Issue No. 42
— April 2018



Digital trend publication
blending a mix of culture,
insights and data.

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Victory comes in many forms. This issue is releasing right after the Men's and Women's NCAA Basketball Tournaments have wrapped up. Starcom just won some Redbull business. I just won an argument with my cell phone service provider (take that AT&T). The variety that "victory" can take has always presented us with a challenge when picking a direction for this issue. So we must explore...


Over the past few months I have found myself saying over and over that careers are about finding and staying with the team that you want to win with. You are the one that defines what winning means, and you are also the one who has to feel if you are currently with that team / company or not. See? I can't even really define the piece of advice I give (capturing victory escapes me again). That is the point though, it is personal and can't be defined for you in our industry.


When faced with a new job opportunity, or deciding if you think it is time to move on from where you are currently at - I still always find this to be the best personal test. Never mind what it exactly means, take it more in spirit. Success is never as sweet shared alone. Rather than finding it for one, single, glorious moment, it can be found everyday, one interaction at a time.


That is why we make this issue. As I have said in past "Victory releases," this theme originally came from a boss I had who spoke about "knowing what winning looks like for you, everyday." If you know that, you can always move forward. So that is the theme we have decided to continue breaking down: the personal, private, intrinsic, nobody-can-really-know-but-me type of victory.





micah heykoop

Contributing Editor




Editor's Letter


"The first place we must win the victory is in our own minds. If you don't think you can be successful, then you never will be.

—Joel Osteen




Dig into the issue by clicking on the titles below.




The Museum of Failure has finally made its way to the Left Coast. The gist? For every successful product that's thrived in the market, there have been a plethora of epic failures behind it. Peep our chat with the Museum's curator - Sam West - for some game changing POV's on the art of success, failure, and the common threads between each of these outcomes.

— Sam West, Curator of The Museum of Failure



and then there's maude... a launch story.

As far as customer experience is concerned, we’ve all been in that drugstore aisle, awkwardly adding random items into our baskets to cover up condoms... The landscape is over-assorted, outdated, ugly, and uncomfortable. The intimacy product market is still talking to us like we’re teenagers, or as if we should all be porn stars behind closed doors. Maude is trying to change that with a pared-down and friendly direct-to-consumer experience that speaks to you like a human. We are launching April 9th - read about it here. 


 — Eva Goicochea, Co-Founder of Maude




The Matte Black team made a Victory Playlist. We have never done this before. Every member of our team added their favorite pump up beats. Content also includes "victory anthems" named by our past + present SSR contributors.


RULES: Please blast at your highest volume - preferably with the windows rolled down while you're cruising the 101. 









Julian Berman

Julian is a twenty six year old photographer based in LA. You have most likely seen his work plastered across a major billboard, on the cover of your favourite album, or magazine. Have you heard of Odd Future? He's their go-to shoot guy. First gaining hype by shooting his OFWGKTA buddies around Fairfax, he now gets called to shoot one-on-one portrait sessions with Lebron James and DJ Khaled. You can see Julian's work throughout this month's issue.





What's a victory without tequila?

SSR talks with Carlos Soto - founder of Nosotros Tequila. Nosotros is currently holding the title of "World's Best Tasting Tequila" and started off as a college credit assignment... Only two short years ago. Read our interview with Carlos to learn about where that entrepreneur "spark" comes from, how to harness your passion, and the truth about the liquor industry. 





Once upon a time, the team at Matte Black sat down together and brainstormed for the 2018 Victory Issue.

The question at hand: What did we want to collaborate on? 

After lots of witty banter, we finally landed on our current "Listicle:" The Best Brand Bounce Backs. Keep this list in your back pocket should you ever face your own business hiccup (and if you're living life to the fullest, you most likely will). 


— The Matte Black Team



episode 031 // getting on your creative path with alex tan

Let's talk about the creative path, and how one should go about finding their way. Listen in as we dive into the topic with our guest, Alex Tan - photographer, co-founder of Mouthwash, and all around creative spirit, and for his five thoughts on finding yourself as a creative.

Oh, by the way, Alex just recently joined the Matte Black team... shortly after this recording took place. Coincidence? We think not.





"luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." 

- seneca


See what the Shape Shift Report team dug up this month!




Job Hunting in Modern Times: A 2018 Cover Letter


It's tough to stand out in the job market nowadays. But for one Sprite-loving copywriter from Firehouse in Dallas, he found a way to cut through all the noise.

Goal: To write on the Sprite account at W+K - NYC


Path to Goal: Create a Sprite-themed rap video cover letter that expresses his love for Sprite, and his excellent ability with the english language.


Results: He got the job at W+K.

Remember, it's not all about your portfolio or previous work. Your passion and cleverness can help you rise above candidates with the most stacked resumes, even at some place as prestigious at Wieden+Kennedy.




— Jonathan Godinho, Project Manager at Matte Black




down for "her"

The latest on the up and up? Chatbots. I’m not talking about the dry, monotoned buzz-kills who chats with us when we’re on hold. No — I’m talking about the new and improved chatbot. Apparently, these nifty interfaces are becoming so advanced that they are going to change how businesses function.


In case you're still not quite clear about what I am talking about, "chatbots" have been the user interfaces built on a back-and-forth conversation between a user and an app. Yes, business enterprise has been using chat-like interfaces for decades… But, now these drab yabbers are finally getting a much needed face lift! 


The new, sexy chatbots we're going to interact with are now going to be able discern your mood. What can businesses do with this? They think that (for example) they can smoothly pick up on disappointment in your voice and offer you a discount or promo code to elevate your experience. They can help track sexual harassment in the office. They can answer your online questions quicker than a human could, in a mere matter of seconds.


I get a slight buzz from a good old fashioned human-to-human service call. However, if we’re not getting rid of automated response programs, I’d rather yap with a friendly and accommodating robot. Hell, I might even call for fun.


— Gaelan Simpson, Managing Editor



the process

where art thou, right brain?


I've recently found myself perusing The Creative Independent more in my spare time, taking in the wise words, insights, and advice from artists, writers, and creatives I admire. Although I've taken things away from quite a few of these articles (Hanif Abdurraqib and Eve Ewing's contributions being bookmarked on my laptop and mobile browsers for an instant inspiration kick), a more recent article has stuck with me - Alicia Bognanno on Managing Your Creative Time.


As creatives, we find ourselves navigating blocks, burn outs, and finding ways to foster our creative capacity on the daily (especially those who need to be creative at a 9 to 5 and pursue other endeavors). Alicia's advice stands as a reminder: push through, keep creating, and make sure your wheels are constantly turning to keep yourself in practice.


The magic will happen in time. You'll know when it does.


— Aria Davis, Marketing Manager at Matte Black

Photo courtesy of  SomewhereNowhere

Photo courtesy of SomewhereNowhere



Photo Courtesy of  Midnight Charm

Photo Courtesy of Midnight Charm

You pick the palette, Google will find the art.


In Google's newest arts + culture experiment, Art Palette, you can explore works of art that all share common colors.


The experiment allows you to choose from their catalog of thousands of images, or upload your own. It detects the dominant colors used, which it then uses to find other artwork within the same palette. 


Quite a few of our current branding projects require dedicated time spent on color study and palette development. Finding the perfect hues to best launch a brand and envelop (and then express) their sentiment is crucial, so needless to say this way of visualizing color relationships differently, is fascinating to me.  For example, the colors Van Gogh used to paint a self portrait in 1887 are the same that were used by Hiroshige in wood block to depict scenes of Mt. Fuji almost 40 years prior.


I'll warn you that this can have a rabbit hole effect, but in my opinion, well worth it. Dive in and find your own preferred palette.


— Jesse Ligo, Art Director + Creative at Matte Black


“all progress takes place outside the comfort zone.” 

—Michael John Bobak

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Chelsea Matthews


Managing Editor
Gaelan Simpson


Contributing Editor
Micah Heykoop


Aria Davis


Creative Director

Nolan Goff




Julian Berman






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Julian Berman  


Julian Berman is a twenty six year old photographer based in Los Angeles, California. He works mostly in editorial portraiture but is not opposed to photographing your dog as long as it is a corgi. He probably spends a bit too much time on the computer.


Victory Song: Juelz Santana – I Am Crack

Favorite restaurant in LA:  Los Tacos [red pork wet burrito… don’t burn my spot out though] 

Guilty pleasure: ‘Extra Toasty’ Cheez-Its.

Idol? Dream dinner guest? Guy Fieri, and Guy Fieri.

Low key talent: I can type over 100 words per minute.



Eva Goicochea


Eva is a 6th generation New Mexican (her whole family was actually in this), mama to four rescued pets, married almost 10 years to a guy named Ian, and she likes to build things.


Victory song: Santa Barbara, 1979 by Roger Neill

Tattoos? I would never get a tattoo—I want to evolve and change so I’m sure I would hate it soon after I got it.

Vacation spot?  Cities: Madrid, Stockholm, Mexico City. I love cities.

TV Series or Movies? Attempt to watch anything and I’m soon fast asleep...

Go-to cocktail: A good Gold Rush, but they’re dangerous.


Carlos M. Soto


Carlos was born and raised in Costa Rica, and came to California to go to school at LMU where he studied Business Administration. CR taught him an appreciation for the outdoors, and CA fuelled it. Whenever he has spare time, Carlos tries to spend it out and about. Oh, and he loves both futbol and football.


Victory Song: Depends on the type of victory, it’s Caraluna by Bacilos or Alive by Pearl Jam.

How you relax: Everything water tends to be my happy place. Bit too easy, but I don’t think there’s anything more relaxing than the sound of waves.

Quote to live by: You have all the time in the world – this helps when you are running and frazzled, and you need perspective.

Favourite place on earth: Playa Danta, Costa Rica at sunset.

Biggest inspiration:  “I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination”

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Sam West


Sam is a psychologist, researcher, and now museum curator.
American-Icelandic but lives in Sweden.


Dream dinner guest? Jeff Bezos - He gets this failure thing.

Favorite insult? I refuse to have a battle of the wits with an unarmed man.

Your sweetest luxury: I love Icelandic candy which usually is some kind of chocolate and licorice combination.

Victory song: Anything by Royksopp