Powerful street art

On July 10, 2014, in Artists, by John Ellis

Companionship, hope and art

One of my favourite days in London included two hours hiking through Shoreditch, observing the ever-changing gallery of graffiti art. My guide was a member of the tour group Street Art London. Here is its tribute to the street artist John Dolan (reprinted with the hope that they won’t mind because this post is solely intended to inform my readers and promote this fabulous tour in London).

Street Art London is pleased to be supporting notorious Shoreditch artist John Dolan’s return to Howard Griffin Gallery with a landmark exhibition entitled John and George. John Dolan is east London’s most notorious artist. For three years, he sat every day with his dog George on Shoreditch High Street. In the past, Dolan had been in and out of prison and often found himself homeless. Sitting on the street every day and watching the world go by, he became part of the community, speaking to passers by about his life, his experiences and George. Dolan began to draw the buildings on the street to document his day, elevating the old, decrepit buildings that are so often ignored and under appreciated. He also drew portraits of George as he sat beside him, and began to sell his drawings to the people he saw walk up and down Shoreditch High Street every day.

Howard Griffin Gallery met John Dolan a year ago. His debut exhibition in September 2013 focused on his unique cityscapes, and saw Dolan collaborate with some of the world’s biggest street artists, including ROA, Thierry Noir, RUN, Steve ESPO Powers, Know Hope, Pablo Delgado and many others. His next exhibition, John and George, moves away from his documentation of the street and turns inward, centring on the unique relationship between the artist and George.

The story of John and George is one of companionship and hope. Dolan was on the streets when he was given George in exchange for the price of a strong can of lager. Since that time, George has been Dolan’s most loyal companion, ultimately enabling him to change his life. With George at his side, Dolan managed to escape a twenty year cycle of homelessness and prison, establishing himself as one of east London’s most recognisable artists.

John and George will present viewers with an immersive microcosm of the street in which visitors will be surrounded by hundreds of drawings of George. The repetition in Dolan’s work stems from the years of working on the street where each drawing he made of George marked the passing of another day and George’s presence was the one thing in Dolan’s life which he could rely on totally. In the chaotic world in which we live, Dolan uses repetition to encourage viewers to take a moment and see things in a different way. The subtle variations in each drawing tell a story and document a quiet and unassuming friendship that for one month will be shared with visitors to the gallery.


Totally compelling content

On February 2, 2014, in Branding, by John Ellis

How often do you thank a brand?

Thank you GoPro for making this kind of content available. Watch this on a big, hi-def screen and imagine yourself making this kind of leap.

The painstaking work of Yuken Teruya

On January 6, 2014, in Great design, by John Ellis

Look closely. This is no ordinary happy meal.

Yuken Teruya cuts and tears the strips of paper from the bag to make the art inside. I came across his work at the Saatchi Gallery in 2013. This kind of work is inspiring because it tells a great story, intrigues us to consider the motive of the artist and obviously requires great technical skill.

You can check out more of his work here.

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Inspirational space

On January 4, 2013, in Great design, by John Ellis

I’m always looking for new ways to make my workspace more inspirational.


Then I came across these lucky bastards. What a buzz kill. Now I want to enclose the back yard.

This is the beautifully inspired office of Selgas Cano Architects in Madrid. You can view more images here.

The work of Toronto artist Chris Hayes.

What? I bought lobby art?

I’m a big fan of the Toronto artist Chris Hayes. I own some of his work. That’s why it caught my eye at my local TD Canada Trust branch. It turns out that my local branch manager offered to decorate the bank with the artist’s pieces as a way of promoting local talent.

All of the work is for sale.

This is a beautiful example of local marketing and what can happen when front-line people have the vision and authority to take action in their communities.

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Nikon stays committed to the Small World

On November 2, 2012, in Branding, by John Ellis

Marek Miś used polarized light to capture Cosmarium, a genus of algae, near a Sphagnum, a type of moss.

This is a fascinating way to kill ten minutes but more importantly it’s a competition that makes perfect sense for the Nikon brand.

Nikon has been committed to its Annual Microscopy Competition for years and you can see all of the winner by visiting the small world gallery. It makes perfect sense for the brand to promote exploration and the advancement of image making.

An ant carries larva in its mouth, magnified 5x, by Geir Drange.

Esra Guc’s image of lymphangiogenesis assay.




The @Work State of Mind

On November 1, 2012, in Agency life, by John Ellis

I’ve been searching for some good story-telling techiques and came across this example from the idea shop Gyro. You can learn more about them here.


A collaborative marketing research and development project led by gyro, the global ideas shop. The @Work State of Mind means that most global business decision makers are on, irrespective of time or location. Reaching them successfully requires an understanding of more than how they blur the lines between work and personal. It’s imperative to understand their motivations, emotional attitudes and levels of satisfaction with round-the-clock, all-device messaging.



More inspiration from DUMBO (or not)

On October 4, 2012, in Artists, by John Ellis

My wife and I collaborated on this stunning example of bubble-water colour art while touring an Art Fair in DUMBO. We paid $5 to support a local artist who gave us each a plastic straw and a demonstration of his technique.

Four jars were filled with bubble-making solution, the kind the kids use. Each one was tinted with India Ink (CMYK). To make art similar to this flawless example, dip the straw in the ink and blow. When the bubbles land, they create unpredictable art. It’s a ton of fun for half the price of a beer in Manhattan.

Try it with the kids or use it to raise some money at an office fundraiser.



Inspiration in DUMBO

On October 4, 2012, in Artists, Great sites, Students & Interns, by John Ellis

DUMBO NYC. A very hip way to spend the afternoon.

Last Sunday, I crossed the Brooklyn bridge to attend the Arts Fair in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Brooklyn Overpass). The area is now an established home for artists, supported by dozens of galleries and a steady flow of hipster tourists.

I came across an interactive display room, hosted by residents of the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYC. The work was quirky, intelligent and very forward thinking. It’s worth the time to check these guys out and see what they do. This qualifies as productive procrastination and can be done on company time.

ITP is a two-year graduate program located in the Tisch School of the Arts whose mission is to explore the imaginative use of communications technologies — how they might augment, improve, and bring delight and art into people’s lives. Perhaps the best way to describe us is as a Center for the Recently Possible.

You can’t go wrong with the Three Little Pigs. This is such a brilliant way to tell a story. It’s captivating from frame 1 and better than most movie trailers. Love it.

Just for fun, here’s a great little segment from one of my all-time favourite cartoons featuring the Three Little Pigs. This is some of Friz Freleng’s best six and half minutes.