creative writing

Lessons From John C Jay

Lessons From John C Jay

In an interview with AGIA, Weiden + Kennedy Executive Creative Director and Partner, John C Jay shares some simple yet vital lessons to those starting out in the creative field.

10 Lessons For Young Designers

1: Be authentic. The most powerful asset you have is your individuality, what makes you unique. It’s time to stop listening to others on what you should do.

2: Work harder than anyone else and you will always benefit from the effort.

3: Get off the computer and connect with real people and culture. Life is visceral.

4: Constantly improve your craft. Make things with your hands. Innovation in thinking is not enough.

5: Travel as much as you can. It is a humbling and inspiring experience to learn just how much you don’t know.

6: Being original is still king, especially in this tech-driven, group-grope world.

7: Try not to work for stupid people or you’ll soon become one of them.

8: Instinct and intuition are all-powerful. Learn to trust them.

9: The Golden Rule actually works. Do good.

10: If all else fails, No. 2 is the greatest competitive advantage of any career.

While the title suggests these lessons are for “young designers”, Jay’s advice seems appropriate for all creatives, both fledgling and seasoned; perhaps even in ones own personal life.

Read the rest of AIGA’s piece on John C Jay here:

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Creative Non-Fiction – My Father Through Photographs

My Father Through Photos

by. Matt Berkshire


My father like me had an extremely vivid memory, especially when dealing with physical details.  It is all the more puzzling then that I am unable to physically remember my father.  I must use photographs to kindle the flame of his likeness in my minds eye, and when I dream of him he is always wearing the outfit from a photograph, and typically has the corresponding facial expression.

The first photo is grainy in black and white.  My father at 7 years stands in a yard with his infant sister.  His father stands behind him smiling.  February 1951 is written in the upper right corner.  My father has a large head, too large of a head, and it looks that if it weren’t for his own fathers supporting hand that he would topple over at any moment.  He is shirtless, which I think would have been common for his impoverished upbringing.  He looks confused and maybe a little scared.  He might have looked like that often in his childhood, for 2 months after this photo my grandfather was killed in an accidental shooting, and he would be the last older male influence in my fathers childhood.

The second picture is a Polaroid with faded greens and browns.  My father again stands outside with his shirt off.  The confusion and fear are gone, replaced with an unsmiling countenance.  He stands with his arms crossed next to an equally austere looking friend wearing a Marine Corps shirt.  Private First Class M. Berkshire looks very muscular and his physique reminds me that he was a high school All American as a line backer and half back, and a member of the Cores boxing team.  His confident expression reminds me that he was the first registered Eagle Scout in Pompano Beach.  He would thrive in the military and attain the rank of staff sergeant in only three years while he also became a part of reconnaissance operations.  He was a man with a clear purpose and with many applicable talents.

The next picture came after my premature birth.  Dad smiles as he holds me in the palm of my hand.  This was his second chance at fatherhood after he walked out on my half sister when she was one.  While he made a brief cameo in her life when she was three, he was quickly out again and divorced her mother to marry mine.  He seems grateful, and his head fits his body better.  He had rediscovered Christ and attended college and seminary.  He is content here.

The next photo is an 8 x 10 taken with a disposable camera.  Pops stands tall and looks unsmiling towards the camera.  I stand about waist high and look up so that I can better mimic my fathers posture.  I hold a trophy that’s about my size in my right hand and shoulder my rifle in the other hand.  Pops has a full face and a nice sized belly.  Pops had been teaching me the intricacies of the rifle for about 2 years now, and I remember is deep sonorous voice telling me to not smile, but to look serious as if I always thought that I would win.  He wears a long sleeved shirt with a hole above his cuff on the right arm.  We were horribly poor at the time as my father was traveling the state on weekends buying and selling guns.  My mother did not work as both my parents considered this to be improper.  We were living for 3 months in the bedroom of a church members house.  Even though my father looks taciturn I always find this photo simple and happy.  I can tell that he is proud, and within a year he would land the first and only actual job that I remember him having.

In the next photo Mike is only in the background.  He looks towards me with my mother and sister flanking either side.  I have just finished my freshman year of college, but Mike looks lonely.  In that year he had an affair end when his consort drowned after driving into a canal.  The end of the affair singnaled the start of a murder trial where Mike was acquitted due to evidentiary issues on the prosecutions side, and when this tribulation ended his marriage with my mother joined suit.  There is sadness in his eyes that I am unable to see for the hate in my own.

The next image of my father is the only truly mental one I have.  After 6 years of not speaking or seeing one another I received a call that he was dying.  I went to find him to convince him to go to the hospital to die.  He is skinny and stooped.  His short hair has been replaced by greasy wisps of white hair that drip rather than fall to his shoulders.  He has a scraggly beard of the same shade.  He is naked.  He can not stand to greet me, and the bottom half of his body stained with long dried feces as his feet squirm on a urine stained carpet.  He weeps but his pride keeps his head high and his voice deep.  His cheeks are sunken and his head reminds me of a dirty skull.  When I return two days later to take him to the hospital his room is empty, and as his last girlfriend has his legal rights I can get no information.

The last photo is a recent one posted on my facebook by my sister.  After 2 years of everyone believing my father to be dead, my sister has found him dumped in a nursing home.  He does not know whom he is and is diagnosed with dementia and psychosis.  His bank accounts have been emptied, and he finds himself in a non-lucid state of penury.  My father smiles, but it looks more of what he remembers a smile to feel like.  His eyes seem empty, and I am told that he is nearly blind.  His head once again seems to large for his body.  He looks confused and maybe a little scared.