This is a place for both creative buyers and art directors in the business of marketing communications to share positive insights about their profession. It is hoped that peer empathy will be keenly felt by all who visit and participate* here.
Art Direction Commentary I
Dale Carnegie, renown motivator, would have made a wonderous art director.
Because motivating and guiding people is much of what art directing is all about. What people? Anyone who impacts the look of the creative product. That could be a designer, illustrator, production artist, writer and client.
An art director once asked me to come in and talk about an illustration assignment that had been on hold for a long while. Said she wanted to explain a couple of revisions that couldn't be explained in a fax. Not one to take extra trips lightly, I was curious to know why she wanted to see me again about such a straight forward job. I had to ask, because when I got there the revisions really were quite minor.
"To revitalize the project", was her reply. "I needed to see you to make sure that you're still motivated and excited." What a good and productive answer, I thought.
commentary by Andy Attiliis
Art Direction Commentary II
No one ever came out and emphasized it, but after a few creative sessions I realized that background materials presented by the art director or other job originator were worth my complete attention. The odds that one of my ideas would fly were much greater if it were based on pertinent information rather than what I felt like doing that day. Even with this realization proven beyond a doubt, it would have been helpful to tattoo such truth upon my arm. Because, in reality, maintaining one's creative spirit while getting in the mood to illustrate on someone else's behalf doesn't come naturally. For me, it requires more than a little reflection to remember the magic feeling that works everytime...willingness. Once I've let myself become totally willing to get caught up in the focused research of others, the process can begin. Out of myself, into the work, it's not long before good, supportable ideas spring forth enthusiastically.
With the value of willingness now recognized, it seemed worthwhile to outline an entire routine. Such a mind set might enhance creativity, discipline and efficiency throughout the entire process. Once again, this is the kind of simple, common sense thing that is seldom spelled out. Only after a good bit of floundering does it hit home that a thoughtful plan could improve performance. For what it's worth, here's the general approach I bring to the table:
Absorb the materials supplied by the creative director and/or project originator. Work with the creative director and writer to help develop a compelling and informative creative concept. Participate in the initial conceptual phase by submitting thumbnail** layouts as new ideas come to mind. Choose the style of design, illustration and/or photography that will best enhance the approved creative direction. Help decide to what extent existing graphic elements such as logos, symbols layout and typographical format should be included to maintain recognition in an ongoing message. Direct, inspire and quality control the designer, production staff, illustrator and/or photographer.
**These initial rough concepts facilitate the creative process in a variety of ways. Quick to do and easy to understand, they distill the idea into the simplest of forms so that its merit, or lack thereof, is very clear. Sometimes, after a great deal of creative exploration, that first thumbnail turns out to be the very best solution.
commentary by Andy Attiliis
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