Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My next big project.

“If I had my life to live over again I would try to make more mistakes
next time. I’d try not to be so perfect.
I’d relax more, I’d be sillier than I’ve been on this trip.
In fact, I know of very few things I’d take quite so seriously.
I’d be crazier, I’d take more chances, I’d take more trips,
I’d climb more mountains. I’d swim more rivers, and I’d watch more sunsets.
I’d eat more ice cream - and fewer beans.
Sure I’d have more actual troubles, but fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I was one of those people who lived sensibly, and prophilactically,
hour-after-hour, and day-after-day.
Oh, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have my moments.
But if I had it to do all over, I’d have more of those moments.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing but moments, one after another.
I was one of those people who never went anywhere without a thermometer,
a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute.
If I had it to do all over again, I’d travel lighter next time.
I’d start barefoot earlier in the spring and I’d stay that way later in the fall.
I’d ride more merry-go-rounds, I’d pick more flowers, I’d hug more children,
I’d tell more people that I loved them,
If I had my life to live over again.
But, you see, I don’t.”

(Letter from an 84 year old)

I'm a cynic. Self admittedly so. It's not the best attitude and I would be the first to admit it. If I had to guess why I am, I'd say it would be laziness. It's easier to say no then to say yes. Its easier to break things down then build them up, to make better than avoid. Thats my goal for the break. It's time to think aobut the most important part of being a professional. Attitude.

No one likes a nay-sayer. The world could use one less.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Semester Review: 3

75% there. This was a good semester. Tough trying and at sometimes fruitless but in the end it was a good semester. I saw lots of progress ended on a great note and am ready for a month off of informational interviews, sleeping and some intermittent work.

This was supposed to be the semester where you're supposed to put it all together, start to gain traction and get ready for June. It didn't start that way. I was working hard but wasn't getting anything out of it. It was a lot of art direction for very little good ideas. The professors said relax and simplify and it will come, but it didn't, until a couple weeks ago.

I stopped freaking out. Starting sleeping and working less, and the work got better. The more I lived a relaxed life the better the work got. I finally found some traction. And now I'm a little worried that I found some traction, will I be able to keep it with a month off.

Theres actually too much to work on to worry about that though. I've been busy reaching out and asking for time with former Adcenter/Brandcenter students in San Francisco, working on the One Show, D&ADs and, refining the work I already have.

My last semster will be full of the big boys. I have Charles Hall for International Brand Campaigns and Mark Fenske for Portfolio. It will be an interesting last few months. I've heard and seen the recent grads work, but I'm excited. The light at the end of the tunnel is slowly filling the screen and soon enough it will be May and this will all be over.

Slow down there big boy, one day at a time.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

All nighters do nothing.

It took me a year to figure this out. Spending 24 hours on any one thing is not productive, but it feels necessary sometimes here. The projects mount up and first your free time disappears, then your weekends, then your exercise, then your food, then all you have is work. It happens to everyone here. Everyone jokes about eating Hohos and Twinkies as three course meals and try to remember what a "weekend" was.

But after a year I've broken the spell. If I don't feel like working. I don't. That doesn't mean it doesn't get done. It just means I know myself a lot better after a year and a half here. I cannot do work by forcing work on projects. Shit in shit out.

It is such a fantastic transformation to see yourself not stress about things that drove you batshit a year ago. The real question is, will I be able to do this in the real world.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The name game.

This business is all about connections, who you know, met and had beers with. Oh and skill I suppose. Brandcenter does a great job cultivating talent. No one will doubt that some amazing talent comes out of this school in each respective field that is taught here.

What they don't tell at least publicly is that what connections the school provides on the outside. We get a book of every contact that the Brandcenter has including alumni, speakers, creative directors, recruiters, media directors, and assorted other fields. This book is pure gold. It is filled with a wish list of contacts and resources.

I've started reaching out to some of the people on this list trying to get things rolling before May. Its a little intimidating basically warm calling people off a list. It reminds me of my old job of selling insurance. Cold/Warm calling is the most intimidating experience of any ones professional life. But every single person I've contacted has been happy to talk to me, quick to offer help, and willing to meet.

If there was one thing this school gives you that trumps everything else, is that fact that it opens doors that I never knew existed let alone never would have known how to get to.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A win by any other name.

We won a pitch. Finally. It took a year and a half to win one. It feels good to win. Its why we are here, to win new business. So after all the work and time put in and a hard fought win over a lot of great pitches I should feel on top of the world but instead I feel exactly the same.

Well becuase the day you win one account there are 400 behind it that you have to pitch as well. I figure that you lose 9 of 10 pitches you participate in. Unless you work at CPB or W+K, pitches flow together, its great to win because you keep your job and maybe get a raise, if you lose usually no harm no foul. So I'm back pitching again today for Sigg water bottles, and tomorrow on to freezers, salsa, bronx zoo, dickies, One Show, D&AD, and portfolio. No rest for the weary.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Art Direction Fad #1: Kinetic Typography

I've seen these videos on the web for a few years now. They have been used in movies for some time now, and all of a sudden they've become every art directors go to typography choice for TV commercials. They're great. They give the attitude of the voice over through type, not easy to do. Its just interesting to see every shop using it these days, as you have probably seen below:

Its a small world here in the ad world and everyone borrows good ideas and wears them out just as fast. Its too bad this will be worn out, I have always been a fan.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Comm Arts: FAIL

I received the bible yesterday. The Comm Arts advertising annual, alot of people wait for this little white book. It usually is the difference between a pay raise, a promotion, or better offers. Its filled with the best work of the year from around the country.

The only problem with it this year is that it sucked. Hard.

It was filled with one offs, puns, and top of mind executions. It left me looking for more and a sinking feeling. Am I getting better at this or was this a bad year for advertising?

Part of it comes from the fact that I've seen a lot of the executions before through my wanderings on the interweb, the TV and other. And on the other hand we are trained to throw out the visual solutions in favor of a integrated campaigns with insight and substance.

Comm Arts you've let me down two years in a row. Hopefully I can do better.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

If you're concerned and you know it clap your hands.


I am lucky enough to get a month off between semesters. Last year was filled with traveling, recovering, forgetting what I learned in the previous 4 months. Those were the days.

This time around will be filled with informational interviews, award show work, and portfolio trimming. Of course there will be a few off days, a trip or two inside California, a few drinks with friends, but the main goal is to continue the networking, because my internal calendar is looking torwards may and beyond.

So anyone know any contacts in SF I could chit chat with, over a beer, desk, book, hanglider, kangaroo habitat?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Creative Interviewing

This is a post from Dave Trott's blog. Great advice about clearing the clutter when interviewing.

When I got back from New York I didn’t know anything about advertising in London.

But I needed a job, so some mates helped me get a job in a merchant bank in the city.

I figured I didn’t want to go dragging myself all over London for interviews at different agencies.

Most of them wouldn’t have jobs anyway.

And I didn’t want any advice.

I’d just come back from New York, which in those days was light year’s ahead of London.

All I wanted to know was do you have a job?

So I figured I would make up lots of little portfolios and send them out.

I used the bank’s photocopier to make 50 copies of my portfolio.

Then I used the bank’s postal system to send them out.

I just looked in The Yellow Pages under ‘advertising’.

In a week I had my answer.

18 replies, with 2 job offers.

That sounds good until you think about it.

That’s 30 people that didn’t even bother replying.

So that’s 48 rejections in all.

If I’d gone the conventional route of taking my book around to agencies, how long would that have taken?

Well, if you could manage an interview every other day, which would be quite a lot, it would take you over 4 months.

4 months of trudging around, paying tube fares, being told no.

How depressing is that?

This way I had the answers in a week.

I didn’t need to see the ones that didn’t have jobs.

And I could choose between the two jobs available.

The agencies were quite different.

They were both good, but one was press agency (BBDO, Creative Director Peter Mayle).

The other was a TV agency (BMP, Creative Director John Webster).

It was a tough decision, which one to take.

I figured, I’m a junior so all I can really do is press.

So I should go to the press agency, right?

Well think about it.

If I go to the press agency, all the seniors will be fighting for press.

So I won’t get much.

But if I go to the TV agency, all the seniors will be fighting for TV.

There won’t be any competition for press.

So I should get all the press the seniors don’t want to do.

So I picked the TV agency, BMP.

And that’s how it turned out.

I got as much press as I could do.

But if I had gone the conventional interview route, I wouldn’t have been able to choose.

Instead of getting all my answers in at once, I would have had them one at a time.

In which case I would have taken whichever job came up first.

Which is a weaker position be in.

We’re in advertising.

We wouldn’t give advice like that to a client.

We should take the advice we give other people.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Choose the fruits of your labor.

We have a lot of projects to work on. Probably around the area of 10-11 each semester. Thats 40-44 during your two years here.

You typically only need 3-5 for a book so it shouldn't be too hard to find them out of those 44. Well it is, but you have to know what a book piece is when you see it, and know the duds as well. We spend a lot of time working on duds here. LOTS. Its so easy to lose the forest for the trees. Fall in love in your ideas or art direction and lose focus on the simple fact that you need to find the good work.

But what do you do about the duds?

Abandon them? Nope. You never know when a dud can become gold with a little tweeking.
Work even harder? Nope. If the idea is bad, no amount of fixing can make it good.
Start over? Sometimes. But you don't always have the luxury to start over when you're under the gun of another project.

At some point you need to see that your work might not work, finish it as best you can, and bury it for good. There's more projects waiting out there for you, concentrate on those.

Friday, November 14, 2008


The Brandcenter isn't a portfolio school.

But you need one to get a job, don't forget that. I've been away for a while working hard, feeling the time creep up on me as I see that May 15th date get closer and closer. So I thought I would discuss my book as of now.

If I was going to call it I could put a book together in two weeks. Yes two weeks with the work I have now. Would it get me a job? Who knows. I would like to think so, the problem is it wouldn't be the job I want. I have 2 pieces that I can see in my final portfolio, maybe three.

The only thing is I don't want them in my book. Its my goal to get rid of every single one of them. How? By replacing them with something better. As of this moment I have 6 months to replace 1.5 years worth of work. See you at the Brandcenter.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sure its a recession but...

...there are people still out there that want to spend money. I walked into Target today willing and checking account cleared willing to buy a newly reduced priced Xbox 360 and Tiger Woods 09 video game. I have spent the last 5 months deep in work and I needed to spend some hard earned cash on myself. Simple enough.

The problem is I didn't spend a dime today.

After wandering around for 25 minutes looking for any, I repeat, any employee, I gave up with the mindset that Target missed out on close to $400 dollars of sales simply because of lack of staff.

Hell i understand. Times are tough. Profits are slim. Hiring freezings, corporate reductions. Its all standard in times like these, but there is ONE thing you can't ignore. SALES.

You cannot, I repeat CANNOT, reduce sales force and hope to increase or keep existing sales. There are so much better ways to cut costs, but now when Targets sales numbers come out soon, they will be $400 lower, and while its not much, I guarantee I'm not the only customer who will never go back to Target again. Enjoy the recession Target.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Driving Mr Hegarty

So I signed up to drive John Hegarty of BBH fame from the airport to his room at the Jefferson. In case you don't know John Hegarty is the H in BBH. And just in case you don't know. Its Sir John Hegarty. And just in case I worked for BBH this summer.

So this is a pretty big deal. I get 20 minutes with him in the car one on one and I need some suggestions for questions for him. Advertising related, non-advertising, crazy. Bring some questions on. Ill ask him the best.

Friday, October 24, 2008

McCain Wassssup.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Worlds collide.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Busy Busy Busy


It was supposed to be easier this year. They lied. I work harder this year than last hands down, and I know why. The first year is filled with "make me three print executions."

This year is filled with "make me":
Print, radio, OOH, ambient, Point of sale, web, website, minisite, logo design, brand integrity, business plan, strategy, banners, and a great deck, and go present it.

In two weeks. For three classes.

Oh and top of that do some freelance projects. The thing is, its addicitng. At some point you start to lose track of days, hours, and weeks. It all becomes one long blurry day with short interruptions of an hour of TV here and there, but the pile of completed work starts to pile up next to you.

But its not all work here in the 804. I've been to some pretty cool events here. A awesome folk festival where I had my first deep fried oreo and soft serve root beer float, oh yeah and some music. I even got a chance to see Bill Clinton speak at our school to rally for Obama. Pretty awesome to see one of the world's best speakers in action. So back to work. Wish me well.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Profit tips in a depression.

With the stock market crashing every day, companies in free fall and stock values being decapitated daily, its important to choose wisely during these strained economic times. But the good news is that there are a few stocks out there that are doing well, and will turn you a tidy depression profit.

1. Bindles Inc. (BIND)

"Keeping your last worldly possessions safe from competing hobos since 1932."

Quite possibly the worlds finest bindles. At over 400 thread count these bindles will keep your remaining possessions safe and away from the dirty clutches of your neighbor hobos as you cris-cross the rails of America aimlessly until the next world war.

2. Bean Time. (FART)

"Don't be so sad about a depression. Its bean time!"

What other meal quite fills you up more after watching your daughter feed an old malnourished man with her breast milk in an abandoned flooded barn? Beans of course, silly! Packed with protein, and syrup its bound to pick you up and fill you with that wholesome treat from yester year, most likely because our cans are still left over from the last depression.

3. Louisville Slugger (LSS)

"America's rioters choice."

What better way to show your appreciation to Wall street, corporate head, lobbyists, and the government than with a Louisville Slugger? Everyone knows that authentic sound of a slugger pinging off the skulls of greedy old white men. And while it might not make your bank give your money back, breaking and burning it down might make you sleep a little better.

So enjoy these free tips to help you ride the depression in style and with a little luck a few extra coins in your pocket!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Want to know how to be a success in advertising?

Read this.

A great post from a succesful man hopping the pond to Europe.

Monday, October 6, 2008

In honor of my dad.

Chi&Partners London

Choose your words wisely.

The pope says advertising is killing religion. Well kinda. In a recent interview he says that modern culture is killing faith. He said:

"nations once rich in faith and vocations are losing their own identity under the harmful and destructive influence of a certain modern culture."

Its probably a tough time for the pope right now. Religion is on the decline in most of the western world. With increasing war, depression, human rights violations, and evil all under the name of leaders who claim to believe in god, its not surprising for this decline.

So I don't blame the pope for lashing out at what he doesn't understand. The only problem is that he's attacking himself. Religion is the original culture. Its more modern than any fad or trend. Its always changing, whether for better or worse.

More human culture has come from religion than anywhere else. He is missing a huge opportunity to use religion as the center of culture. Instead it sticks to what its good at. History and fear.

As a non-religious person I have a healthy bit of contempt for it. However, I believe that the best parts of humanity are also represented in religion. If I was in charge of rebranding religion I would build it around culture and the fact that it is the original seed of culture.

So Pope Leo, its time for a rebrand of religion. You can do this. The world needs you to do it cause lets be honest, condoms arent that bad.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Almost there....Come on.....

So admittedly It's been hard being back. Not that its tougher or confusing or new. No its all me. My lazy ass has been unmotivated, as I've blogged about before. But I've finally turned a corner and now feel like I'm back in school again.

Sure it took 6 weeks but who's counting. Well the teachers are. There definitely feels like a little bit of the: "Come on guys, time to get moving" feeling coming from the school. But im definitely not the only one to feel a little lack of motivation.

It is a good feeling to be getting work done again then staring at blank screens. Hopefully this won't stop.

So I look as today as the beginning of school. With only 26 weeks left until I'm done. Its time to get this shit rolling and get out of Richmond!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My little red headed child.

I'm sorry blog and readers. I've treated this space badly. No updates. No culture. No nothing. I promise I'm here. Alive.

This blog has transformed over the year(s) and has changed from a how Brandcenter works into a how advertising works into a diary. It's a little wishy washy right now. Time to tighten it up. So I've decided to pick a format for the final push out of Richmond VA.

More updates to come on work here. I want to leave this a resource for students thinking about coming here, to have an inside view, one I didn't have.

Oh and don't worry Kelly. More culture to come.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The only burrito worth 3000 miles.

I spent the most magical 15 minutes in San Francisco this weekend. For years I've been told about Cancun burrito in the mission. The oldest historical part of SF. I even lived there for two years and avoided it. The problem with it is its lower than 16th street.

Anything lower than that and you need a bandana and wife beater. Most of SF's drug trade comes through there with all the usual fun that comes with a flourishing drug trade. But this time I braved it. I trooped through the mission watching the streets get darker and emptier, cursing myself for my love of the perfect burrito.

But finally around the corner I finally came to it, a simple screen door with barred windows and the most amazing smell ever. Inside a group of Mexican men stood playing guitar and drinking beers. I entered and realized I was the only customer. All eyes suddenly turned on me.

White boy in the collared shirt slumming for burritos. But all that evaporated when I got my first bite of the best carne asada burrito I ever had. It was worth every dollar, and I got to see a part of SF I never would have gone to without a police escort. Ill be back soon Cancun. Just you wait.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bridge Toll

Agencies are business consultants, nothing more. They make recommendations on a companies business situation, based on up to date marketing information and most importantly a outside fresh perspective. Their solutions are supposed to fill gaps the company could not see themselves.

When businesses hire more traditional consultants to streamline or improve efficiency, I would wager to bet the companies institute 80-90% of the recommendations, because the consultants are seasoned professionals who understand how to make companies run better, with more profit. It would be stupid to ignore these recommendations.

Then why do so few companies take an agencies recomendation for marketing campaigns? Are agencies rolling over in favor of a happy client? Do clients not value agency opinions? Is marketing viewed as a necessary evil and used only when necessary? Sadly these are all true.

Because of the change in payment structure for agencies, they have become dancing monkeys, at least most of them. Instead of holding a retainer offering a solution, and asking for more for implementation, agencies crank out horrible shit that a CMO says his wife would like to see.

Its sad to see businesses avoid and ignore good advice they are recieving especially in an era where all "good business" advice they have paid for is beginning to mount in the american financial sector. While marketing is not the cure for bad business, its a start to changing course. Hell look at Microsoft now.

A little message from the Bob Slydell of advertising.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Another tool in the clients arsenal.

I was watching HULU last night and was watching a horrible ad for Splenda and looked over at the bar on the left and saw this:
Two buttons where you can rate whether you liked the ad or not. I would love to be in on the client call when Splenda calls Pedone & Partners to tell them that NBC says that 98% of people hate their ads.

The sad part is HULU is a great place to showcase cool pieces of work with great stories. To use it to show the same ad 7 times in an hour makes me just pray for the variety that traditional television provides. Just another reason to make something people will enjoy I suppose.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Always on Display.

Faces pressed to the glass. Photos flashing. People constantly watching. Your second year feels a lot like this. You're expected to know the easy tricks and avoid them and move bigger and better.

We had our first presentation for the Navy today for our brands class. In my humble opinion I thought we did really well for a branch we knew nothing about. Of course it wasn't perfect but our team was all around pleased with the output. (see creative below)

Which is a good start. There seemed to be a lot of relearning this whole team thing again in the whole class. Some teams clicked had eager eyes to present and some teams leaned and slumped questioning their own work without knowing it, which creates a problem.

All the eyes look to the second years to see what will happen. Will they knock it out? Fail? Humiliate us? And while most of us would probably say I don't care, I feel the looks and pressure, but in a good way. I didn't come to this school just to make a good book. I came for a better work ethic, and god knows I've found one better than the last.

The sense of freedom of being almost gone has its benefits, the ability to just relax and do things you like for one, but that sense of freedom has a cost. Not caring at all. I can see how easy it would be to shrug off criticism in favor of a "I like it so screw it" attitude. To not try to improve it because it looks perfect in your head, and I completely understand.

But hopefully the feeling of 100 sets of eyes in the back of mind help push me a little further. Enjoy the work, comments are always welcome.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Culture by online shopping

So a little bird directed me to Ork Design. She makes typographic posters of metropolitan neighborhoods. you've probably seen them like this one of my hometown.

I was forwarded an article that did an interview with the owner of Ork Design. What struck me was this quote about working at home:

"Waking up and getting straight to working right away. I never knew my brain functioned at that moment in the day. Also, being barefoot all day. I really hate socks."

I love this because it reminds me of a time when i didn't work for 8 months and made tee shirts in my bathroom for myself. Most were inside jokes or funny ideas kicking around. But to be honest it was some of the best times I had in SF.

So I've decided to get back into this screen printing business for my first culture assignment. Sure it isn't new or different but it is something I've wanted to do again for some time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I'm not talking to you....

Ok so i've ignored this blog for long enough, but in my defense I've been busy. Ignore that tan and empty case of beer over there. I SAID DONT LOOK!! I promise I've been working, here look at my sketch book.

So what there's only a few notes. Quailty my friend. Quality. HEY LOOK OVER THERE!!

Sorry. But I've been busy. 4 clients this time. The NAVY, Stinger bug killers, Newspaper Association, and a freelance client. It feels like a lot but exciting as well. There's progress on all fronts and good stuff is starting to come out of my cobweb filled brain.

The most interesting point so far is the teacher/group meetings. We had our first today for the NAVY. We all sat and listened to recommendation and suggestions, made a few of our own and left. We met afterwards to digest and regroup. The difference happened when we all agreed that the direction suggested wasn't something we were interested in and we decided our own path.

While this might seem like a pretty easy decision there outside our humble building but for me it feels like the start of me doing work I want instead of homework. So long mindless drone. Hello indepenent free wheeling thinker!

Hey! What did i say about not looking at the empty beer bottles?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sluggishness is the enemy of May.

So its back on in all 5 gears here.

Except I can only get it to go into 3rd, and I need 4 and 5 from the start. I only have 9 months until I hope to do this for a salary. Part of me knows it will all come together and I will finish it, succeed and have a great book.

The other half worries. Teachers said we would come back sluggish, cautious, and flat out lazy. Seeing how advertising actually works sometimes takes the piss and vinegar out, and I can feel the rust, the sluggishness.

But its not all bad, the rust will pass, and thankfully I came back with something. Speed. I can feel my ability to plow through bad ideas quicker. Target on shreds of thoughts with potential. So hopefully this will help off set the rust until I can relearn how to drive my manual transmission again.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

287. Give or take.

One more glorious year of avoiding adulthood ahead.
One more year of infinite budgets, ideas, and clients.
One more year to live in a bubble called Brandcenter.

But as always the seeds of doubt are at foot. I've been thinking about where I want to go every day because I'll wake up tomorrow and it will be upon me. I think about my book about once a week because I'll cough and I'll be sitting in a cap and gown. I watch the economy every five mintues because nothing scares people entering the work world than a recession.

But wait, a recession is actually great for me.

I make half a peanut in terms of salary. A art director with 5 years experience makes enough peanuts to make Jimmy Carter nauseous. Agencies need art directors but not the large salaries. So in business terms I'm called a bargain.

So things look up as the numbers go down, or so I hope. This phenomenon has been reported on Agency Spy. Apparently people over 50 are getting the axe at unheard levels in favor of cheap and young. Guess ill start using anti aging cream this year.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'm just missing the little umbrella.

I've been back in Richmond for a week now and have thoroughly enjoyed being back.

Met a few of the incoming students and have been very impressed by the quality of their previous experiences and portfolios. Brandcenter's new policies which include two years previous experience, and a degree involving some form of design, will make the Brandcenter much more competitive in terms of Art Direction and will produce great ADs for years to come.

I would love to keep posting but honestly I've had a extremely relaxed week and will get back to posting once I'm done doing the following:

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Three levels of advice

Level One: Mark Roddy ECD of BBH NYC.

"I want people with big ideas. BIG ideas. Look at Droga five. Ideas like Tap Project and the phones for public school students in NYC. People at my level want those ideas and at times are a little afraid because they don't know where to get them from."

Level Two: Paul Foulkes CD of BBH NYC.

"I have alot of friends who are creative directors who hire these kids out of Miami or Crispin and their book are filled with cool ambient and OOH, but they can't make a print ad for their lives. I want people who can do cool stuff we all do. You just have to remember 85% of the time I just need a damn print ad, radio ad, coupon. Show me you can do the simple as well."

Level Three: Victoria Weeks AD at BBDO SF.

"You should put in your book what you want to be hired to do."

All good advice. Now go do it.

Note: These are not direct quotes but summations of conversations I had with these people during the summer.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Seuss in the major of NYC

I took my spot at a desk on the 19th floor.
The first couple weeks turned out to be quite a bore.
After 51 one layouts and not one OK.
My Airborne layout was approved, not a single more Nay.
I learned about agencies the way that they work,
I regretfully learned undergrads can be jerks.
Everyone was a creative, a writer, a pro,
Until I asked for help and was met with the familiar no.
But I loved my time living, in the city that never sleeps.
And now I'm moving back to the city that barely peeps.
The best lesson i learned from my 8 weeks as a pro,
Is my skills as an art director have a long way to grow.
But that is the challenge of this industry of ads,
To always get better, build an army of comrades.
I look forward to my time when I'll be back and on top.
Walk back with a book, that will make jaws from ocean to ocean drop.
So goodbye New York, you treated me so well,
But Richmond is calling, so god speed, and farewell.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fung Shui

I asked a writer if he could come up with 20 lines for outdoor billboards today.

He said: "Of course! Can you decorate them?"

It's official, art direction is now something that guys like this do:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My first baby.

Signed off my first ad today. A beautiful 10.125 x 8.134 FSI for Airborne. I hope that it lives a good life saving people money on placebo pills.

Monday, July 21, 2008

How would you like your lemon sir?

Straight up or twisted?

Straight up has its advantages. It looks right, uncrushed, slowly leaking out into the surrounding liquid inside its natural lemony case. The problem is, it doesn't do anything. Why use a lemon at all why not a yellow ice cube. The whole point is the juice inside right?

The same comes in advertising. Playing the straight man has its advantages. Its easy, looks nice, and its what's expected. However, its the twist we all want. The pow after the expected. Most ads are the straight man.

Here's my product, here's a look, what it does, where to get it, thank you. This is the way its been since people started selling hand made clubs to fellow cavemen, and hell it works, a lot of shitty jewelry goes out the door of QVC that way.

The best brands have that twist. Its the twist that we buy what we buy. There are very few products that we need. The twist is what makes us switch to apple, buy at Banana Republic, try Axe deodarant, order a Stoly and coke. The twist.

So how do you create a twist?

Hit them where they don't expect it. That doesn't mean putting your message on urinal cakes or write them in the sky. Its usually the company that says something first, that shocks, angers, excites, or shames you that you reach for at your stores. Our homes are filled with them. The apples. The targets. The ESPN's. We fill our lives with the twists and glean out the straight ups.

Now if I only knew how to do it time after time. Suggestions?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Zach Galifinakis: Absolut Vodka 3

The best of the three yet:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Take head, bang against wall, repeat.

I've been working on the same project for 2 weeks now. Sounds nice right?

Stable, hands on kind of work.

It is except its one ad. And as im writing this Im on my 38th version of it.

But Jesse thats not that bad? You're getting work and updates and a real feel of the process of making an ad. You are correct sir maybe too correct, it isn't that bad.

Well it wouldn't be, if it was anything else. Except that this time its a coupon, a FSI or free standing insert. The ones that fall everywhere when you pick up a sunday paper or magazine and you curse.

38 kids. Its been tossed between CD's for 25 of those. Then to client for 12 of those. And after work yesterday I thought that would be it, but no the best was yet to come. The CMO took my beautiful hand carved add to a focus group for testing. Perfectly normal right? No. This focus group was her showing it to random people at STARBUCKS asking if they got it. Apparently people dont know how to read over the rims of their venti frappa douchbag latte assholes.

So I sit here staring at the same FSI that greets me every morning. Hello good friend!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The realities of a recession inside an agency.


The ugly 800 lb. gorilla/elephant sitting in everyone's corner, that we all are plugging our ears and shutting our eyes trying to avoid at all costs. We're headed torwards one whether we like it or not.

No matter where you are in the world, from street sweeper to king, intern art director to ECD you feel the pinch inside the ad world. Here on the 19th floor its slowly becoming evident. When you walk around a lot of people are web surfing, chatting, playing GTA, longer lunches, etc. There just isn't enough work to go around. The firm is pitching hard and strong trying to remedy this but the general feeling is still the same: what next?

What next in terms of:

Am i expendable?
Will we get more work?
When did i last kiss butt at work?
How does my resume look?

People are simmering and grumpy. Unlike any other industry when employees in ad world don't work they get pissed, because they really, really, want to work. Its the only way to move up in the world.

From a lowly intern prospective its interesting and probably a valueable lesson once im on the inside. Watching people scheme shuffle and position themselves is just as important as the work they do. As they say you're only as good as your last work. More importantly if this recession gets worse how does it affect me in 365 days when im out with a book and resume?

A professor at school told me during one review. That I was in a perfect position and that he was jealous of where I stood. I would be going into a market in semi freefall with clients slashing marketing budgets and fewer companies wanting to advertise at all. Obviously a great time to get in. Right?

he continued to explain that a talented AD from Brandcenter could do as comperable work of a higher salaried person for half the cost. Recessions are gold for Juniors and freelancers, murder for middle to high experienced people.

I have a year to see what happens but so far it's been a interesting fly on the wall here on the 19th floor in NYC.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

A good tip on headlines.

This tip comes from one of the fine gentlemen at BBH London. He is a CD writer there and has a fantastic blog at http://scampblog.blogspot.com/. Its full of great tips and stories from advertising. Great for us up and comers.

Here's a good quote I liked regarding how a headline should be used:

"In fact, many of the world’s best headline-writers are quite open about their secret weapon – a great art director.

With a really well art-directed headline, the idea and the execution are seamless. I like ideas where the headline is written in a place where type naturally occurs. Which means that your headline can be a photographed object - a visual element in its own right, which just happens to have type on it - rather than a boring old typeset headline."

Charles hall, a professor at VCU, is adamant about this point and so am I. Headlines by themselves make it an ad instead of an interesting communication. Sometimes plopping down a headline is easy and gets it out the door, but by taking a few hours you can turn it into something people will actually read.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dorky morky lorky review.

So today was my first real concept review with a CD. We have quite a contingent of swedish CDs here at BBH. You feel right at home. Well you would if youre norwegian like me or from Minnesota. But truth be told I was a little worried.

We were one of two teams. The other being an old Adcenter alum and a Creative Circus alum. our client was for NYC tourism and these guys have worked on the client for the last 6 months. We know how to talk to Don Just without shitting at the same time. So we sat down and listened to our competition lay out their case. Silent we stood listening. The CD gave comments, suggestions, tweaks. And then it was our turn.

We presented. Some clearly, some not so much. Some short some deep with logic. And at the end he looked at us and said in a thick Swedish accent. "I luke yur ideaas vury much." (insert swedish chef accent). I walked out beaming.

I had realized the important thing. We are just as good as the pros. Well not all the way but in this industry a cool idea from a youngin is just as good as anyone else no matter the pay or title. We walked out beaming even though our ideas were well beyond the 275K budget and not usable. Our competition grabbed us and said:

"Good job guys, youre gonna do fine."

Can't go better than that.

Tomorrow. Our GLBT conecpt presentation. (Thats Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans for the unknown.)

Monday, June 23, 2008


I have worked my ass off.
I have gone to a photo shoot.
I have seen professional work.
I have seen a company party.
I have been bored for a week.
I have been swamped for a week.
I have worked with amazing people.
I have seen cool rewards.
I have respect for this industry.
I have learned the subway.
I have seen the world's capital.
I have not learned everything.
I have not learned enough to not go back.
I have not produced anything.
I have not missed Richmond.
I have not paid for more than one 12 dollar martini.
I want to keep going.

Its been a good two weeks. Alot of fun and a great look into the industry. Please send more.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My NYC :30 Subway Pitch

Can I have everyone's attention please!
My name is Jesse Bowen.
I was born into a middle class family, with little to a lot of hope.
I had 6 minus 5 siblings and rarely had 3rds for dinner.
I flunked out of engineering and switched to art.
I am currently 40,000 in debt to the government for student loans.
I have a job, but I do live in New York.
I cannot afford 12 dollar martinis.
I have been degraded to buying happy hour drinks and tall boys from bodegas.
I have even sunk so low as to buy Kraft mac and cheese again.
(Dramatic Pause)
Im not looking for a handout, just a little help to get me through the week.
Anything will help, except pennies, you can keep those.
Nickels and dimes for that matter too.
Do bars take nickels? Never mind....
Besides those I'll take anything.
I have zero children who need their daddies support.
Please save a man from eating mac and cheese with a tall boy.
God bless you.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Where does the time go Mr. T?

We all wish we had more time to "pity the fool" and less time dealing with "jibba jabba" but in the end its all for not. Its busy here in NYC im finally getting busy and getting work produced. Im surprised how easy it can be in the real world. Instead of rewriting and doing layouts 10 times it usually goes through on the 2nd.

Its about mass production sometimes here in the real world, and not raw creativity. This is the exact reason people go back to Richmond and become lethargic. Agencies dont expect brillance. In the end its a business, and you forget that sometimes.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Font of the year!!

Here it is the ED Award winner font of the year!!! PF Centro Pro.

I don't agree with this choice however. I believe a little font called Papyrus should have got the nod. Its won the Asian Food/Massage/Spa/Vacation/Candle store font of the year for 15 years running and that deserves a shot damn it.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Can't Beat the Real Thing.

So i realized with billions of web pages out there. There are only 25 i visit, and I visited them all today. We waited and shook hands and learned to bill clients and make expense reports, (bill it suckas), and in the end we didn't have a thing to do yet. Where would we land?

So hey do you guys want to work on a tag for us?

YEAH buddy!!

We furiously scribbled and pondered for their 8 am client meeting ready with the possibilities of stardom. I figured it would be a late night working out tags. That was until we were informed that they were due 45 mintues later for the CD to look at and craft.

Lesson learned. This isn't a large cement slab where infinite time exists. This is a world full of deadlines and compromises, rush jobs and stop gaps. Thats where the intens come in. YEAH!!!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Thursday, June 5, 2008

New York the first day.

So its the first day here in NYC and its been overwhelming. This city is CRAZY!! Maybe its because ive been stuck in Richmond for 9 months but its cool to be around. So with all the events to do in this city what to do first? I present this:

Yes thats right I went and saw the Colbert Report. His guest was Pat Buchannan of all people who looked like the oldest man alive. It was amazing though!! You could tell he loved what he did, and loved his show.

He watched all the clips and laughed along. So thank you Mr. Colbert for welcoming me to my home away from home. More to come. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Amnesty International: Petition

Is it just me or has Amnesty Intl. been a great client to work on for the last year. There has been constant great work done for them, or is our world just going to hell faster?

TBWA Paris

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My name is Weezer

Im still making good music....
And even better videos....
Come sit next to me...
(you get the idea)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Im out.

See you in NYC in 3 weeks.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Portfolio Review

JWT London

Saturday, May 10, 2008

And so we've reached the end.

Remember when your mom said these days would go quickly?

She was wrong. These go quicker.

I've worked harder thank I've ever worked here before and with all that here are my grades:

Art Direction: B
Brand Concept: B
Development: B

I worked my ass off, but still came short. This year has meant more for me than any year before. I came to realize that I can be good at what I do, as long as I work my ass off. I realized there are so many talented people out there. I know that I have so much furhter to go. This year has hardened me and made me a machine. I don't think any school makes people work harder.

Its not all positives here though. I lost my faith along the way this semester. Wayne Gibson said it best. I came to him looking for approval on everything, instead of following my instinct on what is right or good, I searched for approval, and my work suffered. I earned my B because of this. I need to get my head straight and relearn my voice, my opinion, because that is all people will pay for in 358 days.

I learned that I am not the easiest to work with. I will dig my heels in, argue and push. But on the other side, I can do great work when I work my ass off. This first year was a gigantic lesson in welcome to advertising, and where you fit in. I still don't know where I will fit in. I'll tell you when I'm done with advertising.

In my opinion I failed this year. I wanted nothing but perfection from myself. I couldn't get it.

I never will.

These mythical homerun campaigns we all search for only happen when we least expect it, now and inside agencies. I am human, and will fail more than I succeed.

I could talk forever about what happened this year, but the only thing I know after this year is one thing:

This school has kicked me, beat me, bruised me, and knocked me out, but damn it I'm addicted for the full ride. Bring on the second year.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Monday, May 5, 2008

Zach Galifinakis Absolut Part 2

In case you missed the first part. This is part two. rumor has it that Absolut got wind of it and axed the second part. I wonder why they would think that? I still love it.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Days this semster.



Thursday, May 1, 2008

T minus:

16 Days until freedom. No more concepting or art directing...

For two weeks until I get to do it in NYC!


Back to work.

Coming next week. Year in review post and work! Yeah!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Brandcenter is not a school for Art Direction.

I've debated posting this but I believe it and it's important to put out there.

This school does not train art directors. There are no art direction courses. No photoshop. No illustrator. No anything. You get one technology class the first semester with a few tips and tricks and then a pat on the back and good luck.

This school trains writers and writes who can art direct. Besides Rick Boyko and Wayne Gibson the rest of the teachers I've had have been writers. I don't get judged on my art direction much in the open. It's always and I mean always this phrase:

Where's your big idea?

This is a good idea. This trains creative directors. The sad thing is that not everyone is going to be a creative director. Some people just want to be art directors, and I think that by not teaching art direction it handicaps more than it helps.

Miami teaches art direction. Year after year they get good visual ads coming from South Beach. Portfolio school teaches art direction. Chicago portfolio school teaches it too. I love the program. I want to learn to be as dangerous as possible, but it would be nice to have a little direct teaching every once and a while