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.