Mark Pollard is VP of brand strategy at Big Spaceship in NYC.
By way of down under, he Founded the first globally distributed, full color hip hop magazine in Southern Hemisphere. Now dabling with some of the largest brands in the world at one of the best agencies in the world.
Basically the guy’s a straight fucking shooter.
He complied a list of “10 things about trying” that I have below. I appreciated this, and hope you do to.
”I recently got put on a list. Always feels a bit weird, but deep down I dig it. It was for the inaugural Creative Sydney – 100 Creative Catalysts. I’m on there for “Bringing together Australia’s hip hop communities throughStealth“.
Doing cultural stuff – entrepreneurial cultural stuff – can feel like a lonely pursuit. Lots of late nights, no sleep, little money… for years. I did what I did because I loved it. For me, Stealth was self-expression, a creative pursuit, but I felt inspired by the idea that I could help people, connect people, and provide a platform for the underdog. The thing is, when you do media, it can feel like everybody wants something, like every conversation has an agenda. My agenda was always self-expression, not fame – the difference is something I think I can pick quite quickly in upcoming writers.
So, this bit of recognition – I dig it. It’s like the time I opened my mail and found that New York City Library wanted to subscribe to my magazine. And the time I was in a bookshop reading about youth subculture and saw a quote from something I’d written. Sincere and unexpected.
I was going to talk at the Epic Fail event for Creative Sydney. I put some loose thoughts together but ran out of energy, time and headspace to do it justice. Here’s what I was going to talk about…
1. You actually can do anything
I released my first issue of Stealth in June 1999. Ten years ago. I was 21 at the time. But I actually started getting the issue together over 6 months prior. I was at uni, earning $150 a week working in a digital agency, sharing a single bed with my MRS. I taught myself how to use Microsoft Publisher, then Quark, to lay out the magazine. I managed to find a printer who had affection for hip hop and said that he’d print my first issue for whatever money I could raise. I think I raised $1100 or so. I had no idea what I was doing. But when I put my original media kit together I seriously thought, “Why wouldn’t a company want to advertise in this?” Within a few years, the magazine went full colour and was distributed in over 10 countries.
Lesson: Blind faith and commitment are incredibly powerful
2. Starting is most people’s problem
I’ve been fortunate enough to know a lot of smart people. They all have ideas… or an idea that they’d like to do their own thing. They just don’t know where to start. To them, I’d always say “Start at the beginning”. The ‘beginning’ is who you are: knowing what you’re about at that moment in time, what you’re interested in. Yes, what you’re about will change but if you forever wait until you’re ready, you won’t act.
Lesson: Take a stance for what you’re about now and act
3. Passion and action are magnetic
So, now, I work in advertising. And, between Stealth and my time in adland, I’ve come to realise the currency of confidence. It gets you jobs. It keeps you in jobs. But it’s tough work – and escapes you frequently. Thing is, a lot of people wish they could do – and are attracted to people who do. That’s the cynical take on things. The sincere take on it is that when you get off your rear and do something, a lot of good people will actually help.
Lesson: Build it and people will help – you don’t have to be lonely
4. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder
I spent a lot of time on each issue of my magazine. I kept a loose count once and I think I got to something stupid like 600 hours – selling advertising, doing the layout, writing, emailing, packing subscriptions, sticking CDs to the cover, updating the website. But I was never happy with an issue. I still feel I have unfinished business.
Lesson: It’s OK to be imperfect because others don’t judge what you do like you do
5. Perfectionism torments
When is ‘good enough’ good enough … to go to sleep, to stop thinking about it all?
Lesson: Stop obsessing – your tomorrow will be happier for it
6. Your idea can become you
Through my early 20s I was doing freelance web, design and writing work – in addition to Stealth and various events I put on. And as I got to the point where I thought that Australia was just not the place for what I wanted to do, it took me a few years to detach myself from my idea. It was what I’d done my entire adult life. It was my social life, my network. It hurt to move on. I felt like I was compromising who I was. I was scared.
Lesson: Keep healthy ties with people completely unrelated to your idea
7. Nothing ever goes to plan – especially when you don’t have one
My granddadalways asked me what my plan was. I didn’t know. I was still a kid. I just knew that I dug what I was doing. I wasn’t doing it for money. In fact, I was anti-money. I didn’t like commercialism – despite selling my magazine.
Lesson: Make a plan – on one page if you can
8. Burnout and depression suck
The pattern for each issue I made was ‘obsessive making’ followed by low times. A lack of sleep (I’d sleep 3-4 hours a night for months) and stressing about imaginary deadlines and money will do that to you. Having said that, independent magazines are a tough business. For instance, we used to distribute through Tower Records worldwide. When I sent them an issue they’d actually send back a cheque for 50% of the value of the magazine. This was utterly rare. Most distributors paid 3-6 months after an issue was taken off the shelf (ie 6-9 months after I published an issue). I was trying to be quarterly so, in theory, I had to cover 2-3 issues before getting paid for the first. Also, I wanted to fit a lot of words into the magazine so the font was really small… this created a lot of additional work.
Lesson: Keep it simple and realistic, don’t over-commit, and don’t beat yourself up
9. Sharing ideas is hard
I wish I could have shared Stealth with someone… I mean, the dream of Stealth. I think my identity got too tied up in it to share it. It was also hard to find people with business acumen and an understanding of the culture – and that didn’t want to pimp it.
Lesson: Solo is tough; take a risk on good people
10. It’s easy to get your foot in the door in Australia – but then what?
I’ve written for free for soooo many magazines. Anyone who was doing something with integrity, who shared a similar ideal – I used to give them content for free. America, England, Canada, Korea, Japan. Every now and then, one of the magazines overseas I was involved with seemed to grow big – like publish regularly, have big advertisers and distributors. It made me think I was spending too much time in the wrong country. The scale wasn’t here. Blind faith can only carry you so far in Australia. I don’t know who to blame but I want to blame someone – just because that’s a normal human reaction.
Lesson: Think beyond Australia – or be content that your cultural pursuit may just be a hobby”
DECEMBER 7, 2012. AMERICA.
Your favorite crooners favorite crooner has had a pretty remarkable rise to the near universal platform he sits now.
This screen shot was taken from his 2007/8 EPK(we’re going to say 2008 for 5 year plan defense) when his then label had not a clue what to do with him. They wanted a pseudo Usher clone that could dance and sing some. (The epk is pretty hard to watch, but if you’re a sucker for punishment here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNwwJEpD17c&noredirect=1)
His song they put out in 2006 that got play on BET was something called “Get your hands up” with some dude called “Major” resulting in some reggeaton pop mix that made sense at the Time I suppose.. you know, the time when everyone who had a half cousin that was “Boricuan” was repping Puerto Rico?
From there he had the balls to say he doesn’t want to be the next half assed Usher and signed with Jive for his 2010 debut, All I want is You. Even with the album commercially doing better than I’m sure he could of imagined, artistically he wasn’t satisfied. And decided to do his own EP with his own money (bc why would a label fund a project you wanna do..)
Which eventually lead to this
(Fader biased for sure, but always have been even before I started working here)
Yet more importantly the new album that is the cause for babies being produced nationwide Kaleidoscope Dream, which a few years from now might get more play that our friend Frank.
In retrospect Miguel is a pretty awesome story of sacrifice and determination. As RZA always famously coined the “5 Year Plan”, its interesting to see Miguel’s progression, planned or not since those days..
**Plays Adorn to a bad chick**
Finally. Now my middle name makes awesome sense. (Taken with Instagram)
3 really awesome things you should note concerning this dah band ad.
1st and foremost plz notice the excellent dark blue to white gradient that perfectly traps the product name up top.
All matched with yellow type and a red background. (##VERYRARE##VERYPROLIFIC##ETC) Once you fully absorb these facts, you can really appreciate being bout this life that is so sincerely embraced by ..
2. Jamal Crawford + James Posey + Eddie Curry.
These 3 show A. How shitty the NBA was in 2001, this poster probably could as well have been dubbed as “da future” B. How Crawford kinda looks like Mikey Rocks. and C. that Eddie Curry must really sweat a lot to have to have a wristband on as well as his crispy white D-BAND. ** PLZ NOTE THE LINCOLN NAVIGATOR STEERING WHEEL **
3. Lastly I think its important to know that Linton Johnson does not have a wikipedia page. Not totally sure how to feel about that.
*Me totally hoping you actually google Linton Johnson.
**Followed by you re-evaluating your life on the information highway bc you googled Linton Johnson.
Nice to be back blogging again.
Using Abjo’s goofy ass for a campaign. lol. (Taken with Instagram)
Everyone always gets nostalgic about this era in NYC.. No, just because you started listening with Tribe does not mean this started out as a “conscious era”, trust when it is noted that Dashiki’s “were not in”. NYC life was grim, the crack era was very real for a lot of people. No one documented the 80s (and beyond) better than Jamel Shabazz.
Born in 1960 he picked up a camera from his pops and documented Brooklyn. While some always think of the era depicted by Spike Lee commercials and film, it’s damn impossible that his art director and crew didn’t take direct inspiration from Jamel and his vast catalog.
The illest part is that he is still active today, recently working with Mr. mothafuckin eXquire (kinda awkward typing that name out) who reps Brooklyn in his own right, leading his own interesting wave. Generations apart, still creating.
God I can’t wait for NY..
Doing research for a possible hire for a project in the greater NYC area and came across this.
words from the Boss Man himself George Lois
“I’ve always had the gnawing perception of sleep as a terrible enemy, one that robs each human being of a third of his time to work. What an 80 year old man has done with his 233,600 hours awake is what gives meaning to his life. So if you’re 20, and you live until you’re 80, and if you sleep just one hour less each day, you could be awake and productive 2 1/2 years more than your competition!”
see you all in a few hours with a smile on the face.
3% of regular people on Spotify is silly.