Posted on December 1, 2010
If you have been keeping up with vonCreedy.com lately, I’m sure you’ve noticed that it hasn’t really been keeping up with it’s readers. That isn’t to say that the those of us that work on gathering content for the site haven’t been busy, attempting to gather information. The truth is quite the contrary, although the attempts have been somewhat unsuccessful.
The apparent hiatus from collecting written interviews with talented and/or interesting individuals in the arts and sciences, ranging from the very new and promising, to the seasoned and successful, was actually spent exploring the short-form documentary video, as a means of sharing the stories on vonCreedy. In keeping with the current written interview format for this sites content, I spoke with the editor of vonCreedy to gain some perspective on this experimental period, and what the plans are moving forward.
vonCreedy.com: Josh, first of all, welcome back. We’ve missed you.
Josh Mormann: Thanks, It’s good to be back… even though I hadn’t actually run off anywhere. (laughs)
vonC: Although our readership hasn’t yet begun to spill over into the realm of arching internet popularity by any means, many have expressed sincere interest in the the blog and what it can potentially become. As editor of vonCreedy, what is the ultimate goal of vonCreedy, and what possessed you to start this project in the first place?
JM: It’s probably best to answer the second part of that first. You’ll have to forgive me if I start to run a little long in explaining. I’ve spent the majority of my career as what many call an “in-house” graphic designer, which can mean a couple of different things as a technical term, it can mean you work in-house at an ad agency, or design boutique, media company etc, or it that you work in-house doing graphic design work for a company that produces goods or services that largely have nothing to do with graphic design. I have performed most of my graphic design career under the second definition. Where the first definition (which I will hence forth refer to as an agency designer) describes an individual, hired by an agency, who likely works closely with other designers, art directors, technology developers, etc, as part of a larger team of creatively talented, people, and likely will become highly skilled in one narrow field of graphic design (typography, layout, print, web, info-graphics, brand id, 3D, vector, photo-illustration, what have you), develop a unique style and work for hundreds of different clients, and have excellent growth opportunities throughout his or her career; the second definition describes an individual, hired by a single company, who works alone, or on a much smaller team of designers, proficient in a variety design disciplines, and produces a wide range of graphic work for a variety of media. They work for companies that manufacture products, or offer services of some kind or another, have needs for graphical materials of all kinds, but have little concern for how their branding and marketing could benefit from hiring an agency. This second type of in-house graphic designer although typically paid much better than an agency designer (at least at first) is often burdened with multiple projects of varying complexity, with poor scheduling and management, and piss-poor art direction.
The problem with this scenario, is that although the designer gets paid relatively well, and the diversity of projects allows him or her to learn several forms of graphic design, and tools, the nature of working for essentially only one “client” (the employing company itself), and being on only a small team (if any) creates a vacuum of ideas. Add to the lack of ideas, a lack of: art direction, consistent messaging, a brand architecture, efficient scheduling, and the opportunity to specialize in any particular area. And you’re left with a burnt-out, locked-down (i.e. over-paid), and jack of all trades without any means of escape (you can’t build a portfolio worth looking at under those conditions) let alone thrive, or gain recognition as a designer. Most creative people benefit from, and produce better work in environments that foster a diversity of subjects rather than a diversity of mediums. Designing all the ads, and brochures, and banners, trade show booths, emails, websites, videos, social media presences, etc for only one company over a period of time, is like a young painter painting portrait of one person, first in oils, then in water colors, then tempera, pencil, chalk, and possibly switching to three-dimensional sculpture and so on.
I could go on and on, but my basic point is, that spent my career not as an agency designer, but as an in-house designer, one company at a time, for several different companies over the years, following the money, but got burnt out from the creative vacuum, and lack of social interaction with other creative individuals in my line of work. Because all creative direction received throughout my career was from engineers, and salesmen turned all CEO, with no design experience or training, I have little to show for years of churning out heaps of stuff. By that I mean, I have plenty to show for it, but I wouldn’t show any of it to anyone outside of the target audience, and I only show it to them, because that’s what I’m getting paid to do, not because I’m proud of it, or I believe it will be remarkably effective. (sighs)
My portfolio sucks basically, and I decided it was too late to start over, take a pay cut, and try my hand at agency work. I figured rather than try to get a more fulfilling day job just yet, I would try to close the airlock on the creative vacuum I was wallowing in, by reaching out to creative people whose work I admired, or who were working in fields that I found particularly interesting.
Before I came up with the idea of the vonCreedy website, I just started contacting people I deemed truly talented in various fields of the arts and sciences to ask them questions about their work. After a while, I considered the notion that other people might want to learn what I was learning. So I resurrected an old domain name of mine that was purchased for a completely different idea, and thought, “What the hell? vonCreedy is just a fake name doesn’t mean much to anyone, but it could stand for something!”
The site started out as a place for interviews with, and reviews of creative individuals and their work, that I found interesting. I had gone with “lesser known excellence” as a qualifier for subject matter for a while, but decided to cut out the reviews, and expand my qualifier to include anyone I find interesting regardless of how known, or how advanced they may, or may not be, in their careers.
When all is said and done, the site serves me personally as a platform from which I can ask questions of virtually anyone I’d like to reach, and as means to promote the works of the people I interview to others, while intending to provide readers with a resource for creative inspiration and advice, as well as some life philosophy here and there.
So ultimately I hope to expand the site by increasing its content as much as possible, and reaching out to creative people with all kinds of backgrounds and experience, to provide as many inspiring, and thought provoking interviews as possible to the readers.
vonC: So with plans of just growing things out further, why was their a sudden drop off? Where did you go?
JM: There are two main reasons for the drop off, the first being that we got compromised due to a Word Press vulnerability on the Media Temple Grid Servers. The second reason being that I bit off more than I could chew…
To explain: one of the forms of interview I hope to eventually incorporate into the site, is the documentary film/video form. I’ve always loved documentaries since I was a kid. Ok not always, there was a brief period where Nova used to upset me because it wasn’t always about Space. But I eventually came around to documentaries of all kinds, on all sorts of subjects, and all levels of production value. I just think their great, that’s what drew me to interviewing Micro Documentaries
I had recently seen one of the creative inspiration documentaries on Lynda.com and thought, “Hell, I can do that! I can do that now!” So I set off to shoot and edit a documentary about my roommate David Green who, I think is a phenomenal [albeit lesser known] photographer, as a proof of concept. “I already have an excellent DSLR for shooting excellent HD video, so how hard could it be?” I thought. Well the shooting was actually pretty simple. I shot the interview, and lots of B-Roll over the course of two days (piece of cake), and then proceeded to consume all my spare time with editing for well over a month. I had to put it on ice, and get back to what was working (just starting to) on the site, and try to get things rolling again.
vonC: So is the documentary form ever going to make its way to the vonCreedy website do you think?
JM: It’s absolutely a hope, but the plan moving forward now, is to get back to the basics for vonCreedy to do the best I can given the limited time I have to work with, as it is really just a personal project of mine at this point, and then retool things in my personal and professional life to allow me to spend more time working on vonCreedy content. Once I have some more time cleared away, I will definitely begin pursuing the documentary thing in a big way.
vonC: What about Dave Green? Isn’t he going to be upset about not finishing that documentary about him?
JM: Funny you should say that. Dave only agreed to letting me interview him, as long as I only produced the piece for my own learning experience. It was only to work out the kinks in production before I interviewed my first true subject on camera. It was never agreed to, that I would ever post the doc on any live site, let alone vonCreedy, so I’m sure Dave is perfectly happy with it getting iced for now.
vonC: Two more questions: 1. what’s with the sword?
JM: Well those were photos taken by aforementioned Dave Green actually, when he needed someone to stand in for lighting prior to a shoot he did a while back, and the sword was one of the props for that shoot. I went a little crazy with it I suppose. I chose to include them in honor of the documentary hold up that has all but halted vonCreedy for the past several weeks. You can find examples of Dave’s work at adoorable.org
I look moderately badass in some of them though, right?
Mmmmm moderately. Sure.
Ok, last question: what made you decide to interview yourself?
JM: Well it seemed like fun exercise, and a relatively straight forward way to fit a WTF response for readers into the expected vonCreedy interview format. Or maybe it’s just that my day job is finally causing me to crack… (see above).