Good Morning McCann - Creative Conversations
The theme of the Good Morning McCann, Content Conversations was undoubtedly relatability. If content is king, then humanity is the divine ruler. In order to create content that is meaningful to people, it must be relevant to their lives. The three panelists, Ji Lee, artist and Global Creative Lead at Facebook, Arianna Margulis, illustrator behind the account @butlikemaybe, and Nathan Pyle, writer and illustrator, described this aspect in various different ways.
Ji Lee grew up wanting to be an artist or graphic designer, and got his first break with a project where he printed 20,000 blank speech bubbles and put them on advertisements throughout New York City. People started writing in their own captions and the project went viral. Arianna Marguilis started doodling her own life experiences, as she describes by “turning her broken heart into art,” and found many Millennials relating to her “anxious but optimistic” content. Arianna’s illustrations include a girl in various situations that mimic her own experiences -- feeling out of place at a dinner party with ritzy influencers, or getting drenched by a passing car on the sidewalk in the rain. Nathan Pyle uses Instagram Stories as a backdrop to tell both mundane and dramatic stories of inanimate objects, pigeons, and squirrels on the streets of New York City. With an added layer of human connection, Nathan shows people how to use the platform to tell stories of their own creation.
On their creative process, each of the panelists described how their art is derived from their own lives. Arianna has a running list in her phone to document the events that she wants to use for future illustration. Ji takes notice when curious or interesting thoughts pop into his head, and works to visually express those thoughts. When Nathan first moved to New York City from Ohio, he was struck most by the crowds and noticed that he was always in everyone’s way. It is through this type of conflict that much of his art is born - by exploring various conflicts and resolutions in every day New York City life.
Each of the creators also described how modern technology has helped them reach entire new audiences, and propel their work forward. Ji described how a “redundant clock” he dreamed up and designed is now a real product because someone posted it on Reddit and created a physical product. The Internet enabled Ji to find a manufacturer who is now producing the clock in greater numbers. Ji helped his father start an Instagram feed for cartoons that he creates for his grandchildren, which now has hundreds of thousands of followers - giving his retired father not only a way to connect with his grandchildren who are living in another country, but also a second career as an influencer. Arianna described how she draws her illustrations with Sharpies, then manipulates the images in an app on her phone. She has also utilized IGTV as a place to experiment with illustrated music videos. When she began drawing, she would DM all her friends and family with her are to generate interest and exposure. As she described, this is an era where Beyoncé can potentially see your work if you put it out there, and social media platforms make that possible. Nathan explained how vertical video makes it easier for him to tell stories. By pinning text on the various pigeons and objects, vertical video enables quick communication and scene changes because when the pinned text goes out of frame, it disappears, and new text can be overlaid to continue the story.
Ultimately, for brands to utilize these creative tools, they need to ensure that consumers are connecting with the message. As Nathan said, “When people respond to you, that’s a big deal - it means they have something to say and are really resonating with the work.” Arianna explained that it’s useful for brands to share a general feeling that they are trying to evoke, or a general message - so that the content creators can use their unique voice for the brand. Ji shared a challenge in this new era of social media connection -- that transparency is a critical factor for consumers when considering which brands to support. Ji explained, "Brands that are succeeding have empathy. It’s not just about getting in front of consumers as much as possible. Now is the best time to be a creator, because we have the tools to create and instantly distribute.”