Keeping it real.

Posted on September 15, 2008


Keeping it real. I was having a conversation the other night with a colleague and we started talking about the roles we all play in the arena of the creative profession. Both of us admire the aspect of guiding, understanding and seeing  the big picture from a “DNA” level and on up.

That got me thinking I have been thinking for a while about writing an entry about this topic for a while. In fact I thought I had written it. But then realized I hadn’t. And the fact I hadn’t even written anything, period, other than creative briefs for a long time. Moving my family half way across  United States  and running 2 creative groups remotely has taken up a considerable amount of my time. But now its time to get off my ass and get back to this.

I dont know if this is the way it’s supposed to work, but it’s how I do it. I can’t imagine not doing it “this way” actually. What am I talking about? Well, its the role of a creative director. And I dont think I do it like it anyone else. Good or bad its the truth. I am one hands on mofo. Like “Get out of my way, let me sit down here and do it.” I know my designers hate and at least tolerate this behavior.” I’ll say things like “Why are you building your file like this?…It’s so complicated…the idea is simple”. I actually think that designers today rely on complicated methods and  mechanisms to illustrate their ideas. I’ll get in to their files and see why they’re stuck. Simply because a lot of the filters and tools create this massive complexity where ideas get lost in the creation. Without my participation at this even this file level I couldn’t be a successful problem solver. The traditional role of a creative director is to set the stage for the creative strategy. For me to truly understand how the creative strategy is unfolding like I need to get my fingers in the shit. Literally.

Maybe it goes back to my days as a painter ( the art kind not house,but I have done  lot of that too) but there was something connective about actually creating that gave me a deeper ability to explain ( here comes my day job) what were doing and why. With my hands on level I can explain the approach much more truthfully and more relative to the greater business objective for my clients. Because I’ll admit it… most CD’s are consummate, elegant and brilliant bullshitters. I am horrible at this. It’s that I can’t talk with out reason.  I need ( and want) to actually have a concrete understanding of the goal at hand. without it I am sunk. I have met some CDs who can fire up a  presentation without ever seeing any of the creative contained within and make it up as they go. And they can be completely successful at it.

I on the other hand really need to be involved at what I mentioned as the “DNA level” to be convincing and assured that what were doing is on track. It is this “DNA level” of understanding that for me to be successful requires my complete and total focus. Its also a total pain in the ass because it requires so much of me. But there in lies the rub. Shouldn’t this be the way all CD’s work? consumate all CD’s involved at a granular level to ensure the strategy we have set forth is being fulfilled? I mean you can only tell so much from a wall crit or reviewing a pdf. I would truly miss the “making” part of our craft  I enjoy still knowing the craft of design I like to believe that my participation at the “DNA” level leads to potentially additional problem solving. Who knows maybe I gum up the whole machine with my approach. So regardless of what my title is, or how my fellow creative directors approach their tasks at hand. I only know how to do what i do by throwing myself into the task. But the point I am trying to make…if I can is that I got into the creative business to help people communicate better and to make things. The making part is actually a priveldge, and I am thankful to still be a maker of things rather than just talker things done.

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