I'm Emily, and I'm a creative art director
Describe your job
Imagine the movie ‘What women want’ (highly recommend watching) but with a lot more coffee, no Nike campaigns & my creative partner’s NOT Mel Gibson. Oh, and let’s also pretend we’re not in a pandemic and that we’re sat in an office.
Usually, I’ll wake up, get to work, grab a coffee, sit down, get briefed by someone in accounts (the suits who go between agency and client), then, with my partner (the words), we’ll spend about an hour -if we’re lucky- coming up with some campaign ideas and words, then it’ll be up to me to bosh in a few images or draw something if it helps the work make more sense. Usually this happens on repeat throughout the day, depending on who we’re working for; we always find ourselves last minute bickering ‘like an old couple’ as to whether one of our ideas actually makes sense… “a polished presentation?”- never heard of it.
What are the most important skills you need to do your job?
Patience, the ability to suck up your pride & of course, enthusiasm. My job is AWESOME, and I’m lucky to have found it.
As an art director, usually they ask for you to have a design background… I don’t, but I’m handy with a tablet, can storyboard, draw and present my ideas well. Photoshop helps, but I’m self taught; so would never advise anyone else that it’s a requirement.
Whenever I’m asked to book crit, the first thing I’ll look for is whether I get the idea with one visual; if I don’t and it’s been heavily designed, I’ll ask for a sketch instead; but again, that’s my own preference, and as most of my creative directors don’t have the time for me to fanny about making something look perfect, I think it makes sense!… There are super talented designers in agencies that LOVE to do that!
I left school and...
HAD NO IDEA WHAT TO DO WITH MY LIFE. I grew up in Cambridge, in a village, in the middle of nowhere; I absolutely LOVE my place of birth, but would definitely say there’s not as much space for creative opportunities.
When studying at Hills Road, my mum ordered me a bunch of prospectuses; Lincoln University stood out to me because of its glossy high fashion finish. When skimming through the pages I saw creative advertising and liked the sound of it. I studied photography in sixth form and pretty much all the photos I took were based upon brands I’d seen and wanted to do something new for…
I’ve always sketched, and the idea of working with someone else really appealed to my lack of confidence.
In my first week at Uni I met my creative partner Alex outside a club, we became really good friends, and found after a week in New York - in second year checking out agencies, that we could ‘stand to be around each other’ for long periods of time, enjoyed working with each other, and could build a portfolio... so we did & moved to London!
I’m most proud of...
Equality street - a campaign we created at JWT.
Probably our most simple idea, but something we’re really proud of. A piece of speck work that turned into something really ‘feel good’ & fun. The art direction isn’t my finest; but I love how the idea came from adding a single letter.
Before I started my career, I wish I knew…
My advice to my younger self would be not to get so worked up; or care about what other people think I'm showing them in presentations or book crits.
Advertising is all opinion based, everyone chips in, and it’s really collaborative.
I cared too much about giving the ‘simplest’ ideas to my creative directors and used to get quite worked up about it… it’s their job to help mould your thoughts into something spectacular, so my advice would be to just go with your gut, rather than panicking about how others stress over your idea, especially if you're just starting your career, and feel embarrassed about what you're showing.
Either go all in, or remove it; no one will judge; if they do, you shouldn't be that keen to work with them.
Oh and I should’ve started a youtube channel & blogged; we all should have.
A mistake I made which you can avoid repeating is...
Panicking. About. Advertising. It’s a job; no ones going to have a majorly bad life experience if you don't hand in polished work.
Think of it more as a 9-5 in a busy creative environment with a lot of deadlines… not the be all and end all. You're hired because you’re valuable, your team, adds to a team. Spend less time image sourcing and being indecisive, and more time scribbling simple layouts until you have your pick of great work, not just fancy-looking-nothings.
So, what’s next?
I kinda’ fancy moving my way up in our career. I love mentoring, but still have no desire to become a creative director; I think my creative partner does though, so I might reconsider it… I have no idea where I’ll be in 5+ years, maybe America… I love American advertising SO much. AND the food. Who knows, I might pack it in, I’ve always dreamt of owning my own shop filled with stationary and coffee… so we’ll see.
I’m always keen on collaborating and meeting with new creatives & so’s my partner Alex. If anyone ever wants a chat, a little bit of insight, or simply a vent, please get in contact! We’ve taken the plunge into freelancing (worst time, we know!) but are always free for a crit if anyone wants one, or any collabs! firstname.lastname@example.org