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Art Therapy
February 15, 2021
By Brett Grischo

 

Andy Warhol says “Media is art.” I’m positive he means media as in the media planning and buying we do here at Explore Communications.

I believe media buying and planning is an art and the work we do is creative. In fact, our company is built around the mantra that media should be as creative as the creative itself. I wear a key chain around my neck that says ‘create.’ I don’t really need the help but it’s there to remind me to tap into my creativity every day and see the creativity in the people and world around me.

 

Since Andy Warhol kind of knows his shizzle, lets focus on art. In advertising, we hope ads are mistaken for art while also meeting the intended brand perception and desired call to action. In media planning and buying, we find non-traditional ways to do traditional things and strive to make the media as creative as those artful ads.

Of course art and media are much bigger and more important than advertising. Art is good for the soul. Art is therapy. Whatever your art is, whether you realize it or not, art is therapy. Who plays music or cooks a meal or draws a picture or writes a story or does a dance and then feels mentally ill (self-criticism of said art aside)?

Recently, I was witness to one of the most amazing examples of art therapy in action when we spray painted our goat. Before you call PETA, let me explain the goat. I own an RV with my buddy Rich that we bought primarily to take to Burning Man every year. It is a Class C 1995 work of art by itself that we got for $11,000 from a couple older than your great grandma’s underwear. We named it The Goat which is a whole other story, but just know that we remodeled the interior and dreamt of painting the outside someday.

So, we found an awesome artist @arte_mariel who has done murals, sculptures, painting and a slew of other of mediums but somehow she’s never painted an RV, much less a Goat. So here we are offering an RV and Goat at the same time and she was in (okay, there was tequila and whiskey involved as well). Check it out.

 

 

The weekend was magical. Goats like to graze so we parked our Goat in the fields of Stanley Marketplace. We were settled in within viewing distance of the beer garden at the Stanley Beer Hall which means more rations (food and bevvies) were a short walk away. That walk was through the field and over a creek which sounds quite lovely, does it not? Well, there are about 15 kids and their parents that would disagree.

About three years ago, there was an unfortunate incident involving a wasp’s nest by the creek, a kid disturbing said nest and then a scene out of a cartoon on the Comedy Network. The wasps only targeted the kids that were by the creek. Children ages five to fourteen were running and screaming while confused parents were searching for their offspring. The air was filled with angry soldiers, infiltrating the beer garden and even within the restaurant inside the marketplace; stinging these terrified children while ignoring everyone else. It was the Westerly Creek Wasp Massacre and unfortunately the scars run deep for many.

One of my best friends was there that day with his family. His daughter Sarah is a brilliant and creative kid that happened to be playing by the creek while her dad was probably sipping on a stout or three appreciating his babysitter Mother Nature. Then the attack happened, and poor Sarah was stung seven times. Understandably, it was a traumatic experience.

Ever since that day, Sarah refused to go to the Stanley Marketplace and especially wouldn’t consider going to the Beer Hall or anywhere near that creek. She was even hesitant to go outside in her own backyard. This really stinks because it was a complete fluke that it happened and the Stanley Marketplace and Beer Hall were not at fault that some kid decided to beat the nest with a stick in broad daylight – although I know their maintenance crew surveys the creek and fields regularly now.

Craig was there when I met Karlee our artist, and he told his family about the plan to paint the Goat and that we were inviting friends and family to come help and participate. To his surprise, Sarah and his other ridiculously tall child Isaac were interested in the opportunity to help spray paint the Goat. That’s either exciting to have artist kids or frightening to wonder if your kids are in a local gang and are going to tag the neighbor’s garage door.

It didn’t take long for both his kids to enthusiastically join in and become the artists they are by helping create the masterpiece. Sarah in particular seemed to really take to the project; learning from Karlee and following her direction while also freelancing her own expression on our old Class C RV. Another great friend showed up with his son Colin, and the next thing we saw was Sarah teaching him how to be a Pollak and working with him to cover the front of our Goat with their creativity.

Amazingly throughout the weekend, Sarah was wanting to be there, painting the Goat. She ignored her fear of the creek, the Beer Hall, the Marketplace and the outdoors. Art was her priority and focus. Craig and his wife Wendy and their kids were there and a huge part of the transformation. The obvious transformation was an ugly old Goat turned in to a mobile work of art. But the real transformation was the energy and attitude of Sarah, Isaac and their parents.

Art therapy.

As I watched children and friends happily making art, I glanced over at Craig. He was staring at his kids with a beautiful dumb smile on his face. He was clearly amazed and moved, which made my heart swell. Craig’s daughter overcoming her fear so she could create, Craig’s son contributing and even collaborating with his sister – it was magical. Craig said he hasn’t seen his son and daughter get along and interact like that since man invented the wheel.

This project started as a continuation of remodeling and improving the Goat. It ended up being a massive art project and a healer.  In my professional life, advertising is the art of persuasion. I like it when art is the advertiser. The best advertising makes a timely and relevant emotional connection to the consumer. Usually this occurs because of a creatively thought out media plan with amazingly creative ads.

The Goat project certainly isn’t a form of advertising, but it sure made a timely and relevant emotional connection to everyone that worked on it.  Media is art. Andy Warhol says so. Art is healing. The Goat says so. Be creative every day; its good for the soul.

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