenger door or sneezes as the wind blows up his nostrils. And when he’s not strapped in for a cruise to the local Forest Preserve, he can be found stretched out in a comfy king-sized bed, head firmly planted on pillow.

When I think about it, it’s all kind of ridiculous, actually.

A Lifetime of Meals, Balls and Scalpels

Over the years, I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on food, healthcare, toys and various dog-related accessories, even one that lets me to sling a tennis ball farther than I normally could otherwise. As a puppy, he had a habit of eating things that he shouldn’t, mainly because I’d left them laying around the house rather than putting them away where they belong. As a result, I’ve paid too many surgeons too much money to remove items from places they were never meant to go.

Yes, Oberon really has it great. But, like many of us, I don’t think he’s aware of it.

Blissful Ignorance with Eyes Wide Shut

Most Americans take a whole lot of things for granted; especially those of us lucky enough to have jobs that afford us a relatively comfortable lifestyle. And like most Americans, my American dog is oblivious to how his life could be so different in so many ways.

If you pay even the slightest bit of attention to the news, you’ll notice that things are pretty awful in a lot of places around the world. There’s an ever-increasing number of people who aren’t remotely fortunate enough to live a life approaching that of my privileged American dog.

It’s probably fair to say that some might be envious of Oberon if only they knew how he lived. They may even be downright angry. I know I would be if I hadn’t been living right there in blissful ignorance with him…

Refugees and the Blue Key Campaign
Image by: homeros /

Our Global Village is Crying Out for Help

When she was still only a first lady, Hilary Clinton explained that “it takes a village” to raise a child and elevate a civilization to the level you want it to reach. I didn’t fully comprehended how prescient she was when she first turned this phrase into a bestseller. But now, my eyes have opened wider and the picture I’m seeing of our village isn’t very pretty.

As I type this post in the air-conditioned office of my home, my privileged dog is sleeping soundly — belly full of food — on our comfortable sofa. At this same time, there are 43,700,000 people from our global village who’ve been forcibly displaced from their own homes due to war, political unrest, threats of personal violence and ongoing persecution for such basic concepts as their opinions, lifestyles or religious beliefs.

43,700.000 people who can’t eat fancy organic food, don’t drink filtered water, and have no option to sleep in comfortable beds or complain about the roar of single-engine planes disturbing their lazy sun-bathing. 43,700.000. That’s a VERY big number. One that should make us all open our eyes to the reality of suffering and brutality taking place in our village, and one that very seldom makes it to our television screens.

Champion For a Cause

Over the years, I’ve gone to great lengths to take care of Oberon. And it goes without saying that there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him. But unlike Oberon, the world’s refugees haven’t had me around for the last six years to help them out. That all changed recently when I decided to take Shonali Burke (@shonali) up on her offer to join the Blue Key Campaign as, what she calls, a “Blue Key Champion” – folks who are active online and want to help change the lives of some very needy people.

I first became aware of The Blue Key Campaign after noticing little images of blue keys popping up on Twitter as people began modifying their profile photos in support. Then there was the first Blue Key Tweet-a-thon that I watched on my computer screen one night. It was this Tweet-a-thon that woke me up from my own life of blissful ignorance.

The Blue Key Campaign

If you’re not familiar, The Blue Key Campaign is an initiative of the USA for UNHCR, to generate donations for UNHCR, teh UN Refugee Agency. The UNHCR has more than 6,000 staffers and volunteers working in 140 countries around the world to provide protection, shelter, emergency food, water, medical care and other life-saving assistance to millions of refugees.

I now find myself one of UNHCR’s Champions for the Blue Key cause, assisting Shonali and a host of important people from the business and humanitarian world who, I believe, have way more chops than me and whose skills and online networks are far more impressive than mine.

I wonder if I’m not a little over my head here, as I’m not sure how much of a Champion I’ll be. To be honest, I’m not really sure what I can do to help so many people who need so much. But, my guess is that if I can offer one petulant Doberman a better life than many people can ever imagine, I should be able to do something for some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

A Life of Nothing is No Life at All

It’s not my intention to diminish the severe plight of refugees by comparing them to a spoiled American dog. But by introducing you to Oberon and to his privileged lifestyle, I hope to open your eyes to the many things that each of us take for granted every day.

Refugees receiving aid from UNHCR have lost everything. It’s not a stretch to suggest that, without help, they won’t have a chance at a life remotely approaching the level of comfort that we often provide our own pets. And I think that’s just plain wrong. I’m with Hilary. The way we as a civilization continue to treat the rest of our global village must change. And I’ve decided it’s way past time that I start doing something about it myself.

Refugees and the Blue Key Campaign
Image by: homeros /

43,700,000 Reasons to Help. Or, Lattes, Leftovers and Little Blue Keys

You can help me help the world’s 43,700,000 refugees right now. And you don’t even need to become a Blue Key Champion. However if you’d like to throw your hat in the ring, I’m sure UNHCR wouldn’t mind. But if you do nothing else, please visit The Blue Key Campaign website and open your eyes to what’s happening in our world. For just $5, you’ll get your own Blue Key and will become part of a growing community of Americans committed to opening the door to a safe and secure village for millions.

There’s a Blue Key With Your Name On It\

In the weeks to come, I plan to keep you updated on my efforts to live up to my new title. And in order to do it right, I need you to help me. If you’d like to support my efforts to change the lives of so many people who have so little through no fault of their own, please think about simply agreeing to do without just once a week. Do without your morning latte today. Take leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Carpool to work another day. And, put those few dollars you otherwise would’ve spent towards The Blue Key Campaign. Doing without and giving will not only open your eyes to the many things you take for granted, but also help open the door to a new life for some very needy person whose life will forever be changed by your choices.

Please get your own Blue Key now. Even Oberon has one. And he’s likely to have a few more by the time we’re through, as I’ve decided he’s going to be doing a little “doing without” himself. Unless he’s smarter than I think, it’s my guess he won’t even notice. But I guarantee you some very deserving person somewhere in the world will as a result.