Mar 10, 2011

Ask WAS! Me answers: "How do I know if I'm meant to be a copywriter or an Art Director?"

Ah. So you - still after reading all we've warned you about - want to be a creative inside hell, I mean, inside an ad agency? Oh well, I can't stop you. But still I can guide you to a better life (can you smell the sarcasm?). Ok, ok. I'll play nice. I'll actually give you my best advice so you can make the right choice. Let's go into each one individually.

How do I know if I am a Copywriter?
A true great and talented copywriter is a writer by heart. You need to love to write, you need to love to read. You love books, you cherish the sheer joy it is to make words sound awesome. You notice great scripts when watching movies, you love to talk and give great stories. You also need experience in writing decently, just not random idiotic paragraphs with no sense whatsoever.

Another thing: you are a great copywriter when you can come up with a CAMPAIGN. Not a headline. My mom can write a headline. My mom cannot make a campaign, different pieces that united make sense. If you can write a campaign, then you are a copywriter. Some people don't get this important fact and that's why they basically suck donkey balls.

You know you can be able to sit there for hours and write away huge amounts of copy. Yep, I mean pages of shit selling some other shit. It doesn't scare you. If you don't think you can write a decent brochure, you also need to quit.

You are absolutely not shy. Period. Shy copywriters end up in a corner weeping for mommy. You need to have great balls. Why? Copywriters - and I mean the ones that shine - usually present their stuff to clients. Never, and I repeat - NEVER - let a designer read your radio script. You thought of it, you know how to read it, so grow some balls because the only way you will ever get shit approved is by being the one who gives it to them.

If you can't do anything I've written above, maybe you are a designer after all.

How do I know if I am an Art Director?
You draw, you painted at some point in college and you might as well have a degree in art of some sort. And trust me, I don't mean that you can draw Batman and suddenly you think you are the single best designer known to Earth. Sorry. You're not. You're an illustrator. Go work for DC Comics. A great Art Director loves photography, loves going to museums, notices when things are not balanced and usually has great color sense. If you love to design you read a shitload of books about it and you treasure them like babies. You also know your art history more than an average person.

You know how to use all the design programs and not just making circles and squares. You can actually design shit without the simple ad math: huge photo, small logo to the right side. You can design brochures, packaging (and that's including even the boxes themselves), copy-filled ads that someone normal thinks cannot be done. You can make a decent logo.

You also need some sort of creative skills. You need to know how to come up with ideas. Fuck copy, you just need to come up with the basic idea so your partner, the tired copywriter, can give it some sort of sense. You also need to know HOW to design AROUND COPY. You know which words you need to emphasize and those which you can leave as they are. You also need to know at least that you have to be a decent human being and read your copywriter's work so you both don't get in trouble if a typo escapes your art.

Now, the most important part: fuck copy and designing. You need to be sure YOU ARE GOOD. Not all creatives out there are good. Not even decent. And that's because of two things: people in your family or friends one day told you how cool that weird abstract painting you did. Maybe you attended college and your teachers let you pass with artwork or writing that deep inside you know is not that good. So be careful, you need to sit down and be honest with yourself. Are you really talented or just average? How can you be sure? Meet with people you don't know. People with experience. Go get your portfolio examined by someone who will tell it like it is. Insist on them being extremely honest. Get second opinions. If you are really good, my bet is you'll get a foot inside that hellhole, I mean the ad agency.

And in my honest opinion, nowadays the only thing creatives can do to survive these horrible turnover times is simple: you need to be a copywriter that designs. You need to know both crafts, if you can and are willing to make the extra effort. At the end, if you get fired at an ad agency while serving as copy, you can search for work in the design department. Broaden your title and make yourself easier to hire.

And don't tell me it can't be done. I did it. I'm a copywriter/designer. Would not have it any other way.

Much love and right choices, Me.



Thank you for answering my question! I love your honesty. And I love your blog, your posts, and you! I love WAS!!!

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