Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I'm not a writer, but I play one on my blog.

So what's the deal with an art director writing short (actually long) stories, making bizarre personal/ad industry connections, and offering strategic insight on a blog? Shouldn't the blog be filled with eye candy and abbreviated photo captions? Or random links to more obscure blogs. (Okay, maybe I have some of those). You would think that the blog itself would be designed, at the least. I mean really. (Well, maybe I'll get around to that someday).

Why do I write? Partly to download the ever-present conceptual noise in my head, but mostly because I enjoy storytelling. My family moved a couple of times while I was growing up, so I was constantly writing letters and keeping journals. Even more crazy, my oldest friend and I used to send a cassette tape back and forth (this totally dates me). We would record thoughts, come up with shows, and create fake commercials. She says she still has the tape somewhere. Lord knows what's on it, but I do recall it had some serious design flair.

As far as blogs go, it just depends what influences the authors most. For me, it's always been a mix of words, observations, and experiences. Anything that challenges what I know and forces me to think differently. Sure, I take in a lot of visual inspiration, but I try to make it my own. Starting with words allows you to stay in your mind a little longer without preconceived visuals. For example, consider the difference between reading a book and seeing its movie adaptation. If you're going to read the book, you should do so first. The movie will most likely fall short in comparison.

My design instructor once told us, in a very sage-like way, "before you can dance, you must first learn to walk." Visual elements were strictly prohibited my entire first year in the program. We only worked with typography, symbolism, and concept-driven ideation. It was like extreme Swiss design boot camp once you made the cut.

I have a huge amount of respect for "real" copywriters. Believe me, you can tell the difference. I'm sure my writing breaks official AP Stylebook standards left and right. Letting a predominantly visual person write leads to adjective-laden, over-descriptive, wordy chaos. (Case in point). They say every word should have a purpose for being there. You know, earn its keep so to speak. However, as an art director, I can't help myself. I heart excessive adjectives.

Creatives are required to be well-versed in many disciplines beyond their job titles, but most importantly, they must always be students. Constantly learning, observing, and re-articulating ideas in new ways. I guess my way just happens to be with words first, visuals second.

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