Thursday, May 29, 2008

Working Work

To all you digital types: Why in the hell would you have interactive work on your site that does not work???? Showing me comps of web pages and staggered sections of banners may look really pretty, but you're leaving out a key thing: the digital space has a third dimension to it - MOTION. Motion, transition, flow, architecture, all those fun things that make the digital space so very cool.

For an interactive art director to show non-working digital designs does a disservice to their portfolio and their ability to get hired (I will cut some slack to print art directors that are dabbling in digital). It's almost tiring to look at. It doesn't tell me how well you understand the power of the interactive space or how capable you are with the software. It tells me how you think flat. In a flat space. Within a flat square. All very flat.

Did it not sell? Never get produced? Not live anymore? Can't get your files from your last employer? What? Surely something you've worked on works?

Friday, May 23, 2008

I caught myself on fire to be an Art Director

In this age of mass, mass, mass email, what can a candidate/freelancer do to make sure their initial email contact to a recruiter gets noticed?
Or at the very minimum doesn't get deleted?

My guess is it's all in the title of the email. I open the ones that sound interesting (but not in a pornographic, I'm selling sex-machine pills kind of way). It's like guessing what's behind door #1. If I open it first will I find an interesting creative with fabulous work? Or somebody bland with equally boring work.

Here are some recent attempts to get my attention:
copywriter wears many hats, prefers flexfit (what the hell?)
here's my resume - knock wood (knock wood what?)
writerly proclivities (Is this English?)
award winning art director (uhhh, who isn't?)

and today's favorite: I caught myself on fire to be an art director which, if you can last more than 12 seconds of his intro video, he actually does.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Stunt Doubles

Mike Stone and Mike Stone.

Two creative freelancers in So. California. This is nothing more than the fact that I think two guys with duplicate names is funny.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Never, ever, ever. . .

. . .rescind a job acceptance. Seriously. If you think backing out of an offer you have accepted goes over lightly, I am here to tell you it does NOT. Perhaps I am immensely bitter because this particular position had taken forever to fill. I went through no less than 15 interviews and spent months finding the right candidate. Know that an agency works very hard to get to the point where they extend an offer. Even more so an agency that is part of a national or global conglomerate, where layers of approval run thick.

But really, that's not the point. So what I worked hard and my agency is big and it took a long time to find the right person and I was extremely relieved to fill the job. So what for all that. The point is, despite working in a very expansive industry, we are all connected in ways that are getting smaller and smaller. Technology and social networking sites make certain of that.

I will curse your name. I will tell people. I will work somewhere else at some point. So will the people I tell and they too will remember your name (well, maybe they won't but it adds to this dramatic moment). Just bad news all around. We are all part of the six degrees of separation within the advertising industry, and that means my friends (my
recruiter friends) know your friends and may even know you (and I made certain of that).

If you are trolling for a counter from your own agency, just putting your feelers out, or testing the job market to see what you are worth, whatever, then don't accept the job in the first place. It's very painful for the agency who full well expects that your acceptance means you are 2 weeks out from becoming an important part of their creative team.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Why You?

As an assignment in an Advertising Business class I teach, I asked the students to write an essay titled, "Why You?" Simple enough, right. Turns out it was not easy for them to identify what made them a unique hire over their neighbor.

I kept telling them they will all graduate with the same degree in hand, a relatively similar portfolio of spec work and a resume that lists jobs at a pizza joint or the local coffeehouse. Very similar and very vanilla every one of them.

So I asked, "Why them?" Why would one of them be more interesting, more passionate and, ultimately, more creative than the next? They could not decently answer the question. I did get a whole slew of essays that spouted typical cover letter words: hardworking, dedicated, team player. Not one could muster one sharp insight into their own unique offerings.

Coming out of school, everyone pretty much looks identical to the person hiring. Now I know there are always exceptions to this. Some kids come out of a top-notch ads school and have phenomenal books. (A current favorite of mine). I'm not trying to reach kids like this. It's those students who are generally decent at concepting, have a good command of art direction or copywriting, but in every other sense do not stand out.

Here is the lesson: You MUST stand out! Think about what besides the work in your book makes you unique. Are you a practicing buddhist? Did you do stand-up comedy in college
? Do you spend summers volunteering with Habitat for Humanity? ANYTHING that may seem irrelevant to you as you search for your first job, but in fact is. You see, all your life experiences outside of formal advertising classes make up who you are as a unique creative individual. Who you are, how you think, what experiences you draw from. . . All of that is so very, very important.

And that is what I care about. What anyone who is hiring cares about. That you, as a unique individual, have something vastly different to offer our creative department and can ultimately impact the creative work we produce. Again, why you?