If you are a professional creative, you know that there are many factors that can contribute to your success. Like everything in life, it is through a strong support group that helps determine our success. But unlike other fields, the creative industry is all too often a dysfunctional world that leads us to rely on our extended family members a little more than most career paths.
It is not that we creatives cannot be independent individuals in our craft, but to be truly successful in the creative world, especially in advertising, the best executions are team-built. In the midst of a campaign pitch through launch, chances are you will be spending more time with copywriters, art directors, creative directors, designers, programmers, freelancers and account reps than you will your own family. This can take a toll on your psyche after a while as hours turn into days and days turn into weeks, but as patience starts to dwindle the thing to remember is each of these people you are around is a cog in the process and with out them, the execution will falter.
That is not to say that, like in any family, there is a crazy uncle who shows up at an important event and tends to throw a wrench into the mix. His flailing around and knocking a dais table over is comparable to a mistake in the scheduling process, which could cause a creative team’s blood pressure to spike. The difference is with family, we have the luxury of not inviting that uncle to the next party in hopes that he will get upset and disappear until the next time he shows up to make a spectacle out of himself, where as coworkers are not so easily removed from our lives.
The fact of the matter is we have to work to live, and so do the people we are working with. Unfortunately, we cannot choose our families, and unless you are running your own business, you usually cannot choose your coworkers either. This is not to say that you cannot find another position if you are not truly happy, but the same players usually exist in every environment. Different people with the same traits exist in every aspect of our lives.
There is, however, a unicorn scenario: A perfect team is assembled comprised of a group who have all been through the same tribulations as you. In this rare instance, things tend to flow so easily until one of the team members leave, which opens a space for a contaminating factor to join the mix, such as the return of a creepy cousin you may not have heard from in years.
If you are lucky enough to marry into a perfect creative situation, respect your new family, and remember when things are not going the way you want them to, things could be a lot worse. There are always those companies that have no problems locking their employees under the stairs as a completely acceptable creative environment.
You can learn a lot as a creative freelancer. The work can be as diverse as the daily operations of the client’s you are contracting for. It is those little differences between companies that opens up the discussion about which methods of creative flow are effective and which are not.
Recently I have had the opportunity to work with a client whom I cannot get enough of. My direct report is a creative who believes that design is as important as the money that it generates. There are no cut corners, and what is expected is top-quality work over quantity of concepts. This is very different from what I have experienced in recent months where the goal was to blitz the client with a large amount of designs and hope some would stick, but which is a better approach?
Well, my earlier clients as mentioned would argue quantity offers the client the ability to choose from a large pool of comps, covering all of their possible needs. How big is the “creative pool” which I mention? Approximately 30 designs per designer, multiplied by four designers. Does this mean that we would submit 120 designs per client? No, that would be crazy! We would submit between 40 and 60 of those ideas. Which seems like a crazy amount when considering how difficult it is to get face time with decision makers, who usually make a lot more decisions than just creative ones on a daily basis.
On the other hand, my recent employer believes in quality, a system I, too, am far more comfortable with. One designer per project, six designs per round. Is six designs enough to present, considering some agencies are submitting ten times that amount?
The short answer answer is yes. What this method does is force the creative to do something all creatives should do: Listen, take notes on the small details of a job and ask the questions that are gong to make those six designs exactly what the client wants. Preparing better in meetings helps set up a quicker execution in the development phase, pretty much every time.
By supplying a client with upward of 30 creative options for their needs, you tend to cause more confusion. Maybe the client who had a direction in mind which was executed to their specifications perfectly, but now there are five additional options making them second-guess their decision. Not that this is a bad thing from a creative perspective, but this will now become a time hindrance as you are now asked to create additional ideas for people who, as mentioned above, usually don’t have time, and will almost always tend to go back to their first decision.
Also what a large presentation does is it takes most of the pressure off the account directors and puts it on the creative staff. If you have a day to put a presentation together, it makes a lot more sense to generate six fantastic designs based on what the client requested as opposed to 30 in the same amount of time because you are held to a quantity quota. At the end of the day both agencies are successful at what they do regardless of the methods on how they got there. The difference is in the employees of those agencies and which one produces the work they are more proud of.
We have all read the perfect job description and thought upon hitting the send key, “I have to get a call back for this job!” From the list of software no one may know better than you to the niche client experience you have been a slave to since the technology had been invented, the job has to be yours, … or does it? All too often that excitement turns to concern and, finally, to depression as time goes on until you realize that someone else now occupies your perfect job. Unfortunately this is more often the norm that not, but what is even more frustrating is seeing the same job posting pop up a few months later.
With some companies, this seems to be a ritual. Posting the same position every few months, which over time could shatter anyone’s self worth reliving the rejection over and over. As time passes, though, we build a defense by ignoring our qualifications and dismissing those who have dismissed us, accepting that no matter how many times we apply for that perfect position, it is just not meant to be ours — or is it?
What actually happens to our resume when we send it in to an employer? Well, despite what we think, there is not always a great force or genius database just waiting to hit all of our key words, proving that we are the right candidates for the job. Although there are key-word tracking programs that do exist, not every employer has them. This means they have to rely on a human resource department to sift through all the resumes to find potential candidates, sift through portfolios, set up interviews and then repeat the process for every other position the company they represent is seeking help for. Oh, and that is besides a countless number of other tasks. Odds are, your perfect resume and portfolio may never even be seen by the hiring manager.
There is no formula to say that by the umpteenth time it will reach the right hands, so what is a job seeker to do? Don’t get discouraged, yes, I know that is easier said than done, but if a job keeps showing up, either the employer has not found the perfect candidate because they haven’t gotten to your resume yet, or they are not the light at the end of the tunnel position you have been waiting for. It is easy to build up a position in your mind as perfect, when you don’t actually have that position.
For this reason always apply when you see that job. Since you don’t have it, you have nothing to lose. If you are annoying someone with your submissions, they will let you know, and at that time at least you have an open dialogue with them, probably not something you had before that point. HR departments know times are tough and don’t usually fault for ambition, unless you reach harassment level. If you want a job that keeps showing up, keep applying for it. Eventually you will get a response, and at that time you can control your destiny.