“Today is the first day of your career as a creative.” – Dan Balser. Creative Circus Department Head; Advertising.
Say what!? Yes. This is the first day of my career as a copywriter. The choices we make as circus freaks, the attitudes we wish to adopt, the work ethic we display and the relationships we build with each other will stay with us for the rest of our lives in the industry. As they say, “work hard and don’t be a dick.”
Andrew Hamilton, Production Methodologies, told us in class today that he knew a girl who not only brought her cat to school (weird) but, was a “manipulative bitch who stole peoples’ work.” That was 10 years ago. Clearly that reputation stuck. I’d be surprised if she was doing anything worth writing home about. People don’t want to work with shitty people. End of story. Be nice, work hard, work well and you’ll be okay. Obviously you should have some talent in there too. That probably helps.
In our AD and Copywriter “break-out sesh,” Dan and Jen Mageau (Creative Circus Department Head; Art Direction) stressed five major points. Well, one major point and four supporting points.
#1 Major Point: Your Career Starts Now. I know, I know, I started with that but, It’s a major point. I repeat things that are important. Or funny. Or important. Deal with it.
#2: This is not a reality TV show. My siblings and I used to sit around the TV Thursday nights with my dad eating Domino’s and watching Survivor. (If you don’t know what survivor is… #Icanteven) Every week we watched as contestants endured physical turmoil to complete ridiculous tasks to win food or money or modern luxuries. We became attached to these people and I think I actually teared up when one of my favorites was voted off. It was engaging and thrilling and like nothing we had ever seen before. The Circus engaging and thrilling and like nothing we have ever seen before, but The Circus is not Survivor. No one gets “voted off the Island.” No one loses because someone else wins. We will endure physical (mostly the Art Directors, God bless ’em) and mental turmoil. We will compete against each other and feel that pang of jealousy or frustration when someone else wins that award. But that is not the goal of the program. The best classes are the ones that work to build each other up, not tear each other down. Support, love, understanding, hard work, all of that Kumbaya crap.
#3: Nobody’s going to tell you what to do. Ever again. Now that isn’t entirely true. The Circus is not a free-for-all of creative apes running around throwing sharpies and X-Acto blades hoping it creates something. We have assignments, we have guidelines, we have rules. What we don’t have is someone holding our hands telling us exactly how they want us to complete a project. It’s like a puzzle, and we’ve got all the pieces, but we can’t look at the front of the box. And we might have pieces of a different puzzle mixed in. And an almond. But it’s our job now to take some initiative and make something, anything, out of what we’ve been given. Then do it again. And again. until we create something great.
#4: Nobody’s the boss of anybody. Art Directors do not “answer” to copywriters, nor do copywriters “answer” to ADs. They both answer to The Idea. Equal labor, equal time. When we are done with our words, copywriters, our job is not over. Get coffee, make sandwiches, pull up funny cat videos to keep morale high. Words are easy, ideas are hard. Good ideas come from multiple brains. Tiny pieces of creative spilling out of different faucets pooling together to create something truly unique and awesome. Like a puzzle. (See what I did there?! eh!?)
#5: Make it. Now. Our books are happening. They will come together (we hope). But not everything we do in our classes will make it into our books and not everything in our books will get us a job. DO SOMETHING ELSE. NOW. Side projects (Surprise! This is my side project!) where we show our creative personality are what will set us apart from all the other creative thinkers who do exactly what we do. Dan made a podcast. He didn’t have to, but he did. And it’s awesome. DGMS. It’s on the book of faces too. It’s time to personalize our packages. Self-branding, if you will. What better way to do that than to take advantage of all the resources at The Circus. Most importantly, our fellow freaks.
So here it is. A culmination of my first day as a copywriter. I can say that, ’cause Dan said it. I can repeat it ’cause it’s important. My career starts now. Wish me luck!
Scratch that, wish us luck!