When they say advertising is an art, their clients say it’s a business. When they say it’s a business, their clients say it’s an art. When they finally get something good produced, it fails. When they produce mundane crap, it works.When their friends like it, their clients hate it. When their clients like it, their friends hate it. They are encouraged to be collaborative. But the more people touch their work, the worse it gets. They are counseled against becoming prima donnas. But they see that the people who get good jobs are often disagreeable monsters.
If they weren’t confused they’d be crazy.
It’s a provocative set of observations – and reading it gave me three divergent feelings.
- Life is Confusing. I’m empathetic to creative confusion. Many, if not most people on the planet, are confused. And some are so confused that they don’t know why they’re confused. I feel confused by the many paradoxes I find in life, whether I’m creating things, or just trying to fit in and find my way. Creatives are often more personally invested in their work, so their confusion is more personally painful. But look at your coworkers and friends: nearly everyone is confused in one way or another.
- Life is more confusing when you (think you) have little power. Most ‘creatives’ don’t have much power. Count how many approvals you need to get something out the door – if it’s more than 1, you are not an Artist. You are an artist, being paid to make ‘art’ other people are paying you for the right to reject, or change, or ruin. By law you are free to make whatever you want and try to sell it yourself. If you do, you’ll have more pride in your work, but less money in your pocket – a trade Artists have made throughout history. Art/Design school rarely includes skills for making, or succeeding at, these choices, or even putting in your mindset that the trade-offs are yours to make.
- Being an expert comes with traps. The more of an expert you are, the more time you will tend to spend with people who know nothing about your craft. The more senior a creative you become (Art Director, Senior Creative Lead Dude), the more time you will spend in rooms with powerful people who know nothing about creativity. This means the people most interested in you will understand little about your craft, and expect you to work with clients who understand even less. You’d be crazy not to expect to be confused when you are paid the most for your expertise by people who don’t know enough not to squander it.
(found via Cameron Moll)