Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Creative Sensei

It seems like young creatives cannot afford to be picky about their first job nowadays. Yet we shall all have ideas where we'd like to work – and there are a lot of ways how to make that choice. I imagine many a creative is attracted by the glamorous name and the reputation of an ad shop and chooses the place they apply to by the name above the door. So were we. When we started out, we admired the coolest ones, always checking Campaign's new business charts, the award annuals and of course the recent work.

After some placements you realize that there's much more to it. Now there is one main criteria we're looking for in order judge whether a place is for us or not: a creative (director, or team) we can learn from. I think that's the critical point when you start out in this business, to find someone who can act as a mentor and help you moulding your potential and make you a better advertiser. A creative whose opinion you can absolutely trust and seek out if needed. Not someone who solves your problems, but rather helps to find the solution yourself. Finding such a person is not as easy as it seems and once you find that mentor, showing them enthusiasm and hunger is the real challenge.

When we look at an agency, we do not care about the name above the door. It is a only an indicator for where the great people are. We care more about the one person that can teach us to reach the next level – a creative sensei. Scamp and Dave Trott are great examples for this breed of advertiser. We're interested in your thoughts. Do you know more creatives like that? Or have you found your sensei already?

63 comments:

Ainara said...

It's a really good point. I have a drill sargent (a sensei sounds kind of gentle to me), but I guess I prefer honest to nice.

Anonymous said...

Matt Keon @ fallon

Anonymous said...

Dave Trott is not a creative sensei.
He got lucky, but that doesn't mean he'll help you on your way up. He seems more inclined to help on the way down.

Anonymous said...

I think you make a decent point, although the use of the word sensei makes me want to punch you in the face.

I realised that after working at some of the best places, that what it really boils down to is, where do you feel at home.

I've worked at some crappy agencies but really felt comfy and enjoyed going to work. I've worked at some better agencies and thought 'shit, these lot are a bunch of cunts'.

It's what suits you at that time.

EGO said...

I agree with you guys.

Agencies are full of people, every time I have to choose an agency (but i prefer the contrary) i prefer thinking about the different characters are beyound the letters on the door.

Sorry for my worst english.

Anonymous said...

I prefer Family to Fame.

Anonymous said...

For me the most important aspect is the client. What clients has the agency got? if they have cool briefs coming in then your more likely to excel, i am confident that in every agency there are one or two creative old folk that are willing to lend you a helping hand, they have all been in your position, and as long as your not a complete 'james blunt' they will be more than willing to help you out.

Anonymous said...

They're not creative sensi's but Matt and Per from AKQA are good to talk to if you are a student or graduate and don't know anything about digital. They gave us a lot of time. Sorry for anon getting own blog soon! Ben and Stu from Mother are also real good for time and energy.

Anonymous said...

Client list don't mean Jack.
Look at Tbwa, got some of the best clients an agency could have, Adidas, Playsation, Apple and don't do fuck all good for any of them.

Anonymous said...

That might be true, but if you are a young aspiring creative wouldn't you want to work on those clients, even at TBWA?

It'd be your chance to make a mark on the brands and their advertising, truly show what you can do.

I think looking at the client lists is a good way of going about things, and agree that looking for an agency that would help you develop as creatives is the way to go. However I do think most agencies will do so, it'd be in their interests to help you progress having hired you and paying for you to produce ads under their banner.

Anonymous said...

The picture you have used seems to be that of Morihei Ueshiba. The founder of Aikido, the Japanese martial art. Normally i wouldn't care but seeing as i lived in Japan and studied Ueshiba's Aikido, i think it would have been more appropriate if you had used a fictional character like Mr Miyagi, instead of desecrating the memory of this man with a light bulb above his head!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it is kinda racist!

Anonymous said...

I'd prefer it if you did some new campaigns.

Anonymous said...

And so say all of us!

Wal said...

@03:01
Yes it is Ueshiba, when googling for sensei he popped up, and I actually enjoyed reading a bit about him before using his picture. Didn't mean to desecrate at all, but you're right Mr Miyagi would be way more awesome.

@03:51
doing it this very moment

that french saying said...

The place I work at has just lost that person you describe and you're right you do need a character like that who can help you improve.

It's no good if the place is redundant of someone to look up to. You need someone who will inspire you and push you. And who you respect.

(The stories I've heard about Trott from the guy we just lost, sounds like he was/is a fearsome person in many ways. And that might not be a bad thing in my opinion)

Anonymous said...

2 and a half years out of you with no job. Nothing.

How can you be bothered to carry on?

Anonymous said...

5 54pm

What a smug cunt you are.
How long did it take you to get your first job and where are you working?

2 and a half years is pretty normal.

Anonymous said...

I think getting a job almost anywhere is the main priority. Or should be.

In this climate especially.

You'd probably convince yourself that the agency is a good place to be anyway.

So much of this job is down to luck anyway.

Anonymous said...

(@ 'that french saying')

"You need someone who will inspire you and push you"
Dont be silly, you should be able to do this yourself, and if you cant, then your a chump!

Anonymous said...

I'm really offended by the picture of the chinese bloke. Incredibly racist and not called for, you two are animals. take it down!

Anonymous said...

I don't know anyone who's taken two and a half years to get a job.

Ferris said...

Well 08:20, it took my old partner and I exactly two and a half years to get a job. We didn't do a course beforehand, mind you, but we did about 8 placements. We probably stayed at certain places too long, but we were constantly learning, so I wouldn't change it. I know teams that have been hired straight from grad shows and also teams that are still looking after 5 years. But I thought Jai and Wal have been working together for just a year?

Mike said...

It's definitely down to the people. Yes, the agency certainly influences where you want to work. I've found in my relatively short experience that where ever you go there is someone willing to help you out so long as you're willing to the time and effort in.

For me, Dave Newbold was a source of endless energy and enthusiasm on our last placement he has since recommended us to other people who have inspired us just as much.

I find if you've got the energy and drive someone is always willing to help you out.

Anonymous said...

where do you get hired Ferris?

Ferris said...

Leo Burnett.

that french saying said...

08:15:00 PM

Nothing silly about it.

Eveyone can do with a bit of inspiration from time to time, no matter how motivated you are personally.

Ferris said...

It certainly helps to have great people to help you. We used to regularly go and see Richard Russell at w+k, Chris & John, Chas & Jim...of course Jim now works with Jon here, and they're brilliant to learn from.

Anonymous said...

The best mentors I've met so far are;

Stu Outhwaite at Mother- Feel like he's genuinely trying to help you and help your book along rather than just getting you in and out as quick as possible.
Took about an hour with us. Likes emotional truths.

Gavin McGrath at BMB- Pretty much the same approach as Stu. Took an hour or so with us, even though he was mad busy and full of man-flu.


Jon Gledstone at Krow- Again, if he's got it, really takes his time with you Brilliant at expanding existing ideas, seeing what other media you could take it into, and how. Will tell you straight if you need to ditch something too. Also, just a nice bloke too.

Micky Tudor at CHI- If you're lucky enough to get hold of him and get a crit, he's a great mentor. Very plain speaking. Likes campaigns that spring from a solid product/service based truth. Likes unarguable logic. Make product king etc. He'll definitely shape your book for the better.

Anonymous said...

Sorry peeps, think it's pretty stupid tellling the competition who to see to make your book better.

Anonymous said...

It was me who gave the tips and I'm not competition any more so i can tell whoever I want who to see to make their book better.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

You.

Anonymous said...

Typical, that's all this blog is now, the chance to be 'orrible for no reason.

Bit boring, shall we start cussing peoples mum's now?

Anonymous said...

yeah, whats your point?

Anonymous said...

1.30
You're ac ting like you indispensable , when you're not. Especially in times like these my pedigree chum.

Anonymous said...

How the hell are they acting like they're indispensable?

Sure, they could lose their job, but there's no harm in sharing a few contacts. Besides they won't be direct competition for Jai/Wal since they haven't even had a job to lose yet.

For Christ Sake, why be critical of someone who bothers to share contacts and offer some help... I don't get it at all!

Anonymous said...

1.55. Indispensable to what? I'm not in advertising any more. I have a job to lose now, but not as a creative.

Don't make assumptions. & stop talking like an extra from Lock Stock.

2:24 Thank you. Bang on. I gave that info to help, not just Jai & Wal, but anyone. If I can't use it now, someone else might as well benefit from it

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

3:17 & 2:24, are you one and the same?

I read this blog as what I do now is still in a related field. I read this blog and others to get ideas, read opinions, procrastinate.

Also, I still have friends who are creatives and I like to see what they're up to, read their blogs etc.

Do I have your permission to carry on reading this blog now?
Clearly I need to ask as you feel you are important here.

Anonymous said...

No, go away you geek!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

2:24 and 3:17 have completely differnt viewpoints, so why would you think they're one and the same anon 3:28.

Read all you like, comment if you want... there's no rule saying you have to be a creative to do so or follow this blog.

Anonymous said...

You're right 3:50, I meant 1:55 & 3:17, but fair point, anyone can read it. My mate does and he's a data analyst at a Finance Co. , poor sod!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you and your mates are a right bunch of losers to me.

Anonymous said...

He's worked his nuts off since he was 20, now earns £60k per year, yea, what a F*cking loser!

I've got a fair idea you're just a bitter out of work junior who can't get a placement, hence the reason you've spent the afternoon baiting me. Bore off.

Before you start, I've got the time to waste. Got three days off watching films, writing and winding tits like you up!

Wal said...

cheers @ 12:23
stu at mother is great, i think he reads this blog at times. he gave us great advice on our book and we shall see him soon again.

same with gav from bmb, he's ace when it comes to the portfolio.
i remember back with kristin we tried to get hold of micky tudor, oh my it was hard.

and to the commenters i've deleted, be nice, or you're wasting your time.

Anonymous said...

Keep Trying with Micky. It's hard work but well worth it if you can get to see him.

And if you can get to see Jon that'd be cool too. It's great to show him an idea then see his mind go into overdrive thinking of all the places he could take it!

Anyway, good luck you two. My initial idea was just to give you a heads up on some helpful people to see, bu I seem to have got into a tit-fer-tat comment war with another anon!

Hope 2009 is your year!

Anonymous said...

From experience, there's only a handful of top quality constructive creatives to see:

Lucy and Daz - W+K
Ben and Matt - W+K.
Yan and Luke - WCRS.
Mat Lee and Peter Hayes - @ Red Brick road now?
Matt and Helen - were at TBWA think now MCBD?

There are a lot of decent and helpful creatives out there but the above really helped us heaps in getting a placement then a job.

Anonymous said...

Agree with anon 6.16

We rate Darren & Lucy at W+K highly.
Matt Lee and Peter Hayes are great too. They are at RBR.

Haven't met the others.

Luca said...

Stu @ Mother is great. Always gives us his time and is really honest and energetic.

Saw Micky Tudor @ CHI by luck with the team we we're seeing in a meeting. Helped our book no end, in fact probs the reason we now had placement. Straight talking, likes to see some fun in a book but with good grounding too.

]-[appy Thought said...

Micky Tudor taught us the trick os caining work for 15 minutes, then taking 5 minutes rest and repeating for 10 - 12 hours. Worked really well for us in terms of keeping ideas and energy high. Worth a try, I'd recommend it.

Wal said...

Explain that again Happy Thought, I'm intrigued.

Luca said...

Yeah he taught us that too! Worked well! Good fun too!

]-[appy Thought said...

Sorry, realized that didn't come over as clearly as I'd hoped 1st time round! Micky Tudor told us that a good way of working on idea generation for briefs was to work with total focus on the brief for 15 minutes, individually or in your team, then take a 5 minute rest where you do something totally different to get refreshed. After the 5 minutes is done you do another 15 minutes and continue until you've got a large amount of ideas to start sifting through. This can take between 1 to 100 hours, that bit is very much up to you!

We did this a lot in the 3rd year of Uni. We'd work for 20 minutes, then watch an episode of an Adult Swim animation like aqua teen hunger force as they were 8 mins long then start again. It proved pretty effective and we still pull Mr Tudors signature move out in Times of creative peril.

That clearer Wal?

sal said...

Totally agree, guys. I had the same impression. When you find somebody that trusts you, get that job without thinking about the name of the agency. You are there to make your name famous and this happens when you work in an environment you feel good.
All the best guys

Anonymous said...

"I'd prefer it if you did some new campaigns."

There is your sensei.

Anonymous said...

Richard Russell, now Creative Director at Nitro - the best creative sensei you could ever hope to meet ever.

Anonymous said...

@ above... Garry & Sarah from A.I.S

Amazing.

K said...

Of course having talented people around you might help you develop your skills, but as one of the anonymous users said "it's up to you". I think that having talented people around you will make you work harder and eventually have a better understanding of what a good/bad idea is.

But, I also have to say that the word mentor is probably wrong. Sure the CD him/herself might actually care enough to point you in the right direction if you have an idea of note, but suggesting creatives enter agencies and act like little chicks waiting to be fed tips/pointers.

So in my opinion, ideas of a 'creative sensei' that is there to guide and help you find your (own) path to creative enlightenment is very naive. Then again, I know there are a few very kind CD's and senior creatives out there, but I think it's wrong to actively search them out. The fact is, this industry calls for a certain type of person and not everyone is cut out for this job!

// Also, just wanted to say, you dudes are awesome! I really admire the effort/passion you put into this job!

Anonymous said...

I think they're awesome too! Keep going lads!

Anonymous said...

Youtube isn't it?