January is a time of pointless contemplation and soul-searching; a time when the ridiculous dreams and unrealistic goals thought up over the festive season are quickly crushed underneath the weight of depressing everyday life. Or is it?
Rattle Ya Dags, a new website that offers up a daily video-based dose of inspiration from over 100 New Zealand artists, businesspeople, performers, sports stars and other sage, motivated characters – some well-known, some less so – was the brainchild of Nick Ward and James Anderson, from the Two Heads production company.
Ward, a producer, says it all came about after reading a self-help book, getting inspired to do something and then quickly losing the impetus and reverting back to normal life. The pair thought some kind of "mobile motivation" would be more effective, because by offering regular pearls of wisdom from different people, the website would be able to keep people coming back for more regular inspiration.
So, when NZ on Air asked for submissions as part of its digital initiative, the pair pitched the Rattle Ya Dags concept.
"Rather than reading the same list of rules or using the same person, we were looking for some different perspectives," he says. "It's important that it wasn't just millionaires. It's anyone who's living their dream."
Each speaker shares advice, tips or inspiration based on their own personal experience. And all of them write their own material and donate their time free of charge (all up, for production and ongoing updates throughout the year, the project cost $160,000). He says the website isn't targeting any specific demographic, which is why the interview subjects (each interviewee filmed four or five different videos to be used throughout 2010) are so diverse and include some lesser known dream chasers, like musician Anna Coddington and comedian Millen Baird.
"We didn't just want to attract business people who read self-help books," he says.
The feedback has been "wicked" so far. It's fairly underground at the moment, but the press release goes out to the mainstream media tomorrow, so he hopes the site will get more visitors once word gets out. And, judging by the enthusiasm of the first crop of interview subjects (as well as those who were unable to contribute to the first installment but really want to be included in the next one), he hopes some sponsors can be found so the site can stick around permanently.
Inner city workers in Auckland who have had to put their noses back to the grindstone today might have noticed a new addition to the urban landscape in Shortland St: a rustic looking fruit cart going by the name of The Honesty Box.
Rowan Butler and Erin McGill, both lawyers, and Rob Dixon, a TV editor, were inspired by the numerous urban fruit stalls seen on their travels overseas. They couldn't understand why there was nothing similar operating in New Zealand, particularly given the quality of the local produce and the steadily increasing demand for (but lack of) healthy food options among workers in the CBD, so they did it themselves.
"Basically, we have the best fruit in the world and we couldn't get it in the city," Butler says.
He says it's been a five-month project to bring the idea to, ahem, fruition, from registering the company, getting the appropriate permits from the council, deciding on the nostalgic branding and constructing the cart.
"We wanted to recreate the feel of a roadside stall with the cart and were hopeful that by doing that in the middle of the CBD it would market itself," he says. "Hopefully the rustic artwork, corrugated iron and wood will bring a bit of the country to the city."
He says there have been plenty of strange, inquisitive looks from passersby on this, its first day of operation, but so far there's been nothing but extremely positive feedback about the cart.
It's a simple idea, but, when done well, simple ideas are usually the best kind. And it goes to show just how far things have gone in our uber-advanced urban world when something as simple as a fruit stall is seen as being novel.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and one Kiwi designer, Kristian Thompson, has taken a unique, blunt and much more honest approach to gain the attention of prospective employers.
Some highlights from his website.
Headline: "Fuck you - hire me. Friendly got ignored."
Works: "Attempting to display my current level of ability by repackaging work completed years ago has proved futile, frustrating and time-consuming. Without client interaction I can't generate new design to exhibit, just pretty pictures and partially resolved ideas. Ain't no time for imaginary clients til the net's paid. No more folios. Show me you're serious. Send me a brief."
Whadeva: "You should have replied when I was all happy Helvetica n' shit. Gimme work!"
And lastly, this photo of a letterbox, snapped last week by Sue Worthington of The Pond creative collective while she was out walking. Ah, the power of good advertising.