Putting Art Before the Cart

Tuesday was the 75th anniversary of Theodor Geisel’s (Dr. Seuss) first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. The book tells the tale of a little boy walking home from school and trying to think of something he can tell his father. But, he’s facing a bit of a dilemma: all he’s seen on the walk is a cart and horse, far from impressive. As the walk goes on, the boy begins to imagine crazier and crazier stories to tell his dad. In the end, the truth wins out and he tells his dad he’s seen a cart and horse. 

It’s sad for a children’s story and has a lot more depth than you’d think. Is it a story about growing up and facing reality? Is it about the boy’s struggle to please his father even if it means killing his creativity? Is it simply a story about telling the truth?

“All of Dr. Seuss’ stories are brilliant in their simplicity. None of his stories tell you what to think, they let you draw your own conclusions. That’s why they’re so popular – everyone can relate to them,” says Dea Goldsmith, Echo-Factory Creative Director.

Most creatives feel like Dea. For us, that story represents everything that art should be – simple, original, memorable and open to interpretation. It’s the kind of work we stay up nights trying to create.

“In advertising, we’re constantly looking for those simple connections. For every project we work on, I force myself to take a step back and think what’s the simplest way to solve this problem? More often than not, it’s the simple solutions that are the most poignant,” says Dea.

Seuss also had the courage to trust his audience, something we ask clients and ourselves to do more of every day. As Dea puts it, the best art (and ads) are the ones that allow audience members to find their own insight instead of beating them over the head with a theme or message.

But, perhaps the biggest reason we love Dr. Seuss is because he gives us hope. According to a story on NPR, Dr. Seuss almost never was. After Mulberry Street was rejected 27 times, Geisel had given up on the book. Then, he ran into a friend who also happened to be a children’s book editor at a publishing house. He published the book in 1937, giving Geisel the jumpstart he needed to become Dr. Seuss.

So, from all of us at Echo-Factory, we say thank you to Dr. Seuss for all his inspiration, past, present and future.