Feb 5, 2008

How much wisdom is in our backlogs?

Back in November 2006, Scamp wrote this short post that I just re-found and felt it prudent to share. I've had this question in my mind for a while and think I agree with his take on it. Below is the post. Below that are some comments but full credit goes to Scamp, his awesome blog and you just need to click the title of the post to go directly to his post.


Young teams often ask "Should I take a job in a not-so-good agency, or hang tough till I get hired somewhere great?"

Between a rock and a hard place

The answer is it depends on your individual financial circumstances. If your internal organs are about to be called-in by loan sharks, then obviously you have to take the job. But if you have rich parents, or some money saved, a cushy part-time job, or have found a way to survive by eating everyday household objects, then it's better to wait.

Plenty of great teams started in not-so-good agencies. The key is what you do when you get there. You don't settle. You don't sit on your arse. You spend all your spare time working on the one good account they do have. And the rest of your time working on your spec book. When my partner and I were at a rubbish agency, we spent every night working on our book. Not once a week. Every night.

There will be lots of nice people there, and probably quite a few good creatives too. Don't get suckered in by that. Keep focused on getting out. Because the vast majority of great work, is done by the great agencies. And sooner or later, you want to get into one of those.


Something Scamp mentioned rings particularly true for me, and it's regarding your financial situation. Some people might say stick it out, push through to a great shop, eat Top Rammen for 5 months straight but to be quite frank, I don't have that luxury. My experience has always had me make decisions based on necessity more than forward thinking and I'm sure more than one person would call me an asshole or say I've gotten what's coming to me, but many of these people have the luxury of inheriting money rather than debt, and properties rather than problems. No I'm not making this out to be a pity party, but I am pointing my fingers to some of the elite who turn their noses up to some people because of the shit work that they do. Last I checked, they weren't whoring, they weren't selling drugs and they weren't selling stolen kidneys on the black market. This means that sometimes, us mortals have to work at less than glamorous places to pay the bills. That being said, although I sometimes hate my job, I can at least look myself in the eye and always say I've done the best I can do and if the work isn't better, 99.9% of the time it's because of clients, execs or factors I can't control. Apart from that, interesting that I was able to come across the great old school post and my thanks to Scamp for keeping up the good work. Also of note are Eugens, Texanhippie, Thinkinginvain, Makethelogobigger, Jetpacks and anyone else who has caught my attention enough to have me frequent their blogs because they have something good to offer as food for thought. Cheers to you guys and to all the readers who enjoy our brand of Two cent wisdom, you give a purpose to our madness, and I'm thankful for every hit we get, every read you enjoy and every bitchfit I get out of my system for your enjoyment.

Peace, Love, and Maki Rolls.



Eugen Suman said...

aww, thanks man. I'm an avid reader of both yours and scamp's blog. also, I work in a small agency, and let me tell you, I just love it. Sure, I don't really get the glam of the award ceremonies, and yadda yadda yadda, but that doesn't keep me from any of this:

- having fun
- doing the best work in the current circumstances
- working with my art director on our common portfolio (even if we're getting spec work in there, it's still great work)
- trying to find a gig somewhere in Western Europe (preferably a small agency, I find it, i don't know, better as a work environment)
- paying the bills + rent, and puting food on the table (you can't really be creative if you're starving to death)
- working on my second book

For me, as a copywriter / writer, and considering in what country I live, I really don't think things could have turned out better.

Of course, this doesn't mean that sometimes I don't get to feel the urge to pluck someone's eye out, just because the feedback I receive from certain clients is, how shall I put it, less than human.

joker said...

And thanks to you man. My desktop has color thanks to all your art references and it's always good to see new different things and hell, how much different can you get than a Hispanic getting along well with a Romanian.

I agree with you on everything especially about the clients and am currently working on a post about that, so keep tuned. Anyways, best of luck in all the endeavors and I downloaded your book but haven't gotten to reading all of it, which means in Joker terms that I'm going to probably buy it because even if it kills trees, I'm a book rat at heart and though blogging is a sport I love, I think I need to feel the book to get the feel for it and read it through rather than just browse. Every writer deserves better than that. On the sidenote, I'm currently starting up chapter 26 of my book. Yes it's going to be long, weird and twisted, but I really don't want to cut corners with this project and am enjoying every page I write.

So cheers to you mate, may the best haul you over and offer you the riches many of us dream of.


TexanInHippieland said...

First of all thanks for the nice words, Joker. I, too, enjoy your blog daily. Like me, you seem to be an opinionated asshole with a kind heart.

With regards to this particular post, I think I could add a bit more advice for the young.

Yes, work on your book... not just now, but throughout your career. Never stop. Save copies of everything you do. Even if you think it sucks. If you're not careful, someday you'll be a 48 year old copywriter with a mediocre book, but when you go back to spruce it up, you wont have copies of anything for reference.

Also, if you do get that job at the great agency, BE APPRECIATIVE AND NEVER BECOME A PRIMADONNA. Someday, someone younger and smarter will come along who is willing to work longer hours and for less money. And you'll be looking for a job at Home Depot, just to cover groceries. Be thankful you have a job in an industry that allows you to be creative and that pays EXTREMELY well.

Retail pays, like, $10 an hour. So when you have an asshole Creative Director bullying you... choke it back and call a headhunter. Don't get cocky and do something stupid.

When you're sitting there, thinking of headlines, imagine how tough life COULD be.

Play the game people. Do good work and suck up when you have to.

And if you see an old fat man at Home Depot or Lowes with a Texas accent... be nice to him. He's already lived your life and is starting a new one.

joker said...

Ben, they say it takes one to know one hehehe. They might be right and we might be assholes but we have good intensions. That's how I describe myself, yes i can be difficult but it's not because I have a diva streak, it's because I think something is detrimental to the brand and simply complying with every client request is not better than being the in house department for a company. We're supposed to tell clients how to do things better and my pleas simply fall on deaf douche ears. As for your comment and the extra knowledge,I think some people could benefit from the read so I will post and comment on it. Thanks for reading and keep hating.

PS.: I actually had a dream glimpse of Ohelia.... was on a highway in a dream, looked to my right and saw it on the highway... Food for thought, a vision or just positive vibes? I dunnno.

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