Many would-be painters, art-school students discouraged by the cost of living and cowed by the daunting stairway to the top, then seduced by the salaries at hipster ad agencies, derail their fine-arts careers, opting for a creative-director slot with benefits. Creative director is the contemporary name for what used to be called art director. The title changed over recent decades because art director proved too small a title for what had become the dominant job in magazines and advertising. Art director began referring to the subordinates who size photos and push type around. The creative director is a visual genius collaborating with fashion photographers (who prefer to be known as artists) and fighting it out with the corporate editors and writers for creative control.
Flash fiction is normally defined as anywhere from five hundred to one thousand words (give or take a couple hundred depending on the place doing the classification). Within that relatively small range of words lies a huge gamut of what a flash fiction piece can entail. It also forces writers to pay attention to the precision of their language (in a way, I sometimes like to argue, that makes flash fiction even closer to poetry than prose poetry is). But within that small amount of space, is it possible for a writer to convey an entire story arc?
Tom Topol has been collecting passports for 14 years, and runs the website passport-collector.com, a repository of travel documents through the ages. Topol first became fascinated by old passports after a chance encounter with some at a flea market in Kyoto, Japan. “Today our passports are uniform,” he says, “but look at an old passport [from the] 19th century—at that time they were really some kind of art.” He has spent last decade and a half learning everything he can about the politics and geography of historical passports, as well as digging into the stories of individual booklets and their bearers.