PlanoLeaders: John McLaughlin

Our PLANOLEADERS prove that creating great content is truly an art – if you’re not convinced, today’s feature with Multidisciplinary Artist and Art Director John McLaughlin will surely change your mind. From illustration to animation, John’s diverse skill-sets and inimitable work ethic have resulted in admirable opportunities across a myriad of creative industries including fashion, music and food – all while maintaining positions at some of New York’s most prominent advertising agencies. Though if you ask us, what’s truly the most remarkable about John’s work is his steadfast commitment to maintaining creative integrity – in other words, he is a true artist. In this interview, discover John’s thoughts on art’s increasingly present role in social content, what he’s got coming up this season and his advice for fellow artists who are looking to cultivate an engaged social media following.

Please introduce yourself!

Hi, I’m John McLaughlin and I am a Multidisciplinary Artist and Art Director based in Brooklyn, New York. When I’m not working I enjoy traveling and playing music.
PlanoLeaders John McLaughlin - Planoly Blog Feature 1

From your endeavors as a designer/director to your 9-5 agency job, what are some highlights from your career and what role has digital/Instagram/social played at every stage of it?

A couple of highlights include getting Anna Wintour to hold my character Fuzzy Dude before a runway show during fashion week, having Gigi Hadid post one of my animations on Instagram and most recently having my work featured in a Beck music video. Obviously the platform (and digital in general) has enabled me to reach a wide audience that I would have never thought could see my work. Whether positive or negative, everyone who has followed or unfollowed, liked or commented, or just viewed my artwork has pushed me to create more of it and ultimately helped my career continue to move forward.
PlanoLeaders Artist John McLaughlin - Planoly Blog Feature Anna Wintour

Talk to us about being an artist in the age of content. In your opinion, what is the biggest difference between being an artist and a content creator and how do you strike a balance between the two?

I think there has been a recent flood of “inspiration” pages on digital/social and it’s really blurring those lines. Taking a step back to read an art history book or to visit a museum will help you figure out the difference for yourself and make your own opinion. But to me, art can certainly be found in content and content can be art.

“Art can certainly be found
in content & content can be art.”


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PlanoLeaders Artist John McLaughlin - Planoly Blog Feature 2

Give us a good humble brag! What are a few projects that you’ve worked on that you’re most excited about? Based on your experience what are your tips in planning for/creating dynamic original content for Instagram that attracts attention from clients/brands?

I’m not the best humble bragger! The projects most exciting to me are the ones in the future. I will just say October 20 is a date that something will be happening and I encourage anyone who is into breakfast food and art to follow me on Instagram and learn more leading up to that date. I don’t have as many tips on planning but I think if you are looking to attract attention from clients and brands just do exactly what you’ve probably heard before – use hashtags and tagging appropriately and people will notice even if over longer period of time. Also one thing I didn’t really understand until my audience grew larger than I had expected is that they can come from all over the world in different time zones. So planning your content around that can be helpful as well.

“Planning your content around
[different time zones]
can be helpful.”


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PlanoLeaders Artist John McLaughlin - Planoly Blog Feature 3

What advice do you have for aspiring artists who are looking to cultivate a dedicated following while maintaining the pressure of having a “big” or numbers-driven presence?

I would advise them to forget about their following and garnering big numbers. As hard as that might be in this day age it will really pay off. If you just do what you like and post what you want (and not care) you will end up reaching the right audience anyway. No matter what.
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How have you seen the art/advertising world change the most as a result of platforms like Instagram?

There are no rules anymore. Aside from video compression and length, the possibilities of what you can post on Instagram are becoming less restricting with every update. They know what they’re doing, and brands in the Ad world are realizing they need to be there whether they like it or not.

In your opinion who are some artists that are ahead of the curve in terms of sharing compelling or innovative content online?

There are too many to name individually. However, I usually look to Vimeo for a lot of the more compelling content I see lately. It’s really well curated!


Stay connected:

Website: jhnmclghln
Instagram: @jhnmclghln
Photography: @kelseyannrose