Innovation and Inspiration

innovation and inspiration
(c) Gaping Void

“Innovation is simply doing things differently and doing different things”

Today a story about an artist and a simple innovation inspired by us all being on Zoom in lockdown.

Oh, and some reflections on setting up an office back in 2013 that was, in hindsight an early example of a “remote first” business choosing a place to come together to meet and collaborate.

Hugh McLeod

Many years ago I saw the art of Hugh McLeod of Gaping Void in his collaborations with Seth Godin.

In 2012 Seth chose to publish his latest book, The Icarus Deception, via Kickstarter. I chose the option with 8 copies of the book, 2 copies of V is for Vulnerable, plus “the mammoth digital collection in print, a book heavy enough to kill a small mammal”.

Icarus Deception is my favourite writing by Seth and I even ran a book club in Cayman around it when it was released via Kickstarter, plus gave V is for Vulnerable to a number of clients.

Of all of these books, I particularly loved the “adult picture book: “V is for Vulnerable”, which, as Seth put it: “V is takes the last chapter of The Icarus Deception and wakes it up and brings it to life.

Our office was first, a meeting and collaboration space

Our business in Cayman was “remote first” (yup, ahead of trend), but in 2013, we chose to open an office as a space for clients to come to meet us, but also for our team to gather, for clients to meet.

As I reflect today, we were well ahead of the trend. We had no cubicles, no “hot desks”, no “hotelling”. What we had, though, was round tables of different sizes that folded vertically (very much like this) that gave oodles of flexibility in the multiple different spaces we created.

In addition to that, we also used vibrant colours on the walls, converted walls to full length glass (frosted to half height for privacy in meetings), had a meeting and collaboration space with special paint coating so we could write and wipe off with markers around the whole room.

On reflection, we very much innovated in this, so much so that when we gave up the office years later, the building managers kept it as a space their other tenants could use to meet and collaborate.

Inspire, be Inspired

Many in Cayman will remember visiting that office, which, in addition to the colourful walls and light and airy space, heavily featured the work of Hugh McLeod.

First, on the coffee table in our welcome area, was that: “book heavy enough to kill a small mammal”.

In addition, the walls were adorned with lots of framed prints from Gaping Void, my absolute favourite of which was of the image at the top of this blog, featuring the “virtuous circle” idea that Hugh riffed on with many of his drawings in the early 2010s.

Innovation and Inspiration

Once again I repeat my definition of Innovation:

“Innovation is simply doing things differently and doing different things”

When we took on that Cayman office in 2013, I bought prints from Gaping Void. The prints sold were then, as they still are, limited edition giclée of 11 inches by 14 inches. They also cost US$99. I see they are now typically $250 and up, including that favourite “Inspire, be Inspired” print. I guess I was ahead of my time a little here too 😉

Anyway, when one considers the process of printing, marking a limited edition number, putting in tubes and shipping, the net margin on each print is not that high. In fact, whilst selling the art felt like a significant part of the business of Gaping Void back then, we met up with them several times (to discuss collaboration) in Miami when we started an office there in 2014, since when they appear to have moved more and more into consulting and art is a lesser part of their business.

So, as a (very) long time enewsletter subscriber, a recent one caught my eye and showed a lovely and simple innovation.

Gaping Void and Hugh McLeod have started selling Zoom background images. Simple, brilliant (and I bought some right away!). The art has been tailored to both the dimensions of a Zoom screen and also moved the central focus of the images away from the centre (where, yup, there is a human head and shoulders blocking the image!). They also charge $25 for each digital download.

I adore the “Inspire, be Inspired” image, my all time favourite from Hugh.

So, this simple innovation to move into creating and selling Zoom backgrounds has inspired me to write today’s post. I hope their idea and my writing about and around it may inspire some of you to do things differently and do different things.

Oh, and my Zoom background is currently this one:

To buy this, visit here

Also published on Medium.