Blog Archive

Success Secrets from Marshall Arisman:

  • You’ll always make better pictures when the subject matter is meaningful to you. Even if it’s bowling, your enthusiasm will come out in the pictures.
  • You have to go inside yourself and find your own subject matter and develop it. And then you start the process of going out and talking to people.
  • Try not to think of your craft as a business. Try to think of it exclusively as “personal work.”

Early beginnings:

I went to Pratt Institute in New York City from 1956-60. Studied graphic design. Thought I liked it. Got out. Got a job at the General Motors Tech Center in Detroit, and after 3 months I realized I hated working with people. (Laughter) That in fact I didn’t like graphic design. And, I didn’t’ like solving other peoples problems.

So went to Europe, went through the Army. Got out, and kind of got into illustration backwards, meaning that I was looking for something that wasn’t a full-time job. I was looking for something that I could do alone. And so a friend of mine was freelancing, and that’s how I got in. It was an attempt to run away from everything else, I guess.

The problem with my initial portfolio was that I was trying to please everybody but me. I freelanced for three years and wasn’t making enough money to live on, so I decided it was time to make pictures about things I actually knew something about

Instead of trying to market myself as an illustrator, I did a series on guns. I was brought up in a small town, Jamestown, New York, where everybody has a gun. My brother’s been carrying a handgun since he was 15. He’s now 72 and he still tapes a handgun to the middle of his back before he goes to work everyday. (Laughter).

I realized, when I was about 28, that the things I actually had knowledge of were guns and deer, because we hunted deer and butchered deer. And because I grew up on a dairy farm, we butchered and ate cows too.

I’d never made pictures of guns. So I did a series of drawings, and they expanded into a book called, Frozen Images. And not realizing it, I had made a portfolio. And so when the book got printed I sent it to some of the art directors that I’d seen, and I suddenly started getting the sort of work that I would have done for myself.

That was one of the little ironies in life. In essence I categorized myself. Which is fine, because it was me who did it. I became known as the gun, violence, and death guy. And I’ve been busy ever since. (Laughter)


Thoughts on changes in the field of illustration:

When I was in school Robert Weaver was changing the face of illustration. I mean, illustration in the 50’s was basically dominated by women’s magazines.

So Al Parker and all those guys were basically painting pretty ladies and taking sentences right out of the story. Illustration was mostly just applying the medium to the text.

Weaver really broke the back of that idea. He began to tell two stories at the same time in his illustrations. He began to work with visual essays and actually gave me hope that the printed page could do more, I think, than paint pretty ladies, which I was not good at.

I don’t know how much of his work shows up in mine, but definitely he was the one I was looking to, to hold out hope for the printed page.

Thoughts on getting started:

You have to go inside yourself and find your own subject matter and develop it. And then you start the process of going out and talking to people. Otherwise you’re a ship out there without a sail. You’re style without content. You’re decorating pages.

When I did the interview for Communication Arts, it was what we call the ‘good ol’ days. The great thing about that time was you could see everybody. And, everybody saw everybody.

I saw Dick Gangle at Sports Illustrated and Henry Wolfe. I saw a lot of really good people. One could actually sit down and show them work, but those days are gone. Art directors don’t see people anymore.

The element of feeling you were working on something quite real, meaning you could actually talk to the people who were doing it is gone, which is a shame. It’s just more disconnected. I mean work is now gotten through websites. There was a middle period there where there were “drop off” days when people could drop off their portfolio, but now that’s kind of stopped too.


Changes in the market:

Obviously things have changed since the drop-off days. About five years ago maybe, maybe more, eight, the editorial illustration market began to take a real hit for a lot of reasons. The computer was one — Photoshop — and suddenly there was less interesting work to do in the magazines.

I chair a graduate program at a School of Visual Arts in New York, and a lot of what my students and I are doing is self-initiating more of our own projects.

Thoughts on self-initiating projects:

I have a children’s book coming out in the spring that I wrote and illustrated. I wrote a novel that I’ve illustrated that I’m trying to find a publisher for. I’m working on a book of stories about the artwork that I’ve done and whatever.

I think a lot of people are doing that, which is, in a funny way, infusing the field. People are doing toys and games and animation and stuff they never thought they would do. And part of the reason is that the editorial market is not as strong as it was, and people are just looking around for outlets.

On writing children’s books:

I’ve done two other books for the publisher, Creative Editions, but not ones I’d written. I did a book called The Wolf Who Loved Musi,c and years ago I did a Grimms’ Fairy Tales for them. The illustration in that book were really brutal. (Laughter)

In my current book, and by the way, I play the saxophone, there’s always been an urban legend that Charlie Parker was the inventor of Bebop. He played two solos at the same time. But he played at such a speed you couldn’t figure it out.

But anyway, the book is a bad joke. It’s is about a cat who plays one tune with his front paws and a second tune with his back paws at the same time and invents Bebop. (Laughter)

And what’s funny is that the publisher didn’t have a clue what Bebop was, so we got into all these funny e-mails where he started calling himself “the square.” So at the end of illustrating the book I did a 15-minute DVD based on the book. I did it only to be able to put a soundtrack with the book so that if somebody actually read the book they would have some idea what this might have sounded like.

And they’re going to put the DVD into the book, which is nice.


What’s interesting to Marshall about illustration:

The stories that surround the artwork are always more interesting to me than the artwork itself. And it’s been a luxury frankly, to be able to spend most of my life making pictures about things I’m interested in. And they generate all kinds of other things. I feel lucky about all that. I’ve had the time to do it. I mean I don’t know what it is I’ve done, but I’ve had the time to do it.

There’s an interesting difference between the work I do for myself and the work I’ll do for a magazine. The stuff I do for myself tends to generate stuff that I can then apply in a magazine illustration. But because of the timing of the illustration I don’t really have time to explore something in any depth. Does that make sense?

So my personal work becomes the well, if you will.

Marshall’s work schedule these days:

I’m at the School of Visual Arts two days a week. I do about one illustration a month. I don’t look for more work. I don’t have an agent either. And the rest of the time I’m pursuing my own obsessions. It’s a good life. (Laughter)

The keys to success:

If you’re lucky, and you go back to yourself and you start talking about yourself, you suddenly find out that there’s a connection there between you and other people.

Communication is part of the fun, right? It’s just so good when people respond, and say, “I know exactly what you mean” or “These pictures mean something to me.” That’s the nice communication.

It’s also the nice thing about being into print. All kinds of people are looking at it and I don’t have a clue who they are. It’s part of the fun, I think.


Thoughts on fine art versus illustration:

Every gallery I’ve ever had has said, “You’ve ruined your fine art career by doing illustration. You got too well known and everybody thinks you’re an illustrator…” which in this society is still a tainted word. When fine art critics want to punish a painter they called them an illustrator.

Marshall’s thoughts on having a representative:

I had three grips early on in my career. But it wasn’t the rep’s fault. They were trying to get me work. But, they were getting me work I didn’t want to do, that I couldn’t relate to. So after three of those people, I thought, “the problem isn’t theirs, the problem is mine.” I realized I was better off listening to myself when somebody called me, and trying not to think of my work as a business.

His toughest, most difficult realization:

I killed the creative spirit in my own mother. Watching this process was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. My mother was a folk artist and made sheep out of bread dough that were her masterpieces. In an effort to bring her more income I marketed her abilities to the Smithsonian gift shop. The sheep sold out on the first order and they re-ordered. After designing a logo, tags invoices and opening a bank account for my mother I called her to find out how it was going. “Don’t ever interfere with my life again” my mother said. “I am so sick of making sheep that I could scream.” My mother never made anything again. The issue was never resolved. The morale is: Do not foll around with the creative process.

On attending conferences:

I’ve attended a few. Less lately though, because the conferences are getting less creative-process-based and more business-based, which I frankly understand. But business is an area that interests me less than the creative process.


Marshall’s tips on building a career:

Make a list of things you have knowledge of, whether it’s bowling or drinking coffee or dogs, and make pictures from that list. Don’t tell yourself it’s a portfolio, but show it to people.

You’ll always make better pictures when the subject matter is meaningful to you. Even if it’s bowling, your enthusiasm will come out in the pictures.

On getting good clients:

Over the years I’ve worked for basically the same 10 people. I started with Fred Woodward when he was an assistant art director at the Dallas Times Herald. And when he went to Texas Monthly, I worked for him there. And then he went to Rolling Stone and I worked for him there.

I mean my mailing list is 50. It isn’t 5,000!

Thoughts on advertising for new business:

Every time I’ve taken out an ad, and I’ve taken a couple in books like the Blackbook and the Workbook, I never got anything back. I sort of knew that going in.

Somehow what I’m doing is very thin slice of the pie, and not generally applicable, which is fine. I don’t have any problem with that.

How illustration has changed:

It’s not really a depressing time. But, if you talk to old-time illustrators, they’re all depressed. These are people who were booked up six months in advance. People who never had to pick up a pencil unless the phone rang. People who made more money every year with the same style for 30 years, and it looked like it was going to go on forever.

But it hasn’t. And those people are bitter. And that’s a shame. But that’s not what it’s about anymore. One of the ironies for me is that the very group of people who are trained to tell stories, the illustrators, never told their own stories.

They applied themselves to somebody else’s text. And that’s OK as long as the art director was very clear which illustrator belongs to that text. But most of the time, that’s not the case.

The less defined the art director is with a point of view, the broader perspective you’re going to get, and those general assignments are not going to take you anywhere.


Marshall’s thoughts the new directions of illustration:

I don’t know if it’ll ever come back again where someone can spend 30 years with the same style, working continuously, making more money every year as an illustrator. I think those days are gone.

But what’s replacing that is quite exciting. People are doing graphic novels and comic books. People are creating games and whatever. And what’s generating that, is that freelancing editorial work, which was the mainstay of illustration for most illustrators, is not a market that they can rely on totally anymore.

They’re doing some freelance. And, they’re patching it together with everything else, doing Flash animation and all kinds of things.

Some good stuffs being done.

About Marshall Arisman:

The paintings and drawings of Marshall Arisman have been widely exhibited, both internationally and nationally. His work may be seen in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, at the National Museum of American Art and the Smithsonian Institution, as well as in many private and corporate collections.

Chairman of the M.F.A. degree program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, Marshall Arisman was the first American invited to exhibit his artwork in mainland China. His series, “Sacred Monkeys,” appeared at the Guang Dong Museum of Art in April 1999.

Mr. Arisman is the subject of a full-length documentary film directed by Tony Silver titled “Facing the Audience: The Arts of Marshall Arisman.” The film will have its premier showing at the 2002 Santa Barbara Film Festival.

Interview by Will Sherwood, MA, MSP
CEO/Chief Creative Officer
The Sherwood Group, Graphic Design / Web Design

24402 Vista Ridge Drive
Santa Clarita, CA 91355

Contact Us

Follow Will Sherwood on Twitter?
Connect with Will Sherwood on LinkedIn
The Sherwood Group’s Facebook page
Will Sherwood’s Facebook page
The Sherwood Group’s website

Every business or startup positioning itself around QR codes will be out of business in four years. Venture capitalists who invest in these companies are first class suckers. Look, it’s obvious that QR codes are increasingly being used to capture consumers’ attention; you cannot swing a dead cat in San Francisco without hitting 10 of them. However, the barriers to universal adoption are just too high for them to be anything other than a tool, and a clunky one at that. They are a tactic, not a business strategy, and tactics are only useful as long as there are creative uses that inspire and delight people.

Before you engage in any creative digital strategy, ask yourself: What does success look like? That question will help inform how you should be connecting with your consumers, what the purpose of the efforts is, and what the barriers to adoption are. Whatever you do, do not ask the question: What could we do with QR codes? This question informs nothing. It is a solution looking for a problem, and that type of thinking is the myopic purview of those who understand little about technology and even less about what marketing, advertising, and digital strategists like me do for a brand.

It is not about QR codes, it never will be. “QR code” is never the answer. Connecting with your consumers in a meaningful way is the answer. QR codes will never be more than a conduit to that answer. If you do not understand that, then please hire and listen to someone who does.
Get connected. Want to stay on top of the latest trends that are driving business for today’s digital agencies? Attend the iMedia Agency Summit, May 20-23. Request your invitation today.

But what if you have decided that QR codes could be a solution to how to connect to your customers and you are just struggling with how? You just want to know if the presented ideas are viable. How do you determine that? Let me provide you with 20 lessons you can learn from campaigns that have implemented QR codes well. Remember, whatever you do, do it in a way that helps your brand. Do it in a way that connects to your customers in a unique and delightful way.

Are you doing any of these things with QR codes?

Capitalize on “tween-time”

QR codes are best used when people are in between point A and point B — waiting for a subway, bus, plane, or train. It is a choke point in your journey. This in-between time is a perfect opportunity for marketing. It is also an ideal usage of QR codes.

Tesco in South Korea created a virtual store in subway stations so people could shop while waiting for their subway.

Lesson 1: You can take your store to people, instead of driving people to your store. Instead of trekking to a store, anything that can be provided conveniently online should: retailers, clothing, household goods, baby products, etc. Capitalize on “tween-time” to fit into people’s real schedules.

Korea and Singapore can get away with QR codes in subway stations as they have almost universal cell connectivity throughout their transportation system.

Integrate your product in a creative way

QR codes are ugly “blocky-block-block” eye-sores. The German online toy store built QR codes out of Legos, both to drive traffic to their online store and drive purchases of Lego. The associated Lego box could be ordered directly from their website by decoding the QR code. This one is a “Sea Serpent attacking a pirate ship.”

Lesson 2: You can make QR codes out of almost anything, even your product, and place it in urban environments for people to scan. You just have to be creative about what the QR code will drive to, and what it will say.

Provide value

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student Matt Tomasulo posted 27 signs at three Raleigh, NC, intersections as part of the “Walk Raleigh” project. QR codes are ideal for walking environments and to communicate a message.

Lesson 3: You do not have to always buy advertising to communicate. Sometimes it is better to ask forgiveness than permission. Just provide value so people are receptive. Guerilla advertising works.

Fill wait time with cause marketing

Chili’s used table top displays with QR codes as part of a charity drive to give to St. Jude’s. This integrated with a much larger effort to support the charity; however, table-top usage was particularly effective.

Lesson 4: If your brand has a physical presence that requires people to wait — any restaurant, any store with check-out lines — then cause marketing with QR codes will work. The longer a cause is in front of a person, the likelier they are to act, and the positive association with a cause increases your own brand equity.

Wait time is different than “tween-time.” Wait time is when someone is waiting for a meal, or a doctor, etc. They are already at their destination, not in-between it. I distinguish the two because of the way we are engaged during those two events. We “consume” the in-between times differently, and we attitudinally react differently within it. With wait time, the focus is more on why they are waiting, whereas in “tween-time” there is a desire to accomplish tasks.

Democratize knowledge

Wine is a product that many people fear. They fear making the wrong choice and looking like an idiot, or being judged for their choice. With QR codes, wines can provide complex information that can go beyond the vintage, to the grapes, the terroir, the vineyard, and the history of the wine; even offering a wine rating from Wine Spectator. All of this information goes to easing choice and allaying fears.

Lesson 5: If you have a product that is in an “expertise information” industry, where a lack of that expertise can be daunting, your product can benefit from QR codes, as it democratizes the knowledge. Be it wine, or even strollers, cars, handbags, or shoes, any product category where the volume of information and choice is overwhelming can benefit from QR code usage.

Know what your consumer wants

This may sound simple, but often client brands are ignorant as to what their consumer actually wants, how they want to be engaged, and what you can offer them that is attractive and gets them to act. Mountain Dew and Taco Bell partnered on a promotion that let their consumers scan a QR code and download free music. They understood that for their customers, music is a way to differentiate and communicate among peers.

Lesson 6: If you are going to have a promotion with QR codes, then drive to products your consumer actually wants.

Have them use — and drive them to — your product in the creative

What’s a better way than telling consumers about your product? Actually engaging with them in a way in which your product is integrated into the creative. Spotify used QR codes to allow you to send someone a mixed-tape. Scan it, and they get a greeting card that would go directly to the playlist you created. What does this do? It not only provides exposure, but leverages the product of the company doing the creative to demonstrate its value.

Lesson 7: If you have an app, use creative ideas that integrate that app’s functionality into your QR code creative strategy. QR codes, by definition, are a mobile strategy.

Make it personal, and connect your brand to emotional moments

Have you ever purchased something online and written a note to be included with your gift (your elegant words, not in your own handwriting, but a banal typed message)? I view this as one of the biggest drawbacks of ordering online, the lack of that personal touch. It is just so cold.

When you purchased a gift from any JCPenney store over the holiday season, you received a “Santa Tag” with an accompanying QR code. By scanning the code, the giver could record a personalized voice message for the recipient.

Lesson 8: Making something personal provides the emotional connection to a “branding moment.”And brand moments happen when that emotional connection occurs simultaneously with your brand. That is what actually cements brands in synaptic pathways to aid better brand recall.

“Branding” is not an ad, or a campaign; it is a strategy that makes moments that “brand” people.

I have written much about the concepts of branding on my website, and I provide clients with help in defining more accurately what success looks like for them. Oftentimes, marketers get into ruts of “this is a brand campaign” and “this is direct response.” Those delineations are often a result of how they will be measured, not what they are accomplishing for the brand. This is what branding is.
Encourage sociability by making it worth their while to share

Verizon ran a campaign where in-store customers could scan a QR code that shared their competition entry on Facebook. If a friend used that link to buy a Verizon mobile product, the original customer would win a smartphone. Not could, not maybe, but would win. Verizon saw a $35,000 return on a $1,000 investment, plus brand awareness on 25,000 new Facebook profiles.

Lesson 9: If you want someone to share something on their social profiles, do not give them the chance to win something if someone from their social network acts, let them get something. It is a commission, and they are a salesperson. Treat them that way.

This is often difficult within companies as different groups control different budgets. The key is to get senior-level approval to reinvest marketing dollars that directly generate revenue into offers to continue them. In this way, you can grow campaigns that use incentives, instead of having them fail continuously because one group benefits. There is a need to elevate marketing out of the current role as “expense” and into the role of investment with return. Start educating groups internally that you are in competition with your competitors, not each other.

Check-in and don’t be shy

Check-in behavior on apps like FourSquare and Facebook provide an opportunity to connect to an “action” moment. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest distributed more than 50,000 condoms in QR code-emblazoned wrappers. The wrappers enabled people to scan the QR code with their smartphone to check in at and anonymously let the world know where they practiced safe sex.

Lesson 10: By associating your brand with a check-in behavior, you aid brand recall and use. It does not have to be sexy like this example. A diaper that you can scan and check-in to show baby changes would work. People want to share “hi-low” events; either their triumphs or when seeking sympathy.

It is almost never a bad idea to take a risk. We are often stuck with generational mores that have us stuck in a “too controversial” mindset. Generation Y and lower have no compunctions about sharing significant intimate details. There is not the same delineation between personal and professional. If you want to reach these generations, it is ok to be a bit more risky.

However, as I stated with the diaper example, the uses for check-ins with products is something that QR codes can do very well.

Identify a consumer pain-point and help

At the Denver International Airport, a traveler can download free Sudoku puzzles or full versions of free books, courtesy of FirstBank. They identified “travel troubles” as one of the biggest pain points for their customers, and they’ve offered these books and puzzles as part of their helpfulness campaign.

Lesson 11: There are many lessons here. It is another example of “tween-time.” In addition, public domain content, be it full books, Sudoku puzzles, or offers and discounts, abound. You do not have to spend money on licensing fees and picture rights of a cheesy stock photo. There is a lot of value in the public domain — use it.

Make it real-time

QR codes are, by definition, mobile. What do I mean by that? Well, you are not scanning them with your computer, are you? And often when we use mobile devices, we are, well, mobile ourselves. Frankfurt, Germany introduced smart posters in train cars, which provides commuters with travel information, transport connections, special events, and points of interest, as well as special offers for travel card holders.

Lesson 12: Information is often not static, and yet for some reason we often treat it that way. QR codes can take customers to real-time updates anywhere where there is a constant flow of information and where time is essential — train stations, bus stops, department store sales, weather, live events, restaurant specials, or airline bookings. By providing real-time information, your brand can be contextually relevant to the situation.

Replace the static with the dynamic on longer shelf-life items

We often produce information in a static way. Anytime we produce a sign, a placard, or almost any other printed material it exists in that form until we print something else. The San Antonio River Walk has twelve points along its route with QR codes that each link to an audio narration, historic photos, and renderings. When you make something like a sign for a path, or a marker, they are often made and then never updated. History however is rarely static. New information comes about all of the time. You could even, in this example, provide seasonal information about those locations. The key here is to be thinking of ways that you can change the backend content and therefore increase efficiency.

Lesson 13: If you are producing material that has a longer shelf life than an ad (be it on a membership card, or even the label on your product), you can’t change the QR code, but you can change what the link you use ends up on, says, or communicates. For example, a tag on a dress that, when scanned, texts you back an encouraging phrase of how good you look.

Use what’s in your brand’s attic

Brands have histories, and with those histories they have content. The goal of the “World Park” campaign from New York’s Central Park Tourism was to attract younger, more social visitors. With more than 50 QR codes, Central Park was turned into an interactive board. From walking through exhibits, to standing and seeing concerts that were performed, essentially this campaign time-shifted, like a TiVo, what was in the brand’s attic into the present moment.

Lesson 14: Many of you have “brand attics” — a whole slew of material from years of advertising and marketing. You have legacies of creative work and people interacting with your brands in the real world. That material can be leveraged.

This is one of the most innovative and beautiful integrations of technology and location. The reason it is successful is for the same reason the JCPenney campaign is. Brand attics contain a treasure trove of emotional moments in people’s lives. Branding happens when you tap into that emotion, for it is at those exact moments that those emotional experiences get attached to your brand. It is not about the number of exposures or click-thru rates or GRPs — branding is solely the purview of emotion and our connection of brands to it.

Better than an expert

Even at the most basic level, a QR code is just a link, and, when used well, that link is to information. The Home Depot uses QR codes on their flowers and plants. With it they provide a way for people to get information on how often the plant is to be watered and how much light it needs.

Lesson 15: Retail is no longer staffed with experts; it is staffed with flesh pods who take up space, and even when you can find one of these flesh pods, they are rarely able to answer your questions beyond reading what is on a label. At least this way you can help your consumer out, and, better yet, deliver information in a consistent way. Home Depot actually is one of the better places where people can at least sometimes help you — at most retailers the staff just walks you over to the product and reads the display card. I sometimes want to scream, “I can actually read, and probably better than you.” At least with QR codes, you give the consumer a chance to avoid your clueless flesh drones and have your brand be viewed positively.

Show them, don’t tell them to download your app

Instagram, you know, that company worth a billion dollars because they are…uh…umm…Why are they worth a billion dollars again? Anyway, they demonstrated their product functionality in a QR code that drove downloads of their app.

Lesson 16: Like a virtual version of lesson two, if you have an app, QR codes are ideal if you want people to download that app. But please do something a little more creative than the basic black and white “block-o-blocks.” Demonstrate what your app does, and tie it to your brand. Make the ad your app. Show them, don’t tell them, to download your app. This idea can be used for any company with an app.

And please, and do not ignore this: Test the bejesus out of that QR code, and make sure it is able to be scanned. Sometimes creative directors get a little too creative. So much so that they avoid the technology that the creative is supposed to enable. Test the creative of the QR code, test it again, and test it at various sizes and from various distances. And then have three other people test it. When companies implement a technical solution and do it poorly, the entire effort backfires, and instead of the company being viewed as an innovator, they are viewed as incompetent.

When there is a “purchase,” target who is not the “use” target, bring something to life

Sometimes, if not often, we are not shopping for ourselves. We are shopping for someone else. How do we know the person we are buying for will like what we are purchasing? “The Great Big Toys ‘R’ Us Book” has QR codes for selected products that resolve to multimedia content showing the toys in action.

Lesson 17: When you are trying to get someone to buy your product who is not the end user of your product, it helps to bring that product to life so they may understand it better. If you are selling perfume or makeup or shoes or handbags, a man is not likely to understand the joy of a handbag he is purchasing unless he sees a women using it and smiling. In general, he understands the practical, not the emotional. QR codes can help, because often, we just don’t “get” it.

Don’t underestimate the power of the desire to share that which we can’t have

Exclusivity creates scarcity. Scarcity creates desire. Association with exclusivity creates an “in and out” game of trying to separate us from others. Are Diesel Jeans worth $250? That is the wrong question. They are worth what they want them to be worth. Do they cost much more than Levi’s to make? Probably not. Unfortunately, in a consumer based culture, this is the type of ego-feeding that we are taught. This desire to distinguish ourselves is powerful. Think about it, if it wasn’t there, there would be no brands, just products.

Diesel launched a campaign in which you could scan and “like” a product. People “like” to be associated with certain brands. Their egos demand it, and they want to share that. Diesel is also a smart digital marketer. It created a mobile-specific site and Facebook integration that made it simple for consumers to accomplish what they wanted. Too often brands link a QR code to a non-mobile site, with no share-ability. Diesel knows better.

[pb_vidembed title=”” caption=”” url=”″ type=”yt” w=”550″ h=”355″]

Lesson 18: People will share what they want to be associated with. Even if they do not buy, it creates the jealous effect of those who cannot afford $250 jeans. The jealous effect and the ego are behind a lot of sharing. If you have a product that elicits those feelings, QR codes can help create buzz around your products.

Personalize and drive to retail

Not everything is about big brands and national programs. Using MailChimp, a popular email marketing platform, marketers can use their latest feature “Pyow” to send a unique QR code to each recipient of an email. These emails are then printed out and redeemed at retail.

Lesson 19: People do actually go to physical stores, in the real world, with real people. Customized coupons, offers, and redemptions are great ways to drive foot traffic and determine the success of your email campaign efforts. If you are a smaller brand, this solution is ideal. This is a solution that will almost exclusively work for small local retailers as the staff will have to have the technology to scan the offers and integrate. That’s OK, small business needs some exclusive loving.

Men are not very complicated; just tease us and we respond

You know, I would like to think that as men we have evolved beyond some of our basic instincts; however, sadly, I do not think we can. Those baser instincts are just that, base instincts that we are almost hard wired with. I can choose to react more softly to them; however, completely ignoring them would just cause those instincts to be repressed. And things that are repressed for too long tend to come to light in very ugly ways. Better to acknowledge those instincts, bring them into the light, and then choose how we react to them. For it is really our reaction in society that is important, not our thoughts.

Victoria’s Secret incorporated QR codes into its “Sexier than Skin” campaign. The concept was simple: Huge billboards were installed with nearly nude models. QR codes were then placed over the most “revealing” areas, enticing users to scan the codes to reveal the secret — the “secret” being their line of women’s lingerie.

Lesson 20: Men will almost always respond to the thought that maybe, just maybe, we will get to see some boobs. Somehow, the one-in-a-million error will happen, and we are just going to see the naked photo. I do not know where this reptilian brain thought comes from that we temporarily delude ourselves into believing in the possibility of the impossible, but it happens.

Those who deny our baser instincts usually do not believe in evolution, for this is almost certainly a combination of evolutionary desire combined with a misogynistic cultural upbringing. I suspect that future generations, as sexual desires are more open than they used to be, will respond less to the “sex sells” motif; however, this specific campaign is designed well. It targets those who they have always targeted to drive their brand — males — and it does it in a way that integrates their product.

Victoria’s Secret is in the business of fantasy creation, and they manage it very well.


QR codes serve a purpose, but only if we are asking ourselves the right questions. And that question has nothing to do with QR codes, but a sound digital marketing strategy.

By Sean X Cummings (Thanks to

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to check out these others:

Design Your Email Newsletters with Pizazz
Using Social Media to Position Yourself as The Go To Expert
How to Get More Business by Using a QR Code on Your Business Cards
How to Stay Out of Spam Filters AND Run a Successful Email Marketing Campaign
4 Time-Saving Ways to Generate More Online Sales via Email
The Secret Source of Never-Ending Customers and Clients
How to Successfully Localize Your Business
Use Google+ And Improve Your Search Engine Rankings

Presented here for your education, inspiration and enjoyment by:

Will Sherwood
CEO/Chief Creative Officer
The Sherwood Group: Graphic Design & Website Design
Santa Clarita and Los Angeles, California, USA

Professional links:
Graphic Design/Web Design | Color Printing | YouTube Introduction

Social media links:
LinkedIn | Facebook Design | Facebook Printing | Twitter




As a friend of mine once said, “You can never have too many fonts.” That may or may not be the case, since so many of the free fonts out there aren’t all that attractive. These, however are quite nice. Check them out!




Bobber Typeface
















Deathe Maach NCV

(Thanks to Brant Wilson and for compiling this list.)

Will Sherwood
CEO/Chief Creative Officer
The Sherwood Group: Graphic Design & Website Design
Santa Clarita, California, USA

Social links (Follow us on Facebook and we’ll return the favor):
Facebook Design:
Facebook Printing:

Professional links: (Design Site) (Printing Site) (Google Places)

The startup social pinboard site Pinterest, has recently taken the social bookmarking scene by storm earning its fame as the fastest growing social networking site. Since then, Pinterest continues to grow and now it hold a #45 Alexa ranking making popular social bookmark sites like,, look like they had better days. This soaring popularity of Pinterest has caught the attention of designers and other creative individuals, and in no time, the virtual pinboard became popular among the design community.

One reason for this is the simple yet powerful Pinterest interface and how great it is for structuring work, ideas, inspiration etc. and at the same time build an online portfolio to show of some creative juice. Pinterest provide a convenient and visual way for users to see, re-pin and comment on other users collections and pins and the pleasure of doing this is what makes Pinterest so viral. For designers, it offers them an opportunity to get a glimpse of each other’s work, post comments and search the collections of other members. This makes it very convenient to look for inspiration for the next design work, get feedback etc.

Here is an abbreviated collection of Pinterest boards worth checking and following from Sonny M. Day and If you’d like to see Sonny’s expanded list of 40 or so, visit Tripwire Magazine.

Typography and Graphic Design

Vintage Typography by Hrvoje Grubisic

I Love Me Some Typography by Jamie Farris

Typography & Type Design by Chad Syme

Product and Package Designs

Product Design by Chad Syme

Product Design by Dan Denney

Vintage Packaging by Graham Smith

Business Cards

Business Cards by Dan Otis


Art by Paula Cevasco

Illustration by Hrvoje Grubisic

Illustration by Lisa Welding


Black & White Photography by siriah

Best of Pinterest Photographers

Photography by Lisa Welding

Logo Design

Logolicious by Mike Jones

Design Inspiration: Logos by Colourlovers

Logos by Dan Otis

Web Design and Development

Web design by Paula Cevasco

Web by Julieta Pisani

Web Design


Tutorials by Paula Cevasco

If you’d like to see more, visit Tripwire Magazine.


Will Sherwood
CEO/Chief Creative Officer
The Sherwood Group: Graphic Design & Website Design
Santa Clarita, California, USA

Social links (Follow us on Facebook and we’ll return the favor):
Facebook Design:
Facebook Printing:

Professional links: (Design Site) (Printing Site) (Google Places)

Pinterest has grabbed the attention of many social media marketers and has gathered millions of fans since its debut. With amazing tools, you can easily share any photos you found on the Web and socialize with anyone in the world through Pinterest. It makes sharing easier, and you can make friends with many more people who share your interests.


Initially just for image-sharing, you even study your social activity and find out your score on Pinterest, so you’ll know how social you are using the simple web application, and how your social activity can potentially benefit you.

In this article by and they have compiled 8 useful tools you can use with your Pinterest from analyzing your Pinterest activity to study your score and influence, pinning quotes, adding additional button as well as activity column on Pinterest page.

1. Pinpuff

Pinpuff is where you can calculate your Pinfluence, a measure of your popularity on Pinterest and it also provides the value of your every pin. To get started with your analytics on Pinpuff, go to the website and fill in your email and your Pinterest username, then click on the button ‘Calculate your Pinfluence’.

You will be redirected to your pinfluence page, where you will find your pinterest analytics.

In the score page, you will be presented with your total score at the right hand sidebar next to your Pinterest profile image. You will also get to know an estimation of your pin valuation as well as cost per click. Apart from that, you will see your reach score based on your follower and activity score.

There’s also a virility score, and you can also find out the total followers, pins, repins and likes of each board you created in Pinterest.

2. Pinreach

Similar to Pinpuff, Pinreach also provides you with analytics to study your influence on Pinterest except without the value estimation you can find in Pinpuff. It does however have othe features to offer.

To use Pinreach, visit the website and click on the ‘Sign Up’ button and fill up the registration form together with your Pinterest username.

When registration is completed, you will be redirected to your analytics page. There are four tabs available on Pinreach to study your Pinterest activity in details.


The first tab ‘Analytics’ is where you will be able to see your total pins, repins, likes, followers and more from the right sidebar, and you will also see graph of your score as well as activity changes since you last login to Pinreach.


Boards will show you the total number of pins, repins, followers and comments based on boards you created on Pinterest.


The Pins tab will show you a collection of your popular pins on pinterest.

Influential Followers

This tab will let you know who are among your followers has a strong influence on Pinterest. You can also click on their image to find out their Pinreach.

3. Pin A Quote

Pin A Quote allows you to post a quote to Pinterest. Although this is just a small part of what you can get from Pinstamatic, Pin A Quote makes it easy with their bookmarklet – you can simply post a quote by highlighting a text on any website much like how you Pin an image from a site.

To grab the bookmarklet, visit the Pin A Quote homepage, drag the button ‘Pin A Quote’ to your browser’s bookmark bar, and it is ready for use.

To pin a quote to Pinterest, all you need to do is simply highlight any sentence or quote you found on any website, then click on the Pin A Quote bookmarklet. A form will appear, fill it up and post it to your Pinterest.

READ MORE (Including the following 5 additional tools)

4. Pin Search
5. Recent Activity Expander
6. Pinterest Right-Click
7. Pinterest Pro
8. Canva

If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to check out these others:

5 Ways To Close Those Big Deals
How Effective Are You At Social Media Sharing?
How To Overcome Failure in Your Life, Work & Career
7 Steps to Help Your Business “Get Found” on the Web
15 Website Mistakes You Should Avoid (Part 1)
Is There Still Gold in Cold Calling?
3 Essential Ways to Market Yourself on LinkedIn
5 Simple Ways to Improve Word-Of-Mouth for Your Business
Tips To Help You Decide How Much To Charge
5 Social Media Mistakes That Will Get You Unfriended/Unfollowed
5 Tips to Get More Visitors to Your Website

The Sherwood Group, Graphic Design & Website Design:  The Sherwood Group has over 30 years of experience working with all sorts of companies, small and large. Our clients range from entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 firms, in nearly every business sector, from across the street to around the world (and yes, even Europe, China, and South America). Our goal is to create advertising,  graphic design, website design, and marketing communication that still looks fresh and relevant 10-15 years later. Our mission is to stir your imagination and leave your competition shaken and wondering,  Now what do we do?”  We are located in Santa Clarita, California, just outside Los Angeles, California.

Sign up for our monthly newsletter of the best-of-the-best tips of each month by clicking here!

”Like” us and/or “Follow” us at these social media sites and we’ll return the favor:

Google+ | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

Please comment. We’d like to know if you found this article informative or helpful?


© 2013 - The Sherwood Group
Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now