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Louis Montoya and Leslie Ortiz are giants. Not only do they sculpt giant things, they also live a giant life of artistic freedom. They aren’t burdened by the restrictions imposed upon the creator who creates for business. They’re free to make whatever it is they choose, and what they make is sold for gigantic sums of money. This is not a career that anyone can have.

These two artists don’t work with brands, but I wanted to see what they thought of advertising. 

1. Do you think the creation of art should remain a personal endeavor or become a more collaborative field? 

We don't see a difference. Whether you are working alone or in a collaboration, you are still using all your skills talent and creative abilities to make art.  

2. Why do you do what you do?

What else are we going to do.  It is all we know how to do, and it is all that we want to do.

3. What role does art have in society? What role does advertising have in society? 

The role of Art in society is to help us see our common humanity and help us recognize the beauty that surrounds precious it is, and how we must preserve it.

The role of Advertising is to promote a product and encourage people to purchase it.

4. How do you know when you've achieved success in an individual project? How will you know when you've achieved success in your career as a whole?  

You never know.

You have achieved success in your career when you can't wait to get there every morning.  When your career is what you love to do…not just a job.

5. What do you believe is the difference between creating something commercial and creating something personal? 

There is no difference.  Everything you create is personal.  It becomes commercial if it happens to sell.




Like a renaissance masterpiece, a Supreme product resells for more than its original value.

The Supreme brand, originally a small clothing boutique making T-shirts for skaters, has exploded into the next zeitgeist shifting phenomenon. It is, in every essence of the term, a lifestyle brand, and furthermore, it has done what every lifestyle brand should aim to do. Supreme, the brand, has become the most famous artist in the world. They exist, like Basquiat did, in that glorious place where everything they touch becomes desirable and very, very expensive. 

The making of a superstar isn’t about hard work, talent, and luck. It’s about branding. Notice, if you will, how nearly every massively famous artist is both talented and beautiful, intensely creative and intensely alluring. There are very few art superstars, especially in our social media era, that are respected solely for their work. They, like successful lifestyle brands, have become cultural phenomenons. They’re like plastic angels among mortals, people who are honored like gods because they seem so unexplainably next level that they must be from a higher plane, but are, like plastic, molded to be that way. Of course, those beliefs are not even remotely true. All people are just people, but, the cultivation of that phenomenal otherworldly effect is what drives sales, in art and advertising alike, and Supreme is a company that has built its own godliness with next-level branding. Now, everything they put their logo on turns to gold, and, because they can do that, they can sell things that communicate the soul of the brand in the same way an artist sells things that communicate the soul of their body. 

For example, Supreme, a skateboarding company, sells a hammer.

The Supreme hammer is, to begin with, a wildly overpriced hammer that is not purchased to do any hammering whatsoever because the target market that buys Supreme isn’t out building houses on the weekend. This hammer’s purpose is to express the consumers values and interests. It’s valuable more for what it stands for than what it does. This makes it a work of art. For example, An artist makes a hammer out of clay to communicate the symbolic value of a hammer as a vehicle to communicate what’s inside them. Supreme does the same. Their brand is about “be tough-as-nails-bash-that motherfuckers-head-in-crack-open-a-skull-badassness”, so they produced a hammer to communicate this, and then they sold it. It sold out immediately, and now resells for multiple times it’s original selling price. Just. Like. Art. 

When Jean Michel Basquiat rose to fame, like most artists that become cultural phenomenons, everything he touched turned to gold; literally! Anything that had even the slightest marking made by Jean Michel Basquiat immediately became a work of art, and therefore an item with a price tag. For example, from a show in which his notebooks were separated and exhibited page by page, there was a page that simply had the word “art” written on it. This piece of paper, torn for a cheap CVS notebook, was hung in a spotless white frame in a grand hall of art, and protected by a spotless glass that the janitor’s cleaned twice a day with a special chemical cleaner. This is not an atrocity against art, in fact, it’s a massive statement on the artist as a brand. It tells the world that it’s ok to buy the work of art solely because the artist is cool. It’s like buying a piece of his coolness. And, therefore, with a brand, to invest in cultivating that coolness or that desirability is worthwhile, because then people will buy your product just because you’re cool. It’s almost like the coolness of the brand, like the coolness of the artist, is just as important as the product. 

So, what does it mean when a clothing brand sells a hammer for $290? It means that commercialism has become art. The Supreme hammer is cool, not because it can probably hammer a nail real good, but because, like a work of art, what it symbolizes is far more important than it’s utilitarian value.

In essence, it’s the skater mentality expressed through an object. Hit it hard, be “tough as iron” be the damager, not the damaged. It is, in every way, a work of art, and it is, in every way, a commercial product.  Even the photo of the hammer would be cool to buy and hang on the wall because it’s the meaning behind the product that matters, not just the product, and that meaning can be easily proliferated through all the social media channels. 

The future art star isn’t a human. The days when the next new art phenomenon is a a cool bohemian with a deep connection to the universe is over. The new art world isn’t a cool cigarette smoking rebel. It’s a corporation of hundreds of cool cigarette smoking rebels, which, by all accounts, is a lot cooler.  

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Forever 21 told me

There’s something more 

A couch in the field 

Friends kissing in the trees 

Fog over the water 

A bed on the beach 

Running in dresses made of wind

The sand is gentle

But the fire pit rages in the darkness

And the fireworks explode 

over the black ocean 

We dance

Even if it isn’t real

Spinning in billowing dresses 

With flares in our hands 

Until the edge of the night 

In the blue hour 

Too soon gone

Where today becomes yesterday

We kiss and kiss

Until our lips are sore

Trying to hold on

To something so light


Amy hamlet is a painter. She studied painting at Boston University, and she’s been painting for many years, having shown in galleries and sold many pieces.

She’s also a designer. She studied graphic design at The Massachusetts College of Art and worked as a senior designer for over a decade. Her view is very interesting in that she has studied and created in both the art and the creative business world.

1. Do you think the creation of art should remain a personal endeavor or become a more collaborative field? 

I don't think there should be any 'SHOULD's' in art. I think what's important in art is that it is original, and that can be in as many different ways as there are people. And by original that doesn't mean it was created in a vacuum or was not influenced by other artists. That being said, art is a very personal endeavor whether it is created by one artist or a group of artists. The mixture of personalities creates something that is unique. The work Warhol did with Basquiat was certainly different from his individual work, but it represented both their personalities.  But I think artists are by nature not very collaborative people and have very big egos so most art will continue to be predominately individual.

1.B) And vice versa; do you think the creation of commercial work should become a more personal endeavor or remain a collaborative effort? 

I don't believe commercial art can be very personal, it has to meet too many external criteria. So it usually requires the input of more that one person. But again, the very best commercial art is original and still achieves its purpose, which is either to sell something or communicate something that the company paying for the work has determined. 

2. You have created a deep catalogue of work in both the corporate world and art world, what would you say is the major difference between the two worlds? 

It's purpose is the major difference. 

3. What would say is the major difference between the creative process in both fields? 

In commercial art the process starts and ends with the purpose and criteria established by the client. The designer has their own ideas and design process but they must ultimately meet the client's to be successful.

Fine art starts and ends with the purpose and criteria established by the artist. There may be work that is commissioned that must meet certain requirements but ultimately it is the artist that determines the outcome.

4. Do you think these worlds could ever merge? Or are there distinct barriers that cannot be changed? 

I think they do sometimes. Warhol is a good example of fine art merging with commercial art. He called his NYC studio "The Factory". And there is commercial art that integrates fine art into the design. 

There is design like fashion, furniture, and posters that you will see in art museums, so these pieces have transcended their commercial use into the realm of fine art. 

5. What are the barriers that currently separate art from commercial work? 

The limited vision of clients and the egos of artists.

6. What role does art have in society? What role does advertising have in society? 

Fine art should motivate the viewer to see and think beyond his or her normal existence.

Commercial art should motivate the viewer to want something they didn't know they wanted or help them understand something they didn't know before.

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SANTI IS A SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGN/ART DIRECTOR/ART ENTHUSIAST AT IRIS in ATLANTA. He’s someone that’s as gifted as he is hard working, and his ability to create great work in the business world was not stifled by the restrictions that the business world puts on the creator. I spoke with him to see what it’s like to break free from the restrictions of the corporate world while still creating work that inspires the client.  

QUESTION: Why can’t creatives just make a ton of shit for a brand and put all of it out there in the world. I mean, the more content that goes out the better. Especially in the social world when making stuff that’s too polished is not a good thing.

ANSWER: So, the barriers of approval are kind of there. It's not to limit creativity, but for example it's to make the work more thoughtful. So we could crank out an instagram (Reebok) J.J. Watt within the day, but it’s ultimately better if you have kind of like rhyme and reason, so J.J. Watt he can blast out stuff on his Instagram kind of anytime he wants. I mean he's got like 17 million followers, uhm, so, so that's covered, but if you're gonna hire an agency to put stuff out, generally people want a strategy of what are we putting out, why are we putting it out, uhm, a content calendar, like when are we going to deploy it so it has relevant impact, you know like, if they don't have like, currently the J.J. Ones (shoes) are sold out. So we can't hype this shoe up anymore now, because it's like, it's just a waste. As soon as they get a new shipment or the next color way releases then yah, then we go blast stuff out and we make sure that that sells out, but we could make a super cool vine piece or you know or even whatever you want, print piece, e-mail, and it's not gonna sell more shoes at the moment, so it's kind of like an inefficient use of your creativity, and that doesn't mean that it's wasted because we've got several other clients that we can throw our brains at you know? So I guess that's part of the world of applied arts. Like it's never art for arts sake or for messaging our own thoughts or our own creativity. It's always art for a specific purpose in mind, and almost always it's a problem solving mechanism so we use creativity to solve a problem that a client has and if there is no problem or we don't have a problem that's been addressed to us we don't necessarily fire anything off because that's what were paid for. We’re using our means and the staff that we have which is more creative than our clients have on staff to create things that solve their problems. 

QUESTION: What do you think is the difference between art and advertising? 

ANSWER: I think that relates to the ad idea of being a problem solver. You know in applied arts you are using your craft with someone else to reach a specific goal for a specific audience that's not you. Where as I feel like art that you do for yourself, which a lot of people in this industry do, and I appreciate art tremendously, a lot of times that's more reflective of the artist themselves, like they're expressing something they feel they need to get out or they trying to progress a thought forward that they have and it may not have a clear goal it might be just for creativities sake, it might be for their own means which no one else is invested in, which is fine, you know sometimes you make something great just because you wanted to make it or you felt inspired to make it, which is obviously for the betterment of all humanity I would hope that everyone can agree that art does that, but that's the difference. 

QUESTION: Why do you do what you do? 

ANSWER: yah, that's a funny one. So, my mother was an architect, and me and my older brother always drew, and I got into art school straight out of high school, so it's kind of one of those things like it was always just there ahead of me, and I kind of chased it, not with a ton of thought. I actually don't remember how I netted out graphic design except for that I liked the web design class at my high school. And I guess I've just always been following that interest like I was and still am interested in websites and web design, and then from the drawing background I'm also interested in all sorts of static imagery so I'm very technical in photoshop, I used to teach an advanced class in New York and I do that not necessarily because it's, I mean its beneficial to my job but I would do it anyways. I feel like I just instinctively create things, and I feel like sometimes the ad world is a way to monetize creativity. I don't think creativity needs the ad world. I think creative people just make things because they want to make things and they're driven to make them, and because I've kind fallen into this world that finds a purpose for them that I like I mean I like advertising obviously if I didn't I would have that creativity energy still but I would be using it for so sing else but I guess I found a world that could utilize the fact that I like creating things, that I like seeing new things, learning new skills and then you know put that out in the world for me 

QUESTION: Is there personal expression in your advertising work? 

ANSWER: I think that goes a little bit back to that problem solving angle. Uhm, so you've got - the way you solve problems creatively is divergent problem solving, so it's not the obvious solution, and I think you take a lot of personal pride in finding a solution that works or a solution that you find to be entertaining or inspiring or just clever and I think you have to be invested a little bit in the quality of your work to put up with all of the layers the come with advertising. I don't think anybody could maintain a creative career if they weren't proud of the work that they put out. It's way too much work to just kind of be doing it for the paycheck 

QUESTION: Do you think collaboration is better for creativity, or do you think individual exploration is better? Or, do you think they're each better in their own ways? 

ANSWER: I think collaboration is pretty much mandatory, and it's not just because you can get more done when you work with more people but even if you look at great artists that we consider geniuses they all come from a background where they were sharing their ideas, whether it's like coffee shops in Paris in like 1920 or I mean Michelangelo came from a guild he was educated amongst different people so I can't think of one alone genius that's actually an alone genius. If you actually scratch a little beyond that you realize that everybody, somewhere along the line was bouncing ideas off someone or reacting to people even if they weren't discussing it. I feel like that's almost like a turbo charger for your creative process. If your just in a vacuum you might come up with something cool, but if you bounce that idea off something else, then something else, then something else, and it led to something somebody hadn't thought about. So it's up to you how you collaborate, but I think collaboration is pretty crucial. 

QUESTION: How do you feel about the stealing, copying, and appropriation of other peoples work? 

ANSWER: So, like Picasso, for example, he didn't come up with cubism. So that kind of tells you it's wrong to steal an idea from somebody to try to create or even diminish their contribution. I think it’s good to appropriate work if you feel like you can come up with something new or exciting. And I do feel like there are people who will steal work and not push it further, and they can make a dent, but that's a very— that's a short lived ad life you know? Because, if some bodies done it before, at best you can do it bigger or in front of a bigger audience, but it's not that exciting. Eventually your art directors and people in the industry are gonna realize this guys kind of a dud. So, I feel like the creative community, whether it's artists or applied artists in graphic design, advertising, film, I think there's a natural filter for that so I don't sweat too much when I think about other people stealing stuff.

QUESTION: Do you find work and appropriate it? 

ANSWER: I think so, I mean, if I'm 100% honest, yah, even on subconscious levels I'm sure I do it a lot because that's part of that collaborative process of bouncing ideas off people and sometimes your bouncing ideas off of something you saw on Pinterest or tumblr or something like that, but you think oh that thing they did kind of opened your eyes to something that you could do and hopefully that's when you make that creative decision to mold it and enhance it for your purpose, not just kind of rip it off.

QUESTION: What does the word concept mean to you whether it's in art or advertising? 

ANSWER: I think concepts are huge in advertising because you’r trying to find something that resonates with an audience. So I think at best concept finds you a little truth that people will relate to and understand and then that helps you get your message across with some level of authority or authenticity. And if you look at the art world now you've got artists like Jeff Koons who I like a lot. He doesn't make any of his stuff but he's got great ideas behind why he has other people make them, and that in itself is interesting. People can think about it, discuss it, and enrich their lives through conceptual art, and people can do the same thing, on some level with advertising. They can relate to a brand or feel like a brand can speak to them in a unique way and that's not necessarily a bad thing.