Adobe-full-color Adobe-white Adobe-black logo-white Adobe-full Adobe Behance arrow-down arrow-down 2 arrow-right arrow-right 2 Line Created with Sketch. close-tablet-03 close-tablet-05 comment dropdown-close dropdown-open facebook instagram linkedin rss search share twitter

Ji Lee: The Transformative Power of Personal Projects

About this talk

Bored with his ad agency gig and the uninspiring work he was producing, Ji Lee – now Creative Director of Google Creative Lab – decided to take matters into his own hands in 2002. The result was the ad-spoofing Bubble Project, in which Lee placed blank speech bubbles on ads around New York City. The masses responded and the project went viral, gaining Lee recognition and ultimately forwarding his professional career. Here, Lee talks about how he created, financed, and marketed the project single-handedly.

Ji Lee, Creative Director, Google Creative Lab

Born in Seoul, Korea, and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, Ji Lee studied design at Parsons School of Design. He currently works as the Creative Director at Google Creative Lab in New York and teaches design at School of Visual Arts. In the past, Lee has worked as the branding director at Droga5 and art director at Saatchi & Saatchi. Ji Lee is the founder of the widely publicized Bubble Project and the author of two books: Talk Back: The Bubble Project and Univers Revolved: a 3-Dimensional Alphabet. Lee has given numerous lectures, including at Harvard University, MIT and MoMA. Lee’s work has appeared in ABC World News, The New York Times, Newsweek, The Guardian, WIRED among others.

Comments (22)
  • TW

    Genius; absolute genius.

  • Yarden

    Great idea, beside the breaking the law part

  • NYC Farts


  • mrgraf

    I hope someone tags your car or other personal property. graf is fun!!!

  • midori

    “only their holes taste the same” in an Irish or English context would unambiguously mean “only their assholes taste the same”. Would have loved to have seen that tagline pitched on European side of Atlantic.

  • Mel

    The negativity in the comments is pretty sad. Why, even in a community that considers itself somewhat enlightened, is there still such rampant pettiness. Truly sad. It’s a great idea. Instead of tearing it down, go have one.

  • Meg

    Wow. Here here, Mel! Crazy negativity, you guys!

  • ekimvjuf

    unqexlwd lxtxxrwl arteoslw

  • Will


  • Nick Kellet

    I loved the blank bubles. Great for starting conversations

  • James

    Nice video. Gives us hope for our own projects.

  • Kat

    This video is sooo great! I like the “Sharing is rewarding”. I hate how everyone just thinks about making money with their ideas. How about something that just brings value to other peoples life?!

  • steve

    A designer is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist.

  • Samualz

    The result was the ad-spoofing Bubble Project… what a great idea. Because we don’t like to leave things “unfinished it makes sense, like we discuss on, that this would go viral. It get’s people talking.

  • 55 Hi's

    I watch this video all the time. I feel like it’s so inspiring.

  • Mr.Pibb64

    i’m one of the millions of unemployed. after being laid off since july 09, slowly but surely, i started working on demos that i show at interviews. people say that these days that you need to be innovative and go above and beyond. all these demos are in various stages of completion as they contain areas of development in which i am weak(i.e. database design, t-sql statements). these things are combining together into something that I believe that could be a product.

    I’m game with open source. I liken myself to the plumber with a toolbox; i tell employers that just like the plumber, i have a toolbox full of tools; unique tools that helps to solve tough problems.

    thank you for providing some inspiration.

  • Gaurav Mishra

     Good to find you! I remember those speech bubbles. Showcased by someone in a TedTalk video too.

  • Kodandapaani

    Very inspiring..:)

    And bubbling is verymuch fun. seems to do the same, on a social chat form level.

  • IT consulting

    Organizations unsure of future system or technology needs may receive better results with a consulting group for initially setting up an entire system or networking capabilities. Consultants provide the insight needed for solid decisions and are there continuously to ensure business requirements are being met in regards to timelines or available funding. Some groups only provide assistance to create the solution whereas others also implement and support the solution as part of IT management services.

  • Ray Harripaul

    Thank you! This help put a few things in perspective for me.

  • Alf_888

     Thank you. The revolutionary aspect I love in this is how Ji Lee simply placed them onto posters himself as his own personal invitation to the rest of us.
    I love it  =]

  • Jeffrey Kalmikoff

    I love this video. Very happy that I got to see this in person. Ji is an amazing talent.

  • Anand

    True that 🙂

  • Propville Dot Com

    I’m loving the idea that transformation is personal. As we put the final planks in place for the Transformative Advertising Summit in San Francisco on 5.21.14, I’m thinking about true transformation and how, for me, it must be personal first. If I embody a change, then i can bring it externally, to my work, to my community. Be the change. #TAS1

blog comments powered by Disqus

More talks like this

Visit the 99U Conference site