Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Advice

21 pieces of very worthwhile advice. Give yourself a gift this year: read it and heed it.

My favorite: Be bold and courageous with your work. When you look back on your professional life, you will regret the the things you didn't do more than the one you did.

Happy Holidays.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Transforming Advertising

I received this email from the 4A's a few weeks ago. You'd better believe I have a few transforming ideas about advertising. Each and every one of them involves juniors. Look out for my response next week.

Dear Cecilia,

Like you, I’m tired of hearing from the same industry thought leaders talking about the same so-called thought-leading things at industry conferences. What I really want is to hear from you: If you had just five minutes in front of the entire advertising community, what would you say about transforming advertising as we know it?

I’ve started a new program called 4A’s Transformers, and we’ve just opened up our call for entries for anyone—inside or outside advertising—to share his or her transformational idea about advertising. For winning Transformers, we’ll give you five minutes on the conference mainstage at Transformation 2010, our annual meeting, which will be held February 28 through March 3, 2010, at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square.

What’s the catch? There is no catch. I’ll pick up the tab for your travel and hotel stay at the conference (roundtrip coach airfare and one-night at the Hilton). All you need to do is dazzle me (and the 4A’s Board of Directors) with your brilliant idea for transforming advertising.

You’ve been blogging or twittering about what you’d do if you were in charge for years. Now’s your chance! What are you waiting for?
Nancy Hill

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


When you send an email to a creative recruiter, please make sure to say if you are a writer or an art director somewhere in your note. So easy, but I am telling you frequently not done.

I save pretty much every email from a potential candidate. That way, when I do need to fill a particular position I can just scroll through the collection of names and books and links I have and quickly (key word: quickly) see who might be a fit. All too often, I come across a note from someone from a year prior who I don't remember and there is nothing in their note that indicates writer or art director.

Sometimes I don't have the time to click through the link and locate your resume and figure it out. Make your position part of your email signature, it's so easy and oh so helpful.

Cecilia Gorman
Creative Recruiter

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thought and Meaning

A couple of nights ago I attended a Graphic Design portfolio review at Cal State University, Fullerton. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the work. There were a few gems amongst them and I am very happy that a local college is producing some worthy design graduates.

A recurring conversation I had that night involved the story and meaning behind what the students had designed. While reviewing a set of logos, I asked one student, "What do those circles mean?" She was silent for 10 long seconds. She didn't know. Or at least didn't know enough to be able to communicate it to me. To end the awkward silence, I suggested what I thought it meant, yet what I think it means and what the designer intended it to mean are two totally different things so that wasn't much help.

We ended up having a long discussion about what the company stood for, its values and reason for existence and how those very important facts tie into the makings of a logo. That holds true for any piece you set out to design. Another student had a random heart beat line going across the spine of a book jacket. Again, I asked "What does that mean?" Silence.

A huge part of finding out about a candidate is learning how they think. I can see your work. I really can't see how you think or got to what you ultimately put on paper. This discovery is fascinating and it is what sets you apart from every other designer. Know why you designed something. Know why you put a circle or a color or a texture into your work. Meaning cannot be extracted from design.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I met a junior art director yesterday who had a portfolio with a very nice range of work. This is key when putting together your book. Essentially, if your book consists of photo + headline for most all your pieces you should rework it. Artistic range goes beyond that and shows you can create layouts with a varied amount of looks.

Sean Leonard is his name and he attended University of North Texas. When I complimented his range, he told me that at UNT students are not allowed to use stock photography in any of their work. Wow. Imagine that constraint. That's fantastic!

When you can't use stock photos you are forced to rethink how you will convey your idea visually. What Sean learned is essential. He learned to explore texture, line art, typography, hand writtten graphics, water color, as well as taking his own photos, all in the name of making him a better art director. Anyone can pick a photo and overlay a headline. Heck, I can do that.

Any junior art director needs to show they can think beyond a conventional photo and can execute a variety of graphical treatments on the computer. I appreciate that instructors at UNT teach this way, it really shows in their graduates work.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Another great read

Anthony Kalamut, the Program Chair of Creative Advertising at Seneca College School of Communication Arts passed this link on to me. It falls into the "must read" category for juniors.

"How to get a job in advertising (a good job)" is posted by Scott Goodson, the founder and CEO of Strawberry Frog. It is a discussion between Kalamut and Goodson providing insight into preparing youth for a career in advertising. It struck me because my last post touched on a similar topic. Personality, passion and pursuit being of the essential traits for a young creative looking to break into the business.

Kalamut covers five major pillars in this conversation:
1. Passion
2. Opportunity
3. Honesty
4. Youth
5. Optimism

Good stuff, have a read, take something away.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Show it

A simple reminder about interviews.

Exude interest: in the company, in their work, in actually wanting the job.

Exude personality. You'd think this would be a given. But, interviews are nerve wracking and sometimes you forget to just relax and be you. Remember your personality is what defines you from the next candidate. If an agency has asked you to come in, they already like your work and now it's just about you as a person.

Exude interest. Wait, I already said that.

Exude passion: for learning, for the industry, for creating great work.

We recently interviewed a young woman who, at first glance, seemed quiet and reserved. Once she began showing her work, she lit up. She was descriptive about each piece in her book and clearly proud to talk about her ideas. Not only that, but she expressed whole-heartedly her genuine interest working at our agency. And with every subsequent contact I've had with her, she reiterates how much she'd like the position. Add that to her very strong talent and she got herself an offer.

Personality, passion and pursuit. It all adds up.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Back it up

If you are a junior copywriter making the rounds with your portfolio, you'll be asked at some point for long copy samples. Most of you have a book full of work written with a headline and a couple of sentences of body copy. You need to be able to back that up with a few longer pieces that show you can actually write. A paragraph, a story, anything longer than 3 sentences.

This is akin to an art director showing they can design to back up their ability to concept. I don't want to see a book chock full of work that is essentially a photo with a headline. I want to see layouts that show a range of skills. This art director book does just that. I see the evidence that she can design, which backs up her ability to art direct. I need to see similar evidence for a copywriter.

I received a copywriter book a short time ago. The writer had interned at some amazing places: Crispin, Fallon, Energy BBDO. Impressive and obviously his concepts warranted these places being interested in him. Cut to his long copy section.

Let me explain. First, I was a couple classes shy of being an English major. Second, I love to write. Both make me hypersensitive to the correct use of the English language. The proper cadence, sentence structure, grammar and usage are mandatory in my book, lest we not forget spelling. Well, not so much in this one.

Please, please, please elevate your ability to craft a sentence, know the difference between possessive and plural, and master grammar. I'll forgive the occasional typo (although some recruiters don't), but I'm stringent on the others.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Next Generation

I have a quote scribbled on a Post-It in my office. It reads, "The core responsibility of management is the next generation. For longevity of the enterprise." Big words that essentially mean mentor the young ones, they're the future of our industry.

I usually do this by telling stories about all the mistakes I've made over my career so students stand a chance of not making the same mistake themselves. Seriously, there are people out there that DO NOT want you to send that nasty email to your boss when you are pissed about something. Or drink beyond comprehension at the office Christmas party. Nope, we don't want you to do that. Again, cuz we have. And it kinda sucked (for both physical and political reasons).

Check out this list from Ernie Perich, president and creative director of Perich Advertising + Design in Ann Arbor, MI. It makes those who've been in advertising more than a decade nod slowly and sigh out, "ohhhhh yea, I wish I'd have done that too."

My personal favorites:
4. Travel every chance I got
15. Lose more graciously
21. Confront tough issues way sooner
37. Realize there’s always time to do something about the things I regret not doing

Monday, October 26, 2009

Glamour Don't

This is an entry into the series I call "Glamour Don'ts." Meaning what not to do with your creative portfolio.

It weighs 8 pounds. Eight. Pounds. Maybe that doesn't seem like much when you're talking say, a newborn baby. But in portfolioland, I'm used to measuring in ounces.

If you have a portfolio this heavy, please make every attempt to show the work in person. Carting around your actual print samples (must be a few coffee table books inside this one) is not fun for me. Better yet, take a photo or two and showcase your work that way.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Either way

Before I write this, know that I wholeheartedly can go either way on this. Sometimes I yell out, "No, never." Other times, it's "Ok, cool."

Jr. Art Directors who can write. I know you've seen it. A portfolio filled with art direction, design and. . . copywriting samples. Folks, I just don't know what to do with that. Sometimes I just want to stick to the point and see how you can art direct. Help me out here. I'd love to know how other creative recruiters feel on this one.

Recently a jr. art director was in showing me their book. Amidst were radio and tv scripts. (ignore the fact that I am retarded and pretty much hate reading scripts from jrs). That day, I was only in the mood to accomplish what I set out to do: find a good jr. art director. I didn't want it muddled up with a half-writer. Do I judge their copywriting abilities with equal measure? Do I not consider them if their writing sucks?

I guess that's why I prefer online portfolios labeled by section. That way, if I am focused on just art direction that day I can choose not to look. Or, when I am curious and have the time I can see what other talents this person might bring to the table. There may come a time when I need them to bang out a headline or two and I full well know that writing ability would come in handy.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

On your shelf

I came across this book recently, albeit it's been out a few years. It's called "The Art of Looking Sideways," by Alan Fletcher. You should own it. It's one of those books that you'll read once and be completely inspired. Then you'll put it on your bookshelf and forget about it for a little while. Sometime later you'll pick it up and thumb through it again. And put it away. And pick it up again. And put it away again. Pick it up. Put it away. Over and over, for the rest of your career.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

In the Meantime

While you are pounding the pavement searching for your dream job, spend some time getting your name out in a different way. Enter CMYK's contest for young aspiring creatives. They are currently soliciting work from recent grads to be featured (possibly on the cover) in an upcoming CMYK.

Don't underestimate this exposure even if it won't help pay your bills. Adding "Featured in CMYK" to a piece or two in your book would be a great thing to add to your resume.

And hurry, the deadline is October 18th.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


As you can imagine, I get a big boatload of portfolios sent to me. If they arrive via email, they may have to sit and wait patiently until I find the time to check them out. Then sometimes, when it turns out to be a cool one, I get bummed I didn't look at it sooner.

Like this one. These are the kind of portfolio websites that make it fun to check out work. Cuz it's not always the funnest thing to do everyday. Usually it is, just not always.

Instant Ad Legend, as the portfolio site is called, is the collective work of Sara Kujundzic and Ruchir Sachdev recent graduates of Miami Ad School, Hamburg. It's such a nice change from what I tend to see in portfolio sites. On the home page, you pick which ad legend you'd like to be: Bill Bernbach, David Ogilvy, Leo Burnett or the ever famous, Bruce Lee and are taken to what appears to be their office. Each are decorated with subtle tribute to the legend (Bill's "I put the B in DDB" poster). Overall, just plain coolio.

Beyond the fact that they have a nice collection of work, my favorite part is the thumbs up, thumbs down and WTF! buttons you can click on for each piece.

Don't feel obligated to go to this extent when creating your portfolio site. Buuuuuut, this is a creative industry and all. And if their website wasn't enough, here is a matching video.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

File under: Things I wish I'd written

Today's Blog post from Alex Bogusky gives some great insight into the definition of success. I'm envious, I wish I wrote it. You should read it.

My favorite parts:
"We all get caught up with other people’s definition of success and societies' definition of success that we lose our own."

Don't ever believe there is only one answer. There are literally millions. It’s a beginners mistake to think there is one right answer. Or that a great answer doesn’t have an even greater solution if you keep thinking. Some people make this beginners mistake for their entire career. So have lots of ideas. And make multiple leaps of logic. And then test your theories. Be linear when necessary but remember great thinking is not linear."

"Finally, have fun. If you’re not having fun you’re doing it wrong. So use your internal fun meter to alert you to the need to make changes. Lot’s of small changes are better than great big ones. So figure out ways to have fun and stay on path wthout having to change jobs all the time. The most successful people I know are very rarely the people with a zillion jobs."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Interesting 4.0

This video is part of the "Did You Know?" series about the ever-changing media landscape. Watch it then file it away under informative and interesting. Perhaps a bit here and there might help with a school assignment or a creative discussion.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Thoughtful 6

This is a collaboration worth talking about. Basically, it turns internships around. It's called the Thoughtful 6 and I found it showcased on the D&AD blog today.

A small, 3-person design shop in the UK called Thoughtful joined forces with graphic design educators at Stockport College. Instead of offering an internship or two on site at their office, Thoughtful established an on-campus program called the Thoughtful 6. The three principals went to Stockport College once a week for 3 months, working with a class of 30 graphic design students. After this initial period, they selected six students to join forces with the agency. Those six students worked on real agency projects and walked away with a condensed, authentic experience without ever leaving campus.

I would imagine placing design industry folks within a college environment taught quite a bit more to everyone involved (students, college administrators and agency folks) than a conventional internship. The school gets insight into real-world projects and how their curriculum may or may not be teaching the right skills for what's current in the industry. The agency folks get to see how a graphic design college is molding future recruits and then be able to provide essential feedback to make college programs better. And, most importantly, the students get a wonderful "internship" experience far beyond typical intern placements.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jr. to Owner

Is this the career progression you envision? Jr. Art Director (or writer, account exec. . .) Sr. Art Director > Creative Director > Agency Owner. That's a long way out and most of our career telescopes can't focus that far. But rest assured, it happens. Maybe it will to you.

Every agency owner has a "used to be" story. They used to be a jr. account executive. Or they used to be a sr. art director. And now? Through perseverance, focus, passion, dedication, conviction, and a boat load of smarts, they own the place. They've risen through the ranks (albeit much higher than the average joe) starting out in this business just like you and me. Remember that when you are nervous going into an interview or finding your hand shaking while making a presentation. Everyone in this business was junior once.

If you see yourself owning an agency someday, find a few role models and learn how they made it happen. Take BD'M in Minneapolis. Started a few years ago by three partners who turned the dream of owning an agency into reality. Monday they were named Best Small Agency in the 4A's O'Toole Awards. Three guys, once junior, now owners and making it happen.

Put being new to advertising in perspective. It'll help when you are overwhelmed with trying to find your first job. Or you don't know whether to leave that job to take another. Every person in this business started in the same square one. Every agency was once a couple folks with a dream. Trust that you'll get there.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Miss Jessica Menda, I applaud you. Your website made me smile and was a very smart "Hey, I want a job" thing to do.

Jessica took JetBlue's all you can fly in a month pass and is using it as her own personal recruiting trip. As she says, "31 days, a JetBlue all All-You-Can-Jet Pass and the search for adventure and a paycheck." From September 13th through October 1st, Jessica is jumping from city to city setting up interviews with agencies.

Her site shows you the dates she'll be in each city, you can find her on a map and track her adventure on twitter. We can all be ever so slightly envious that someone is spending one very cool month traveling around and meeting creatives across the nation.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Crunch Gym

Crunch Gym is giving away $10,000 in their Crunch Gym Shorts contest. Best 3-minute-or-less video about their mission statement, "No Judgments."

As a few Miami Ad School students have found, it is a perfect way to show off your creative chops. Go the site and vote for your favorites.

Here's a "making of" for one of my favorites (I have a thing for "making of" videos, they tell such a bigger story). You can see the final version on the Crunch Gym Shorts site. Way to go Drew, Alicia and Michelle. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I just got stood up. Or dumped. Not sure which and not sure how I feel about it.

A young junior art director was to start here Monday and just contacted me to say he can't. Apparently Crispin called and trumped my offer.

One the one hand, I am really bummed. We are crazy busy and this junior was going to be a huge help on a new account. I really liked his book and thought he'd be a great fit. Plus, it kinda sucks to go through all the interviews, approvals, and paperwork it takes to finally get someone hired to have that fall through. So from a business standpoint, bit fat ugh.

On the other hand, I am a sucker for juniors and get weirdly proud when good opportunities abound. This young guy had two great agencies vying for his talent. How cool is that? I can't help but feel happy that good things are still happening on the hiring front in advertising.

On a side note, I'm fairly flattered it was Crispin scooping this guy up. It pays me a somewhat backhanded compliment when I head upstairs to tell finance and HR why he is not coming.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Rule of 5

Remember to follow The Rule of 5 when hearing feedback on your creative work. I'm kind of tweaking the intent, but I'm sure you all have heard a similar rule.

When you hear less-than-flattering feedback, think this: will this feedback matter in 5 hours? So if it is something you disagree with or it really hurt your feelings, ask yourself if, in 5 hours, whether the comment will still be off base or still be bothering you. Yes? No?

Then ask yourself if the feedback will matter in 5 days. Same thing. Ask yourself if, in 5 days, whether the comment will still be off base or still be bothering you. Yes? No? A few days can take the edge off most comments and allow us time to reflect and consider what's been said.

5 months? Your ego will certainly have repaired itself 5 months later (hopefully). So consider if the feedback was really, truly off base. Often with a little time, we come around to see another's point of view. And then we can actually consider it.

Lastly, 5 years. Will you remember feeling bad over someone not liking one of your concepts or picking apart a layout or two? My guess is I highly doubt it. What we tend to remember 5 years later are all the positive things people say to us. All the things that help shape us into better people, better creatives. The not-so-good things, well, they may be hard to get over but they're certainly worth trying to forget.

Keeping a bit of perspective on the words and advice (and opinions) about your book surely helps. Take the good things to heart and give yourself time to take any worthwhile advice into consideration.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Last week I met with a junior team about to graduate from Creative Circus. Allison and Angelle spent a few days between San Francisco and Los Angeles doing a series of informational interviews.

When I agreed to meet them, I missed the part that they were still in school. Once they arrived at my office and we started chatting I understood that they still had a month to go before graduation. In an instant I added up the cost of the trip in my head: airplane tickets, hotel rooms, rental car, food. No cheap I imagine. As I coming to a dollar figure, I realized that it really didn't matter how much that trip cost these young woman. Their decision to get their faces out in the industry a month ahead of everyone else was worth more than the money they spent.

I will say again that recruiting young creatives from out of state is a challenge. Even if they have solid books, I would have a super hard time getting someone to approve the money to fly them out for an interview (although there were those 2 random times when I wanted to hire juniors without meeting them, their work was that good!). So having them travel to me during their interview junket solves that big ol' problem right there.

And, although I currently don't have open jobs for them, having met them in person ahead of time gives me some hiring perspective when those jobs do in fact open up.

Setting up a trip to meet a slew of agencies is pretty smart. Setting up said trip before you even graduate is even smarter.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Total Gush

I am about to do some world-class gushing, be warned.

Maybe I live under a rock and all you folks out there know this man and the work he does, but oh. my. goodness. He rocked my world yesterday. Sir Ken Robinson. He gave a TED conference speech asking if schools kill creativity.

First off, he is an incredible public speaker. I am super jealous of that. His cadence, humor and openness are enviable. Second, he makes outstanding points. Please take the time to watch it. What he is saying is so important to the creative industry we work in.

His main point is all children have creative talent and the education system tends to squash it. He references Picasso who said all children are born artists, the problem is to remain artists as they grow up. Sir Robinson argues that there is a hierarchy in education where the most useful subjects (ones aimed at getting you a job) are up at the top and the less useful subjects (music, art) are at the bottom. As a result, highly talented, creative children think the thing they were in good in at school isn't valued and often quit pursuing it.

He concludes that in order to move into a future where innovation and creativity reign as problem solving forces, we need to radically rethink our definition of intelligence. And the school system that currently defines it.

After being totally in awe listening to his speech, I was even more amazed at his contribution to a huge number of organizations that foster creativity in education. This man has spent his career concerning himself with teaching, mentoring, growing, helping people all in the name of creativity.

When I grow up, I want to be Sir Ken Robinson.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Big Ad Gig

It was bound to happen sooner or later. An American Idol-like contest where the prize is a 30-day freelance gig at an ad agency. All you have to do is create a video declaring "I deserve a big ad gig" out in a public space (a little embarrassment never hurt anyone).

Your video submission in conjunction with the quality of your portfolio could land you at CP +B, Ogilvy, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness or Atmosphere Proximity for 30 days. Oh yea, and it's paid.

The harder it gets to find a junior job, the more daring you have to be to land one.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


This may sound pessimistic, but I'm really only curious. Yesterday on LinkedIn, I noticed an intern we had a couple of years ago had "Instructor" listed as their current title, teaching at an area art school. How, may I ask, does an intern go from recent graduate to art school instructor in that short of time?

Again, just totally and completely curious. Curious what class he's teaching. Curious if the students know he is fresh out of school. Curious how he got the job and where he has worked between graduation and this teaching post.

I am on the fence about how I feel about this. On one hand, maybe the guy is a wizard at some mad skill (flash or photoshop or the like) making him totally competent. On the other hand, he was a student less than three years ago and I wonder what the heck he is qualified to teach.

This is along the lines of people who are teaching at ad schools and became a teacher straight out of college. I wonder about that too. Listen, I am by no means an expert on the education front. I teach because I love, love inciting passion in students about this great industry. I am not qualified to judge the reasons or qualifications of other instructors.

I just kinda wonder.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I just read a headline on Ad Gabber that said, "Being Nice Will Kill Young Creatives."

The article says, "It's true being nice just to be nice doesn't help anyone. In fact, according to this video for the Denver Ad Club, it can cause a person to drown. Of course, no one in advertising is ever nice just to be nice. In fact, going into advertising offers the perfect platform for a person to rip the shit out of another person and toss it of as simply "critiquing the work."

So, so true. Yesterday I was chatting with another Advertising instructor. He normally rips the shit of of his students with the full intention of making them better creatives. We were talking about how this somewhat harsh method was really for the best of the students. Being tough pushes them and results in better creative. The sucky kids won't care and will end up hating the teacher, but the good ones will care, will work harder and will create better work.

We all know what we mean when we use the word nice. How was your date tonight? Nice. How do you like my new haircut? It's nice. Nice is the word we use when we can't think of something more substantial to say.

Is that really what you want to hear about your portfolio? Sure, being nice to you (with regard to your work) spares everyone's feelings. But, back to the Ad Gabber article -- Being nice will kill young creatives.

Keep that in mind when a creative director or an instructor rips your idea apart. In fact, seek out criticism. I always feel bad when I don't like work in someone's portfolio and they are sitting right in front of me waiting for my response. I will always try to give some suggestions as to how they could rethink or rework or even just start over with their idea. I might feel bad that I didn't praise the work, but I do know better work may come out of my advice.

Mostly, I think I am too nice. I struggle with what to say about a book that I don't think is strong. Usually, it's "you have a good range of work." Which is true without being judgmental. Starting today, I will taper that practice. Of course manners and politeness won't be tapered. But everyone deserves honesty and genuine feedback and maybe my being too nice in that regard is the exact opposite of being helpful.

Monday, July 27, 2009


I recently tried to book a junior art director for a 9-day stint. My staff person went on vacation and we couldn't be without the resource for that many days. I had a few people I was considering, quite a few in fact, as the pool of available people has been getting bigger and bigger. It felt great to have so many options.

One thing that is hard to contend with when recruiting junior freelance is proximity. If they don't live in Southern California, it makes it fairly difficult to book them. It's not like I can offer to fly them in or put them up in a local hotel. Heck, I can't even do that for senior freelance anymore. If a junior creative lives in another state, I pretty much have to rule them out.

Two weeks ago, though, I lucked out. An out-of-area junior was going to be in Orange County visiting family and was available to work the exact days I needed. She had a strong book, which made me all the more thankful it would work out. Then we got to the part about rate.

I offered an hourly rate, a bit on the low side. Not low if you are a junior and out of work. But low if you want to say, buy a house. My offer was turned down. The response was that she was currently getting $650 a day freelancing. Six Hundred Fifty Dollars. A day.

Grab your calculator, multiple by 5 days a week, then again by 50 weeks a year. Yea. That's no typo folks. It's an annual salary of $162,500. So either she is really f-ing good and should not put the word junior anywhere near her resume --or-- the agency who hired her at that rate is printing money down in the basement and shoveling out the top floor window.

I am going to go with she is really good. But my gut tells me, no junior can command that rate and get away with it for very long. A few years ago, I would certainly believe it. But not in today's economic climate. Every freelancer who contacts me has offered to cut their day rates, substantially.

If you are going to freelance, get your rate in line with your title. Or your title in line with your rate.

*6 years later I am adding a comment to this post. First, I am incredibly stoked people are still finding, reading and commenting to me on this topic. Next, let me clarify a couple things: this post was written with regard to fresh-out-of-school talent. Like their resume ink hasn't even dried yet. Ones that warrant bookings for $25-$35 an hour. Based on the number of healthy, heated comments I (still) get over this post, I am sure there are many, many creatives out there who feel they are worth more than some of the day rates out there (which of course are higher to cover taxes, insurance, unstable bookings, and so on). My point above was that if you are pulling $650 + a day, you probably aren't very fresh-out-of-school any more.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Creative Orchestra

That's what I'm talking about. An agency consisting of just one department: creative. A department consisting of just one level: junior.

Hey Creative Orchestra, when you're ready to hop the pond and open stateside, Sign. Me. Up.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Brandcenter Grad Advice

I absolutely love Jake Dubs' list of the 11 most important things he learned in Ad School. Every ad student on the planet should have a read.

I wish I could say which of the 11 was most, most important (they all are).

I wish I could say he was off base in some regard (he's not).

I wish I could say I wrote it (insight that good makes me jealous).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Elliot Looney

Any one who gives a Commodores album (custom screenprinted) as their leave behind rates pretty cool in my book. Introducing Elliot Looney, a graphic design graduate from MCAD.

Meeting Elliot last week made me feel good, not only about him but about the future designers entering our beloved industry. Elliot was a big ol' bucket of enthusiasm. It was so cool to hear him talk about his work and how excited he was to search for a place that could put his skills to use. He was practically oozing passion out his pores on top of being genuine and humble. All graduates spend a ton of time showing their book and talking about the work inside, maybe that gets a bit rote. Not so with Elliot.

Why that makes me so happy is because that shows me passion, energy and enthusiasm for this business is still alive (sometimes I do wonder). I look forward to more grads like Elliot getting into the system, doing great work, learning, growing, moving from place to place and injecting our industry with every ounce of their talent and excitement.

Check out his work. It's unique, collage-y, vibrant stuff just like the man himself.

Monday, June 29, 2009


I toured Minneapolis College of Art & Design last week and came away very impressed with their offerings. If you are considering graphic design schools right now, put MCAD on your list. Here's why:

They have a very strong curriculum; the course descriptions had me wishing I could go there. MCAD gives equal weight to teaching the real-world application of an art/design/advertising degree above and beyond teaching technical skills.

For instance, there's one class called Creating and Running a Business. From marketing yourself to estimating projects and invoicing clients, it's teaching job skills that I'm sure are a god send to beginning freelancers. Maybe this class is standard at other schools, but from my perspective the "how to run a business" ability is often lacking at the graduate level. We just think they'll learn business sense on the job. Yet for new graduates who, in the current economy, might be hard pressed to get hired, starting and running a freelance business may be their only option.

Add to that a hip city-wide art community, a just-right-sized campus, an impressive faculty list and some of the coolest hands on workshops I've ever seen, and you've got reason to consider MCAD.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


This is, by far, the most unique portfolio website I have seen. Ever.

I instantly want to know more about this guy. After all, isn't that the only purpose of a portfolio website?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Spare Me

I highly dislike Carbonmade as a place to house your creative portfolio.

The navigation stinks. If I have to click 100 times up, down and sideways to see all your work, I guarantee I stop after about 25 times (and that's generous).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

In Reference to Previous Post

My recent post called "Keeping Pace" – now that I re-read it– could possibly be taken two ways, one of which I didn't intend.

I quoted Brandcenter Director Rick Boyko who said, "we don't teach from the past." And I thought this was an excellent example of an ad school being progressive within an ever-changing industry. Brandcenter is focused on teaching what's current in advertising, branding and media. I applaud them.

What I didn't intend is that "not teaching from the past" meant not teaching the foundations of advertising. It's essential to know the basics before you can learn the complex.

The commenter on my original post said it perfectly, "there are some fundamentals that are essential to mastering commercial communications -- whether in print or online. Understanding how brands work and their relationships with consumers. Understanding the power of empathy. Knowing how media and creative must fuse together (contact + content). The importance of a clear brand idea (and not just an executional idea). These are essential concepts that all successful advertising people need to understand, whether they are entering the business or veterans of the industry. One cannot dwell on the past, but must learn from it to thrive in the future. As somebody once said to me, there is no such thing as traditional media...only traditional thinking."

Every school should teach you the fundamentals. The best schools are teaching you what to do with them.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The London Project

You gotta love ingenuity in the face of desperation. Six Creative Circus students are nominated for D&AD pencils and really, really want to travel to London to attend the show. But that really, really costs a lot of money. Money they don't have.

Check out this video that leads you to their website called The London Project. A pretty cool idea to get people rallying around their fundraising efforts. Or at least to get people like me talking about their brilliant idea.

Made me smile. And take a look around my office to see what I can send them; I narrowed it down to my 3-foot-high dancing chimp sign.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Keeping Pace

I came across a quote today from Brandcenter director Rick Boyko. He said, "We're not teaching from the past at all. . ." He's saying this in reference to Brandcenter's commitment to "develop a curriculum that keeps pace with where the industry is going."

Not teaching from the past. A very simple idea, but extremely difficult to execute. I call it simple because when you think about it, each and every school in existence should not teach from the past. To graduate truly educated people who are current in the latest technology, culture, innovation, business acumen, whatever, it's essential to teach what's current in the industry. Ok, easy.

Very difficult because staying abreast of (forget ahead of) industry changes, then authoring it into a school's curriculum and finally teaching it, may in fact be near impossible. This morning I was complaining how hard it was to keep with all the changes going on in technology. Imagine needing to do the same with advertising curriculum before it becomes obsolete. You'd need to update practically every semester.

A basic example from a few years back is when some schools held tightly to Quark when the entire industry was moving toward InDesign. I'm still shocked when current students tell me they've only learned Quark (ignore the fact the programs are practically identical). When I hear this, I'm less shocked about the student than I am about the school. Keep in mind this is a rudimentary example of a more profound condition.

Being up to date should not be optional in our educational system. Following in Brandcenter's footsteps, not teaching from the past should be everyone's mandate. As a result, every ad school graduate would be a much more productive creative contributor from day one.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

No man is an island

When choosing a college, I'm sure your decision is based on quite a few things: reputation, placement percentage, location, tuition, and so on. Yet I've found, after surveying a large group of advertising and design school grads, there is one other thing you may want to consider. I've never thought about this, but it makes perfect sense.

Consider the other students who go there. Now you probably have no way of doing this on your own. You can't really ask every other applicant to show you their portfolio and have them assure you of their commitment to doing well at school. Fairly, if not totally, impossible.

But, what you can do is judge the caliber of the work done by graduates of the school. When passion, creativity and accountability are at the forefront of the curriculum, it is evident in graduate portfolios. Great work will consistently come out of great schools. Not occasionally, consistently.

Look to see which schools top the Gunn Report for best advertising schools that year. Find who is repeatedly on that list. I guarantee you, these are the schools where students are passionately committed.

This is important, because your education isn't a solo deal. You don't just go in, work hard, do some creative work and get handed a degree at the end. You work together with other students and their talent and drive just might affect your portfolio. How? These are the people you'll be partnered with on assignments, people you will need to count on for group projects, and that makes them the same people you'd want to be serious about doing good work.

Being surrounded by passionate and committed people is essential at an agency. It should be equally essential at school.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Big Things

Big Mistake: no showing a job interview.

Bigger Mistake: no showing a job interview for a position someone referred you for.

Biggest Mistake: no showing a job interview for a position someone referred you for, the same person you asked to be a reference on your resume.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Must Read

As a reward for perfect attendance, I am giving a book to two students tonight (hey, whatever works). If you haven't got a copy of either of these, go out and get them.

Paul Arden's "Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite" and "It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be." Short, inexpensive, easy-to-read books aimed at those with a creative mind.

He makes great points:
Do not seek praise. Seek criticism.
Don't be afraid of silly ideas.
Sometimes the clever thing is not to be too clever.
There is no right point of view.
Rock the boat (something my boss does brilliantly).

These, my friends, are words to live by. Embrace them wholeheartedly.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Am I missing something?

You land your first advertising job. Now think of missing work two days straight without calling your boss. Think of deciding you just don't want to complete your client's project. Think of no showing a big client meeting. Can you even imagine someone doing that? Sounds silly that I'd even suggest it.

Now switch the word job with school and imagine missing school two days straight without calling your instructor. Or deciding you really don't want to complete an assignment. Or even no showing a mid-term or final. Does that sound just as silly? It should.

Think of school as your first job. Think of your instructor as your boss. Think of your assignments as your client's projects. Got it? That same responsibility expected at work applies in the classroom.

I can't even imagine a creative in my department just not showing up for a big meeting. Or not coming to work without telling anyone. In the same sense, I can't even imagine a student not showing up for a mid-term (sickness & death do not apply). Or being absent without sending a note why. Am I expecting too much? I hope not.

I'd like to think that students who treat school as a dry run learn a sense of discipline and responsibility. The same discipline and responsibility any creative department on earth expects from their employees.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Pop Culture Engineering

Miami Ad School differentiates itself with its tagline, "The School of Pop Culture Engineering". Sounds cool. Sounds current. Sounds like they get it.

This is what their website says: Miami Ad School students win more awards than students at any other school in the world because our students are exposed to the latest in global pop culture. They learn all the crazy trends, fads and forms of communication.

Crazy trends, fads and forms of communication. I read that and it made me want to go there. I write this as a word of advice to check what your ad school's tag line is. "Tag line" as in what do they stand for? What do they proclaim loud and clear that they are going to teach you? And, does it sound current and like they get it?

The times they are a changin'. Make sure you are being taught (whether at school, on the job, or elsewhere), the strategies shaping the future landscape of brands and advertising media.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Looking for Replies

One of the first questions I ask students when starting a new class is "Why did you pick this school?"

I always get a variety of answers: it was close to my house; I went online and found it: one of my friends goes here. With so many ad schools and colleges to choose from, how do students narrow down their choices and then ultimately pick which one to go to? Is it location? Reputation? Tuition?

I would love to hear from any student out there either currently at an ad school or those long graduated. Please reply and tell me how you decided to go there in particular. If you had to choose again, would you make the same choice?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Yes, but are you happy?

I was part of a creative panel last night, presented as part of CSUF's Comm Week. Students had the opportunity to ask questions of industry professionals about how to navigate a career in advertising. The panelists were me, a CD copywriter, an Art Director and an Interactive Designer.

We got the usual lot of questions: what do you do on a typical day? how did you start in this business? who is the person who's had the most influence on your career? what is the typical starting junior salary? Standard for this type of event.

Then came one question that caught us all off guard. "It sounds like you have all had great careers and have gone far within the industry," asks Dustin, an aspiring creative. "But, are you happy?"

We instantly laughed. Yet I noticed it was that nervous kind of laughter when something hits a chord. Are we happy? After all this, a long and fun career in advertising, are we where we thought we'd be? Is this what we thought we'd be doing? Ahhhh, Dustin, you've asked the million dollar question.

A question everyone should be asking themselves. Not after a 20-year career. Not after 10 years in. But now. Are you happy now? In this job, at this agency, doing this work, every week? Yes? No?

I know my answer.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cite Right

Two things that I would love to have in every portfolio and for some reason tend not to see very much:

1) Citing your partner(s) name. It gives me an insight into their work as well as yours. And is just the right thing to do. Wouldn't you want to be called out in someone else's book?

2) Citing every contribution you personally made to the piece. If you took the photography, say so. If you are an art director and wrote the headline yourself, say so. Knowing the extent of your skills is so helpful, it gives me a deeper perspective on what you bring to the table.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A little bit scared

A student told me the other day that he is scared going into each of his advertising classes. Not scared like is the boogey man hiding under my desk. More like scared that if he didn't show up and perform his best in each class he'd miss something crucial to his career.

I was impressed. Feeling a bit scared is good for everyone. Think about it. Being scared heightens your senses. As a student, you'd listen more intently and try a little harder. If you attend each class believing you know everything, you probably miss out on a lot of content. But, if you go into each class believing you don't know everything and being scared you might miss something, you'd act like a sponge, trying to soak every piece of information in.

I always go back to the competition thing. That every other student in your ad classes is your competition. Look around, do you see any one in there scared? You'd know them because they're the ones who never miss a class and participate as fully as they can. And those guys are your competition once you graduate.

A dose of fear is a good thing. It keeps overconfidence in check. I can tell you every single person working in advertising is a bit scared right now too. Scared of being out of a job. And the ones who take that fear seriously become more present and engaged in their careers.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Would you file job jackets?

I heard about a junior opening the other day: creative assistant/copywriter. It made me wonder which unemployed junior writers out there would take a split responsibility job like this. Yes, you'd have the opportunity to write a few things but you'd also be doing a bunch of administrative duties. Filing job jackets, booking travel, doing expense reports, that kind of stuff.

Wouldn't every hand go up for a job like this? Foot in the door. Great agency. Chance to develop as a writer. Sounds fantastic. Yet what happens when the admin starts to outweigh the writing? Or when you have a conflict between a writing deadline and a meeting fiasco you're expected to solve immediately? That's really tough. Which takes precedence? Would an aspiring creative be able to handle this conflict of priorities?

Just something to think about. As our economic climate keeps changing, I'd imagine jobs will continue to morph just like this into dual-role positions. Agencies will have to accomplish more with less people. Especially at the junior level. Everyone will be expected to contribute in multiple ways. Even creatives.

Know this environment will serve you well. Getting experience in multiple roles is a very good thing. You'll learn more. You'll learn it faster. And, you'll have a stronger foundation to build the rest of your career on.

Monday, March 23, 2009

In my humble opinion

Are creatives allowed to have humble opinions about their own work? As in, "In my humble opinion, my book is one of the better books you will come across." Really?

That made me chuckle. Isn't that an oxymoron? Saying you're humble when in fact you are being braggatory (I'm making that word up). It's the same lesson I am trying to teach my 7-year-old daughter right now. To celebrate her talents without broadcasting it to the world. Currently, she is THE BEST artist in 1st grade. And, THE fastest runner. And, THE top math student in her whole class. She very well might be. But I'm trying to teach her that being the best and saying you're the best are two totally different things.

Believe in yourself by all means. Have an equal dose of confidence. Those qualities I truly appreciate. I'd also appreciate being the one who actually says "your book is one of the better books I have come across."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I feel for you

I am starting to realize that what I consider standard manners, might not be what everyone else does. I say this with regard to responding to candidates who contact me about potential jobs. Now granted it may take me weeks upon weeks, but I always do my very best to respond. At the bare minimum, the standard "thanks for sending, no open jobs" response. But most often, I take the time to look at their work and give genuine feedback.

Who wants to contact an agency and never ever hear back? This small courtesy is the same small courtesy I'd want if it was me. God forbid I ever have to look for a job. As if it isn't depressing enough to be unemployed in this economy, let alone hearing nothing from the companies you contact.

This morning I got a note back from a junior designer I had emailed last week. My note said thanks for your book, the work is nice, no jobs on the horizon. Based on his response, I could tell he was floored to hear from me. He wrote, "Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. I will say that at times one does feel like they are placing their hopes of any future into a black hole known as the internet."

He goes on to say that while he gets bummed not hearing back from people, he understands the "futility recruiters see of informing me of what their non-response so clearly communicates." Basically, it's the belief that a candidate should assume that no reply means no interest.

Well, MY belief is that no reply means I don't really care that you contacted me in the first place. Yea, all recruiters are incredibly busy. Yea, they get about a billion joe schmoes knocking on their door. And yea, a big chunk of that billion suck. Despite all that, don't you think every candidate should be treated with respect?

The experience a person has with me (over the phone, via email, in person) translates to the experience they have with Y&R. I represent the company. And if I never respond, it's a reflection on them. It's the whole Faberge Organics mindset. That one candidate will tell two friends how (nice/bad) they were treated and then they'll tell two friends and so on and so on.

If all these people are talking, and my name is involved, pretty sure I'd want it to be nice.

Friday, February 27, 2009

When no one's hiring

Pretty obvious that 2009 won't be a smashing economic year. Agencies are cutting staff by the boat load. Not a good scenario for the folks hoping to land their first job. You should know that as a recruiter, I still look at books and talk to candidates despite not having any open jobs. Recruiting doesn't stop in a recession.

Take advantage of this fact. Pursue agencies with the same fervor you would if there were 1,000 jobs to be had. Call up an agency recruiter and ask them for an informational interview. Get your face and work in front of the right people. Act like they do have an open job for you. Who knows, they might have someone quit tomorrow.

When I am not actively hiring, I work on a list I call "3-Deep". For every creative in our department, I identify the top 3 people I'd hire in their place. So the instant we have an opening, I have 3 people to bring in to interview. I do this for all levels of talent in all disciplines. First, it forces me to actively recruit all year long. Second, I can respond to an opening that much faster.

Don't be discouraged by this tight job market. I'm sure more recruiters besides me are making their own 3-deep lists; get yourself on them.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quarter of a Quarter

I'm cool with a student being absent once. Kinda cool if they're absent twice. Kinda not really cool anymore when it happens a third time.

In one quarter, we're talking 11 classes, missing 3 weeks of class just isn't right. Honestly, I take it personally when a student doesn't show up. Not that I'm imparting the secrets of the Holy Grail upon them, but I do believe in any class the lecture is important. Why else take it? The core of what's being taught happens during the lecture; the teacher illustrates course principles through example, experience, presentation. Anyone can read a textbook and never show up for class. Not sure in today's competitive market, you'd want to be that anyone.

I certainly cannot question the validity of the reasons: traffic, sickness (theirs, others), work, funeral, neck pain, extended vacation. That's just life happening. Though I am wondering how missing a quarter of a quarter multiplied by however many times it happens affects someones education.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

When I Grow Up

Someday I am going to start an ad school. Not one with 2- or 3-year programs, nor one that aims to compete with the likes of Brand Center, but one that offers select, relevant courses that can be taken individually.

After reading about this school, The Mission, I was inspired. Success in a school model like this comes a few ways:
1) in it's ability to expand and retract with enrollment. The school won't offer a course if it isn't filled to capacity, as well, they don't have the overhead of a bricks and mortar building. Classes are held at the agency of each instructor.
2) in the competitiveness of their pricing. I am hearing stories of many, many ad school students dropping out of their 3-year programs due to financial issues. A problem that's not going away anytime soon.

As an alternate to committing to an $85K degree, The Mission, and schools modeled like it, is a great option. You could take a concepting class or two. You could already be working in the industry (the classes are all offered at night). And you could start or enhance your education without a major time and money outlay.

Sounds great to me.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Today's Chuckle

A little laugh in response to a blog entry written by an Italian web/graphic designer. The author lists the 20 most creative resumes he's seen recently. A collection of stand-out-ish resumes clearly intended to set a candidate apart and communicate uniqueness. Neat stuff.

And then a response by someone (in what industry I wonder):
"These look awesome, but I think they’re rather impractical. I think most employers want one page if possible. And I also think the download-able CV should be black & white. You don’t want to make someone use up their color ink just for your resume. Seems wasteful. With those restraints in mind, I think it presents a better challenge, to make your resume be artful and stand out in a more conservative way."

If I read her comment with no context, then yeah, I might not wholeheartedly disagree. But after checking out these resumes and seeing how cool they are, it just doesn't jive. A candidate must stand out! Really, is there anyone in the entire world who cares if .0001¢ of color toner is required to print it out? Now if I was a technical recruiter or in HR at a bank, one of these resumes might (slight on the might) raise an eyebrow. I'm sure dimension and color don't come across their desks every day.

But, I'm not. I work in a creative industry within which they are trying to get hired. I understand how quickly you have to get a recruiter's attention. As well, I can appreciate multiple pages, dimension and the use of lots of color. Your differentiation is imperative. I'm sure if you're hired, that .0001¢ will be paid back in spades.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Please Don't

Please don't name the pdf of your creative portfolio "my work." Or for that matter: portfolio, resume, e-book, my portfolio, me, mine or any un-named configuration of those words.

Today I tried to locate a junior book I was sent quite some time ago. I have a folder on my computer that is loaded with pdfs of books that I need to look at, have looked at, or just generally have stuck there. While searching, I noticed a huge chunk of them are labeled in these crazy generic ways. And yet, to whom does "portfolio" belong to?

I wish I had all the time in the day to open each one of these files, but since it's taken me months to even venture into this folder, you can guess that's time I don't have.

Just your name. That's it. All I need.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Butter and Doors

I'm introducing the topic of lateral thinking to my batch of freshman students this quarter. Our class is learning how to think in non-linear, non-logical, completely upside-down ways. And so the need to understand lateral thinking.

If you need an actual definition, I won't be the one to give it to you. As a non-creative, I don't thoroughly understand the concept myself. It's better explained using examples. Here are a couple of lateral thinking puzzles I found that prove it isn't easy as pie.

try this:
Two frogs fell into a cylindrical tank of liquid and both fell to the bottom. The walls were sheer and slippery. One frog died, the other survived. Why?

or this:
Jim and Joe were fighting, so their mother punished them by making them both stand on the same sheet of yesterday’s newspaper until they were ready to make up. She did this is such a way that neither of the boys could touch each other. How did she manage to do this?

The first one, no one would get in a million years. The second one, maybe quarter of a million. Thinking harder and longer doesn't help. Thinking non-linear, non-logical and completely upside down just might.

good luck.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cecilia is. . .

. . .not using Facebook for business contacts. Do I really need my advertising connections to see that "Cecilia is wishing it was Friday"? Or worse, "Cecilia is having a good hair day." Yea, I don't think so.

Facebook is fun. Facebook is addicting. But, my take is that Facebook is a silly friend thing. My rule for accepting friends is whether or not I have met them in person. I bend this rule sometimes but generally it's my guideline.

Business contacts I keep through LinkedIn. It's there that I keep all my work connections and use it to network with people in the industry. I try to connect only with people I legitimately know or would benefit from the connection. People whose name or company I have never heard of I tend to ignore.

With so many social networking sites, it can get crazy to update them all. Twitter is smart enough to feed into Facebook status, that cuts down one entry a day for some folks. Just this week I have received invitations to connect via Plaxo, AgencyScoop, and ooVoo (that's okay, I don't know what it is either). I can't do it. Waaaaay too many sites and updates to keep track of. Plus, as I know we are all so very concerned about, it's time consuming.

I prefer this separation of church and state. Friends. Work. Two sites, two purposes. Decide for yourself how'd you would like to communicate with the world. One site or five, just have a purpose or you'll end up diluting your entire network across a slew of different places. Tempting to do, but painful to manage.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Finishing Class

Yesterday I heard about a cool class that Miami Ad School offers their seniors. It's called Finishing Class and it takes place their last quarter in school.

Through a partnership with Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Miami Ad School sends students to work at the agency for 3 months. Sounds like a pretty standard internship deal, right? Well, as I was told yesterday by a recent student of this program, it's a bit different. They go into CP+B each day and work on their portfolios. Just their portfolios. All day, every day.

The students come in, are partnered up, and assigned 2 mentors from the agency. The mentors review the students current work, tell them to trash what doesn't work and suggest new products and strategies to concept. The students then do some pieces, review them with their mentors and polish from there. All day, every day. Pretty damn cool if you ask me.

It's like having a personal portfolio coach. Not to mention being immersed in an agency overflowing with great work. The students certainly can help during new business pitches or when someone needs an extra hand, but mostly, it's all about their book. The young woman I spoke to told me every piece currently in her portfolio is a result of this class (which made me wonder what her book looked like before this program). Ultimately, she had a strong book and that's what matters.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Avertising Concept Book

I highly recommend The Advertising Concept Book by Pete Barry. I've just started reading it for my next class and I'm loving the content. All juniors should get themselves a copy.

The book says, "The best strategic, creative team is one that possesses a balance of logic and imagination, verbal and visual skills." What I found most insightful about this statement is that these 4 things are skills students can cultivate on their own. I think some juniors in school get intimidated by other students who may have better design (execution) skills. Yet, what Pete Barry is saying is that a creative can expand their ability to think, to ideate, to come up with great concepts by increasing these 4 skills. And any creative student can do this, no matter how good they are in illustrator or photoshop.

More logic? I read this as more intelligence. It goes along one of my previous posts where I said that creatives must be cultural anthropologists. They must be savvy in pop culture, current events, music, books, poetry. Those who are worldly in these areas have a broader knowledge base to pull from when trying to come up with ideas.

More imagination? Start with lessening inhibitions. As we grow up I think we slowly lose the ability to be overly imaginative because we become accustomed to abiding by the rules.

More verbal? Again read, read, read. Expose yourself to fairy tales and fables, biographies and non-fiction, adventure stories and science fiction. Increasing your literary skills and vocabulary will follow and again, give you a broader base of knowledge to pull ideas from.

More visual? Get out and look around. Go to every museum you can find, travel to a foreign country, study ad annuals.

Logic, imagination, verbal and visual. See how none of these is about putting something on paper? It's the ideating you do before you execute that makes for great work.