The Scariest Things I’ve Ever Seen

illustration by Mike Force

I once saw a group of men jump a dude in the grassy camping area in the early hours of morning after a music festival in the Midwest.

These men punched and kicked and stomped and eventually left the victim in a huddled mass and a few of us helped him to his knees to discover he was tripping so hard, pupils like saucers, face bloodied, crying, pushing us off him so he could search the grass for his teeth. “Whyyyyyyy,” he cried, blood spilling out of his mouth.

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Sunday Scaries – Episode 1

Introducing Sunday Scaries… an hour of thoughtful music, programmed to help you get through Sunday nights, with Andy P. Smith.

On this episode, recorded on Friday, September 21, 2018, Andy P. Smith plays the hits, including Ty Segall, Iggy Pop, Aretha Franklin, Kanye West, and Paul Simon.

Have a great week, y’all!

The Creative Currently Podcast: Mike Force & Andy P. Smith discuss MONEY… Gambling, Investments, and Freelance vs Salary

For this third episode of The Creative Currently Podcast, Andy P. Smith partners with Mike Force to chat about Money, a topic that begins with horse racing and an hour later ends on tattooing. In the middle, they also talk about the playing the stock market, playing speed chess in Washington Square Park, playing poker with children, and playing the “long game.”

Mike Force & Andy P. Smith discuss MONEY: Gambling, Investments, & Freelance vs Salary

About this podcast

Mike Force is an illustrator living in Seattle, Washington.
Andy P. Smith is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
They’ve been friends for 19 years.
This is their first podcast.

On This Day… My Favorite “Morning Dew” 09/18/87

Smack in the middle of a five-night run at The Garden, only 10 weeks after the release of their most commercially successful album, In The Dark, The Grateful Dead hit the stage on September 18th, 1987 opening with a lively rendition of Dark’s “Hell In A Bucket”. It seemed immediately evident that this show would be something special. But after a relatively short, 45-minute first set, the crowd was left wondering what was yet to come.

With a nod to the Big Apple, the Dead opened with a tough and funky “Shakedown Street” that gets the crowd dancing and clapping. Then “Women Smarter” sets up “Terrapin” and we’re off… Drums > Space follows and “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad” brings us back slowly as if to say more is on the way.

Yes, some criticism of the shows of 1987 is that it felt like the band often left something on the table, so to speak. The shows are sometimes criticized for being easy and complacent, influenced by the band’s newfound commercial success and sudden addition of a new, wider audience.

Though, from another perspective, the band was rejuvenated. On July 10th, 1986 Jerry Garcia had fallen ill and lapsed into a diabetic coma. Waking five days later, Garcia had to relearn many of his motor skills, including how to play the guitar. Many friends and fans had thought they lost Garcia forever. Six months later, the band was back in the studio recording In The Dark, featuring the commercially successful “Touch of Grey”, with which the band chose to open this five-night MSG run as nearly 20,000 concertgoers sang along: “I will get by, I will get by, I will get by, I will survive.”

Serious stuff, man.

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Best Practices for Young Creatives: An Online Workshop

As an alumnus of Pratt Institute, I aim to support the community and student body and give back when I can.

Last year, I organized and moderated a panel discussion on campus titled, Writing in 2025: The Future of Digitial Publishing.

And this year, Pratt’s Center for Career & Professional Development asked if I would be interested in hosting an online workshop, generally offering advice and guidance to Pratt seniors and recent grads. Needless to say, I accepted the invitation — it’s an honor for me!

And so, I built a short deck and gave a live presentation online, titled Best Practices for Young Creatives, in which I share some of my own work, professional tips, personal tricks, and a tribute to Iggy Pop.

Here is the presentation, recorded live.

The Creative Currently Podcast: Ian Vanek, Artist and Drummer

For this second episode of The Creative Currently Podcast, I sit down with artist and musician Ian Vanek just before he leaves Brooklyn for New Orleans to visit an ill friend and enjoy Mardi Gras.

Originally from Olympia, Washington, Ian Vanek was half of the performance art duo Japanther, which he co-founded during his time as a student at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and is currently touring the country with his band, Howardian, and publishing his longstanding graffiti zine, 99mm.

I’ve personally known Vanek since our shared Pratt days though we came to be friends and collaborators around 2008 when I was booking shows and throwing parties around town and at my own DIY venue, Bodega.

In this hour-long podcast, Vanek and I reminisce briefly about the old days of Brooklyn DIY but quickly delve into larger, perhaps more interesting subjects ranging from Japanther to Howardian, graffiti to marijuana legislation, from the seedy side of New Orleans to the popularity of a Japanese holographic popstar.

Recorded in Greenpoint on February 9th, 2018, listen here or at SoundCloud.

7 Great Super Bowl 2018 Commercials… and 1 Ugly One

In case you missed the game (#FlyEaglesFly) or perhaps maybe just hit the salsa bar during the game breaks, here’s Creative Currently’s recap: 5 Great Commercials… and 1 Terrible One.

Quick facts:

– A 30-second ad cost more than $5 million this year, the highest ever
– $170,000 per second
– Half a billion spent in advertising during the Super Bowl
– 103.4 million TV viewers watched the Super Bowl
– Declining 7% since last year, lowest viewership since 2009

So… fewer people are watching, but ad cost is at its highest.

And still, 100 million viewers is insane. Just to compare, the “Game of Thrones” season finale last year had 12.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen. Including HBO Go and HBO Now viewers, that number increases to 16.5 million viewers, which is record-breaking but still less than 12% of the Super Bowl viewing audience.

Pringles Wow

What I love about this commercial is its simplicity, but also it’s depth and reach. This commercial is teaching the audience that we can “stack different flavors” in a fun, silly manner. And it works, it’s effective! I’ve never stacked different flavors but now I’m intrigued. And what’s more? To stack flavors you need to purchase multiple cans of Pringles. Well done, y’all.

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How To Fake Your Own Book Deal… and Get Away With It

H­ere’s the secret: It’s actually very easy for an unknown author to land a major publishing contract. You just cold-call a few publishing houses, get your manuscript read, and then work out a mutually beneficial payment. They need pages, you need money. Everyone wins, right?

At least, that’s what happened to me. Back in 2005, I was 22 and had never published anything outside of my college magazine. But when I reached out to a San Francisco-based publishing house with a collection of essays and interviews illustrated by my friend Mike Force, it all clicked into place.

The publisher, Puberty Press immediately offered me a book deal. After just a few months, working with Puberty Press founders Joe and Patrick, plus a team of interns, we pushed out 600+ pages in a softcover Gonzo-style snapshot of America, called Welcome to the Land of Cannibalistic Horses.

Joe and Patrick printed 3,000 copies of my book. They got me interviews and press. They set me up on a coast-to-coast book tour of elaborate parties. By the end of the year, Cannibalistic Horses had completely sold out.

The only problem is that Joe and Patrick don’t exist.

2015 marked the 10-year anniversary of my book, so it’s time to come clean: You can still buy the book on Amazon or read a few chapters on Medium, but the rest was all a lie. There was no Puberty Press. There was no Joe and Patrick. Mike and I made everything up.

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Video: Brilliant Burger King Ad Explains Net Neutrality with Whoppers

The King strikes again! After success with recent “anti-bullying” commerical last year, and 2099’s award-winning “Whopper Freakout” campaign, Burger King has once again hit us right upside the head with an incredible TVC.

Revealing the hard truth about the recent overturning of Net Neutrality by the FCC, Burger King explains the decision and its implications so that people can actually understand it: through Whoppers.

The brilliance of the ad is in the nuance… the signage, the deadpan employees, the follow-ups with customers, and the incredible cameo of The King himself drinking from Ajit Pai’s ridiculous Reese’s mug.

DAVID, Burger King’s longstanding agency, produced the video.

Bravo, y’all.

The Career Detective: An Interview with Illustrator Mike Force

Mike Force is a talented, prolific illustrator and designer. We’ve been friends for 20 years now, and collaborated on a number of projects, including my 2004 book Welcome to the Land of Cannibalistic Horses. Over the decades, Force has continually proven himself as a creative thinker, entrepreneur, and futurist. He sees things just a bit differently: @So.Wreckless

We both went to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, but had previously met and become friends in Seattle, in the University District. Back then we would sit in coffee shops and discuss things, all kinds of topics, sharing our thoughts and ideas with each other and cafe folks.

Recently, I gave him a call to chat about the nature of “career” for creatives in today’s modern world…

You once said to me you have to be a detective for your own career… what exactly does that mean? How does one “solve” one’s own career?

People don’t like the sound of ‘networking’ because it feels nerve-wracking and self-serving. Think about your life as an investigation. You can set up coffee dates or attend industry events with a set of general questions the way a detective would. Look for clues. If the goal is to gather wisdom, insight, and clues about your future, it takes the pressure off. Solving the mystery of your next job is often the byproduct of putting yourself out there with specifics about your skills. If you accurately describe three things you’re best at and dozens of people know you’re actively looking for work, they’ll come back to you a few months later with work or a recommendation.

In any mystery what usually happens at the end? There’s always an unexpected twist. Sometimes we end up doing work that’s only vaguely related to our core skills, sometimes the solution is surprising.

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