Workshop: Messaging for J A Z Z

Jazz artists are invited to apply for one of our online workshops, JAZZ, focused exclusively on visuals for this kind of music.

Starting in Seattle in 2005, DK worked mostly with software developers and architects to create strong, consistent and solid messaging strategies for people who are very good at the creative process. We adapted our style over the years since to bring more and more people whose forte is improvisation into our circles, and have discovered how to design a specific space for allowing people to discover something new through play about their work, their message, and their personal story.

A lot of jazz is confusing for many people.

Especially for people who are new to it. It takes a lot of work to go through the whole, ‘This is what this is, and this is why it matters,’ speech, especially if articulating the esoteric isn’t your thing. (I can relate to this: improvisations and making things up as we go, serendipity and chance encounters, and looking for the magic moment on that great stage that is the jam is very much in synch with what we do here, at DK.)

If you play, you play. If you design, you design. We’re the designers who love to play with ideas, words, and patterns, and that’s why we are offering this special package for *just jazz* practitioners to sample our process and get clarity on the ‘who I am and why this matters’ questions, there is now our special online workshop offer, J A Z Z. It’s by invitation, through the application process. Existential queries ahead; if you like that sort of philosophical meander while also sending us samples to listen to and talk about the arc of the narrative of your body of works, then let’s do this. Let’s talk. Apply here.

The Cues and ‘Coletrane,’ at DK’s reception for ‘Today I Love You’ // Photo by OMNI // 2012

Welcome to the party

SATURDAY AFTERNOON we hosted Arts & Letters Society at the cafe of the National Museum here in Kuala Lumpur.

Have moved over to Southeast Asia for the autumn tour to make more zines, meet more people, find new stories, and co-create works of creative nonfiction. (If that sounds like a tall order, well, maybe it is. But we’re on for the challenge.)

Why host popup salons?

‘Designers Korner,’ Stumbling Monk, Seattle 2006-9

I HAD GROWN tired of the usual meet ups around the places where I was living in the past. Seattle for tech events. Durham NC for the feelgood community spaces where, you know if I’m really honest, I never felt like I could be part of because me being me, I had one foot always ready to jump out the door and exit the country. See things. Go places. Meet people. Discover. Why? Because… the new. Searching and drifting, looking and listening. Managing to do this, somehow, in a wobbly way at first (2013 was difficult), but then, with growing confidence, and practice, and, hey, people who were interested in the same, and co-creating, and then, amplifying our work together because we’re moving in the same vein. Let’s do this, I’d say. Let’s play.

Things in S P A C E, 2005-present

 

 

An art of the moment

‘Breakfast in Cambodia’,TINI Phnom Penh,  2016

HAVING BEEN AT IT making Atelier S P A C E for a year now (pics on instagram, zines in our store), we’re getting more practice at the ‘how’ of designing the spaces in which new and different others can find remarkable moments of connection. It’s very airy, I guess, to say it that way, but what it really looks and feels like is a cozy, fun, light and casual conversation party, and, when it’s good, you’ll see ridiculously deep moments of insightful breakthrough that occurs when we are talking together. This happens between, and this bit is important, because this is what makes it S P A C E and not a general meet up, it’s between people who haven’t ever met.

Zinery! in Chiang Mai, with SB, 2014

Shifting and growing.. Moving and changing. The art of noticing. The art of paying attention. Less talking. More ambient being-together. Not over-intellectualizing. Calming down. These are the shifts, of late. This fall there will be more of them, I’m convinced. But what, exactly, and how, are still open to discover. If there’s anything I learned from Finland, it’s this: we are where we are, right now, at the moment.

Everything ahead ‘depends.’ Katsotaan, ‘let’s see.’ You don’t have to know everything up front and have it all pre-defined, agendas outlined, bullet-point lists typed up to distribute.

‘Origin,’ Embassy of Bulgaria, Phnom Penh 2017

The old style of DK (‘let’s get to the point, and make it snappy’) is morphing a little into a mellower, kinder new one (‘let’s play’). Why? We were always more about the play side of things, I think. Somewhere along the way we lost sight of that because DK turned into ‘a business,’ or ‘work,’ or ‘a consulting boutique,’ or, um.

What would you call it… ‘A job.’ A job? A job? WTF. DK is never a job. DK is DK because it’s a space for play, exploring, experimentation, discovery, co-creation, shifts, drifts, meanders, and the rest. I don’t want DK to look or feel like a job. So I’m writing this blog again, first-person, directly.

I hope you can enjoy with me the new stuff. Which, honestly, has been about stripping all the facades and getting back to exactly where I started, in 2005, right here. Blogging every day, from DK World HQ in Capitol Hill, Seattle. Telling whomever might find it interesting what my personal opinions were, back then. Embarrassing, really, when I think about it. But if it wasn’t for the blog I never would have found people like Seattle-based CE, or Durham NC’s JM, whose mentorship and patronage gave DK the boost it needed in those days to continue to evolve, to develop new programmes, and to test out some of the things that we had no idea about. I’m writing this as if it’s a big moment of reflection or some kind of wild milestone, or something, and it’s just… not that, but it… feels really good to go back to the original DK. Where we just played. A lot. Almost every day.

‘N’ Hanoi, Nhọ Nồi, 2017

In real life with people we liked, going to the parlors and bars and cafes and parks and museums and theaters and otherwise ‘third places’ and designing S P A C E. Who remembers the party ‘Dazzle?’ Or ‘Sugar?’ Or ‘Pop?’ I still remember when one of our guests said she’d driven past the house, then circle back when she saw a giant plastic floor lamp, a kind of round thing that looked like a big fat flower, blaring light from the doorway. ‘I knew when I saw it that had to be the place.’ It was. It still is. Now our lamp is blaring in a different kind of way: conceptually. I know, I’m getting esoteric here again. Sorry about that. It’s really not that hard, or intellectual, or anything. We’re kind of um, just. Um. Always. I guess this makes it really not-work. But I’ll say it. We’re just having a really good time. Like a party.

‘Expat’, Havana Durham NC, 2012

Remember Primal Scream?

Remember ‘Loaded?’

Yeah.

Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

S P A C E || Pappila popup

YESTERDAY EVENING.

Did a popup art installation here in Kärsämäki. Zines. Sketches. Magazines. Collage.

Three people put stuff together with DK’s zines and we made a tea room out of the front porch.

There are literally like 23,004 tea cups, saucers and related in the kitchen here. I think this place was originally the kind of spot you could stop in, whenever you felt like a chat or the need to unburden, and have a cup of tea.

Or twelve.

The Pappila Popup was fun.

It looked like this:

Popup at Papilla // DK 2018
Zines and magazines // DK 2018

This all started when about 4PM, I noticed a bunch of people beginning to turn up. Cars everywhere, suddenly it felt like the parking lot of some kind of a carnival. Then, there began a parade of *taxis*. Taxis out here in rural northern Finland are *giant.* They are bigger than minivans. They are serious things, elephantesque but black and yellow, that look like 12 people would be inside but then, only 2 emerge.

This whole thing was a ‘happening,’ as they say here in Finland. The actual happening happened to be a music concert. I’d heard about it since I got here–music, concert, August. But given the relatively small turnouts for most things I’ve been to now, I just had no idea there would be some 100+ people popping in. My hunch is that people
drove from far and very far (no big deal in Finland to take on long, long road trips, ‘Thanks for the offer to stay, but why would I need to overnight? It’s only 140km from here.’) They came to hear the music of Arja Korieseva — Elämäni Laulut. Glad to see so many people looking happy and enjoying themselves, the music, and the sun. And a few who popped in to say ‘hei’ and join us for tea. (Kiitos! You know who you are. Hyvää. JooHT Kaltio Magazine, At Johan’s, and Kattilakosken Kulttuuriosuuskunta.)

Secret event ‘Kesämuisto’ *happened* in Kärsämäki

Thanks! We had nice time and a private event. Come and view the zines on display through the end of August.

DK’s newest zines to be released at a launch party *soon* at At Johan’s KesäKahvila

 

‘Will you come to Oulu or Helsinki?’

YES. The first stop will be 16 August at Oulu Arts Night and then 29 August we’ll host ‘N’ Helsinki.

Read more >

Next up: Hei Kesä at Oulu Arts Night. Checkit!

 

 

A love supreme

The photo essay that celebrates DK’s love for jazz, improvisation, and the big book of PLAY.

Happy International #JazzDay

Is it April 30? Happy International Jazz Day. Many thanks to Herbie Hancock and the United Nations for making IJD. Thanks to this year’s organizers for including DK’s first Kuala Lumpur event, STAMMTISCH, in the International Jazz Day global events listings. To celebrate, we made you a kind of mix tape. A visual mix tape, out of the jazzy images we’ve made over the years here at Design Kompany.

 

To celebrate

Jazz

S P A C E
presents

J A Z Z 

A   G A L L E R Y

Music? Music can save us. We’re not musicians, but we love music, and I, personally, love the improvisational music that is J A Z Z. Sometimes I like to make word-poems, like ‘The Good Stuff,’ with my team (listen on SoundCloud), but I’m mostly an appreciator. I like to go to shows and draw jazz with pens, some of those pictures are below, and sometimes, I just like to cut-and-paste while the music is playing. Live. It’s neat. It’s fun. It’s a good conversation. And it’s getting even better. Every year we meet new people, new artists, and we grow to learn more about the ‘how’ and ‘howcome’ of making Art and also making S P A C E. For now, here we are.

And here you go. May I present…

The gallery, ‘J A Z Z.’

The A side

The Cues and ‘Coletrane,’ at DK’s reception for ‘Today I Love You’ // Photo by OMNI // 2012
‘I Went 2 the City (and There Was Nothing There)’, NYC // 2011.
Poster for ‘3N,’ the international popup ‘big blind date’ salon // 2015
‘Book of Blue’ live collage installation, jazZ happens!, with Nu Vudthivichai, Bangkok // 2015
Art by DK for Gunslinging Bird // Live drawing at 5e Copenhagen // 2015
‘Book of Red’, art book series // Hanoi // 2012-17

ART x THE JAM. It’s funny. I just went to a jazz club and met some pianists who played ‘free jazz’ and ‘bebop’ and that was exactly what I wanted to hear. It is hard to come by this kind of thing, here in Asia, and in the middle of a streak of long, beautiful, meandering conversation jams I found myself boarding a bus away from KL to process everything and just kinda thinking, ‘Huh. It’s all right, then. Do the thing you want to do. Make it happen for you.’ Advice I’ve been given before, in the 1990s. By, none other than someone who introduced me to the late-late night sets of live jazz, wouldyoubelieve. More about that to come, later, in S P A C E for the members who have been part of these internet and interconnective conversations for the last four years. (Thank you).

The B side

At No Black Tie Wednesday night in KL, I met Aya Setine and Don Gomes. Talked art. Design. Writing. Engineering. Chatted away with for a long series of minutes about everything, including the good Loston Harris, whose work I really love and wish more people knew about. (Check out his cover of ‘Shall we Dance?’)

At the show, I came over with my usual supplies for the ‘Book of Songs’ series, which is an impromptu set compiled from whatever falls to hand in the moments-just-before. This time, I had my pens, paper, index cards, and a knife. For no reason, really. But a knife for paper-cutting. Just in case. Ball point pens, in this moment. And yeah. No clipboard this time. The ball point pen worked all right. (It didn’t leak. I have been in situations where it leaks, all over, embarrassing, but kinda fun, too, because yeah, like paint to canvas, pen to paper. Flying around. Getting into it. This is the jam.)

The whole thing.

Play.

 

‘Book of Songs’ x ‘The Mirror’
‘Book of Songs’ drawings made at La Fontaine // Copenhagen // 2015
Drawing for the ‘Book of Songs’ to live jazz, Siem Reap
‘Book of Songs’ at Cabaret, Phnom Penh
Math + Jazz popup salon co-hosted with Mathias Aspelin at Raffles Royale, Phnom Penh
‘Book of Blue’ popup collage and live drawing at jazZ happens!, Bangkok.

POETRY. Quickly, a shout-out. Next day, after the jazz show, there was more conversation about /the art of art/ and related tangents and suchmuch. Continuing the jamming, as there was, for me, a feeling of ‘anything is possible.’ And a conversation on Thursday. That came organically and easily, and in real life, the blind date that DK had with the poet Saarah Choudhury; wow. Look her up, ladies and gentlemen and watch this space: @eastwest_nomad, on insta. So good to meet her. And we are going to do a Q&A soon, so watch out for that, in S P A C E. (Join us, see link below for how to become a member). All of these threads got me singing in the shower again. And also, they sent me straight back to the very beginnings of this creative-life story, and the early 1990s, a time when I started writing, drawing, making it up. It’s really funny: most of the things I do are not for commercial use now. I used to do that. Day job in newspapers; illustration art (not a lot. I never managed to be any good at commission-getting with that). Not a problem, though. I let it evolve, because I needed to see where it would go. Big warm hugs to Patti Rieser, too, who taught me the ‘jazz step’ to dance to, a little bit of a square, but nothing at all squarish.

JAZZ DAY. DK are excited today to participate in a world event that brings people together to improvise, and play. Celebrating jazz, and for DK, listening out for new jazz in Southeast Asia, specifically. We’re looking forward to seeing more new voices coming out strong from this part of the world, and hoping to also make more stages (formal and informal) for all of us to get out of our regular confined melodies and play a little more !*…. What is ‘!*’? It is this. A very particular quality of space, one in which everyone is participant.

A jazz violinist, MT, got us started on this, talking about gravity and stars and constellations, so vacuous and expansive.

And a pianist, TE, inspired more, and over the years, DK happened to stumble into clubs where I found trumpet players ES (with whom we conversed with in a short Q&A here) and HG, and others, and there have even been conversations resumed from decades-old threads that started in those United States, a place called Brooklyn. Thanks, photographer Yamini Nayar, and architect IK. More recently, I am jamming on these art esoterica notes with musicians MD and GL. Talking. At length. About why we make, why we make art, and why we make space for making. These are big topics! I can expand, another time, in S P A C E.

 

Explore S P A C E

MEET US IN S P A C E. Two last notes! For how to be part of DK’s programmes, workshops, salons amd othet things we are making, sharing, doing, delivering, conversing about, and generally designing more and better S P A C E for. The jam. (There are a whole bunch of people to mention, as I think about the life and all the jazz I’ve gotten to know, bit by bit, over the years. Bebop. Free. Let me know where that’s going on, and I’m so there. With my pens, clipboard, and a bunch of paper.) See you in the up.

—>ARE YOU A MUSICIAN? Check out this page, ‘Introducing J A Z Z.’

—>ARE YOU interested in supporting DK’s work to make more and better S P A C E?  Join S P A C E—Become a member.

 

Welcome to Connection, welcome to S P A C E

REPORTING TODAY from a secret location in Malaysia. For a bit of space, to reflect and connect, with some whose paths I’ve crossed very recently, and with those who are still engaged with DK through our mailings in [S P A C E 2018].

Allora.

‘New starts’, part LXII

I love starting over. I really do. It’s like when you open a new sketchbook and you’re just like, ‘Wow. Here we go. Where, though? Let’s go find out.’ I told some people in recent days I was in art school for like 10 minutes. It was way too early to be there, or really, it was way too wrong, for me, even then, even then I had a gut feeling about it… that style of making is just like production-oriented other schooling (commercial arts), and while I’ve no problem whatsoever with artmaking for a client (heck, that’s how I’ve lived these last 10+ years), I don’t think we should mess around with the ‘art of art.’ I will love to talk more about that in S P A C E when I get to interview someone whom I am sure you will adore meeting. I certainly have.

Anyway! This kind of quick-and-dirty art-for-the-sake-of-fame is just… not what I feel like real art is about. Real art is about experience, to me. About life, and about connexion-making. Not just you know, the usual kinds (love, work, blah blah), but about unusual and remarkable connexion. People whose paths might not have crossed, intersecting in fascinating new ways.

You know what most people say when I talk about this? ‘But, why, DK? Whatever is the point?’ These are the people who will never believe that I haven’t held a day job since 2005. The beginning half of the conversation with this set of people tires me. I stopped. I only talk now in S P A C E and with people I think would get into S P A C E aesthetically. It’s really weird. But anyway. Really, I should answer.

Why? Because quality. A pursuit of beauty that means we are noticing each other, for real. Not just superficially, gosh. Really? Come on, like how many of your ‘friends’ are going to show up for you when you ask them to come around to your show, or meet for a beer because someone just died, or something? Come on, be real about it. Ask yourself. Is all that stuff where you want to be spending your time? Not me.

Someone asked me for my facebook yesterday. I said I don’t have one. I don’t think he believed me. Then he asked for my number. I don’t have one of those, either.

‘How do people get in touch with you, then, DK?’

Mailing list!

Just being honest about it… about how I really… don’t collect people. I share, and interconnect, I hope, when it’s working that’s what happens, when we are all showing up for that kind of thing. It’s not arbitrary and it’s certainly not for everyone. The reason you have to get tickets for stuff we are hosting is because I want to filter out the people who are just bored and looking for something to fill their time. I want people to show up who want to show up for this kind of jam. New. New and different. New and different others, seeking meaning in a distracted world. Shall I add, an indifferent world? Because certainly this work we are up to at S P A C E and DK in general is morphing away, and very quickly, from simply being bored with boring (which is how it started, as a design studio), and catapulting headlong towards being intentional about noticing people who are not like you. Does this make it political? Possibly. I don’t know how this happens; wherever I go, I get involved somehow in things related to ideologies that move towards human connexion that builds, together, something interesting. Self-governance or maybe just art.

I’m not sure. Is it the same? Does one necessarily fertilize the other? What precludes these things? Is where we are going as a global society something to talk about, more? I wonder. (I’m just riffing here. Let’s talk, if you want to: there’s a form at this page.)

Day in KL

(Side story: ‘I studied the philosophy of art. A guy named __.’ ‘Oh yeah! What did he say??’ ‘It was a long time ago. I can’t remember.’ ‘…’ ‘…’ ‘…’ ‘Are you bored?’ ‘YES.’ <—- This is why I don’t go out, often, to the ‘normal’ places where it’s socially encouraged to mingle. And the exact reason I made S P A C E.)

I’m bored, of course, (of course? Is it a given, really?) with the status quo. Always have been. Always will be. The status quo is where stuff gets sucked into the pockets of mediocirty, the whole ‘We’ve already run that kind of a story,’ thinking or, ‘This is just how it has always been, DK, can we just go back to the way we’ve always done it?’ Me: Please, no. Please, let’s try something new. Can we? No? You don’t want to? Well, okay. Goodbye. How many times have I been stuck? 61. I counted. And now, let’s move forwards. Let’s go to Malaysia. Let’s go see who’s around, and what we can experience, together. Ready, set.

And… hello.

‘Kaunter Tiket’ the zine launches on 1 May. Hosting a few events with friends to kick things off. // Photos by DK and, immediately above, photo by: Araujojoan96

 

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Introducing J A Z Z

‘What’s your music like?’

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.comChuck 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.

  • ‘Too esoteric.’
  • ‘Obscure.’
  • ‘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.

 

‘Coletrane’ by DK, with DeLois and Carter Cue. Photo by OMNI, 2012

 

Sharpie art by DK. Photo by OMNI, 2012

 

 

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:

Art by DK for Gunslinging Bird, 2016

 

Art that we make looks like this feed at instagram.

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.

Readings from S P A C E

A POPUP CONVERSATION salon, with snippets from our 2014-2017 highlights from the ezine, S P A C E. We will be hosting this in real life at a venue in Bangkok to be shared with registered guests only. Free with RSVP. To RSVP, contact DK through the form here.

The why of S P A C E

WHAT IS S P A C E about? Starting in Battambang in Cambodia in Sept. 2017, we are moving in Asia to discover people who are curious, creative, and ready for something new. Our cocreated Battambang issue was on the topic, Ennui. In Singapore (10-12 Nov) our zine was on the theme The Third Place. In Penang (6-11 Dec) we took a different focus, Growth. The launch party for S P A C E {}| Penang is on Monday, 11 December, at the Bricklin Cafe at Hin Bus Depot. DK are looking forward to sharing the journeys from 2014-2017 around to different cities of the world to discover people and hyperlocal narratives, and pack them into short zines.

How did we find these themes?

Each is based on what conversations emerge when we meet new people in real life in those places, and simply take time to talk. Then we work on a piece that is cohesive, and is hyperlocal to the place and the contemporary narratives. These pop up from real life when we converse offline with new and different others. It brings storyfinding back to person to person contact, while ‘journalism’ becomes increasingly less human-centered. Who will we tell our real selves to? Each other, in real life, offline, away from package-making for others and towards more listening for common threads and similar experiences. In so doing, we feel more connected, DK have found, and inspired to improve, too.

What is Atelier S P A C E trying to do?

Consider possibilities. Try new things. Stay open. In a nutshell, it’s about helping people find ways to get out of their box. Comfort zones can be places where it seems cozy, but actually, lulls us into a creatively deadening complacency.

Our atelier is about designing a custom framework in each place that will set the stage for really interesting thinking and human connexion to actually *happen*, and DK select very carefully the venues, times of day, and themes so that guests of Atelier S P A C E can experience a relaxed, intellectually stimulating, space for dialogue. Dialogue of the kind with a center, and not sides.

It isn’t for everyone, this style of looking for the new and making zines in-situ, on the spot, with those we are inviting to play in S P A C E, but it works for people seeking a personal challenge to try new things and grow. Especially useful for people who have done a lot, careerwise, and seen firsthand that there are massive limits to what anyone can do on her own, yet few ways to invite truly engaging collaboration.

So we created Atelier S P A C E for this set of us. It is best for those who are interested in developing a creative voice, and making what is artful. DK has been practicing this since 2008 in Seattle, Durham NC, and Phnom Penh in workshops for a wide mix of people, and is sharing now through these popup ateliers tools, tips, and anecdotes that equip guests to become more confident creatively. Atelier S P A C E is a self-funded project.

Read about what’s coming up in 2018 at our calendar, here.

Scouting venues and making friends

PART OF THE PROJECT OF ATELIER S P A C E is, when I forget to be concerned about Programme design and making sure all the pieces are in the right order is letting things just happen.

It has been not quite two weeks since DK shifted from Singapore to scope the scene here in Penang. But already I feel like it’s been, in many ways, like meeting someone you’ve always known in a way but haven’t fully seen.

Like a pen pal. Or a distant cousin.

There are overlays that you can’t deny, a cultural identity that’s shared in a very tangential way, for me, here by the side streets of a warm and seaside town. I love this village feeling, it reminds me of Skibbereen, and very shortly I think I will feel ready to start sharing out loud and not just blogging into the obscure about Atelier S P A C E || Penang. That’s here.

Meantime it is just now posted, details and tickets and everything, to Eventbrite.

A designers’ guide to 25 of Singapore’s day-work cafes, art stores, and ‘third places’

 

 

AFTER MUCH SEARCHING ONLINE, and even more not-finding, I have given myself a writing commission. Go to Singapore. Walk around. Look at stuff. See who’s doing something interesting. Discover them, drifting towards whomever or wherever intrigues, without too much noise, or fanfare. Talk to people. And see where the cool stuff is going on. The good stuff. Not just what people say is interesting, or pay to promote, or whatever. No advertorials here. No sponsored posts. That is just not what we are into, here. No thank you. We are interested in real, genuine, and authentic conversations, with people who actually mean it when they say things, and who show up, and who are, like us, intrigued by the possible, the new, the near, the now and the next. When I go around town with my marked-up map, checking out some of the cafes to see if they really are the kind of places I would go to and work out of if I were, say, a designer or a writer with a laptop looking for somewhere to lay low and focus, or a place to walk into and get inspired, or a place that just has the kind of vibe you really want to have if you are looking for ‘your people,’ in a city that feels, from what I remember, on my brief past visits, to be… let’s say… distancing? Maybe the world is just like that now, it’s hard to find space for real life. True conversation, connection, connexion. Why do I care about this so much? Relational aesthetics, et al. So many reasons. Sure I can write and write and blog and blog and who cares? If I don’t meet you, in real life and eye to eye, then whatever is the point of it? Really. I’m serious. So I’m going to outline for a few people the 25 places that I will discover. I’m gonna shortlist stuff, and post about things, but not here, not in public space. In forums,like ‘Strange Geometries.’ New mini-guide to Singapore, writ for the discerning and authenticity-seeking who are coming from out of town. No maps or pocket guidebook stuff. Just, a list, and essays, and pics. First release will be to members of our eZine, S P A C E. Join us there if you want to read it. S P A C E posts weekly, it’s USD $7/week.

 

លេង

JOIN DK, DESIGN PHNOM PENH, and others in a conversation circle about:

លេង

Anyone is welcome. We are going to talk about the creative process, with a few simple exercises that you can try together with us on the day. Anyone can join. No special requirements.

We will be talking together in an open format about the idea of play. About creativity. The process of starting with nothing at all and making something interesting. What makes a thing interesting? What is art? What is design? What can we do when we build something together?

Here is a chance to talk together about these things.

Let’s *make something*. Let’s play?

S P A C E || លេង.

Free. RSVP to Design Kompany, for venue.

 

This Atelier S P A C E is kindly sponsored by Design Phnom Penh

 

Happy first birthday, Breakfast in Cambodia

Chapters of this book include ‘Talking Type in Phnom Penh’ and ‘Unbound from Ennui, Maybe’.

***

 

GREETINGS. Breakfast in Cambodia (Kismuth Books // 2016), written and illustrated by DK’s own Dipika Kohli, is one years old today. Continue reading “Happy first birthday, Breakfast in Cambodia”

Writing and hiding and autocorrecting in S P A C E

TURNING ATTENTION BACK TO THE CLOUD, in recent days. The ‘N’ in Hanoi was too, too fun. I want to take a nice long break from making more events, outside of the ‘Secret Event’ series here in Phnom Penh, that is. (More on our fb. I’m sure there are some links there now*.)

What I am having to do, in order to get to a place of feeling somewhat finished, somewhat like I have an idea of where the next series of S P A C E is going to go, is to sit quietly and be alone for long, huge, oceanswide stretches of time. Which will explain the hideout, here in Toul Kork. A place where I have only two or three particular outlets to go to in order to find the quiet room to go into the headspace that, you know, you need to if you are a writer-type, or a publisher of the big wide vast and uncomfortably probing question-asking that happens, in S P A C E. But so? I love it. I don’t care if no one is really going to be there, to read it. Because writing is the journey, a new kind of journey. And I am writing so much, so very much. Publishing things. So that, you know, my mother can read them. Ha ha.

*I don’t handle the FB here since I’m a terrible Luddite and don’t now how to post things, or make them sound interesting to read, or make you want to click to find this blog. This blog, however, I can manage. I like writing here, to you. I’m writing a lot, lately, in fact, with the others who are part of a group collaborative experiential project we call ‘A New Kind of Journey.’ The four-week orientation is ending next Monday, then we are moving forwards with whomever is ready to ‘N+1’ it with us in the next thing, ‘The Village.’ Find out more about these when you subscribe to Jas Plac’s free S P A C E.

Such a good group, conversing and connecting, and we are talking about some incredibly, ah, big topics. How quickly we can ramp up to the personal and large-scale, the big-picture kind of philosophical stuff that has nothing to do with what is going to happen on Friday or Saturday night (blech), nor the kind of thinking that has only to do with finan$ial engagements, which, when you really think about them, are a bit dry, aren’t they, as subject matters? I have to say when it’s time to close a contract I am terribly tired. It’s a fact.

Probably why I don’t do that side of the work here at DK anymore. I just was really, really bad at it. Leave it to the people who are terribly gifted at relationship management, and let me keep this blog as ranty as I like. Heck, it’s even funner, this way. I have no idea if I have to meet someone tomorrow who will be determining if DK is a ‘fit’ for them. I don’t even care, to be honest. I am happy writing away into the online forums, and also, at the subscription edition of S P A C E. Really good stuff is happening, this month. I can feel it. We have a new sequence underway, and an old one is getting packaged now as I compose it, properly fold it into a digital PDF that I can send to the subscribers, and newly subscribing. So that people can get a sense of what this stuff is, this ‘real enough to feel’ kind of motion that is imperative if I am, in any way, to show you that I am dead serious about this stuff. Publishing, in S P A C E.

Take, for example, Figure 1. Just immediately below, yes. Here:

Figure 1. Unfortunately the word processor is set to ‘French’. This book is in English. So of course it thinks everything is misspelled. C’est la vie, yo. C’est LA VE. Interestingly, ‘C’est’ autocorrects to ‘Chest’. Hmmmmm.

 

Figure 2. Which isn’t referred to anywhere. But wow. Look at this. I have been working in the spreadsheet, lately. I have been categorizing, cataloguing, and dumping whole bunches of things. In fact, I got so excited about the ‘figuring it out’ thing that I almost designed another eWorkshop about how to life hack. But then, AM said that was getting in over my head. That I should focus on writing and publishing and editing. And hiding out, to get that done. So I am.

 

 

 

 

MORE TO SHARE, especially if you are in the online circles. Curious about what’s happening? Learn more, after the jump. Meantime, I have to go. I think this couple that just came in (who are from my native country, and therefore extremely loud) are on some kind of work-one-upping conversation slash tindr date. Time to go.

Jump!

16N in a pic

AT LAST, the picture of our guests at ‘N’ Hanoi: NARRATIVE. What stories do we tell to the world? Which ones do we tell ourselves? In this brief encounter, 16 people whose paths might not have otherwise crossed conversed and wrote, read and listened, in a space of just 2.5 hours. A magic moment. *!

’16N’ Hanoi happened on 27 June 2017.

Choosing colors from a 256-box grid

DID I TELL YOU that when you join ‘N’, you get to choose a color from the 256-box color grid that is the RGB palette for web-safe colors? Yes.

GRID. THIS MAY SOUND like garblety-gook to some, but to others, it’s entirely clear. Of course one would enjoy with relish the opportunity: take 16N, which gathers 16 people in 16 cities, and let each guest choose a color, a unique ‘box’ that identifies her or him or no-pronoun, in a way that makes, you know, just enjoy the personalities that come through when we choose a color. So simple and light, right? It helps, I think, it helps us not look at each other as compilations of stereotypes. Stereotypes about people we see, and make calls about, stereotypes that are implicit and unconscious and culturally programmed. Ones that we’re not even aware that we have.

Does it make sense, kind of?

I feel we get caught up in this kind of thing, this kind of thinking, like: ‘Yeah, yeah. I can relate to you, because you’re like ___.’ A ___ that I have some experience with. So I can put you in a box.

Well.

Let’s just do that to ourselves, shall we? Shall we put ourselves in the box of our choice? Let’s be colorful.

Owing to that fact that I am in complete administrative overhaul here at DK World HQ, because of some new people joining me and helping me figure out how to be more efficient and smart and life-hack-y, I have gone through and painstakingly organized everything I have archived ever. (Well, at least since showing up in Asia, in 2013, that is.)

There are numerous splotches of paper, blotters, things in diaries, notecards, index cards, post-its, spiral-bound notebooks, looseleaf books, folded-over articles made into new kinds of zines and books to showcase, one day, in a light installation that will be invitation-only here where I am, presently. (Phnom Penh). And so on. But yeah, I also had to go through and put all the numbers for all the hex codes of colors that have already been chosen into a file. One place. Everything goes in a box!, and then, now, I can look at them all, and I’ll make a grid for all the 4 N events so far. That would be… 16 x 4… We are 25% done with ’16N!,’ wow, then what will I do. Hmmmm. Anyway, this is okay, because I want to make sure to show the journey, with you, as we go. Not just talk about it and stuff, but really show. SHOW, don’t tell, right? But I’m telling you that I want to show. What does that mean? Does that mean this is an oxymoron? Wait, what?

 

First ‘N’ selfie…

SELFIE. ON FRIDAY I WILL POST, at this very blog, the selfie. I’ve not shared any photos from any of the ‘N’ events so far (3 previous to this one), because of… lots of things. But I will, on Friday. At this blog. The selfie! That we took, together, at ‘N’ in Hanoi. That was such a moment of random and spontaneous fun. Let’s take a picture, said one of our guests, a portrait photographer who simply just ‘got’ this idea, and came, it was totally a blind date, like many, many other guests who showed up, not knowing, and it was a 16-way blind date, mostly, well, kind of, for many of us, at least there were bunches of permutations and combinations with new and different others that made it what it was. On the night. ‘Twas grand, like, and I slip into my southwest Ireland accent. Grand stuff altogether, mighty fierce craic. But it… was. That’s why I can say it like that. (You know, if I could just sit down and talk to you in real life instead of blogging here, then we could have the whole intonation and rhythm and eye contact that makes communication so nice, so human, so warm.) In fact, it is so important to me, and to our team here, to move towards those kinds of conversations that I am not blogging as much, I am not emailing that much, and I am only talking with people who are in our online circles in S P A C E. Why? So we can meet. Each other. Together. In real life. Did I say together? It’s so great, when we do. Be sure to join me, if you are in Phnom Penh or in some city somewhere that might have a good critical mass of people who, you know, are interested in things. (Or have an ‘N’ in them.) To the journey! And the selfie! Next!

A Poetic Narrative, by ‘N’ Hanoi

ON 27 JUNE 2017 in Hanoi, a mix of exactly 16 people got together for ’16N’, a traveling conversation salon on a theme that starts with an ‘N’. This time, our topic was NARRATIVE. ‘What are the stories we tell to the world? Which ones do we tell ourselves?’ and other questions popped to place as we took three floors of Nhọ Nồi, small cafe in Ba Đình, quite by surprise. An installation like no other ‘N’, this one resulted in a flurry of poetry-writing, on the spot.

This spot:

‘N’ happened here, Nhọ Nồi. (And on two other floors, too.)

***

 

FEW INSTRUCTIONS ISSUED FORTH, and that, I believe, is why this ‘N’ unfolded as prettily as it did. Days before ‘N’ at our first meeting, guest TN had said, poignantly, ‘Sometimes you have to let a thing happen instead of make it happen.’ Inspired by the notion that nothing needs to be forced (including the number 16), on the day itself, we let it flow. Looser, lighter than any other ‘N’ programme so far, this one gave way fully to the playfulness of our guests, I thought.

[Right, ‘N’ Hanoi? We did that. Didn’t we? We wrote impromptu, we eased into it, found a groove and a rhythm, and wound up having a poetry slam. More soon, in a protected-page post to follow with a certain picture, but for the moment, these are the three poems you all left behind… I thought you might like to read them again. To co-discovery! To meetings of chance! And to… real life. Enjoy, enjoy. More soon. <3]

 

***

I.
‘How do I fix this?’

I have always wanted to be blonde
Does everyone experience Fomo?
Fomo can be a motivation for someone?
I’ve recently started using the word “fomo” as an action verb.
Sadly, nobody understands what I say.
Sadly, sometime, people hate my pictures.
I think you’ll always find people that disagree with you.
I guess it depends only on their intentionsKeep taking photos!

Thankfully
you will be cured
during
the journey.
What can you break with the world’s smallest hammer?
Just forget it,
Use your
feet.

 

***

II.
‘Nameless’

I’m really terrible at remembering names.
LET’S HAVE BREAKFAST
She always loved him making her smoothies in the morning.
Then he popped a mint in his mouth;
I love these flowers
A terrifying hue of violet
‘Can terrifying be a positive description of something?’
‘Yes, if you overcome your fear…’
‘Terrible love cannot be overcome…’
‘Anything can be
overcome by
true love.’

 

 

***

III.
‘Subtle vibrations’

I have a life here.
14 people in the world are richer than all the rest, self-evidently
The truest measure of their riches
Is the willingness to fold themselves open
One day you will have all the love that you’ve given
If you have not given enough love, will you not be able
To see the love that everyone
Receives?
I see what I want to see. And you?
The sound that weasels make playing in a ball pit.
A little known fact: weasels are deaf, they can only feel vibrations.
*!
I wish I was a terrifying weasel
So I could produce terrific coffee.
Such a small thing like coffee
Can change your whole day! Why?
Because of no reason at all
Except that
We are
Here.