Friday, May 22, 2009

The craft of art direction and other myths

It’s not easy coming up with something fresh and creative in this business. Particularly when it comes to finding new ways to take the mick. Hats off then to my friend Simon (I’ve changed his name to protect anonymity, his real name’s Jeff) who was telling me he once managed to freelance at two agencies at the same time.

He’d turn up at the first place, get his jacket on his chair, say a few hellos, then pop round to the other agency a few hundred yards away.

It was an ingenious scam. And art direction is the perfect job for getting away with it, as it’s perfectly normal to not be at your desk because you’re in studio/at a shoot/in the toilet/at a strip joint. Plus it’s perfectly normal to take four times longer to do something than people expect.

He managed to keep up the pretence for over 2 months (it wasn’t a greed thing you understand, he was in a spot of financial bother). Which only goes to confirm what I'm saying about our expectations of art directors. I’m fairly convinced my AD is holding down another job, if not two.

When the traffic bloke finally caught him out, there were no fireworks. He just said “Fair play for keeping it up this long, now it’s time for you to go.” At which point he simply went to his other job.

Of course, there are many who’d say that the whole role of Art Director is a big sham anyway – walking about making a few comments then naffing off again without actually taking any ownership of anything. So pretending to do two jobs rather than pretending to do one job is simply a natural progression, taking it the next level if you like.

Work-shy fopps, the lot of 'em.


  1. I think you'll find that it just doesn't take that much effort to make bland copy look slightly more interesting.

  2. Thanks. I have always suspected that.

    Andreas, a very hard working copywriter in Sweden

  3. Seems to be an international phenomenon!

    Same here in Germany.

  4. I, for one, am glad there's such a person as an art director. I know I'd rather not be nudging a logo half a centimetre to the left then shunting it back to its original position, stressing about typography and having to actually spend time making crappy scamps with their stick men and descriptive arrows look presentable...

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  6. I think perhaps you've still to have a decent partnership :)

  7. I want to work where you work. As an Art Director, I bust my ass.