There's no getting bored around Poet and Copywriter Ellana Blacher. Her extensive experience in the creative and fashion industry overseas has few equals in the Creativepool community, with some stunning work crafted for clients such as Dr. Martens, Michael Kors, Prada, HUGO Boss and too many others to count.
Ellana is a passionate poet, writer and copywriter who fell in love with advertising a long time ago. She believes in the power of using emotions to craft great creative, pulling ideas from a feeling and letting your creative juices flow from there. As a copywriter, she draws inspiration from a number of different sources – and believes The Picture of Dorian Gray is the most beautifully written book of all time (according to our editor she has good taste, but don't tell her that).
In this Member Spotlight, we are learning more about a multi-faceted professionals and a talented writer, peeking behind the curtain to discover the secrets of beautiful storytelling.
How did you get into the industry?
How far back do you want to go? I definitely got my first fashion copywriting job due to my work in poetry, and within that body of work my employer was specifically interested in my various accolades from my time competing in slam poetry—and I only ever got the nerve to compete on stage in the first place due to attending Kalmunity (which is a weekly jazz/hip-hop/vibe collective improv concert in Montréal) and seeing an MC named Lady Katalyst do a riff on of A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Butter’. I couldn’t get the refrain out of my head for days. That was when I knew I wanted to write for the public, and do my best to deliver ideas and rhythm and phrases that would stick and leave an impression.
Where are you based now and who do you work for?
I’m based in London, and I’m currently the Sr. Copywriter at TOG.
I’m also working freelance with a few different artists on a multiformat piece for the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal (Montreal Contemporary Art Museum).
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
Well I’d definitely be writing. I spent some time writing at two hip-hop studios before I came to copywriting—so maybe I’d still be writing music.
Can you explain your creative process?
I always try to start with a feeling—What are you trying to invoke? What do you want someone to get out of it? Great creative should always involve some kind of emotional response. Whether it’s humour and retro-nostalgia, or the warm-fuzzies of a holiday spent with loved ones. Once you know the feeling you want to end up at, you can work backwards on how to connect that endpoint to your starting point. Having a great team you can openly speak with is essential, because it helps you separate out what the important, universal parts are in getting to a certain feeling.
How would you describe your style?
I definitely place an emphasis on the internal poetics of a phrase—you can’t underestimate the importance of rhythm, meter, cadence, and imagery in elevating language.
Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?
Copywriting is equal parts ideas and writing, so In terms of people who are excellent writers with excellent boundary-pushing ideas across multiple formats, I’m very inspired by both Donald Glover and Taika Waititi.
If you had to pick one ideal client/employer, who would that be and why?
If you want to do bold, boundary-pushing, conceptual creative—I’m there.
How has technology affected the way you work?
The internet and social media have certainly upped both the frequency and number of formats in which brands are expected to engage their audience. It’s definitely made a higher volume of work for writers, however, my fear in this is the potential for brands to value quantity over quality, and lowest-common-denominator content over unique perspectives. Obviously there’s a balance, but I think there’s more merit in doing something genuinely different and unexpected, and therefore memorable with a clear voice, than something like a post of a beach with ‘Who’s ready for the weekend?’ that will garner guaranteed likes for one’s social media metrics but be completely unremembered by the very consumers you are trying to reach.
What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?
I can’t overstate the importance of seeing, attending, supporting, and getting involved in local art. Being surrounded by different perspectives, creativity totally free of outside control, pure passion for art for the sake of it, new ideas and immersive experiences—getting to connect with the deepest thoughts of strangers on their terms—You can’t help but be motivated, inspired and yet grounded. It’s humbling. Talent isn’t rare. There are so many things to see, to experience, to evaluate and re-evaluate. It pushes you to push your boundaries.
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
I had a poem come out last year in a book (Pandemic Poems, edited by Kevin B. Solez) that’s studied on curriculum in several Canadian universities. I think it’s supposed to be available at Waterstones in England later this year.
How do you recharge away from the office?
I love museums, documentaries, podcasts while cooking, excellent writing, immersive music, new experiences and long conversations in intimate settings. I’ve recently joined a choir, and a weekly studio jam session called Commonest Sound. I’ve also started performing at poetry shows again, now that those kinds of things are back to their regular pre-pandemic schedules.
What is one tip for other aspiring creatives looking for work?
Everything you like, somebody has had to make. The next person to do that can be you. So find what you like, and find a way to get involved in it so that you can turn it into resume lines, so that when someone is looking to pay for someone who can do it, you’re well-positioned. You can be the one who makes the things you want to see, and hear, and experience. You can pass down that moment of connection.
What is the one thing that you would change about the industry?
There’s too much emphasis on clicks and getting-the-most likes, I think. The most daring creative, and being the first to do something, will rarely be what gets the heaviest amount of online traffic and will always be more of a risk than the tried-and-true. I think this emphasis has made brands afraid to try new things, and you start to lose individual identity when everyone is chasing the same metrics with the same data. How can you stand out when you’re doing your best to fit in?
Any websites, books or resources you would recommend?
Excellent, imaginative writing nurtures excellent, imaginative writers. I’m sure you can easily Google opinions on various copywriting books, but to really stand out and keep yourself out-of-the-box you need to collect varied references from great writers.
My current favourite poetry book is Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith, and the book that I think is the most beautifully written of all time is The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde.
H.P Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu might be a close second in terms of a gold-standard in how to spin an evocative phrase, and both books are referenced enough in popular culture that they are good references to have in order to deepen your general cultural knowledge anyways.
I’d also go see a performance of The Importance of Being Earnest, also by Oscar Wilde, for excellent writing and character dynamics in a different format. Always explore opposites—Go see something that will make you cry, like Madama Butterfly, and then go see something that will make you laugh, like Booksmart or Anchorman, to remind yourself that great things don’t have to be similar to other great things. I think it’s important to keep a diverse list of references, and always be learning from different mediums.