the sally sisson blog


February 5, 2013

Creative Inspiration: Finding your bliss (on a bleak February day)

He Was Me: The power of storytelling

A sweet (yet powerful) little ditty on doing what you love. If not for a living, then at least for a while each day.

This FableSnack, a short animated film from the prolific folks at FableVision, is about “the inner child in all of us, and the eternal struggle to retain our sense of self in a busy world.” It reminds us to not “trade joy for a job,” as FableVision’s Paul Reynolds puts it. Not always easy, but always worth remembering.

It was written and drawn by the talented Peter H. Reynolds, author and illustrator of The Dot, Ish and dozens of other delightful children’s books and multimedia products.

I knew Peter, founder of FableVision, and his twin brother Paul, now CEO, back in our college days and had a hunch they’d go on to do great things. Doing such inspired and meaningful work on such a grand scale is a great thing indeed. Being rockstar media producers and such nice, grounded people at the same time is even greater.

Read their story here:

About FableVision
In 1996, FableVision’s founder, Peter H. Reynolds, had a vision: to create a “social change agency” to help move the world to a better place. FableVision is dedicated to helping ALL learners reach their full potential and to telling “stories that matter, stories that move.”

…and get inspired yourself!

The Stellar Cafe
The Dot FableVisionInsights gathered along the journey about creativity, art, teaching, learning, life – Peter H. Reynolds

Peter’s Tips on Creativity
Creative thinking is the fuel for getting things going. Dreaming about the project is a huge part of the process. The actual ‘doing’ requires following through on the dream, but the dream is the rough sketch.

A Film by FableVision Studios: He Was Me
Written and drawn by Peter H. Reynolds, He Was Me is a quiet story about the inner child in all of us, and the eternal struggle to retain our sense of self in a busy world. In the film, as a man waits at a bus stop in the rain, his inner child is brought poignantly to life as he reflects on his past and ponders his future.

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February 3, 2013

PR and Social Media Marketing for Musicians: A local and organic approach with international reach

social media marketingThe good thing about being a communications generalist is that you rarely get stuck in a rut. Every now and then I take on projects outside my usual niche just because I feel like it…because I like the client or the cause or the content.

For the last couple of years I’ve done PR for Jon Durant, a local studio musician who’s made it pretty big as a composer and guitarist. We both played in our high school jazz/rock band way back when and now have kids doing the same at our hometown high school.

In 2011 I wrote a press release and bio for Jon for the release of his 7th album, Dance of the Shadow Planets. Last November I was hired again to help with his latest album: Burnt Belief, a progressive instrumental collaboration with legendary bassist Colin Edwin, best known for his role with the English band Porcupine Tree.

Going local: The benefits of local talent

With a record release date of 12-21-12, timed to coincide with the “end of days,” we had to do things in a hurry. So we divvied up the tasks and quickly formed a team. I contacted a local writer, Dave Bolton, who I’d met in our local pub and then later ran into at a farm stand buying pumpkins. He was wearing a PiL T-shirt (amongst a sea of suburban dads wearing crisp polos) and I had a hunch he’d be a good fit. Turns out he’d done work for a a couple metal bands back in England, amongst other things, and liked Porcupine Tree.

We met with Jon and talked music and brainstormed over coffee. Although the three of us have somewhat divergent tastes, we all share a disdain for Phil Collins — which seemed as good a reason as any to work together. Plus, Jon liked the idea of being able to meet face-t0-face with a local team in between trips to the West Coast and the UK.

The right press release for the right press

So we had Dave take on the writing of the main press release, which involved phone/Skype interviews with Colin (during which he was able to prove his cred, saying that he had stood in the pouring rain for hours at the Download festival in Leicestershire in 2010, listening to “wrist-slashingly cheerful music” while patiently waiting for him to take the stage with Porcupine Tree).

[Read Dave Bolton’s interview on Colin Edwin’s blog here.]

Meanwhile I wrote a second press release, specifically for audio and recording industry blogs and publications, focusing on the unique transatlantic recording process and other “gearhead” details.

Organic social media marketing

Simultaneously, I set up the social media marketing end of things. I created a Facebook page for Burnt Belief and a Facebook fan page for Jon Durant, set up Twitter accounts for both, and then synched the social networks for each. For the next two weeks I posted content and strategically followed artists, bands, labels, producers, publications, journalists and bloggers. I monitored all channels and watched the steady gains and impressive spikes in followers, plus degrees of reach and engagement. Then I trained Jon on how to manage the pages and feeds and keep up the momentum on his own.

Small-town to big-time publicity

With Porcupine Tree’s well-connected publicist in NYC handling press and media placement, the 12-21-12 release made a big splash. Prog Rock Magazine published an exclusive online premiere (see below), and other major publications followed that week. Meanwhile, Jon’s West Coast contact worked the college radio and ambient/post-rock radio circuits, so the album got serious air play. On Echoes Radio, it just reached #5 on the charts for January.

On the local front, our small-town newspaper ran a cover story, which created a lot of buzz:

Making Music in Cohasset MA: Jon Durant records in home studio

The only problem now is that supply can’t keep up with demand. Burning Shed, the UK distributor, has been sold out of the CD for weeks, as has Amazon.com. Good thing the musicians stockpiled some CDs along with those cases of Spam in their doomsday bunkers. For now the best way to get your hands on one is to go direct: through the online store at jondurant.com.

With plans underway for a European tour this summer, the duo should see more steady growth in their social media stats and online presence — all of which should drive up CD sales (if they can keep them in stock).

Burnt Belief: In the news

PROG Magazine: Exclusive Album Premiere: Colin Edwin and Jon Durant’s Burnt Belief

The Echoes Blog: Colin Edwin and Jon Durant’s Post-Apocalyptic Burnt Beliefs

StarsDie.com: Burnt Belief Review

“It is of little surprise to anyone that when you put two musical virtuosos in a studio they cannot escape from that they will, inevitably, conjure up a masterpiece….But if you put Colin Edwin and Jon Durant in the room – you can expect something incredible.”

StarsDie.com

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March 21, 2011

10+ Tips on Combating Creative Block

Thanks to readers for responding to my last blog post:

March Madness: Celebrating creativity and the (sometimes maddening) creative process

image from williamsrandall.com

Tracy Graves, digital + social media consultant
B4South
When I’m stuck, the world easily descends into a maelstrom of despair. And then, to re-jigger myself, I spend oodles of time looking at other people’s work. I try and take the pressure off and create something for myself instead of for a client. I read something utterly escapist and don’t worry about whether I’m intellectually furthering myself. And most importantly, I accept the fact that I need to get at least 5 crappy versions of something out of the way, and then something will emerge worth keeping.

Christopher Harting, photographer + philosopher
Christopher Harting Studio
Go to Manhattan. Walk around and look at stuff. Drink coffee. Walk around some more. But you know the truth? I never have that problem. Never, ever, ever.

John DiCocco, creative director, writer + editor
(and reporter for the Tiny Mind Gazette)

I’m pretty fortunate in that I have rarely suffered this dreaded event, except when writing ad copy. And when that occurs, I have a standby tactic. I start asking outlandish questions:
“What if the whole thing was blue?”
“What if your parents spoke two different languages and you didn’t understand either one?”
“What if you knew everything that was going to happen one hour ahead of time?”

What’s the worst that could happen—I mean, really, the WORST?
Okay, backtrack from there. “What if it/he/the nation were twice/half as big/small/loud/dense/bright etc?”

Michael Calienes, creative director + copywriter
Transplant
Self-induced water boarding.
Cuban music in the background.
Freedom.

Kelley Rugg, producer, director, writer + videographer
Rowboat Productions
Creativity is not about making or forcing but about allowing and trusting, and so what I do when I feel any type of block is understand that I am causing it by trying too hard… so then I let go, get out of the way, and absolutely keep going.

Trebor Healey, poet + novelist
treborhealey.com
I think it’s best to shift your surroundings, take a trip, small or big, spend time in nature…go to museums, dance performances, concerts…other creative ventures will inspire your own, will put you in the creative reality. If all else fails, revisit your favorite writers’ or artists’ work like a bee dropping in on the hive of honey and you will once again know how to get to the flowers you seek.

Doug Eymer, creative director + designer 
EYMER Design Laboratories + Think Tank
Procrastination is such a negative term. I prefer to think of it as getting all of your ducks in a row.
Here’s the real dear, you awake from hibernation in a cranky mood. Your immediate reaction to EVERYTHing is: “I’m right, the LOSERS that have been grinding their teeth all winter are WRONG!”
So, because you have been asleep and avoiding the family check book, you stand at the very end of the protective barriers and say, “So What! I have been dead for the last couple of months, what is the difference in a few eternal centuries more?”

Doug Williams, writer + director
@Writeous Outrage and FUSE5
Here’s one from the director I worked with in NY during my playwriting days. She said the best way to beat block was to find famous quotes on the subjects (or themes) you’re writing about, and then make them your own.
The quotes serve as idea factories that 1) give you another perspective; 2) take you in a direction you’d likely have never found yourself; and 3) reinvigorate the internal creative process by making you think about something familiar in a completely different way. I’ve been doing that for years – in screenplays, novels, speeches, PR/marketing, online writing, et al – and it’s never failed me once.

David Game, academic publisher (+ nice husband)
Terence Rattigan, British playwright, was advised to join the RAF [Royal Air Force] to cure writer’s block.

Joe Lee
@ joelee.me
When in doubt or stuck, I doodle. Doodling to me is active so it literally gets me going. It’s my physical technique to kick start a mental stream of consciousness. Since my doodles are not even worthy of being called a sketch, they are uninhibited and uncensored. Also, I use scraps of paper, napkins, recycled printed sheets, anything that has no feeling of preciousness whatsoever, not even post-its or sketchbooks. (Think about how many artists who like to flaunt and show off their “sketchbooks.”) Start here, there, or anywhere – JUST DOODLE IT. As Bucky Fuller once said, “How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else.”


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