As part of AgencySpy’s Tools of the Trade series, Adweek spoke with Ken Carbone, 50,000feet Senior Advisor, about the value of his 30+ year practice of ideating, creating and reflecting in journals. Using journals as a device throughout his time at Carbone Smolan Agency, Ken found putting his ideas on paper helped to keep a creative inventory from which he could draw inspiration when solving problems for clients. 


Read the full article below. 


Tools of the Trade: Ken Carbone of 50,000feet


Tools of the Trade is a new AgencySpy feature to help highlight the many tools that help make advertising and marketing folks successful. The tools can be anything that helps people perform at their top form, from a favorite drafting table to the best software program to a lucky pen, a vintage typewriter or a pair of headphones.


Next up is Ken Carbone, senior advisor at 50,000feet and head of Kenneth Carbone Studios.


What is one tool you use all the time at work, and how does it inspire your work?

By any measure, my leatherbound journals are my most valuable tool. They are both a “tool” and a “place” where my creativity begins. I’ve been keeping journals for over 30 years resulting in more than 8,000 pages of words and images.


Why is it your favorite?

My journals are a constant companion. In them, I make art, log memories and document the life and times we live in. They are like a laboratory for endless experimentation. Total freedom. Total bliss.


How did you acquire your tool or hear about it for the first time?

It was Paul Gauguin’s beautiful journals that got me started. I was first shown these while working in Paris in the 1980s. The books contained drawings, personal notes, collages and paintings. These revealed Gauguin’s very private life and were not meant for public view, making the experience of turning the pages even more extraordinary. Seeing these was an epiphany.


How does it help you be successful?

I realize that the process of routinely putting something down on paper “locks” it into my creative database, resurfacing at just the right time for just the right project. This is where ideas are born. Sometimes I use these books to sketch a specific design concept for a client. I challenge myself to solve the problem by capturing the essence of an idea in a two-page spread. The constraint is frightening but also exciting.


Does it have sentimental value?

They are my most valued possession.


Do you think your tool could go TikTok viral?

In today’s world, anything can go “viral.” Why not my journals?