Tony Black’s job is creative. He’s a Grammy-winning music producer, and all around a pretty lucky guy. He gets to make his living doing something he loves, making music. But after playing the “Looking for a Record Deal Blues,” Tony found that he was a great sound engineer and moved to the other side of the recording booth. That kind of a switch – from making your own art to working on other people’s projects – is something that a lot of creatives in the advertising industry go through. We like to create. We like to make art, write and generally create whatever our little hearts desire. So we take creative jobs at creative agencies, working on creative projects. We come up with awesome ideas, and with the help of lots of creative people, make them come to life. But at the end of the day, while it might be our ideas and hard work that make what you see interesting, it’s never truly our own. You’re really just making something for someone else.
That’s why Tony paints. It’s why so many creatives have their own projects going on outside of work. We keep blogs. We have bands, art shows and poetry readings. We work on creative projects that we can own ourselves. On one hand, it’s working to keep our tools sharp. To stay on our game as artists and writers and general creative thinkers. But, on the other hand, at its core, it’s really more of a release. A way for us to do something to which nobody can say no. Nobody can tell us we’re wrong because we’re not doing it for anybody but ourselves.
Tony mentions wanting to do something that didn't need anybody’s approval, that didn't involve anyone's expectations and that if he failed it didn’t matter because there were no goals to fall short of. Those are some of the main reasons Tony chose to paint. He was a musician, not a painter. Who cares what his painting looks like? It’s also why Tony didn’t show anybody his paintings. He wasn’t looking to be told they were good or bad, or even to make any money out of it. He just wanted to make something for himself.
Painting for him, like so many different projects for professional creatives around the world, is also a risk without the risk. What’s the worst that could happen? Tony wastes fifty bucks on an experiment? That’s like 2 beers at Yankee Stadium. If you ask us, it’s well worth it. And that might be the best argument for going out there, or even staying right where you are as you read this, and making something just for you. You don’t need to make anything groundbreaking. You don’t need to show anybody. You don’t need any real skills or training. And you don’t need to ask permission.
Big special thanks to Clair Reilly Roe for her song "Island In The City".
Watch: Tony's video in HD quality on Ogilvy's Create or Else Youtube channel.