Things Creatives Do When They're Bored

Creatives get bored. We need side projects and outside stimulation. Advertising is amazing and exciting, but truly creative people need other outlets.
Here's RC's story.

(Side note and portfolio school plug: One of the best parts of portfolio schoo is the people you meet. For example, Caroline, who is now one of my best best friends. And RC, who I haven't seen since 2006, but follow on Facebook, Twitter and his blog. Not because I'm obsessed with him (not like with Cullen Jones) but because I'm entertained and inspired by him. 

Hopefully you will be too.)


Who are you?
RC Jones, Senior Copywriter, Chicago, Wunderman

Why did you start this tumblr?               
A tweet I wrote in the spring of 2011 was the inspiration for the first coolness graph. "Whoopie cushions are cool, but I'm pretty sure that an entire Whoopie couch would be awesome." My friend/coworker Dave Theibert stopped by and said "Yeah, but Whoopi Goldberg wouldn't be cool at all." I added that to the graph, and what started as a silly one-off idea has transformed into a hobby that helps me express my creativity in a way I'm not necessarily able to at work. And best off all, I have the only say and the final say. I'm both the creative AND the client, and there are no restrictions.

In December 2011, I decided to create and began uploading graphs. For the first two months, I would get a couple of comments, likes or reblogs with each post. I didn't think many people were looking and that was fine. I wasn't looking for creative validation, I just wanted to have a place to collect and show the graphs. 

Where do you get your inspiration? 
Conversations are probably my number one source of inspiration, followed by TV shows and movies, pop culture, Twitter, The Onion and the Internet. My wife, coworkers, and friends are big contributors, whether they realize it or not.

How often do you work on it? How do you keep it going?
I post anywhere from 1-10 graphs a week depending on how much time I have to draw, scan and upload them. I have an ongoing list of ideas still to be graphed. As long as I stay curious and keep my eyes, ears and brain open I have no doubt that I can keep this going for a while.

What do you hope people would gain from it?

Laughter, entertainment, a break from the day, a different perspective, money for college (my son)

What feedback have you gotten? 
Tons, and it's all been positive.

Around Valentine's Day I shared a graph on Twitter about cool and uncool places to declare your love. Nick Seaman, a friend and follower, unaware the graph was mine, sent a tweet to the guys behind "I Love Charts." One of the creators of that site then wrote an article about Coolness Graphed on I was blown away, and my graphs were no longer known to only a handful of people. Along with Forbes and I Love Charts, a number of other sites have written about the Tumblr, including SNAP! MagazinePleated Jeans, and The Fail Blog. One graph has been liked or reblogged over 30,000 times on Tumblr alone. A couple are in the 100s, some are around 50 notes, but most range from 4-20 reblogs or likes.

Does this help or hinder your work?
Both. When I feel I've hit a wall on an assignment I can take a couple minutes, make a graph, and come back to it with a fresh perspective. It's a release. If an idea for a billboard or radio spot gets killed I translate it into a graph and redeem the idea. Likewise, I’ve written copy based on ideas from graphs I’ve made. At the same time though, in less-than-entertaining meetings I find myself brainstorming graphs only to realize later that I might have missed some important details.

What's next? 
More graphs. I've had a number of people tell me I should make a book of them. Or try to syndicate them. We'll see. I'm not sure which of those things is cooler.

What advice do you have for creative wannabes?

Look, read, walk around and take in the world. Do things that seem like they have nothing to do with creating. Not only are those healthy habits, chances are they'll provide insights you can draw from. Your brain is a well, and the more you fill it up the more you can draw from it.

Make what you'd like to look at. If the copy you're writing, photo you're taking or layout you're creating doesn't interest you then chances are it won't interest anyone else. Make something you like and at least one person will dig it, the most important and critical one you know: yourself.

Don't worry about not being known when you start. Or for awhile. It's okay to be obscure. Do good work and people will notice. In the meantime, you can work out the kinks and develop your style and hone your craft. By the time people catch on, you'll be better than when you started.

Play nice with others. There's no reason to be a jerk. Any creative field involves collaboration and being easy to work with and open to others' ideas and opinions, and able to build on them, will take you far. Besides, it's a small world and word'll get out if you're difficult to work with. Be kind, be a breath of fresh air to those around you. Be a lamp or a ladder or a lifeboat. (I read that somewhere.)

Also, get a candy bowl. That's great for making friends.