CAN THE INTERNET bring us towards true connection? How do we get there? Listen to find out.
DK’s Dipika Kohli and Mae Rosukhon, a Sydney- and Bangkok-based member of our inner circle of S P A C E, are talking together about ‘the internet.’ Quality of life, health and relationships that are built on trust: these are the things. ‘It’s social isolation that really gets people down, especially in the later years of life,’ says Rosukhon, who has a background in government and health. Are the stream of constant notifications getting in our way of building real trust?
‘In this contemporary world and searching for the new, new experiences, new contacts… there’s an upside and a downside, right? [But] the trust between your friends, it’s that solid foundation that will always take you through and that’s got strong substance underneath.’ –Mae Rosukhon.
Read about Mae’s recent thoughts on life, meaning, and connection at this intriguing article she wrote, by hand, about death.
DK AND FRIENDS TOGETHER co-host the zinemaking popup conversation salon and *happening* ‘Hei Kesä’ in Oulu. This is in collaboration with Kahvila Tuokio and Oulu Taiteiden Yö (Oulu Arts Night).
It was the delightful yellow bright interior of the cafe that got us thinking, ‘This would be a great place to host a zinemaking popup about summer, summer memories, summer stories, love, romance, all that kind of thing, and we’ll do it on 16 August to coincide with the citywide popup that is Oulu Arts Night.’
An idea. A chance encounter, or two, and voila. Special thanks to Paavo Heinonen for including DK’s event in the Oulu Arts Night programme and conversing with us about how to make it even better. A great collaboration like ‘let’s do this. Let’s make it really fun for people, and let’s talk about who would want to be there, and then, what we can do to design a magic moment.’
That’s what starts all this. Sparkly things like discovering people, places, and the brightness of a yellow interior that feels exactly like ‘Hi, Summer.’
Speaking of, big thanks to Anu Lakkapää at Kahvila Tuokio for offering
the space. DK loved meeting her and talking about her passion for making cakes. Plus, the espresso was really, really good. (A must for any venue DK chooses for our events, hah.)
A SERIES. Shout-out, too, to Eveliina Karsikas. Eveliina owns the cake and coffee place Cafe Onni in Kärsämäki, which is relatively new here. If I’m correct, it opened this very summer, and we happened to be in the same town, and found it. The colorful interior here drew our eye and that’s part of why we made a coloring-book to share along with our usual zines. Eveliina had kindly co-hosted this event, ‘Hei Kesä’, with us in that town earlier this summer, on International Zine Day. (See picture at left).
OULU. Now our team is looking forward to getting the popup installed, and opening up the new zine show on 16th. The first part of our programme is a workshop, and there are very limited seats. Tickets are €15, includes materials, plus coffee, for the zinemaking workshop. Here is our schedule for the day. We’ll have all of our new zines with us to showcase and share on the day, too. All were made in Finland this summer, the set we call our S P A C E || Finland collection. Here’s a picture:
16 A U G U S T
Zines. Coffee. Real life.
Oulu Arts Night
€15 (price includes materials, plus coffee) Ages 16+. Limited seats. Be sure to book in advance to confirm your spot: get tickets here.
Join Design Kompany and new friends in Kärsämäki for a once-off event, a Festival of The Zine. Celebrating International Zine Day, this will take place in various venues on Saturday, 21 July.
What are zines?
Zines are independently published periodicals. They are not fancy, nor are they mainstream. Rather, zines are part of the “indie, DIY (do-it-yourself) culture” that shares its spunky style with punk and other subcultures. With a zine you can express yourself freely, without the need for an editor. You can make as many or as few as you like, and you can decide who gets to read them, if anyone. Unlike social media and sharing of digital streams, zines are hands-on, and they’re shared in real life, with real people. You get to have a conversation. You get to see how people respond. It’s much more about the exchange and the quality of the connection, we feel, than it is about ‘producing’ for the sake of making ‘content’ for the masses. In an age where the internet can confuse and lie to us, zines give us a tangible grip on the here, and now, and remind us that at the end of the day, we get to create and write our own stories. The stories of our lives. The stories that remind us who we are.
FOR JULY CONVERSATIONS ONLINE, our workshops will also tie in with real life events. You’ll have a chance to contribute to some anthologies for the fall, and meet people we’re working with here in Finland, too. It’s been really cool so far hosting online workshops like ‘The Mirror,’ and salons like ‘A Nomadic Existence,’ and lately, a bizarre and curious one, ‘Strange Geometries.’ Applications are welcome, and preference will go to those who’re more new to DK. Built for those who could use some pause for self-reflection. DK are getting really good at holding the space and keeping you accountable to actually do the work. Read the blog post about ‘slow art’ and the ‘slow moment’, in particular, or just click the link below to see all the upcomings. (Or join this list to get reminders).
DK ARE INVITING a handful of new guests to participate in our online forum-workshop, The Mirror. Just six spots, details are here. (Note: a new eligibility requirement applies, please apply only if you’re new to DK in 2018.) New. That’s what we like, around here. Keeps it interesting. Airy. Fresh.
DK offer an 8-week online programme, JAZZ. It’s designed for jazz artists who want to be able to succinctly, genuinely, and meaningfully answer this question for new audiences.
First impressions count.
You only get 11 second to make that first impression, according to a friend in software sales.
And: ‘Oh. You like jazz? Jazz?… Jazz has a serious (design and) marketing problem.’
The problem with jazz today: ‘It’s hard to relate’
JAZZ MUSICIANS and jazz artists might have a great time making music, but when it comes to getting other people—fans—to see the value of it, that’s quite another skill set that takes more energy and work than many are prepared to do on their own. Hiring agents is one way, sure, but even then, you have to deal with them, and handle them, and that adds a layer of relationship management that is probably not ideal. Still, in a conversation salon with a gentleman who was in his 70s and worked in commercial photography all his life, we learned that if you don’t get an agent to market your work, for you, then you might as well give it up if you have aspirations to become ‘known.’
You do the work, make the art. Perhaps you’re aware of the commencement speech about this topic, ‘Make good art‘. But… is that enough? Artists and designers and musicians and architects and we smalltime business owners each struggle with this question. How much is enough? Where do I draw the line? Am I being true to the vision I set out to do?
But back to marketing. What if you could do it yourself, but do it in a way that really works?
That’s what we are investigating in the notes below. DK are searching the web and conversing with artists to get to know what works, what doesn’t work, and how to do this marketing stuff with real class in jazz, specifically. How do you keep it real?
What came back inspired this new 8-week only programme, JAZZ.
ART x DESIGN. Wherever we go and when we connect with our creative friends, we keep digging into this question, and others, like, ‘What do you do when you’re not sure what to do?’ Artists. Designers. Illustrators. Manga-ka. People who are doing and making, and sharing, and competing with the world of clickbait, short-form, and the elusive arena of quality, which is becoming very hard to define, very quickly, in light of the plethora of ‘lookatthisnow’ and ‘lookatme’ selfie-ism and related attention-seeking bits.
IN SEATTLE in the 2000s, DK were in the business of designing brand identity. Sharpening focus, and getting people to see what it was they truly wanted to communicate. That involved deep introspection, of course. Reflective questioning. In the end, most of our clients were those in the creative fields (architects, designers, and software developers). It got interesting. It started to be about the question, ‘Why do we even make stuff?’ and sometimes more obscure and existentialist than that, ‘What am I doing with my life?’
Now, I believe, personally, from those experiences, that a big part of the reason why it’s hard to get people to see you as an artist of a particular kind (successful? Is that the word?) is because it’s hard to clarify the ‘what I’m great at’ question to yourself. I mean, communicating that in a way that people can relate to and they can see how this is going to make their life better, in some way. If you’re an artist, have you honestly asked yourself this: ‘What am I great at?’ Have you clearly narrowed it down to just one thing? When we walked through our old brand identity design process for a friend who makes electronic jazz music, he told us that the process ‘really helps me break this down.’ That was a good indicator that sometimes just talking it out and getting feedback and clarity through the process (the design process, let’s say), can get you out of the old frameworks where everything is a possibility and niching doesn’t seem possible… yet. Talking. Clarifying. Niching. These are the words of marketers, aren’t they?
In his article, ‘Marketing Jazz and the Public Perception,’ at AllAboutJazz.com, Chuck Anderson writes, ‘I have some thoughts on the marketing of jazz musicians and audiences. Though it’s easy to blame the media (and they deserve some of the blame), I think the biggest problem lies squarely on the shoulders of jazz musicians and the jazz community… This community has never promoted or marketed its art and craft at the level or with the same intensity as other musical idioms… jazz… must be marketed with consistency and enthusiasm. It needs to recognize the role of fans in the success of any artist. The musicians have to do their part in promoting and marketing their art and craft… There is too often a distance and certain type of elitism that prevents audiences from getting “close.” This distance does not help spread the “good word” about jazz… The jazz musician and the jazz industry will, like any other business, have to invest in the services that are necessary to build a fan base and achieve worldwide exposure for their music, products and services. Read the article here.
Is jazz’ problem that people can’t connect?
Or something else?
What about ‘engaging with fans?’
This thread, started by jazz guitarist Henry Robinett, parses that query. Shows the difficulty in adjusting to the ways in which jazz musicians promote themselves and find new audiences. Is social media a great thing? Or is it a pain in the neck? What about the people who are ‘making it?’ What are they doing that’s so great, and are they really making it fiscally, or just in the eyes of their social media stats-watchers? I’m totally guilty of this myself; I met a pianist I thought was great and his big-deal promoter but when I went to twitter I saw he had not-that-many-as-I-thought fans. At the time I was on twitter a ton and was ‘growing my audience,’ but now, I’ve deleted it because… who cares? I’m interested in directly engaging, one conversation at a time… Maybe that’s slower… but I’m old school that way. I care about quality connection, that’s why I’m at DK. I care about art. Relationships are art. Music that’s great is great conversation, and that, too, is art. But I’m getting off topic, aren’t I? Check out that thread… it’s on a community forum about where the music is going and how to market it.
‘Hard to relate to.’
I’m sure you’ve heard some of these things, too, before? If yes, let’s keep talking, because I think we’re hitting on something.
What jazz has that’s interesting to business: Creativity, flexibility and innovation
Maybe we’re not the first ones, though. Check out this abstract from a researcher:
This paper applies the metaphor of jazz improvisation to strategic marketing planning, making specific reference to Piercy and Morgan’s (1994) marketing planning model. Jazz metaphors have become increasingly prevalent in management studies, but as yet there is no specific reference to their use in marketing planning literature. The aim is to fill this gap by showing how the techniques of improvisation around a structural core can be applied to marketing planning models. Current models are too structurally rigid, and we outline steps to a more flexible approach. We invoke two models – ‘jazzers’ and ‘readers’ – and aim to show that ‘jazzers’ will yield greater success through greater levels of creativity, flexibility and innovation; elements that are essential to the success of strategic marketing planning. After characterising the models of jazzers and readers, we will apply them directly to Piercy and Morgan’s model of strategic marketing planning. —‘Jazz and marketing planning.’ That’s the title. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Anyway, it’s by Noel Dennis & Michael Macaulay Read the abstract
Gain clarity and fine-tune the message with DK’s online workshop, JAZZ.
Jazz inspires business. Cool.
But what can jazz learn from business?
How to set goals, be clear about identity, make a commitment to a strategy, outline a program for communicating that vision. And yeah. Making sales.
If you are struggling with communicating your music and your style visually, DK can help. We’ve done a couple of really fun projects in the jazz scene: a drawing for a CD that came straight out of the notebook of a live-drawing session at a show in Copenhagen, for example, and a collaboration, ‘Math + Jazz,’ just ahead of a show of one of the mathematician-cum-pianists, who co-hosted with DK a small salon in the Elephant Bar at Raffles Royale in Phnom Penh. That was cool. Some pics:
Curious what people have said about working with DK?
Check out what our (mostly brand identity design) clients have said, here.
SCHEDULE. This online workshop is 8 weeks.
WHAT HAPPENS. Here’s how it works. Each week you’ll get an email with a thought-provoking conversation-starter. You’ll dialogue with DK and work through some of the ‘why do I do this?’ and ‘who wants to know?’ questions that anyone in marketing will ask you to think about. But with an additional component: a visual sketch of a single, unifying concept. The foundation for your brand. What does it look like? How does it ‘sing?’ These are questions designers like to ask their clients in early conversations during what’s called ‘the creative brief questionnaire.’ We’re going to go about it in online format, over 8 weeks. What you’ll get is a 5-word focus on the things your music does for people, and what makes it yours, uniquely, too.
WHAT YOU GET. Walk away with a clear picture of the ‘who I am’ and ‘why this matters’ questions. You’ll go through DK’s ‘focus’ programme, and we’ll work with you through an interactive conversation over 8 weeks to write your ‘brand statement’. That’s the deliverable.
FEES. This online programme is a flat, onetime fee.. Note: this does not include design, only dialogues and exchanges that lead to the ‘brand statement.’ This is a special sample-size programme that we offer so you can succinctly and memorably answer the question, ‘What’s your music like?’
Request more info
Use the form below to connect with us, sharing a link to your websites. More to follow, from there.
STAMMTISCH is MONDAY. Guest artist Mike Dynamo will talk with us about music and writing. More below. Ticket registration page is here.
Salons: What are they?
Design Kompany hosts conversation salons. This is what it looks like. Pictured, from left: ‘The State of Publishing’ in Durham NC with Mercury Studio, MAKE at Fishmongers Durham NC, ‘Modern Sikkim’ in Gangtok India, ‘Breakfast in Cambodia’ at TINI in Phnom Penh, flyer for Designers Korner standing date at Stumbling Monk, which looked like the last image. Good fun. These happened 2011 through today, in (most of the time) very small circles.
Meet new people. Discover S P A C E. At Monday’s meetup in Phnom Penh, STAMMTISCH. What is it? A place that’s not home, that’s not work. For conversations with a center, and not sides. No agenda, not religious, just let’s meet and talk. But briefly. Let’s play?
Monday, 16 April’s programme: ‘Welcome to the Creative Process’
Phnom Penh-based musician and writer Mike Dynamo will be joining us at STAMMTISCH.
His blog post, ‘Has the Artist Been Killed and Replaced by the Entrepreneur?’, inspires this week’s session.
Meetpoint: Java 2F 4-6:30. At one of the outside tables.
Here’s a light agenda…
5PM Artrepreneurship II
5:30PM Short Salon: ‘MAKE: What is the creative process?’
About Mike Dynamo
Mike Dynamo is a Phnom Penh-based musician, writer, and thinker. He knows a little bit about a wide mashup of topics—culture, film, video games—and can converse at length about anything with remarkable energy. Substantially, not trivially. (Though he does host a weekly trivia night at Lucky Gecko). His piece, ‘Has the Artist been replaced by the Artrepreneur?’ starts like this:
There was an interesting piece in the Atlantic from two years ago that was about the relationship between art and commerce throughout the ages – what it means and where it is heading. The writer, William Deresiewicz, delved into the paradigm shift between the “hard-working artisan, solitary genius, credentialed professional,” and the birth of the creative entrepreneur. I could barely wrap my head around it because it’s so difficult to understand what exactly I’m trying to create while still clinging to the old ideas that art isn’t meant to be a pursuit of massive attention as much as a divine gift from beyond to be used for its own sake. Read the full story >
About Dipika Kohli
Dipika Kohli is an author, artist, and designer. Her studio, Design Kompany, was founded in 2006 in Seattle WA USA, and has been exclusively freelance since. While in the US, she orgnanized a salon, MAKE: ‘What is the creative process, who uses it, and what changes as a result?’. This gathered more than 70 creatives and scientists around Research Triangle Park (aka ‘The Triangle) in NC to talk about these questions, together. Out-takes are at this writeup on Processed Identity. Ahead of the event MAKE, DK had asked the Ottawa-based graphic designer who runs it, Steve Zelle, to share a guest post with DK. That post, ‘A sprinkle of magic dust,’ is really great. And it’s here.
Are there ID or minimum age requirements to enter the event?
Can I come for just a portion of it?
Sure. But as we have very limited seats, be sure to register to confirm your attendance.
Can I pay on the day?
You can, but we do have limited seating. If you’d rather show up on the day, bring exact change to help us out. The tickets are: $15 + 1000 riel, so as to cover handling fees.
NEXT up, in our interactive magazine S P A C E, is ‘A Nomadic Existence.’ Our 12-week programme lets you drop into the ‘rooms’ where we are hosting deeper conversations on topics popping up each week. What’s been talked about, and what’s being talked about now, are in the protected-pages posts at this blog.
JOIN DK in KL this May for a short, popup zinemaking atelier. Atelier S P A C E is an international series in which people meet to work on an 8-page zine, together. Be a part of the international conversations unfolding in real life, online forums, and at these workshops. Make a space and join Atelier S P A C E for just RM 60 per session. Four sessions. Discover more here.
Breakfast in Cambodia (Kismuth Books // 2016) is the story of finding orderliness and a firm sense of self in the midst of a whirl of mixed identities.
Author Dipika Kohli (NPR, TEDx) explores, with a meander and a style that doesn’t fit into a specific traditional genre, what it’s like to get lost… like, really lost, and discover through the journey a sense of who you really are.
‘Finding ritual, daily, in a routine to take myself out for breakfast every Saturday morning for 10 years, that was how I found my way to calmness, clarity, and a stronger sense of self,’ says Dipika. ‘Being in Phnom Penh or wherever the year on the road would take us, prior to settling in here, meant finding a ritual and a sense of calmness in the day to day disruption of uprooting, wherever it was, whenever it was, was always temporary. Even in Phnom Penh, so much changes, so fast, that it’s hard to get a root and feel at ease. But this helped, and I wrote it down, and talked about how I had to go sit far from everyone, on a boat in Sweden, for six weeks in Scandinavia to figure out what I already knew, deep down. The truth of how to slow and calm oneself in a sea of chaos, that’s the secret that we each have to arrive at individually, but in Breakfast, I have put it down, the things I felt, saw, and heard, and how I got to know that it’s this ritual that makes it work.’
HERE IS A QUICK outline of what’s happening in April and May, in case you feel like applying to join DK in one of our new writing streams. Things have evolved since the 2014 cojournal, with the new suite of stories unfolding at Design Kompany’s active spaces just for conversations in forums to evolve, progress, and develop. Some of what’s new for just-beginning with DK is outlined below. We are especially interested in hearing new voices, so if you are new to DK this year, we are interested in hearing from you. Scholarships are available for anything for the right candidates.
Three new tracks for April & May workshops
SELF. SELF IS AN online workshop: this time, we’re focusing on the ideas of composition and sketching out the ‘who do I want to become’ question. This track is inspired by the work of Kandinsky. Another section, focusing instead on ‘how am I feeling now?’ questions, is inspired by Nin. Both are just underway so you can join us this week to be included in the new cohort for the 12-week programme. I’ll send you the orientation pack. The first prompt goes out Monday. SELF is USD $160. The artist’s way, the creative process, exploring the composition: that’s what we’ll be doing this time in both tracks. It’s for people who are in transition, who are curious about a new way of taking a good look at personal values and clarifying next steps. Built from a past career as brand designers, at Design Kompany, and working on, uh, a bunch of memoirs, hey! We are going to share more about that with anyone who decides to apply this week; learn more about SELF and how to apply at this page.
MIRROR SECTION Z is also happening, starting 23 April, by application. If you missed it in January, this is your chance to get ‘in’ on some of what people have been calling ‘astonishing,’ and ‘an opportunity.’. THE MIRROR Z is USD $160-200. Find out more here
COJOURNAL18. Next Cojournal is also coming into play, from 7 May. It’s 8 weeks or 12 weeks of writing to prompts designed to get us creatively engaged, and accountable, with and to one another. Limited seats. Application required. USD $120-$160. More here.
New ways of connecting, in S P A C E
Making the best use of the interactive form that is the blog, we are now:
Conversing with people in the S P A C E community through weekly prompts and new forums, which have passwords and stuff to keep things intimate.
ADVICE to young artists, this time from photographer Chuck Close. (A detail of one of his giant, floor-to-ceiling self-portraits is clipped above.) Very cool technically, if you have a chance to see these sometime, I recommend it. Also, Close is all about process, One particular quote about getting down to work popped to mind after the interview above. Here’s what Close said:
‘The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you.
‘If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction.
‘Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.’—Chuck Close [Hat tip SS]
A NEW MAILING LIST. A new plan for 2018. Redesigning behind the scenes. Innovate or die. Check.
Now that some things have been left behind, like a little zine pictured hiding here for someone to discover, DK are ready to host a new thing. SELF. Well it’s not really new. It happened in 2016. An online space that begins a dialogue about You… It’s for those of us who have been timid about saying ‘yes’ to new experiences, or taking chances, or showing up, but who wish we could become more adventurous. Built from a past in design and brand identity design, it’s a 12-step online workshop for those ready for a real shift. Is this you? Join the conversations. ✨Read more about SELF here: http://designkompany.com/blog/2018/03/27/3-april-self/
ON APRIL 1, a new collection, ‘Circumference,, will launch here at DK. It is a set of writing, imagery drawn and photographs made throughout 2017 in S P A C E. Our ‘Year of the Circle’ conversations in virtual and offline spaces led to dialogues that moved and shifted. In the end, we could see the gist of the thread: what makes for softness in our approaches to life, and work? Roundness, not squareness, that invites listening, seeing, empathy, and compassion. Which we need more of in this world, right? (Else we shall see more of the same: mansplaining, for example, and related irritations.) So DK examined those questions.
We read from Inward Revolution (J. Krishnamurthi), and Lady Chatterly’s Lover (D. H. Lawrence), the latter of which was originally titled ‘Tenderness.’ Marketing can so spoil a thing can it not? The original intention for the title, though, is… Important. When the author wrote this book, he had already figured out what we are just waking up to: toxic masculinity, the pursuit of power, the conflation of money for prestige, and the lack of care (and respect) towards women is a giant problem, for all of us. The inattentiveness to what tenderness can bring us, and I mean tenderness, for real, is as Holden Canfield would call it a big black eye. The sheer obliviousness is crippling society from feeling well. Belonging, wholesomeness. Morality, culture. So much sharing on this topic informed the writings born here. (The back and forth nature of ‘call and response’ is how DK design and host space. So the meander, softness, intrigue, discovery and comfort that come with a rolling circle, bumping into walls and falling into holes (HT Shel Silverstein), makes this collection whole.)
We studied Non-Violent Communication, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and Authentically Relating for this work of researching and corresponding with those members of S P A C E who opted to participate. This is how we grew, together, towards a new understanding. This is a co-created work, edited by A. Spaice.The S P A C E || Vol. III 2017 ‘Circumference’ collection includes the zine-stories S P A C E || Battambang (‘Here comes the Dance‘), S P A C E || Singapore (‘Dunlop & Perak’), and S P A C E || Ipoh (‘Highlands‘). Plus essays, Q&A pieces, features, and photo collections from Phnom Penh, Ubud, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and Penang.
We are sharing it for free with our members, on 1 April.