Thank you

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2013 was a year to be thankful for. I’ve been working on some challenging projects with talented and nice people for demanding but fair clients. And to surpass everything else, we got to invite young Filip into our lives. So in no apparent order: here’s my thank you’s for 2013.

José, Joas and Filip for making our house a home filled with love and joy. All the Cousteau-regulars for being honest and vulnerable. Young Gjiezing and Smiley Muskee for their excellence at musketeering. Marten, Grietje, Thea, Harm, Sikke and the other extended family in the neighborhood. Michiel and Bart for putting the finishing touches on our house. Arnoud and Liesbeth for your trust. Hans, Inge, Lianne and all the others at Marketing Groningen for smiles, cake and some of the most challenging projects I have worked on so far. Roelof for being patient and giving. Jascha for being frank, open and driven. Michael for asking me in. Martijn and Martijn at Soigneur for a great adventure and opportunity. Aldo for some grade A Autobahn transport. Corrie and Erwin for allowing me to have yet even more Bright adventures. Joop and Margriet for my second home. Tony for sharing a Zoe. Sander, Hans and P.E. for your patience. Ard, Reinout, Michiel and Arjen for never quitting. Paula for getting me to drive a Tesla Model S. Dennis, for not one but two excellent cars in a year. Rudo for buying a Porsche. Carolijn, Hannie, Jeroen and Anne for having me drive around topless all summer in some fantastic convertibles. Per and Lia for taking me to Le Mans and being awesome. Robocop Jaap and Mega Marisha. Willem-Jan for being the go to driver. Aischa. Mirjam for welcoming me as a Skoda driver. Jakob Warring for pulling my bumper. Wencke for the 208 GTI. Nienke, Mieke and Marije for good conversation and making me feel 27 again. Victor and Sarah for being there. Bart for navigating Tokyo with me. Lambert, Roelf, Ronnie and Roger for our UMCG woodland adventure. Meneer Berghuis for some excellent Latin translations. Julien and Laurieke for giving Bright day that roadtrip feel. Daniel, Jeroen, Selma, Jachim for making the Grensland project look so @$%$@ good. Johannes, Roelina and Tammy for dressing up. Paula for making Filips first week such a joy. All the people at the CBK, that believe I know something about art.

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Off topic #4: Theme vs. Concept

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One of the hardest thing to explain in the holy triangle of idea – design – concept is the meaning of “concept” . I have written about what a good (creative) concept is before, but obviously those few rules* still leave a lot of room for interpretation.

One of the words that can better help you understand what a concept is, is “theme”. To make one thing clear from the start. A theme is not a concept. Let me repeat that. A theme is not a concept. A theme is a subject or a unifying motif.

Think about a party with a gangster theme. The party will be dressed with known visuals related to gangsters. If done well you might imagine you are in the 20′s about to meet Al Capone.
But everything is about the outside. About looking like something else.

If you want a party with a gangster concept, you will have to rethink what a party is. What gangsters are. And how you can use the logic, the relationship types and the inner workings of a gangster organisation to reimagine what a party can be. You could think of a party where there’s people having access to a secret stash of booze and a game to be able to get to it. A party with areas that are under control of rivalling  gangs with a different set of rules at different tables. All the aspects of the party could be influenced by the inner logic of a gangster organisation. Quite different from just dressing up with a fedora, isn’t it?

* What makes a good concept
A good concept narrows your focus and therefore eliminates possibilities.
A good concept narrows your focus and therefore guides you to possibilities that are a bit less obvious.
A good concept inspires the design and production process.
A good concept is a guideline to the design and production process.

Thank you

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2012 was a year full of highlights, some repetition and a lot of realisations. I met new people, made new friends, lost track of others and got to know old friends better. I’m learning to love you more. So a big THANK YOU, in no apparent order and  in a semi-random selection, here you are:

José and Joas for unconditional love. Roger and Ronnie, for joining me on adventures. Cor, Anne-Karen, Ellis, Laurens, Jan Pier and all the other colleagues at the Academy for Pop Culture. The Cousteau crew. Michael Danker for travelling north and shooting some grade A material. Roelof for thinking along. Hannie, Dennis, Bart, Mandy, Per, Mike, Jur, Toine, Wencke, Ank, Mariko, Ralf, Diane, Femke, Anne, Jeroen, Piet, Arvyd, Pieter, Leo, Ard and Valentijn for allowing me to drive and write about it. Corrie and Erwin for being the client for some of my best adventures. Jaap, Bram, Thijs, Wieger-Jan and the rest of the Bright car delivery entourage. Geschikte Gasten for wanting to turn it up a notch. The Spa Clan (Ard, Hanneke, Rob, Marijke, Reinout, Madeleine) for an epic holiday. Remi for flying in from Switzerland for my birthday. Nienke for another year of valuable lessons. Victor and Sarah for providing an Amsterdam home. Richard, Annet and the other neighbors for giving our neighborhood a heart. All the people at the CBK, that believe I know something about art. Hans, Dirk and Inge at Marketing Groningen for challenging me. Maki and Jachim for creating some of my finest work so far. Mieke and Peter for an inspiring visit to Denmark. Marten, Grietje, Thea, Henk, Liselotte, de Tollen for being a big family right around the corner. Michiel, Joost and all the others that have worked on our house. Thomas Azier for a great night out in Paris. Harm Tilman for asking me some vital questions. Leonard and Per for an enjoyable stay in Istanbul. Jakob Warringa for being our go-to mechanic. Joke and Sita for finding me time and time again.

Introducing Jack + Stella

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Working as a lone gunman has a lot of upsides: you are free to work where and when you want, all the bounty is yours and nobody disagrees with you. But there’s a few drawbacks as well: it’s harder to settle into a rhythm, there’s no one to share the spoils with and feedback can be be few and far between. That is why I have collaborated with so many people in the past: photographers, designers, filmmakers and other creative types. But recently new types of work have come my way and it seemed as if a steady working relationship would be a good thing. So Reinout Tiekstra, Ard Boer and me have entered in a LAT (living apart together) workrelationship. On jobs we have that require extra knowledge, network, manpower and a feedback loop we work together under the name Jack + Stella. We’ll be presenting ourselves properly when we get all that work done.

Make

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Over the last two weeks I took a 50% break from my regular work (whatever that means) and made some other things. Here they are: A nice place to hang my TV, a nice place to showcase my magazines, a rocket and a sniper rifle. Now back to work!

(hover over the picture above and click the numbers on top to view all images)

Thank you!

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I have had an absolutely amazing 2011. It’s hard to imagine, but this was the year I went ice racing in Sweden with Mazda, I drove my first Ferrari around the Fiorano racetrack and I felt the love of friends and family when both my son and wife were hospitalized. So in no apparent order and with the risk of overlooking someone, here you are: THANKS.

Erwin and Corrie, for putting up with me and giving me the opportunity to write and have adventures for Bright. Ivo, for being more human than PR. Dennis Homberg for your kindness. Mare, Merijn, Ritzo and Marijke, for offering shelter in a time of need. Nienke Maat for telling me what’s up. Vincent for giving me a supercharged V8 ride. Victor for being proof long distance relationships CAN work. Dirk for a nice party. Esther for cooking me crappy chili sin carne. Marten & Grietje for letting us use your trailer without us feeling guilty. Harm for drinking all my beer. Thea for being strong and loving. Rudo for always having my back. Katy Barber for surviving falling ceilings. Roger and Ronnie for Frankfurter adventures with white russians in bathrobes. Jur for having me on your team at -27. 2C for cucumbers. Bart and Mandy for electricity. Gerard for getting me some beautiful new doors and a floor to dance on. Ard for nagging me to work at his office. Hans for surviving 2011. The other Ard, for getting me some grade A transport to Berlin. Jan-Pier for being headstrong and positive. Hendrik-Jan for being patient. Albert for putting life before contracts. Remi Sinaï for his name and a little conversation on an Abu Dhabi rooftop. Allard for getting my son some shoes. Team Australia for nearly beating the Russians. Dunja for having me do the talking. And most of all: José and Joas for being their radiant selves every single day.

Ciné Premières

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Yesterday night I hosted the shorts competition for Ciné Premières 2011. A film festival dedicated to French cinema. With some great entries it promised to be quite the night. And it didn’t disappoint. Especially meeting directors Julien Petit, Olivier Treiner, Nicholas Silhol and the actress Sarah Suco and talk to them about telling stories, finding work and the ‘Occupy’ movement was very enjoyable. Having to speak French, Dutch and English, pretty much at the same time, proved quite a challenge. Thankfully I got so many compliments about my hosting duties, I blushed the entire way home.

Moderation

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It’s been one hell of a week. I drove a Range Rover Evoque and an all electric Nissan Leaf. I was in the UMCG hospital for work and non-pleasure. I briefed, debriefed and rebriefed 12 students to make sure they come up with something special for their sponsors in the Online Exposure Rally (Seat, Volkswagen and Kia). Then I moderated a day about Social Media in Culture with the lovely Cor Hospes, Hilde Smetsers and Marjelle Over for K & C Drenthe. The ride home with Wia Aalders en Jorijn Storm (two colleagues from the Hanzehogeschool who happened to attend the day I was moderating) turned into a tiny adventure when Wia’s car stopped working.
You’d say it’s a good thing tomorrow’s a saturday after a week like this. But waddayouknow: I’m hosting Ciné Premieres short film night tomorrow in Groningen. Interviewing some of the French directors and actors in my best ‘Allo ‘Allo English. It’s all in that one word: moderation.

Meeting Godzilla

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I first met the GT-R in Gran Turismo 2 on my Playstation. We got along from the get-go. A leftfield choice for speedmerchants. Insane amounts of horsepower out of very low key design and components. And the GT-R has grown from strength to strength. Last week I finally got to shake hands with Godzilla as the GT-R is also lovingly called. And it was no disappointment, @#$%#$^&Y, it is a rocketship. I won’t spoil the story I still have to write for Bright magazine about the 2012 GT-R, but believe me, it’s gonna be a belter.

The DIY sabbatical

After another year filled with talks and typing I find myself in the midst of sawdust, tools and plans. I’m on a DIY sabbatical of about seven weeks. Two more to go. And although not every second is enjoyable (falling of the scaffolding comes to mind) there’s a genuine sense of achievement at the end of each day. Slowly but surely what was once a badly redecorated room with lowered ceilings regains its former glory with a few touches of 2010 here and there.