Self Reflection

What Is My Job?


People often ask me, “What exactly do you do?”

I usually just say, “I am a designer of sorts.” Actually, that is only partially true. Taken from this forum: LINK – this is what a Creative Director does:

Creative Director is a job usually found within the advertising, media or entertainment industries. The job entails overlooking the design of branding and advertising for a client and ensuring that the new branding and advertising fits in with the clients requirements and the image they wish to promote for their company or product. One of the aspects of this role, is to interpret a client’s communications strategy and then develop proposed creative approaches and treatments that align with that strategy.

Creative directors usually oversee a creative department. In advertising, this consists of copywriters and art directors. In design and media, the team can include graphic designers and programmers.

A Creative Director’s responsibility for the quality of the final creative work places on them the most punishing of pressures. Then again, the kudos that are showered on them when their work wins awards is not grudged them either, again, because its the Creative Director who faces the brickbats when advertising goes awry.

Without a doubt, the good Creative Directors are very distinctive individuals. Besides the fact that their talent and responsibilities alone can make them very valuable people to know, their peeves, their peccadilloes, their idiosyncracies, their personal histories and their private lives all make them a fascinating study. Many have all-consuming hobbies, or particular passions, and most have varied and colourful professional pasts: Neil French was manager of the rock band Judas Priest and a bouncer at one time or the other.

It has been pointed out that if the rank and file of the creative department is ’93 octane’ individuals, Creative Directors can’t be just ’97 Octane’, they have to be aviation grade fuel. It has its own logic: the advertising agency produces advertising, and the essential task of the Creative Director is to be the key contributor to each and every element of the process that results in the advertising. This necessarily means that this one individual has to be at the centre of a seething volcano of ideas, personalities and agendas, and has to constantly be found to prevail over all of them.

Most informed and experienced clients insist on an agency committing a special Creative Director to the brand they entrust the agency with. Clients relish direct access to a Creative Director, as this allows them to plug the strongest talent directly to the brand.

David Ogilvy, when once advertising for Creative Directors, called them “Trumpeteer Swans.”

Even a passing mention of a Creative Director usually invokes a comment or two about their being unique personalities, or at least eccentric. A more compassionate view suggests that this may be expected of an individual who is expected to be the prime mover of an organisation that originates out-of-the-box, revolutionary and sometimes subversive advertising cannot possible be the epitome of the very properly behaved executive.

Creative Directors are not necessarily of an extreme personality persuasion. Some can be as approachable and urbane as the others are socially challenged. Some are loquacious, if not eloquent, some are painfully shy if not recitent. Many are astonishingly poor public performers, but will suddenly come into their own when working with their teams in the privacy of their offices, or while making presentations to clients. Of course, they all carry their work around in their heads, so they can be as annoyingly distracted as they can be one-tracked about seeing the advertising possibilities in everything.

Many have what outsiders think are bewildering qualifications, simply because there is no real school that produces a CD, like an MBA. Creative Directors are always copywriters or Art Directors, and a precious few seems to have equal facility for both. Art Directors who become Creative Directors need to have developed an extremely fine ear for ‘copy’, as Copywriters who have become Creative Directors need to have developed an educated eye for design.

Many Creative Directors have distingished themselves by rising to the ultimate executive office to run the entire agency. Many, having developed a keen idea of what kind of agency they would rather work in, (and quite dissatisfied with the agency they have worked at), have started one. Possibly the best known of these would be David Ogilvy of Ogilvy and Mather, Bill Bernbach of Doyle Dane Bernbach, Andy Law of St. Luke’s (called by Fortune as “on of the most frightening companies on Earth) and now of Kenneth and Law, and Hal Riney of Riney and Associates. Advertising corporate history is also rife with legends of Creative Directors who disagreed with the agenda or the brand strategy of the agency they were working at, and bolted with the account to start their own shop. Of course, this requires the complete co-operation of the client, which, of course, they did have. This is not such a common occurrence any more, though in the opening months of 2006, Frank Lowe created a stir by severing his association with the IPG Group (who had bought out his agency a couple of years ago) and set up his own shop again, with McCannErickson London’s largest client, Tesco’s (a 60 million pound billing business). A flurry of legal activity followed, all covered breathlessly by the media, and has yet to be concluded.

“Am I getting there?” – is something I often ask myself.

During my day job, I don’t show much of my talent – if at all I have any. During my time with Razor, I have my ups and downs. Usually this is due to burn out because I have to fit the role of Creative Director, Designer, Art Director, Web Designer, and Producer.

[“Yoake ~ Ryochou (Piano arranged version)” – Kunihiko Ryo]

You know, my time through Loud Graphix, Loud Productions Inc., freelancing, and for the last nearly 3 years with Razor Technology, having to manage a small team from time to time, learning and leeching knowledge off of Ray and the bunch has really tamed a large part of my ambitions for corporate power. It has made me softer. I am constantly under a lot of pressure. Sometimes, I find myself a bit lost, sometimes even…

I constantly doubt myself, criticize my work, and wonder if I can continue become a leader of an entire department one day. I ask myself, “Can I live up to public and commercial expectations while maintain the interests of the corporation that houses my work?” “Can I retain my position and continue to aid in the expanse and growth of the company?”

Am I Creative Director material, or am I just a designer of sorts?


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