Whether you’re a graphic designer, an illustrator or a copywriter, all creatives will be familiar with the trials and tribulations of life in the creative industries. Crazy client requests, short deadlines and hovering art directors are all part and parcel of life as a creative pro. We know you know the type, the micro-manager who stands over your shoulder, providing unsolicited and nonsensical feedback, like “let’s try this sunset as a sunrise,” “can you make it a bit more exciting” or “the client needed this an hour ago!”
Nick Eagleton, Creative Director from design agency The Partners confesses: “They say loads of stuff, but all the time you’re thinking ‘Whatever. I’m going to do it my way anyway.’ And then you do it your way anyway. That’s why you want to become a creative director – so you don’t have to listen to them anymore.”
Sean Murphy, Creative Director from design agency Moving Brands agrees: “They are a varied bunch, some inspirational, some infuriating, some downright weird. Different creative directors have their own signature hovering stance. Some lean, some perch, some bump out of the way to drive. The worst is when finger meets screen to leave a greasy smudge!”
Nick Eagleton adds: “The worst is when they touch your mouse.It’s sick. It’s like them touching your body. If you become a creative director, never, ever, touch someone’s mouse. Get your own and touch that one.”
Although at the time, it may feel like they are unnecessary critiquing your work, love them or hate them, art directors can teach us some valuable life lessons and work techniques, helping to shape you into the creatives you are today.
Beth Algieri, Director from creative agency Yum Yum London can vouch for this; “One piece of advice that stuck in my mind was to ‘never settle for mediocre,’ in other words, you should keep pushing until you are 100% happy with the result. However many iterations it takes to get there, you’ll be thankful you went the extra mile when you look back at the project in a few months.”
Sean Murphy also learnt some useful lessons along the way: “My creative director taught me that the words you speak are just as important as the work you produce. That you should fiercely protect what makes you different. That you should never lose your rag.”
So, the next time your art director stoops over your desk – put things into perspective. Even with their hovering and their pointing and their absurd requests, art directors are ultimately there to help, offering advice and guidance, while allowing you the room to grow and develop your own signature style.
So, what should budding creatives starting out in the industry do when first faced with a creative director?
“Don’t try and fit in. There are tons of people who follow the same paths, that look at blogs and reverse engineer the work” adds Sean Murphy. “Hone your own oddness, your own world view. Don't let the people you learn from polish out the rough edge as this is where the good stuff can be found.” Beth Algieri adds; “Work hard, have fun and be nice to your creative friends and clients. Happy clients mean happy creatives.”