PAINT BY LETTER
BY: COLE THOMPSON, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, MORTARR
“My father worked in profanity the way other artists worked in oils or clay.“
– Ralphie, A Christmas Story
Everyone is an artist. We all just work with different paints. For my dad, it’s glass. And not the crafty blown glass you see at farmer’s markets, but installing glass. Lots and lots of glass on commercial buildings all over the country. For my grandpa, it's dirt. He's been farming in southern Minnesota for over 50 years. My personal paint of choice is the alphabet.
For years my life predominately consisted of filling word documents with hundreds and hundreds of headlines. As a copywriter, I could be tasked with writing anything from a radio script to a Facebook post, but I lived or died by the headline. So, I wrote. Lots of them. Out of a hundred, five to ten might get a little dot or star written next to them by my creative director and survive to see an art director’s layout. From there maybe three lived to see the light of day, or at least had the good fortune of sitting around in a magazine on somebody’s coffee table and occasionally disrupt what they were intentionally reading. What about the other ninety to ninety-seven? Well they’re with all the others sitting in folders, on drives, and on servers somewhere wasting valuable KBs of data hoping that someday somebody makes a Pixar movie about what life is like for forgotten files.
WE ALL JUST WORK WITH DIFFERENT PAINTS
But if not for the ninety-seven the three wouldn’t exist. At least they wouldn’t be as good. In those days, I learned a lot. I learned to love the process. I learned to love the steps that you had to take to reach a solution. I learned to write a few lines for my own enjoyment even if I knew they had no chance of getting past the creative director, the account team, or the client. Just for me. The headlines time forgot, nay, the headlines time never met.
Here are a few for your — and my — enjoyment:
+ Gonna need a bigger van.
+ Effort doesn’t count. But in the end it’s all that matters.
+ Not all who wander are aimless.
+ There’s lots of ink under all this denim.
+ To infinity and the zoo!
+ Impress your wife and your great, great, grand-children.
+ Always wear sneakers so you can outrun zombies better than dudes in flip flops.
+ Smart phones are cool because you can talk, text, and occasionally impress people with your ability to google things.
+ Fishing Opener is our National Holiday.
+ He might be able to survive in the woods for five days eating pine cones and defending himself from mad mother badgers, but he still needs mom to get his whites whiter.
+ Make others sweat just looking at you.
+ A small town with bars and churches, surrounded by small towns with bars and churches.
+ The best thing since sliced bread is actually unsliced bread.
HE MIGHT BE ABLE TO SURVIVE IN THE WOODS FOR FIVE DAYS EATING PINE CONES AND DEFENDING HIMSELF FROM MAD MORTHER BADGERS, BUT HE STILL NEEDS HIS MOM TO GET HIS WHITES WHITER.
+ Warning: If you need a warning to know not to stick your hand in a wood chipper, then you might as well stick your head in this wood chipper.
+ Our Floss-ophy: Brushing is just the tip of the molar.
+ Is this craft brew heaven? No, it’s Iowa.
+ Wanna join our mug club? Keep your eyes on the obituaries.
+ I’ve been saving my golf clap for this.
+ Chicks dig big yields.
+ 75% water. 110% committed to it.
+ Minnesota. It’s cold, but it’s a dry cold.
+ Some award shows have music to hurry your speech along. We have Mary Swalley. (Miss you Marry)
+ Stop and smell the dark roast.
+ Clear eyes. Full bins. Can’t lose.
So yeah, maybe there’s a reason they didn’t make it, but without these leftovers, I wouldn’t have the winners, and without the winners I wouldn’t have much. I’ve dedicated my professional life to making the most of words and pictures to help brands sell their stories. I guess you could say I owe it all to various combinations of 26 letters. And by “it all” I don’t just mean my career. I mean as a 31-year-old with an amazing wife and a crazy awesome daughter. Not to mention a nice little house with a nice little mortgage and a car in the driveway that I bought because of the Darth Vader Kid Super Bowl Ad. And without all the letters I’ve combined to get to this point, I wouldn’t be at Mortarr.
My favorite thing about being here is getting to tap into other artists — using all the paints. Individually, we each have our strong suits, but together, we’re unstoppable. We have people people. We have design people. We have data people. We have vision people. We have detail people. We have technical people. We have conversation people. And when we don’t have the people we need in-house, we tap into outside collaborators who are better at what we’re trying to do than we are. I think that’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far in my career. You can’t be great at everything, but you can find people who are. I’ve found out over the years that working with directors, audio engineers, editors, and producers can be way more effective at getting the job done. And also way, way more fun.
Your paint may be concrete or wood or numbers or food or hops or glass or conversations or negotiations or plans. Maybe you’ve dedicated your life to pouring foundations or engineering bridges the way I have with telling brand stories. I venture to guess that with focusing in on your craft, you might not have the time or capacity to be dedicated to marketing. And even if you have a marketing team on your side, they’re probably challenged with the same feat of being a jack of all trades and not focusing on what makes them unique. We hear it over and over again, which is why our co-founders created Mortarr. It’s also why Mortarr launched Brick, a creative agency dedicated to building your marketing presence beyond the platform, and the Marketing Resources section of the Learning Lounge. We’re bringing together resources and services from artists of various disciplines including photography, search engine optimization, social media, art direction, and web development to let you focus on your craft and your business.
Remember that Darth Vader Kid Super Bowl Ad I was telling you about that made me want to own a Volkswagen? Somebody wrote that spot. Volkswagen paints with steel, aluminum and plastic. They know their paint, so they hired someone else to do their advertising. If you or your marketing team want to do the same and bring in some artists, let us know. We’re currently playing matchmaker with some of the brightest branding and creative minds around. Based on your needs, we can help you find a freelancer to capture photography or even an agency to craft your next website or brand identity. We’re here to help Mortarr subscribers stand out from a sea of same-ness.
Also, feel free to reach out if you ever want to chat paint.
In case this combination of letters distracted you when you were about to sign up for Mortarr, you can click or tap these words right here to start exploring some of the most inspiring commercial construction and design work in the world – for free.
And remember: This is America, so don’t let your dreams be dreams.
I’m living the dream, and all I can do is this.