I’m a big believer in trying to see the world through other people’s eyes.
It’s an essential skill for anyone working in advertising. That pen portrait on a brief means so much more if you have an inkling of what it means not to be you.
I try and do it at weekends, following my football team (possibly one of the few pleasures left in being an Aston Villa fan). Whether it’s a working men’s club in Barnsley or a riverside bar in Bristol, every match-day is a chance to see a slice of somebody else’s life.
I try and do it on every client brief. Is there someone in my own family or friends who I can picture? If not, I’ll keep an eye out for that person while I’m out and about. They might be sitting in the corner of the sandwich shop, or wandering through the local train station.
Without doubt, my best example of this happened last weekend.
I was in Tate Liverpool. There’s a brilliant exhibition on there, called ‘Ken’s Show’. The Ken in question is Ken Simons, a now-retired Art Handler — or, in his own words, the bloke who used to shift the art around. We were lucky enough to be there as Ken talked about 30 of his favourite pieces, all being shown in the gallery — a very different view of what makes art, art.Ken started talking about Mark Rothko’s Light Red Over Black. For me, Rothko’s work is nothing more than a superficial exploration of colour, but to Ken it was a fascinating study into composition, perspective and order. It made him think of looking out of windows into dark, foreboding thoughts. It made him think about standing above curious boxes. It spoke to him in lots of way. Before he could continue, a woman’s voice behind me cut through the moment.
“Oh no, ’e’s not talking about that rubbish is ’e? Nonsense.”
I couldn’t help but laugh, at three very different views of some brush strokes on canvas. It was a timely reminder of what it’s really like when our work — mine and yours — next lands in the real world.
What have you done today to burst your bubble?