Why I changed my Twitter handle from “@gapingvoid” to “@hughcartoons”

[Moleskine drawing, 2010]

Anyone who owns a print of one of my cartoons knows that there’s usually a little @gapingvoid marque, right by my signature.

This is so people who see the print hanging on the wall can find us easily enough, just with a little Google search.

It’s remarkably effective. In fact, it’s one of our main drivers of new business. Who would’ve thought that a wee detail like that would be so intergral to the entire organization. In the early days it wasn’t such a big deal, but now that there are tens of thousands of prints hanging on thousands of office walls all over the planet, it’s huge.

So Jason, the rest of the team and myself finally decided to make “@gapingvoid” the official corporate voice, both on Twitter and Instagram, and for me to move my personal stuff over to “@hughcartoons”. This is so first-time visitors and potential customers who originally found us via the “@gapingvoid” marque can learn all about the business (and our services) right away, as opposed to what Hugh MacLeod had for breakfast that morning. Separation between church and state etc.

This personal, non-work site, formerly themarfaproject.com, recently had the URL changed to hughcartoons.com. Originally it was called The Marfa Project because I was going to put on an art show in Marfa, Texas, but then the whole thing fell through. Plus I live in Miami, and Marfa is in Far West Texas, so there also was a big disconnect there.

I chose “hughcartoons” as a handle, because when people at cocktail parties or whatever ask me how to search for me online, getting them to remember “Hugh + Cartoons” is way easier for most people than “Hugh + MacLeod” (including the correct spelling), especially if nobody has a pen handy…

Our corporate site, “@gapingvoidart” is now Tweeting and Instagramming with my old handle, “@gapingvoid“, if anyone is still confused…

When I founded gapingvoid.com back in 2001, it was just me, my blog and the occasional freelance gig. But now gapingvoid is growing into quite a large organization with blue-chip clients, so it can’t just be “about me” any more. It’s a lesson I learned from my old friend and mentor, Brian Clark of CopyBlogger fame.

“I couldn’t grow the company and just make it about me all the time,” he told me recently. “That’s where a lot of Internet-famous entrepreneurs gets stuck. They can’t bear the idea of it no longer being about them, which makes it hard for them to attract and retain good people.”

I concur.


When asked recently by Weber Shandwick’s Chris Perry about some of the major business decisions I made over the years, I said, “I had to do what I did in order to grow the company. I wanted gapingvoid to be an actual, bona fide business that solved REAL business problems for real clients with real budgets, otherwise I would’ve just stayed in Far West Texas and made my living as a “Celebrity Freelancer”.

“Celebrity Freelancer” is my pet name for those internet-famous “gurus” who don’t seem to do much, besides spending 20 hours a day online, trying to get people to buy their e-books, speaking gigs or in my case, fine art.

For people stuck in office jobs they despise, being a “Celebrity Freelancer” sounds like a pretty sweet deal, until you actually have to do it. Having to be “interesting” every day and pimping all the time via your blog is actually a pretty demeaning and soul-destroying way to spend one’s life. After a couple of months you start hating yourself. Nein danke.

gapingvoid in Israel


This is a recent t-shirt we (gapingvoid) did for our client, Rackspace.com, as part of their Israeli startup reachout program, spearheaded by an old San Antonio friend of mine from the early days of blogging, Alan Weinkranz. (Rackspace is based in San Antonio; Alan visits Israel about once a quarter).

For those of you with poor eyesight, it’s a map of Israel with the words, “The Five-Thousand-Year-Old Startup”, which describes Israel pretty well IMHO.

I’m told the Israelis went nuts for it. Rock on.

What Is Holy?


What is Holy? What is God? What is consciousness?

I ask myself these kinds of questions, deliberately or not, when I make my little abstract drawings.

There’s always been a certain religious and/or spiritual aspect to my work, which, unsurprisingly, gets more pronounced as I get older.

Frankly, I find it exciting. When you’re growing spirtually, your best work is never behind you.