Focusing on Hillary and Equality

Hillary and Equality

I agree strongly with a phrase from an article I read in The Nation:

“It’s the inequality, stupid.”

This statement from the closing of “To Beat a Nasty, Brutish Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton Will Have to Do Something Different” clarified for me the underlying discontent, anger, and dismay being voiced by so many Americans. Whether they are Hillary advocates (like myself), disaffected Bernie Sander’s supporters, Trump fans, or those looking to third-parties, everyone is troubled by the uneven playing field, manipulation of journalists and traditional media, outrage at the continued abuses of power, and an overwhelming feeling that we are being manipulated and treated unfairly. The American promise that we are all created equal, has been lost.

Januska On changes its focus

I am going to shift the focus of this site from my professional work to my personal work. Since there is a lot of overlap between the two, I hope you, dear reader, will forgive any redundancies you find here. The blog has been dormant for over a year and a half and much of the work posted is brand and design related. Moving forward I’m going to recast it to it’s original, original vision which is reflected in the name.

Januska On


Januska on art
Januska on culture
Januska on creativity
Januska on whatever I’m on at the time.

I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think.


Top 25 Advertising Agencies Minnesota — infographic


Top 25 Advertising Agencies in Minnesota Infographic

What do the top agencies in Minnesota look like?

When I learned that Minneapolis/Saint Paul are considered the sixth most creative cities in the nation, I was interested to look at the ways agencies added to the creative community. This infographic seeks to visualize the scale and opportunities of advertising agencies in the Minneapolis/St. Paul. Here I try to show the relationships of gross billings, total revenue and size of staff. Some key data goes unreported with four of the top six agencies not reporting gross billings. Still, we can see the some interesting themes when paired with data from the creative vitality index in the twin cities. For instance, all five of the top creative occupations are directly influenced by agency business. This gives me another way to really consider the scale and impact of agencies in the Twin Cities.

Twin Cities Business Magazine
Creative Vitality Index

Creative Truth: All Bets are Off

These days to get the most bang for your marketing dollars you need outstanding creative to build and grow your brand. If you think you can get by with lackluster, safe design and stale, expected language you can count on being lost in the channel. The bar is high for the creative articulation of your brand. Really high. Sky high. Why? Because consumers and users have a sophisticated sense of what is “good.” Because the tools of creativity are in everyone’s hands, using baseline creative signifies your not in touch with where the space is today. Creativity and brand go hand in hand. It’s not frosting. It is the essence of your communications and the real reason people engage with you.

You can not afford to be safe. You can not afford to do what everyone else is doing. You can not be a “me-too” brand because in this marketplace your customers can go right to the first-mover, the best-of-class brand for whatever they want. The marketplace flattening out has made incredible opportunities for brands to compete up and down the channels. It is so easy for a potential customer to see their options that if they don’t like what they see, if the brand doesn’t convey the quality and strengths they offer, the customer can easily move on. It takes a whole lot of word-of-mouth to overcome bad creativity in the marketplace. It can be done but do you really want to work that hard?

Get a good creative strategy, one that lays out a clear vision for your brand. Then work with great creative people to bring it to life in a way that really makes your brand get the attention it deserves. Go all in. That’s when you win with creative.

Find Three Things

Creative Truth—Find the ThreeEarly advice. Simple and effective. Difficult to follow for workaholics and curious types.

Do it.

Creative Truth: Simple by Design

Creative Truth: Simple by Design

Simplicity is so much more direct, clear and graspable. Perhaps that’s why it is such a successful approach to design. When I think of Shaker furniture and Agnes Martin and I see the beauty of simplicity. I know how difficult it can be to achieve, which is all the more reason to strive for it.

Less. Remember less, not more.

Creative Truth: Ideas are a Dime A Dozen

Creative Truth: Ideas are a dime a dozen

It was a rude awakening when a professor of mine said to me, “Ideas are a dime a dozen.” And they were right. People come up with ideas all day long and many of them are good ideas. However, anyone can have an idea. It’s the person who actually does something with the idea, who actually makes something, who is actually creative. One of my favorite commentaries on this is Jane Austen’s character in Pride and Prejudice, Lady Catherine De Bourgh, when she talks of music.

“There are few people in England, I suppose, who have more true enjoyment of music than myself, or a better natural taste. If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient.”

In my mind I am a great proficient of many things as well, though not nearly as proficient in reality.

And intimately related to this is our previous creative truth, “execution is essential.” Nothing kills a good idea more quickly than poor execution. I learned, often the hard way, that the idea or concept I have is often frustratingly elusive when I try to actually create it. In my mind, it all seemed so full and deep and complete. In reality, there are many, many aspects that need a lot of consideration before my idea lives up to its potential.

Have ideas; have as many of them as possible. However, remember this truth—humbling though it may be—that you can’t stop at the idea. You have to execute it brilliantly to see the ideas true potential.

Creative Truth: Work

Creative Truth: It's the work

Good work always prevails. There are many things that make a creative person successful but the one truth that is irrevocable is that we are judged by our work. We make things. Our creative output, art, music, dance, poetry, is the result of our lifetime of experiences, our craft and skills, influences of the culture and the marketplace and our own motivations. Our efforts, as such, culminate in the external pieces we create. Without that tangible creative output we are left with the conceptual meanderings of our mind.

Creative output is not something that we do as an aside. It is the core of the creative process and it often comes from the very center of our being. The creative process often leaves us vulnerable. It opens us up to criticism and judgement by those whose opinion we value and those whose opinions are meaningless. In either case, what a creative person needs to focus on is creating work. Only after we’ve made something do we actually have an opportunity to evaluate and critique our own work. Create/evaluate; creative/evaluate; on and on it goes. I often ascribe to the “quantity theory” of creation to counteract my own fears about criticism and judgement. By making, I move forward. I focus on the making and evaluate afterwards. After all, it’s the work that counts.

Creative Truth 4: Place


Find a Place you trust

I used to think this quote came from John Cage’s 10 Rules for Students and Teachers. However, I learned from Brain Pickings that they really came from Sister Corita Kent. I had this list of 10 Rules on the bulletin board above my desk for over five years and from it I learned some of the best approaches to being creative I have ever read. The rules are:

RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.

RULE TWO: General duties of a student — pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher — pull everything out of your students.

RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.

RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined — this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

RULE TEN: “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” (John Cage)

HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything — it might come in handy later.

 I always found the first rule to be one of the best. It encouraged me to accept my current situation until I could trust it no more. I learned and grew a lot that way. I found opportunities and I rose above challenges. Trust became the barometer for change—not my own internal tidal waves of interpretation and expectation. I learned that creativity is an internal perspective that can be applied no matter where I have landed. All I have to do is try.


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