Thursday, January 29, 2009

This is going to hurt me more than you.

That's what parents say as explanation for pain. Problem is you always think it's a way for them to make it ok in their head. It takes a while but you realize they really don't want to hurt you, they just want you to do well. More than that they want you to do better then they ever did.

Same here. It has taken some time to realize here, but all the intimidation, yelling, late nights, conferences, reviews and pain were all just parental ass whoopings. They were for our own good. We will leave this place hungrier, smarter, and stronger than any other person competing against us.

So while I won't go as far to say that I'm glad they did it. I will say I understand, and thank you.

Friday, January 23, 2009

No one cares about Art Direction

Unfortunately it's true. No one really cares. Consumers don't care. Creative directors don't care. Client's don't care. Writers don't care. Hell art directors probably don't give a shit from time to time. The only time people care: When it's piss poor.

I've come to realize the words on the page are the most important part, reluctantly I've discovered this. The words are what the client want and the consumer. They are the set in stone, legal binding contract between a consumer and a client. I admit that 50% off is more important to me than the stock photo of a lady twirling in a field of sunflowers, or the fact that that block legal copy is kerned properly makes it no more legal.

But if that lady spinning in the field looks like it was shot with a camera you give to your five year old, or god forbid they use Papyrus or Myraid pro as the font, then you can probably start preparing for a few angry emails. A lot of art directors are out there trying to make work that won't get noticed, because it lets them keep their jobs and keeps clients coming back.

The same is true for design, no one cares that people spend months trying to get their mouse to feel and look great, or that someone stared at lumps of clay for hours trying to make their phone look like a nuclear submarine. It only matters when your mouse feels like a brick, and your phone is closer to those paddle wheel boats in Central Park.

Thankfully there are not many of those that I have run into yet, but they're out there. But this same principle applies to work and book reviews. I've had my work looked through by some pretty talented eyes, who know how to spin circles around me, and I've heard comments about my art direction, drum role please......twice.

1. Your art direction is clean.
2. I like your art direction.

Ok well there's two ways to take these:

1. It's good keep doing what your doing.
2. You're not doing enough, and I'm being kind.

Its probably not one or the other. It's a hybrid between the two because if I was making work that blinded people I wouldn't be at school and if it was terrible I wouldn't be at school. I should be shooting for number 2 because as profitable as it can be to make spinning sunflower field work, no self respecting art director smiles at seeing their half off coupons on a bus seat in Detroit.

No one cares about art direction. Until it's amazing.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sorry about not posting, I've been busy....

.....with a few million friends in DC.

Friday, January 16, 2009

BSSP Informational Interview

Butler Shine Stern and Partners was the last stop on my SF tour. I have always heard great things about this shop, they were doing good work for years, and was a great place to get work done. From what I've heard it's a writers shop but I have always seen great art direction come out of there, so its probably all rumors.

I met up with Chris Hancock, a senior writer at BSSP. He took his time and peeled through my book page by page, stopping to listen to me fill in my gaps and overviews, gave great feedback and closed the book, gave some more overall feedback, looked at me and said.

"Please keep in touch."

Excuse me? Like you want to see more? Work? It was a weird feeling to have someone interested in your work since all you get is go back and do it again. It left me with a weird feeling on the walk back to the ferry to SF. Sitting, watching the bay, I realized that come graduation, that everything was going to work out all right

Thursday, January 15, 2009

T.A.G. Informational Interview

T.A.G. was not even on my radar. I had no idea what to expect. They won a Cannes Grand Prix for Halo 3 "Believe" campaign and were part of McCann thats all I knew. I showed up to McCann and they told me they were at their own office, so I trekked over and up the elevator in a back alley in a empty building. I was worried that T.A.G. was just a office with a secretary and one production artist surfing the web.

THe offices were the best I had seen. No offices or closed off spaces, loft style everyone looked relaxed and were hopping between the ping pong table and the xbox. After getting to look around I started to wonder where the rest of the team was. There were maybe 30 people there. How could thirty people put together a Cannes Grand Prix?

Sitting down with one of their two CD's John Patroulis I saw how. They had fun but worked their asses off. Everyone threw ideas around, and no one was left out, and it looked like a damn fun place to work. Aside from running the global Xbox account they were pitching accounts left and right and looked like they were headed for big things.

If they weren't on my radar before, they were a big green blip now.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Youd be stupid not to do this.

President Obama got his official presidential portrait today. Now that in itself is not a big deal. However he is the first president to be officially photographed using a digital camera. Which camera company was used to shoot it. There is a HUGE quick marketing opportunity here.

"You're now gazing at President Barack Obama's just-released official portrait -- the first of a U.S. president ever taken with a digital camera. That means we can peek at the EXIF data -- this fine specimen of portraiture was snapped with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II on January 13th, 2009 at 5:38 pm with no flash, using a 105mm lens stopped to f/10 at a 1/125 exposure, with an ISO of 100 by newly crowned official White House photographer Pete Souza. Nice work, Souza -- but we think it could use a few lens flares." - Engadget

Dentsu is their agency. What are the odds they do nothing and never use this fact? I say 75%. These are the kind of gifts that land sometimes and if you don't use them, well wait until Nikon gets their hands on next years shoot.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Goodby Informational Interview

Goodby Silverstein and Partners is a trip. Walking into the building is a trip itself. I sat in the lobby looking at their massive amount of awards lining the walls. Clios, Andys, Lions lined the entire lobby, but something wasn't right. Out of all the awards lining the walls there wasn't one award that wasn't a gold. No silvers, no bronzes, nothing. Every award they had on display was a category winner. Apparently they weren't too fond of their second place finishes.

The first people I spoke with were Stephan Copiz and Matt Roberts, both were in charge of the NBA which has won just about everything and is great work. Stephan is a great art director and had some great advice for art directors, which surprisingly was the only advice I got for an art director.

Have at least one campaign that's art direction heavy. Do something crazy, that hasn't been done art direction wise to show that you can art direct the hell out of something. It was the first time I had heard anything that wasn't idea idea idea.

Goodby was great, it didn't feel like an ad agency though, quiet and cubicled it felt like an insurance company, but considering the amazing work that comes out I imagine no one cares too much about that. It definitely is a place I would love to work, one day.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cutwater Interview

It's never too soon to start looking for a job, especially when jobs disappear like its 1931 again. So I contacted some people before I left Virgina and set up a meeting with two ex grads, Jay Lorenzini and Eric Boyd, from VCU who now work at Cutwater.

Cutwater was fromed as a satellite of TBWA and is now seperate and run by Chuck McBride. They currently (1/10/08), are AOR for Jeep, Lenscrafter and Ray-ban, along with doing some great projects for Levis and many other clients.

I took two of my current campaigns a nervous smile and tried it out. I was afraid I was going to get a bunch of people looking to rip young guys like me apart, exact some revenge. This was as far from the truth as possible. They were honest and dead on with my work and completely open for any questions and full of great advice on books. I spent over 40 minutes with them and really got a good feel for what VCU provided outside Richmond and what Cutwater was all about.

Cutwater is a fantastic place to work. They had just lost Levis to W+K recently and were still coming down from it. Lee Clow had flown in to look at their work to help glean and choose the best. The offices are very cool and surprisingly quiet, but it was obvious that they had massive amounts of talent.

I left high. I had exceeded my expectations for myself and Cutwater and left with great advice and contacts. I loved the work that they were doing and more importantly the people they had.

Tomorrow: Goodby Silverstein and Partners

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Don't mind if I stretch out.

Its been a good month. Lots of relaxing, food and sleep, but productive as well. I've officially 100% appled myself with an iphone and nike+ so I'm expecting my apple tee any day now. Took some vacation time in Mexico and found out that Mexican emergency rooms are exactly as you picture them but with just as good care as anywhere else for quite a lot less.

In my little ad world its been moving as well. I've been shopping meeting people, showing my little book to anyone who will listen. Places like Cutwater and BSSP have been kind enough. The first thing I ask when I go is for honesty about the job situation and my book, and while harsh it has been good. It definiely feels like the most constructive criticism I've gotten in or outside of school.

As for the job market, the honesty is a little less hopeful. Basically its fucked, not regular way but six ways to sunday on a bike without a seat over speedbumps way. (I'll let you visually drink that in.) But the reality is: we're good, fuck it great at what we do, young and cheap. How can you beat that?

One person told me that great agencies look at recessions as golden opportunites. They can invest in young talent and drop the dead weight. Time to lose some weight before May.

I've stumbled along some great blogs I'd like to pass on as well in case you don't have enough:

Jelly Helm's Blog
is fantastic and usually not ad related, it feels like a perverse view into his daily life. If you don't know him he was an ex-adcenter teacher and W+K demi-god.

Design Boom good design trumps all.

It starts again on monday, more as it happens.