What Does Santa’s List Say About You?

SOME people may wish he hadn’t taken that Northwestern University MOOC (at coursera.org) about Social Marketing! The “Listening” section of the course teaches the rudimentary points of operating high-powered analytical programs.



Harold the Owl – What’s the Sociability Factor?

Charlie the Owl became Harold the Owl and his personal appearance took on an air of refinement. Shown above is the second illustration, nearly finished, that starts the rising action for my children’s book.

When it’s published, how will anyone know it exists? They’ll find it through social media, after I find them, first.

Don’t Take Candy from a Zombie

I can do this sort of thing, too. Usually, I don’t.

It’s zombified Uncle Sam sans top hat wants you to accept everybody’s favorite candy bar.

In my social marketing class, it’s called a doppelganger brand image. In art, it’s called “appropriated.” uncle-sam

There is no point in talking about the ethics of appropriating other people’s work and corrupting it. It’s unethical, but people do it anyway.

The iconic Uncle Sam is a marvelous image for getting attention. You can’t escape his eyes. His foreshortened finger is pointing at you. He’s manipulating you. There is a profound emotional response when someone stares and points to you. This particular figure symbolizes the values, hopes and dreams of a nation, so its appeal is a double whammy, launched at you. The U.S. Army used it to recruit volunteers for WWI and WWII. As to its success, who knows? The U.S. resorted to conscription for both wars.

There are two obvious problems with the poster. First, its over-the-top emotional appeal invites ridicule by people who dislike its intent or any other part of what it represents. Second, there are no visual cues about message in the art. It doesn’t look like a recruiting poster – its meaning is in its caption. The words could be any words. That’s probably why its still around, in use for anti-government and anti-military jokes and protests.

The U.S.A. is in a better position to rise above the effects of public ridicule than your small professional business is. Business is not immune to having its brand imagery corrupted, either because of what it is or because of what it represents. Choosing brand imagery is not merely an exercise in satisfying you own tastes and ambitions. You can’t anticipate every bit of mischief that could ever be done; but the Uncle Sam poster shows some obvious things to avoid if you don’t want your reputation to be an easy target.

This is Design Thinking


This a doodle I made while thinking about art licensing and copyrights to position myself for a project I’m doing in social media marketing. There is a Scrivener document that was open beside it where I jotted quick notes. There is also a sheet of lined paper with ball point pen notes in a spiral notebook that I keep on the desk beside me. The spiral notebook has no order – it’s open and I use it for notes about anything and everything. When a page is full, I start a new one.

Copies of this doodle, the Scrivener text and links and the notebook page tell everything I thought about during a four-hour stretch on Oct. 27, 2015. (I can tell by the complexity and number of graphics how much time I spent.) All you really need to explain yourself to clients or team members is a few symbols to anchor them.



Is Strategic the Same as Creepy?

Spam is funny. I got one from a residential real estate outfit for my post about mobile-friendly websites. (Mobile? Isn’t it time to buy a house?)

We’re going to be learning how to monitor internet chatter in an upcoming unit of Northwestern University’s social marketing course on coursera. #SocialMktg @coursera @RandyHlavac #brand. May we also learn how to pick exquisitely unambiguous key words for data mining.

How Do You Get a Mobile-Friendly Website?

comparisonIf you’re a developer and use an editor like Dreamweaver, you have the option to make a responsive layout. Responsive means that the site layout shifts bigger or smaller to fit the screen of the device that called it.

If you’re using a browser-based template service, like Foursquare or Weebly, read the directions. Use a template that is labeled Responsive or check the button that makes your site mobile enhanced. Foursquare is a template service. I think Weebly gives you the option to choose mobile – again, you have to read the directions to make sure what you’re getting.

You should probably mention to your boss that you’re not a web designer – publicity is an entirely different job.

Don’t expect perfection from a template. Above shots show the Applebee’s site on different devices. All the devices chop off the layout in different places. You’ll see what’s missing on the desktop version of the Applebee’s site.

Quick! Where’s Your Thinking Cap?

piboidmo2015participantWhether or not your ultimate objective is to write and publish a children’s book, there’s value in signing up for Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) for Children’s Books.

What better agility training for a mind than committing to generate 30 ideas in 30 days, in company of other people who are doing the same thing? The creative problem-solving process works the same, no matter what the intended outcome is. Creativity is the cornerstone of entrepreneurial excellence, after all.

Frankly, I wish everybody who knows something from the experience of doing it successfully would man up to the task of producing at least one piece of purposeful literature for children.

What’s Your Big Idea?

That’s the name of a coursera.org course in entrepreneurship that I recommend for everyone. The course is by University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Canvas (the planning template) and post-its are the organizational tools. The “What’s Your Big Idea?” course takes you through all the components of designing a company to actualize your idea successfully.

If you don’t have an entrepreneurial idea to develop already, there is plenty of rich material in the optional “reverse pitch” videos to inspire your creative vision and challenge your ingenuity. The invitation is to work above and beyond approaches that devoured resources without meeting their objectives in the past.

Experts in various fields — medicine, food, nutrition, education, demographics, the arts — have business problems to be solved. The new philosophy that all legitimate business is socially responsible business is an unspoken assumption.

It tickles me that post-it notes are integral to the process for designing solutions.

Empty Bowls of Rochester 2015

Empty Bowls is a fund raiser for the Catholic Family Center, held this year on October 15. Two abaca paper bowls from my personal collection will be in the silent auction. They will go to their new homes with all good wishes.

Nov. 26, 2015 Update – The Catholic Family Center never bothered to acknowledge the donation. No more freebies for them!

Click here for enlargements and full descriptionsfourBowls


In the description of Pearl Girl Bowl, I mentioned the painting is from a series of paintings based on world masterpieces interpreted in my style, i.e. with better hair and prettier makeup than Vermeer and Michelangelo gave them. They’re from summer 2004, after I closed the gallery. There were three others in the series, as well. When I wrote the description, I couldn’t remember what the other three were or where any of them went.


Strangely enough, I found two, including the appropriate one, hidden under the box of plastic sleeves that I used for the bowl documentation. How about that! I still have two and didn’t even know it. On the left is Girl with a Scarab Earring. On the right is the EvedomĀ® Sibyl, both 8×10.” I haven’t decided whether to put them back where they were, hang them or follow my husband’s perennial advice for all my stuff, “Sell it. We’ll have less to move.”