Lovely way to display art

On December 29, 2013, in Great design, Uncategorized, by John Ellis

Changing perspective

Originally from Canadian Art. This intrigues me because the artist has taken control of where you stand to view the art and therefore your perception.

The exhibition Laurent Grasso: Uraniborg, co-produced by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and the Jeu de Paume in Paris, offers a unique foray into space and time. Videos, paintings from the Studies into the Past series, drawings, neons, objects and sculptures cohabit in a presentation conceived by the artist as a work in itself.  Here, Grasso continues his exploration of space and temporality as he seeks to create what he calls a “false historical memory.” In this in-between place where true and false intermingle, the all-pervading observation of the sky underlies a broader examination of seeing, watching and surveillance, at the same time as it opens up a path to possible worlds.

The best clients love words

On January 25, 2013, in Great writing, by John Ellis

Nothing says love like a DEATH MATCH

If you love words and get inspired by those who use them for things other than headlines and body content, you might want to spend a few minutes on Death Match

Death Match pits two writers against each other in a battle of public opinion. It doesn’t take long to read the competing stories and vote for the winner. If you’re brave, leave a comment. I used my real, full name. I may regret that.

Death Match is brought you by Broken Pencil.

Founded in 1995 and based in Toronto, Canada, Broken Pencil is a print magazine published four times a year. It is one of the few magazines in the world devoted exclusively to underground culture and the independent arts. We are a great resource and a lively read! Broken Pencil reviews the best zines, books, websites, videos and music from the underground and reprints the best articles from the alternative press. Also, ground breaking interviews, original fiction, and commentary on all aspects of the independent arts. From the hilarious to the perverse, Broken Pencil challenges conformity and demands attention.

Guaranteed conversation starter. The 1% of 1%.

On December 5, 2012, in Great writing, by John Ellis

It’s Christmas Party Season. Here’s a great anecdote when you’re stuck for small talk.

This documentary is 70-minutes long but you can digest the main idea in snippets on YouTube. Of course, it would be best to pay for it and watch it all at once.

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.



Dubai through the word & images of Glen Petrie

On October 22, 2012, in Great writing, by John Ellis

Glen Petrie is one of Toronto’s finest travel writers, an accomplished photographer and a member of the Wheatsheaf Literary Society.


If you’re considering Dubai as a destination or just want to see it through wise and well travelled eyes, here you go:

A woman floats into Dubai’s chic Cin Cin lounge on mile-high legs and killer heels, Saran-wrapped in a scant belt of white silk. “From Russia with love,” quips an admiring expat at the bar.

The place swims with what look to be supermodels, turning male heads draped in white cloth ghutras. The men snap their fingers to order more Johnny Walker Gold. A local Emirati sitting next to me wears a white floor-length dishdasha and tosses back Corona beers at a pace I can’t match.

I have been in Dubai three hours, and I feel as if I’m in a James Bond movie but I’ve lost the plot. Of all the preconceptions about the United Arab Emirates I carried with me, libertine was not one of them.

Read the full text here.

Or, watch Glen’s 2-minute documentary.


Watchable versus readable. A good content graphic.

On September 19, 2012, in Good reads, by John Ellis

I took this infographic from a guy, who got it from a guy who found it on So, I can’t accurately give credit to my source.

The question being raised is ‘do we write content to be read or viewed?’. The infographic makes a good case for creating highly watchable (versus readable) content. As a writer, I’m happy to see this debate because it opens doors for more types of content creators. Film makers and documentarians may be hired to create what used to be the domain of the ‘mass’ writers. Every step in our evolution as story-tellers seems to invite more people into the creative process and this must be a good thing for clients.

For a more in-depth look at language and content in the digital age, I recommend “Always On” by Naomi S. Baron. She raises fascinating questions about how we communicate, such as whether text messages qualify as speech or written words. It’s a must-read for word geeks.


Branding lessons from Johnny Cash

On April 30, 2012, in Branding, by John Ellis

Is your brand persona this tight?

The late, great Johnny Cash was known as ‘The Man in Black’. He worked the brand into his persona, his stage presence and a lot of his songs. In these famous lyrics, he explains why he wears black and what it means to him.

How many of us can explain our personal brands so well?

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black.

Why you never see bright colors on my back.

And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone?

Well, there’s a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down.

Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town.

I wear it for the prisoner who is long paid for his crime.

But is there because he’s a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who’ve never read.

Or listened to the words that Jesus said.

About the road to happiness through love and charity.

Why, you’d think He’s talking straight to you and me.

Well, we’re doin’ mighty fine, I do suppose.

In our streak of lightnin’ cars and fancy clothes.

But just so we’re reminded of the ones who are held back.

Up front there ought to be a Man In Black

I wear it for the sick and lonely old.

For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold.

I wear the black in mournin’ for the lives that could have been.

Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And I wear it for the thousands who have died, believin’ that the Lord was on their side.

I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died, believin’ that we all were on their side.
Well, there’s things that never will be right I know.

And things need changin’ everywhere you go.

But ’til we start to make a move to make a few things right.

You’ll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I’d love to wear a rainbow every day.

And tell the world that everything’s okay.

But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back.

Till things are brighter, I’m the Man In Black.

Great read. The Tiger.

On March 29, 2012, in Good reads, by John Ellis

The Tiger is three story lines in one and they’re all fascinating. Read the Globe Review here.

Line 1 is the story of a Russian game warden forced by circumstances to kill one of the Amur tigers he is compelled to protect. His hunt for the rogue tiger leads him, and others, to believe that the ‘lone assassin’ was acting out of vengeance. The collision course is the book’s major arc and on its own provides a great read at a steady pace.

Line 2 is an investigation into the psychology of tigers and what makes them so exceptional in the animal kingdom. Vaillant’s research on the subject is compelling and well documented. This is going to appeal to anyone who loved, “Guns, Germs & Steel“. It’s also going to scare the hell out of anyone considering a day-trip into tiger country.

Line 3 is a look at post-perestroika Russia through the eyes of the people who lost the most, the ordinary folk who live in tiger country and by the laws of the land.

We reviewed ‘The Tiger’ at the latest meeting of the Wheatsheaf Literary Society on Wednesday March 27th. The group was divided. Some felt that the tangents turned a really great article into a painfully long book. I was in the camp that enjoyed the tangents and how the stories came together as one.

I also have tremendous appreciation for Vallaint’s style. The climax is executed beautifully.

About the author, John Vaillant.

Read the synopsis.

Hilton Barbour recently posted this great take on dynamic storytelling. Hilton is one to follow and his blog always contains great ideas and thought starters.




Warlords, Fizzy Drinks and Dynamic Storytelling

Unless you’ve spent the last 2 weeks living in a cave, the belly of a whale or entirely off-the-grid your social inbox has likely been carpet bombed by the righteous outrage of folks regarding Joseph Kony and the Lords Army

The creators of this phenomenon, Invisible Children, have also unfortunately evoked a tidal wave of criticism, accusations of over-simplification and promoting slacktivism. I’m not close enough to comment.

But…having garnered over 65 million views on YouTube, there must be something we can learn from them. Something about how they told their story we could re-use?

Get to know Hilton and read the rest of the post here.