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.