Meet Creator Nick McFarlane
Brought to you by Talenthouse.
Nick McFarlane (@nickmcfarlane) is, in his words, a good keen man; He builds brands. Designs graphics. Crafts ad campaigns. Writes books. Eats culture. Paints art. Loves music. Gives talks. Runs workshops. Rides bikes. Skates boards. Works hard. Plays hard. And is always, Hunting the Killer Idea.
Check out his work at http://spinfluence.co.nz and http://nickmcfarlane.co.nz .
Interviewer Alexi Ueltzen (@alexi) is Ello's Social Media & Email Manager. She lives in Evergreen, CO with her husband, two dogs, and one hedgehog named Ditters who hates everything except for mealworms and tunnels.
Want to win a copy of Nick's book Spinfluence: The Hardcore Propaganda Manual. Fake News Special Edition? Leave a comment on this post and you could be one of three winners.
First off, tell us a little bit about Nick McFarlane and what he does, because it’s a lot, right? It sure seems like a lot.
By day, I’m Design Director at an ad agency in New Zealand called Raydar. After dark I just keep doing the stuff I love doing – designing, illustrating, writing, thinking, dreaming. I found that the best way to bring all of these things together is in books. This allows me to collect all of my thoughts – written and visual, and put them in one place.
Give us a quick overview of the idea behind Spinfluence and why you released a second, special “Fake News” edition. For the record, it looks DOPE.
Spinfluence is many things. It’s an illustrated beginner's guide to propaganda. It’s a satirical critique of the world we live in. It’s also my personal anti-war protest. I wrote it originally as a response to the US and UK’s invasion of Iraq. I was living in London at the time and I was becoming aware of the huge amount of propaganda being used to convince the public that Saddam had WMDs and therefore needed to be taken out. He didn’t. We all know that now. They called the error “faulty intelligence”. I call it propaganda.
The Fake News Special Edition has just been released and contains a new chapter of analysis on the fake news phenomenon, and the media warfare that exploded around Donald Trump winning the election. I know it’s a highly polarising topic in the US, but my take on it is that there are a lot of mainstream news organisations who are more interested in ratings and profit, than presenting objective and balanced arguments to their viewers.
This is why it’s important that Spinfluence and other dissenting voices get heard rather than censored.
Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like to dive into a new medium (writing) from your background as a designer?
Like pulling teeth. It takes me a really long time to craft my words and I tend to go around in circles a lot. Late at night, I think what I’ve written is genius and then in the morning when I read it I’m like, this is utter crap. But I’m a big believer in being able to do anything you set your mind to. Propaganda is a really complex and subjective subject to write about. So I try to write as though I was explaining it to a 10-year-old. I cut out all the frills and try to present my writing in the most minimal way possible. Maybe that’s the trick? Keep it simple, stupid!
What is your personal creative process like? Any must-have tools or supplies, or tried-and-true rituals when working on a project?
Pen, paper, pedal, pub. All of my books have begun by jumping on my bike at lunchtime and heading somewhere quiet to think, doodle and jot down ideas. Dingy old pubs have always provided the right kind of ambiance to get the creative juices flowing, so I tend to do my thinking at the local dive.
Then in the evening, after the kids are in bed and chores done. It’s onto the Mac to bring my thinking to life in pixel form. This is when the discipline kicks in. I know I have to execute one thing every evening. So I work quickly and effectively, trying to stay focused. I have to do it this way, to get my fix. I don’t think I’m a workaholic, but I’m addicted to creating stuff.
Tell us a little bit about how you, as a creator, use social media today...and also why you’re on Ello?
I was drawn to Ello initially as the work on it is so damn good. Ello is a great example of a social media platform that is designed to build a community. That’s how I use social media; to build communities and to communicate with them.
As you probably know, the creative class is growing and the internet is totally changing the way that community connects, finds work, and makes a living. How do you see the future for creatives evolving?
I see it evolving in a very positive way. It was only a couple of months ago that I emailed Ello, telling you guys that I was putting on an art exhibition, which was open for NZ student submissions. I was wondering if we could hook up and do it as an Ello Artist Invite? The answer was yes, and the result is that a tiny art exhibition in little old New Zealand now has an international audience and at last count, our Moonlight page on Ello had over 10 million views. That’s off the hook! And it’s all good exposure for the students submitting their work. This feels like a win-win situation where everyone involved can benefit from it. Who knows what kind of connections and opportunities will come out of exhibition!
What’s one nugget of advice you have for working artists on keeping ideas flowing, or simply how to balance work and social media and life?
Keep on keeping on. You literally have to put in the 99% perspiration to get the 1% inspiration. Which means, the best approach is to do a little something every day. Even if it’s a small sketch, a few thoughts written down, or a full-on illustration that keeps you up into the little hours. The important thing is to get into the habit of creating. Once it becomes habitual, you have to create daily to get your fix.
What are you doing when you’re not designing or writing or giving inspiring speeches?
Skating. I had a 15-year break from it because… well, life. Then they built a brand new skate park down the road from my work. I thought damn it, I’m going to get back into skating. So I bought a new board, sucked up my pride, and looked like a muppet as I relearnt long forgotten skills. But so what!? It paid off, I got the hang of it again. It now gives me an outlet to thrash away the frustration that comes from… well, life. And it’s cheaper than going to the pub at lunchtime.