Tag Archives: Andy Warhol

Sticky Lingers

6 Sep

Sticky Fingers isn’t the best Stones’ album, for my money that’s Exile on Main Street.

But it has the best cover, plus the provenance of this letter from Mick Jagger to Andy Warhol, commissioning the artwork.

You may have seen the letter, it’s  been posted many times, usually leading to one of two conclusions.

  1. Mick Jagger – best client ever.
  2. Best brief ever.

But there are three sides to every story, and there’s another way to parse it.

jagger letter

First, “I leave it in your capable hands to do whatever you want….” is not exactly a brief, as much as giving carte blanche, which is something rather different.

Merriam Webster’s simple definition of a brief is: instructions that explain what a person is supposed to do.

And bestowing total freedom is essentially the opposite of giving instructions.

Of course it would be nice if clients gave us total freedom, but invariably they don’t, and realistically we don’t expect them to.

In any case, Mick Jagger is not the client, or at least not entirely.

He is also the brandor at least, a major element of the brand.

The confusion arises because most brands are inanimate.

Jagger clearly isn’t so he gets to control the process.

Sadly, most brands lack the ability to speak for themselves.

If they did, the night would be filled with a thousand screams.

“Please give me better creative. Please!”

If you close your eyes, you may just hear them.

What’s Cookin’?

30 Jul

In 1968, Andy Warhol may or may not have said, “Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”.

Today, it’s debatable whether anyone’s attention span lasts even that long.

According to Medical Daily, humans now have a shorter attention span than goldfish.

There may be an entire school of philosophy that considers living in the moment a prerequisite for human happiness.

But why worry about that hippie shit, when you can just play Clash of Clans?

Or is living in a virtual moment, living in a valid moment too?

Maybe after 2000 years of civilization, we’ve earned the right to be flighty and superficial.

The right to enjoy: cat videos, royal babies, Kim Kardashian, “reality” TV, and the quasi-news-channel-still-known-as-CNN.

The zeitgeist of the early 21st century may well turn out to be distraction.

Of course, pop culture by nature, is ephemeral and distracting.

It’s only with hindsight some of it attains greater significance than it merits at the time.

When the pop gets dropped and we’re left with culture.

At Warhol’s first major  show, you could buy one of his iconic Campbell’s soup images for $100.

Hardly anyone did.

In 2010 Christie’s sold one for just over $9 million.

This reappraisal of artists has been going on for centuries.

Charles Dickens was the most successful novelist of his time.

He created some of the most beloved characters in English literature but was considered a low-brow populist in his day.

Henry James condescendingly called him, “the greatest of superficial novelists”.

Not until 1962, nearly 100 years after his death, was he deemed worthy of serious academic study, when a young grad called Michael Slater started work on the first PhD on Dickens.

Today Dickens is probably the most studied author in the English-speaking world, after Shakespeare.

Shakespeare himself was considered merely “talented” in his lifetime.

His reputation as a literary giant wasn’t widely acknowledged until the 18th century.

How will today’s distractions fare—will anyone care about Katy Perry in 100 years?

I’m not guessing.

Longevity is unpredictable.

And to paraphrase Ol’ Blue Eyes, all you can do, is do it your way.

Warhol’s way was reimagining everyday objects like Campbell’s soup cans.

I worked on the Campbell’s account for a while.

And as an expert, you can trust me when I say:

Life is like soup.

The trick is to discover your own recipe.

Bon Appetit.