"A Creative Mind Has No Limits: An Interview With Philip Macksoud

We don’t often come across really creative thinkers in our lives—but when we do look out.
I’ve known Philip for a year. We met online, (isn’t that where everyone meets?). Philip never ceases to amaze me with his ingenuity, because marketing is always changing, and so I thought Philip might have some ideas for us.
Here’s an interview I had with him this week.
I always wonder how people get their creativity, Philip, where did you get yours?
As a kid I was interested in graphics and cartoons. I couldn’t afford to go to Pratt Institute so instead I went to a community college to learn more about my craft. After I graduated, I got a job with Norcross, a greeting card manufacturer, learning about color separations and package design. I also worked designing the Marlboro flip top box.
How do  you think of these things? Do creative people think differently?
I look at anything and think, is there a better way to do this? That starts my creative process and my mind thinking.
For instance, if you look at a cup of coffee and think about what goes in it. People put cream and sugar, and it’s a pretty complicated process. The cream spills, sugar doesn’t always make it in the cup—it’s messy. Suppose there was like a funnel that you stirred your cup with that contained both milk and sugar. As you stirred it all went into the cup—wouldn’t that be easier?
My first apartment was really small. I decided to design and build my own furniture to fit the space. When I finished everything  fit perfectly.
I remember seeing these t-shirts in the 70s that looked like tuxedos, and then you told me you created them. How and why?
In the 70s if you went to a restaurant you had to have a tie and a jacket, or you couldnot go in. I thought it would be hilarious to have a t-shirt with the tie and jacket painted across the front. From that I went and designed a tuxedo, which was a long-sleeve T-shirt,  colored bow tie and flower. I started wearing them around, and people kept asking where I got them. I found a supplier, started making them, and I wore them everywhere. I even had a body parts t-shirt that was funny. The pockets folded down, and a “wardrobe malfunction” would occur. It was a riot. I had motorcycle t-shirts with muscles and many more. Bloomingdales bought a couple of dozens and before I knew it people were calling from all over creation and Time Magazine called and did a ¼ page story on me. The next thing I knew, someone had knocked off my designs.
Wow you were really ahead of your time.
I also designed posters for the Museum of Sex, which were risque for their time.
Philip, what ideas do you have for businesses in terms of their marketing and their creatives? Sometimes it’s hard to see beyond your own doors.
Look for ways to be unique. Look for creative people and let them do their thing. If you find something you like find out who designed it. When you find them try not to put too many restrictions on them, or you will destroy their creativity.  The key is not to get the same-old  thing with a different twist it’s to get something really different. If you decide it should be blue you’re already recreating something you have in mind. You don’t need another person to think through your ideas.
Be open to new things. You need to trust in your instincts. A racehorse wins because everything works together—the jockey, the saddle and his feed. When you change one thing everything else may have to change.
Check out your competitor and other successful companies for ideas. What makes them different? Is it better services, best pricing or do they give something extra? Look at commercials  you like and remember—what is it about them? Remember people like and remember things that fit for them—there’s no such thing as one size fits all. You have to know your customers to get out the right message.
Decide what kind of connection you are trying to build. Tell your marketing person about your business, is it high end, do you appeal to younger people. To get what you want you must know your customer, your brand and what you want to say. It all goes together. The marketing person will translate your message.
Learn how to market yourself online. You can’t ignore the Internet and social media. If you have TV commercials, you can post them on your Facebook page or through email marketing. Customers want to know you and build a connection with you. In the old days, we told customers what to buy. These days customers talk online and decide where they want to go. Then they go looking for the business.  Having a blog where you can share your interests will entice people to want to know you better. The more the customer knows you the more likely you are to build a relationship.
If you’re using social media get someone to work with you around your layout and creative’s. Instead of being seen by hundreds, social media may help you get seen by millions. Social media branding should not be left to a 14-year-old who knows how to build a Facebook page.
If you’re going to market a new and unique product, it’s wise to have your marketing plan situated properly before you go public. I learned from my own t-shirt experience that you have to have everything in place so you can be successful. Eventually, everything gets knocked off so you want to be able to get what they call the “low-hanging fruit.”

By the way, spending a morning with Philip is very intresting,  the mind never stops working. Check Phil out on Facebook. Philip Macksoud Productions, Brooklyn, New York. He can also be reached at [email protected].

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