As a writer I’ve never liked staring at a blank page. It has always signified the start of something unknown, but, with luck, always something worthwhile.
Today I’m looking, through tear filled eyes, at an empty page and realising it’s about the end of something that was already great, now gone.
My dear friend Lindsey Redding has died. Linds was an art director brought to New Zealand by The Campaign Palace from the UK in its heyday. He swiftly established a reputation here for his superb concept and craft in campaigns for the likes of the TAB and Land Rover.
I should explain my connection with Linds. I was teamed up with him on a TV brief. I’d never met him before then. I was astonished at how Linds took a glib idea that I put on the table and he turned it into a campaign that ran successfully for years. It was visually stunning and beautifully executed. Those were his trademarks.
At the time his business was The Department of Doing. The only thing better than the company name was the tag-line “Consider it Done” a wry Linds-ism.
He became interested in the nascent art of motion graphics (I wanted to say something like immersed or obsessed, but they don’t sound very positive). Actually, stuff it. He was obsessed enough to move on and specialise in motion graphics—fearless bugger—and opened The Department of Motion Graphics (DMG). He and his creative partner Dan Short (now with The Craft Shop) and producer Kiri Hay established a gem of a company that worked with the best agencies in town to create little gifts for people watching TV, bringing mad ideas to life.
I saw it first-hand because I sub-let from DMG in its plush offices at the award winning Cumulus Building in Parnell. It was the set for the cover story of issue one of Idealog magazine.
So I got to see the maestro in action. First hand.
He worked day and night for his clients. He cared about his craft. And he sacrificed time with his family and, ultimately, his health. (I’ll come back to that point in a moment). I also witnessed some very poor practices by ad agencies. Inviting fledgling companies, like DMG to pitch for work at bargain basement prices, promising work with bigger budgets, but when the bigger budgets came they went to bigger production houses. You know who you are, and shame on you.
Ultimately Linds’ talent and craft found a form that superceded his advertising portfolio. He became his own client. When he was diagnosed with the virulent cancer that ultimately stole him from us he began to document, in words and pictures, his experience.
His blog LindsRedding.com is as insightful and moving as anything you will ever read. It is droll, funny and heartbreaking in turn. Even if you never had the pleasure of spending time with Linds you will feel like you know him. I choose the present tense on purpose. His writing is not only astonishingly witty and prescient—bloody art directors!—but it will move you to tears and you will feel he is with us still.
To be good at advertising you have to have enormous empathy; to understand what it is to live a life (not always with champagne and BMWs and the cliché trappings of the one percent world). Linds empathised in spades.
He was a man of the people. His humility balanced his ability. He shared his towering talent. He worked tirelessly on behalf of others. He made watching TV a better thing, even during the ads.
I never heard him utter a hostile thought about another person and, if you knew him, my guess is you didn’t either.
He loved music too. Long before his own traumatic and terminal diagnosis he introduced me to Warren Zevon’s autobiographical final album My Ride’s Here, where Zevon had been diagnosed with fatal cancer, sardonically ironic, just like Linds (it also features the ditty 'My Shit’s Fucked Up'). In Linds' amazingly eclectic oeuvre there was also Holly Cole, whose song 'Cry If You Want To', applied in torrents when I heard news of his death.
Linds left you a gift. His blog. If you work in advertising I commend you to read ‘A short lesson in perspective’ (this is the reprise to my comment about sacrifice).
Then read the whole damn thing and understand what it is create value in the service of others and to be honest and open.
Linds offered a touching gift in his last year. While experiencing the trauma of cancer and treatment and inevitably leaving behind the family he loved so dearly, he still tapped his talents and moved us to empathise and experience, through him, something we can only hope never comes to us or ours. He was a great communicator.
I wish I were still staring at this as a blank page with the assignment of persuading you to buy a can of baked beans.