Silicon Beach: South Beach Shallower Than LA, According to Cartoon Geek

Categories: Silicon Beach
hughmacleod.jpg
Hugh Macleod stands by his South Beach inspired cartoon.
Hugh Macleod is a renaissance man. Cartoonist, artist, blogger, social media marketer and friend of geeks, he's pretty damn good at everything he does, which lately involved an inspirational, no-nonsense advice book on being creative, Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity. The book is now a Wall Street Journal best seller.

The brilliant, if somewhat eccentric, Macleod currently calls Alpine, Texas home, but he's been making regular trips to Miami since 2005. And although he draws inspiration from the remote west Texas location, his art business is based in Miami. All printing, marketing and administration take place in the 305.

In his younger years, Hugh lived in New York City, trying to carve a niche in advertising copy writing. It was then he conceived the idea of drawing cartoons on the back of business cards. Eventually, he would start a hugely popular blog called Gaping Void, where he posted the cartoons and insightful writing that would become the basis of his book.
 
Macleod was in town earlier this week and spoke at a Tech Tuesday meetup in downtown Miami at Ecco Pizzatecca. His artwork was on display in a backroom, featuring a large print dedicated to our fair shores. "South Beach: Because Los Angeles just wasn't shallow enough" is printed under big yellow and blue circles.

In 2006, an earlier version of the print made its debut on Miami Beach at a blogger party hosted by Stormhoek Wines. Macleod helped promote the wine in a variety of social media campaigns. Today, he's CEO of Stormhoek USA.
 
It may seem odd for an artist to be mingling with geeks. Macleod didn't start as an internet guy, but when blogs came along, many tech types resonated with his witty cartoons and thought-provoking posts. The online tech community quickly adopted Gaping Void and it's no surprise; for example, some cartoons were about the social isolation of the nerd. 

Blogging helped Macleod develop a new audience for his vision. "Blogs were cheap, easy and global," Macleod said during his talk. "Advertising was expensive, difficult and provincial."

Macleod also talked about what artists can teach the tech community. Work-to-live and not live-to-work was the message. "Work has become all pervasive. It has started to lose meaning. We're always on. We're always handing out business cards. We're always on social networks," he added. "But we have an unlimited need to believe in what we're doing. We want to create work that matters to ourselves and to our friends."

New Times had a chance to speak with Macleod after his presentation.

New Times: Why is South Beach shallower than Los Angeles?

Hugh Macleod: I've lived in LA. South Beach has a community of people who don't even have to think for a living. It's not a bad thing, but the money comes in so easily. They're the ultimate consumer. Their lives are defined by consuming. They're members of the lucky sperm club. I'm not anti-SoBe, though. It's all about the hustle.

NT: You spend a lot of time in South Beach when you visit. What are your thoughts on Miami proper?

Macleod: I'm aware that Miami isn't SoBe. There are a lot of people getting by. It's a gelatinous culture: latins, snowbirds, rednecks, etcetera.

NT: You're Scottish/American and you've lived in many places -- London, Los Angeles, Chicago, to name a few. Does Miami inspire you?

Macleod: Miami is very vibrant and so is my work. I have an affinity with Miami because again, it's somewhat gelatinous and the culture is unformed. It's very 21st century. It's not about maintaining the interests of the old aristocracy. I love coming here.

NT: What do you think about Britto?

Macleod: Britto is Miami, no matter where he's from originally. I admire the way he has owned it. 

You can keep up with Macleod on Gaping Void and on Twitter (@gapingvoid). Click here for more information on the book.
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