“Authenticity is key to success. Be yourself; not someone you think you should be. Always remember what it felt like when you were first starting out, so you can empathize with those who are at that phase in their career. Be helpful, open, honest and kind.” – Marty. Geller.
“Always keep your eye on your goals. If you face a challenge-face it head on. If you face a roadblock -find a path around it. If you get kicked down-get up, brush yourself off, become more self-determined and move forward. Anything worth doing is worth the effort.” – Marty. Geller.
We had the privilege of speaking to a stalwart of the television and entertainment industry, Marty.Geller on the topic of CEO’s using digital platforms. Mr. Geller is the Founder and director of Blue Lightning TV (BLTV) which provides free online Photoshop tutorials. In a long trailblazing career he has achieved phenomenal success and among those stands out the Emmy awards and his work for the ‘Late night with Conan O’ Brien’, ‘Saturday night live’ and many such prominent prime time shows. We talked at length about his career, the television and entertainment industry and the impact of digital technology on his industry.
Know the creative genius.
Mr. Geller has had a long career as an art director, graphic designer and animator for the television and entertainment industries, as well as for national magazines, music recording labels and major book publishers. He has received Emmy awards for his work in television and numerous awards for his work in Print.
His journey towards success.
Reminiscing about his career Mr. Geller said his background as an art director, illustrator and animator have coalesced into his work on BLTV. He also stressed that he has never considered his Photoshop tutorials as business but as a full-time hobby.
His goals, interests and passion.
Mr. Geller says that his passion is aspiring to create art that strikes a deep chord in people and to show how it can be done in Photoshop. He feels that many Photoshop instructors assume viewers know the basics of Photoshop, he on the other hand makes sure to show every step, so the beginner and novice Photoshop users aren’t overlooked. He says that there is fine balance of providing just the right amount of information, so beginners can follow along, whilst not boring more advanced users. According to him the most enjoyable part of doing the tutorials is creating the intros, which replicate a feel of movie title openings. Mr. Geller edits together graphics, music and sound effects in showing the final image that the viewer will ultimately create. His personal goal is to reach 1 million subscribers.
The Maestro’s success mantra.
Mr. Geller says he is driven by his passion to create his artwork in Photoshop and to teach people how to recreate it. His “success mantra” is; to do the best he can; everything else will fall into place. He says he has never forgotten what it feels like to be a beginner at trying to learn something new. Because it can be overwhelming, he makes sure that his tutorials are easy to understand and to follow.
The first inspirational figure that had a profound impact on him was the graphic designer and illustrator, Milton Glaser, who co-founded Push Pin Studios in the 1960’s. He cites David Carson, movie title openings of Saul Bass, typographic designs of Gerald Huerta and Michael Doret and illustrations of Roger Hane and Bob Guisti as other major influences. Fine artists who’ve had a strong impact on me are Juan gris, Paul Cezanne, Marc Chagall and Georgia O’Keefe. Mr. Geller says he is in awe of the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture and light screen designs, as well as the photography of Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams and Dianne Arbus.
Achievements and Awards.
He has received 3 New York area Emmy Awards for graphics and art direction, dozens of awards from the Broadcast designers Association, PROMAX, Society of Illustrators and many other industry-related organizations. On his proudest achievements Mr. Geller says he is proud of the posters he designed and illustrated for the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. He is also proud of his YouTube channel, Blue Lightning TV and also for being consistently rated in the top 10 Photoshop channels on YouTube.
Glimpse of his career
According to Mr.Geller until he was in senior high school, he had no idea what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. He knew that he had to make a decision, so he asked himself 2 simple questions; 1) What does he like to do and 2) Is there a realistic way to earn a living from it. The answer was- graphic arts. He applied and was accepted to a nearby State a University that had a 2-year curriculum in advertising Art and Design. It was a no-nonsense training ground that prepared its graduates for real work in the advertising art field. The school taught him the technical skills he needed. However, he still felt there was room to expand his creativity. So, he spent the next 2 years at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, which gave him exactly that. His first job after Pratt was at a small design studio in Manhattan headed up by a former art director of LIFE magazine. Unfortunately, due to its lack of creativity and toxic office environment, he quit after a few months. Shortly thereafter, he was hired by a small animation studio whose clients included major TV networks. He enjoyed the experience but he wasn’t earning enough to live on, so when ABC-TV offered him a job as a graphic artist, he jumped at it. At ABC, he created on-air News graphics, which was fun and challenging due to its quick turnaround. He worked there for a year and half and was then hired by NBC-TV where he remained for the next 35 years. NBC gave him the rare opportunity to art direct, design and create graphics and animations for a variety of shows including ”Late Night with Conan O’Brien”, Saturday Night Live, Today, and Dateline. He forged close friendships there which are still strong today. During that time, he also did a ton of free-lance work designing book jacket covers, record album covers, corporate logos, Broadway posters, as well as, illustrations for national magazines including “New York”, “Psychology Today” and “National Lampoon”. In the Spring of 2010, he requested and was granted an early retirement from NBC. A year or so before retiring, Mr. Geller began dabbling into buying 19th century paintings and fine art prints, having them professionally restored and then selling them to art collectors or consigning them to auction houses. He continued this for the next year and a half after leaving NBC until the art market ultimately went soft. In the fall of 2011, Blue Lightning TV was born after a friend suggested that he publish Photoshop tutorials on YouTube, since he had years of experience working on the application. Mr. Geller found that doing them provided 3 key incentives: 1) a creative outlet, 2) the satisfaction of helping people and 3) financial benefits. 680 plus tutorials later, he is thankful that he still enjoys the process of creating them and hopes to continue doing them for as long as people want to watch them or as long as he is able to.
A deeper look into the world of television and entertainment.
Mr. Geller says that working in the television and entertainment industry is exciting, fast-paced and high-pressure. Graphic artists and animators are required to have thorough knowledge and experience in using digital hardware and software. Fast turnaround is essential in creating graphics and animations. Oftentimes, they need to create something that needs to appear on-air within minutes. Visualizing the concepts of writers and producers is necessary. He says that a distinctive characteristic of working in this industry is seeing and working with celebrities almost on a daily basis.
Key partners in his journey to success.
Mr. Geller says that since he works alone he has no team but he is thankful for his partnership with Shutterstock. They have provided him with access to images from their entire stock library. He also thanks Beatsuite and Hartwig Media, who have provided him with access to their stock music libraries, provided high quality images and music for his intros.
Digital technology in Entertainment and Television industry.
Talking about a new software or technology that has impacted the industry in recent years Mr. Geller said that the introduction of 4K is requiring more attention to detail within images that’s being broadcast. On familiarity with digital technology and social media he said that he considers himself moderately knowledgeable with digital technology and social media. He worked on Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects while working at NBC but post his retirement from NBC he has only kept up with Photoshop. Presently, along with Photoshop he uses the screen recording software, Techsmith Camtasia. He also posts updates on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Reddit. He has also used social media to make announcements, connect with his audience and market his merchandise.
So what does he think about the impact of digital technology and social media on his industry? Mr. Geller believes that digital technology and social media has had a huge impact on his industry. The technology has literally changed the industry from analog to digital. According to him it has made the business of designing and illustrating so much quicker and easier, however, he doesn’t think life has become more stable, per se. In many ways he believes, life has become more stressful due to the expectations of quicker deadlines. He also thinks that the industries using digital technology and social media will improve and expand along with the mediums.
Seizing the opportunity by both hands.
Mr. Geller has never shied away from seizing any opportunity that came his way and he gives us an example of making the most of the opportunity. When he got an opportunity to switch from creating news graphics to designing promotional announcements for WNBC, he seized upon it by letting the station know that he would be available to work whenever necessary including nights and weekends, for as long as needed. Later he switched from that to work on the late night tv show, ‘’Late Night with Conan O’Brien’’, he convinced the producer to hire him full time.
Post retirement plans.
Mr. Geller doesn’t have any intention of hanging up his boots; he plans on doing his tutorials until he is physically or mentally unable to do them.
Through the interview with such a prolific television and entertainment industry personality, like Mr. Marty. Geller, we were able gain a deep insight on the industry. Through steely determination and a never give up attitude Mr. Geller has climbed the ladder to success and gained a strong foothold in a highly competitive industry. His experience and knowledge on the intricacies of the industry is visible through our talk while his words of advice are the most valuable lesson for any upcoming artist who seeks to follow on his footsteps.
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