Life as a Visual Storyteller

All content © Roger Overall unless specified

Make. Do from Brian Frank on Vimeo

What is the nature of being a creative? How do you make it as a professional? Where do you start? What do you need?

These questions and more are addressed in a fantastic short documentary by Brian Frank. Just over a year ago, he set out and criss-crossed the USA, interviewing creatives of all walks along the way. The result is engaging and enlightening. It contains guidance and comfort. It is challenging. Above all, it is honest. Being a creative isn’t a cakewalk. But it is fulfilling.

If you’re a creative, or you aspire to be one, this is worth 34 minutes and 4 seconds of your life.

Emily Bakes a Cheesecake


I work too hard.

That’s by my own estimation. 12-hour days, often seven days a week. That’s not hard for some. For others it’s a lot. For me, it’s too much.

It’s not that I don’t like work. I do. It’s just that when I’m working, I’m not with my wife and daughter. That bugs me. Especially as The Girl is growing up fast. Soon she’ll be gone from us, off on her own adventure in life.

Moving to an office in the centre of town has really had an impact on my relationship with Emily. I used to see her a lot when I worked from home.  Now much less so. I’m home late and I’m too tired or too snippy to be any kind of good company.

Last week, my wife was away. It meant I had a four-day break with Emily. It was wonderful. She is funny, witty, a bit odd and full of invention. It was like rediscovering her.

She said she wanted to bake a cake. Taking a leaf from my friend Paul O’Mahony’s book, I let Emily do everything. I made sure she didn’t cut herself, or burn herself, but otherwise I let her at it.

The look at the end of the film is genuine. She couldn’t believe she had made something that tasted so good. All by herself. She learned empowerment.

And me?

I learned I need to restructure my working life. I’m probably not the only creative who could stand to do that.

The Perception and Reality of Being a Creative

How Pirate Kings See the World

©2014 Roger Overall

Being a creative really isn’t the greatest job in the world. It’s pretty good, don’t misunderstand me. But unless you’re JJ Abrams, your work stories aren’t going to beat those of a paramedic, or fireman, or someone who invented a cure for something nasty, or built a school somewhere, or brought freshwater to a village.

Nevertheless, plenty of people aspire to making their living from their creative work.

Good on ‘em, I say. God’s speed and all the best.

Just be aware that the dream and the reality of being a professional creative often don’t match. I say “often” because for some it really is as good as you could ever hope for. For many, it isn’t, though. Me included.

In reality, about 5% of the lifestyle matches the dream. Continue reading

Show Yourself

How to Be a Creative

The current mind map for a book about being a creative

I have an idea for a book. It’s partly mapped out using Mindmeister. The mind map (shown above ) needs refining. And, quite importantly, the book still needs to be written. That’s a tonne of work. Maybe even an imperial ton*. Rather than write it in one go, I’m going to break it down into individual blog posts. It’s a common strategy. No original thinking here. It makes it more likely that the book will get written.

The book is intended to be some kind of guide for those who are thinking about a career as a freelance creative. Nothing definitive. Just stories from my experience that I hope will be useful. Continue reading


A slack handful of us were clustered around a small table at Filter earlier this week. We were all creatives, each with different strengths. We all acknowledged gaps in our capabilities too.

The conversation reminded me of this cartoon.


Sort of ties in with the previous post as well. What are your well-developed muscles? Where are you puny?

For me, the answers are photography and video post-production respectively. I’m spending as much time as I can in the editing gym.

More and Better (#MoreBetter)


This week, Chris Brogan‘s newsletter was about taking inspiration from people who always look to improve themselves. People who want to learn more skills and deepen the ones they have. He started the #MoreBetter hashtag.

It think that’s important for us as creatives.

I was once exclusively a professional photographer. It was hard to make ends meet, but I loved it. Then, around the time that I felt I was set to become successful in the business, the industry changed. What was once a powerful string in my bow was reduced to a slack piece of twine. Making a living wage from photography became difficult. For me, it became almost impossible. Continue reading

Croissanzilla is 1

Someone asked me whether Croissanzilla would last a year. I was doubtful. More so after the teeny-weeniest hint of mould appeared a little while ago. Almost undetectable to the naked eye.

Yet here we are. A year on from purchase, Croissanzilla is still looking pretty good. A one-year-old croissant. He hasn’t even been stored especially well. He lives in his original packaging under the front passenger seat of my car.

At this point, I’m not betting against Croissanzilla celebrating his second birthday.

We mark the occasion with a cartoon.

Croissanzilla Is One

Croissanzilla is one year old now © 2014 Roger Overall

Mobile Storytelling Workshop with Documentally

Christian Payne AKA Documentally – a freelance mobile media maker who also specialises in social technology and connected platforms

Christian Payne AKA Documentally – a freelance mobile media maker who also specialises in social technology and connected platforms

Let me introduce you to Christian Payne. Online, he goes by the name “Documentally”. He is one of the most remarkable people I know.

Christian is a bundle of energy, generosity, courage and curiosity. I sometimes think that if he had a family motto, it would be “Genuine Stories Genuinely Matter”. He seeks them out and he gives them air. Along the way, he is creating a life well lived — one full of remarkable encounters and eye-opening experiences. And he shows no signs of letting up.

His capacity to connect with people and their stories is inspiring. His ability to tell those stories is even more so. Not only is he a gifted communicator, he knows how to wrangle mobile technology and social media platforms to get stories to where they will do some good, reach their audience, affect change, draw attention — be useful.

He’s not shy about sharing how he does it.

Which brings us to the point of this post. Continue reading

Frank and Croissanzilla – An Introduction

Croissanzilla is a Tesco Ireland chocolate croissant I bought in the first week of July, 2013. He was one of a pair. I ate the other one. It was horrid, so I decided against eating the other one. It disappeared in its packaging under the front passenger seat of my car. I forgot about it.

Many weeks later, I recovered it while cleaning the car. It was pristine. Despite being past its sell-by date, it looked as youthful as ever. Not so much as a spot of mould. Freaky.

I blogged about it on my visual storytelling blog. Croissanzilla was born: a boy – “le  croissant”. I imagined him to be from Marseille, where they breed them tough, I believe. Continue reading

Using Instagram to Market Your Videos

You can do more on Instagram than posting selfies and pictures of the beverage/kid/sunset you happen to have in front of you. It’s a serious marketing tool — especially for visual creatives. It’s a great place to post samples of your work.

I’m not suggesting that you treat your feed exclusively as a portfolio. That would take the social out of the platform. But I do think the occasional placement of new work is a good idea.

If you’re a videographer, why not put 15-second snippets of your latest film on Instagram? You can add a url in the accompanying comment so that your followers can find the full video. Your Instagram post becomes a trailer. (Though the fact that Instagram won’t make the link clickable is a big fail at the moment). Continue reading

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