Though much of his career has been spent creating international advertising campaigns for brands like Levi’s, Audi and MTV, so much of Howard Collinge’s work falls well outside the world of advertising. He’s a partner in Architecture, Branding and Design firm, a founder of a publication and e-commerce platform that explores the style and ideas of the most interesting and “unique” people in history, and started his own fashion label inspired by the care and love of grandmothers. He’s also created an award-winning branded entertainment series for Snoop Dogg, and written and published “Beautiful Economics – How Art, Design, Beauty and Unicorns Will Save the Universe”, which launched alongside a re-imagined version of the NASDAQ stock ticker. Collinge once placed stuffed fake birds in trees around New York City, delivering twitter posts to passers-by. Collinge has spent his professional life navigating the intersection between creativity and commerce, and though he’s constantly juggling a handful of different projects, he recently emailed us from his studio at Neuehouse, a shared workspace for entrepreneurs and creative professionals to discuss his theories on economics, some of his recent projects, and his “Unique Creatures” platform.
1. LASTBLOG: So much of your work, be it in advertising or elsewhere, seems to focus on the cross-section of creativity and commerce. Does this area interest you personally? Why?
Howard Collinge: I think commerce is a part of life, so why not make it more beautiful? By beautiful, I also mean creativity and ideas that service humanity, and allow people to profit in more ways than just cold hard cash.
2. LASTBLOG: Where did you get the idea for The Human Stock Market? How has the idea evolved since you launched it?
HC: The Stock market is symbol of our idea of success, both as economies and as individuals…so I wanted to subvert that idea a little, whilst playing with the digital data that is now available on the web. The “Beautiful Economics Ticker” was projected onto walls of buildings around Manhattan, so it was interesting to see how people reacted to seeing an unusual interpretation of the NASDAQ as they went about their day. Overall, I hope it opens up a conversation about how raw human emotions, not just smart mathematics, drives the market.
“I think commerce is a part of life, so why not make it more beautiful?” – Howard Collinge
3. LASTBLOG: Who would you like to feature on the Unique Creatures blog that hasn’t been featured yet?
HC: Buckminster Fuller is a hero of mine…a rare breed of human who is multi-disciplinary, both scientific and creative, and a romantic visionary. He showed us how everything is connected, and was talking about sustainability long before we knew what it meant. As a Unique Creature, he also had an original look, and designed some beautiful and purposeful structures.
4. LASTBLOG: Have your theories on economics changed at all since you published “Beautiful Economics”? How?
HC: My theories have been confirmed by what I see happening in the world. Once we begin to value things differently – people, life, nature, and material goods – we will start to reevaluate the purpose of the economy, and how it is run.
5. LASTBLOG: Can you tell us about any projects you’re working on going forward?
HC: I have a secret project that I keep telling everyone about! It revolves around helping a lot of people, whilst creating a fun, sustainable business.