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:: Monday, August 01, 2005 ::

:: Blogging from an "Artist's" Perspective ::
It cracks me up sometimes when friends from Ad School make comments about my blog. They usually run along the lines of "you're an Art Director right?" "I'm trying to be, yeah." "Why do you write so much? I mean, post a picture or something." "I can't. I have an older template." "Well, then get a new one." "I like this one."

For those of you wondering what I'm talking about, there are two main jobs in the Advertising industry: Art Directors and Copywriters. This is an oversimplified explanation but generally ADs determine what an ad will look like and the CWs are in charge of whatever wording it contains. ADs usually come from an art background; painting, graphic design, etc. CWs might have studied things like English, history, or communications. There are also account managers and planners who work for ad agencies but us creatives don't like to acknowledge their existence.

Everyone who's eighth quarter has to take a class with Ron (school president and founder). Ron has a disturbing soccer fetish so every week we have to do one poster reminding everyone about Soccer Sunday at 6pm (as if we could forget). Past work includes map of the island giving directions to the park, a naked chick with a "soccer tan," comic strips starring "Soccerman," a half-naked chick with a soccer ball "bikini," and half-naked chicks doing... something.

So being an AD, my first three soccer posters, naturally, are copy-driven (there's no naked chicks, get your mind out of the gutter). One of them was a Letterman Top 10 list, another was a page of mindless scribbles, and the last was a "Football vs. Futbol" chart.

These soccer poster assignments being what they are, I'm not going to do them unless I can somehow amuse myself with them. That means that a lot of the jokes I put up there might fly over people's heads. Others are more obvious. Here's a couple of my Top 10:

5. Bad news: You're still not allowed to use your hands. Good news: I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to Geico.
2. Show the chicks you can "Bend in like Beckham" if you know what I mean.

Another one has a drawing of guy with a shirt that says "YOUR STUPID" on the back. And the beautiful thing about that one is that it received exactly the desired effect: some people got it immediately; others told me that I used the wrong "your." One person in particular, it wasn't so much that this idiot pointed out the "error" as much as the air of authority with which this person did it. The whole time I'm just standing there smiling and thinking "you’re the largest bag of gas this side of Al Franken."

In case you were wondering: yes, some of those jokes are just for me.

I'm not sure why but writing was one of the things that I was always able to do. Not necessarily do well but it just came naturally. I noticed this back in college, when for reasons unknown to me, I just breeze through English courses. (You'd think scoring better on the English section of the SATs would be an obvious indicator but I was also an idiot back then. Some things never change.) I always wanted to go into some sort of art career, but I've always liked reading and if you asked me I could name my favorite authors, sports writers, columnists, even lyrics. But ask me about my favorite painting? "Garden of Earthly Delight" by Hieronymus Bosch. Favorite painter? I don't know, maybe one of the dudes named after a Ninja Turtle. Favorite photographer? Graphic Designer? Umm...

Quite a few students have told me I should be a copywriter instead, which, depending on the person telling me, I'm really not sure how to take it. Is it a compliment of my writing skills or an indictment of my art directing abilities? Who knows. But one thing I've learned is that writing an essay for English 101, a Top 10 list, or even a stand-up comedy monologue is different from writing taglines and body copy for ads. I could write jokes all day but ask me to come up with some copy for a laundry detergent and you're probably going to find me at a bar going on a bender cursing the day I went into advertising.

It may not seem that it's all that different but they are, and while subtle, they're significant. It's like the difference between jogging and sprinting: both requires use of leg muscles but jogging works your slow-twitch muscles while sprinting develops your fast-twitch... actually, never mind. My analogy just went to the zoo.

Another thing is that when it comes to ad copy, brevity is key. If you've read my blog for any length of time, you'll know that I have a tendency to be long-winded. I haven't kept track but when it comes to writing an entry with some personal content, I've yet to write one that's shorter than "War and Peace." I've told myself repeatedly that I'm going to figure out how to condense my posts one of these days but if you're reading this, then you can clearly see that today is not that day.

:: Miscellaneous Ramblings by Dan-E at 11:07 AM [+] :: | 0 comments

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