Anonymous Art

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Occasionally there comes a day in the life of an Advertising Executive when you get to create Art. Not often, but it happens - and when it does, it's wonderful. The client will say something like "Do what you think looks best" or "Show me something really different."  These are the days that really make you love your work.

We have all done ads for businesses that give us "the list."  The List usually includes Name, Store Location, Hours, Logos, Merchandise Prices and Descriptions, Photos, Graphics, and so much more. We somehow miraculously put all this together into a cohesive placement in the ad itself, making sure the ad isn't crowded or overwhelmed. We make sure the text is large enough to be legible but doesn't take up too much room, otherwise the photos will have to be smaller. We make every effort to include every detail the client wants, and then we hear the inevitable ... "Can we do a theme?" ... Which starts the process anew. Text boxes are recoloured to match the theme, photos are shrunk to make room for a theme picture, portions are rearranged so that the theme colors don't blend into colours of the logos. Finally we have a first proof.  This is the majority of advertisements, maybe five out of every 10. 

Then we have the half-creative advertisements. The client usually has a common colour theme, favorite fonts, consistent placement of parts. These are usually just updated as stock changes or as sale prices go up or down. This happens maybe three out of every 10 ads. 

We also have the "do not touch" advertisements that come in. These are built by a corporate head office or creative department specifically for that store. They usually have well thought out colours and styles that we "do not touch." We call them camera ready — they are printed exactly as we receive them. 

The occasional Art happens though, once in a blue moon, and when it does — everyone knows.  The client says simply "Do what you think will work" or "I want something nobody else has" and when they do, the whole office is in on it. I love it when this happens. This is a guarantee all productivity will fall short, as I focus on just that one advertisement.  I leaf through our design books, surf the web for award winning art, turn on my headphones and stare silently at the wall while thinking of the client — their type of business, their clientele, their goals and the image they present.  And then something clicks ... A thought or an image, and it's a furious race to put together a work of art. It's a very specific type of art, as it has to convey a lot of information, has to satisfy the client, has to be done quickly and has to be feasible. It's an unsigned art, anonymous art, an unrecognized talent to be able to do this, and it's a very challenging and frustrating process sometimes. The adrenalin of creating this is sometimes deflated when after hours of work, the client says "actually, I decided I'd like to do this instead" and chooses to use a different template or material, which is always a disappointment, but it pushes you to do more the next time. When you finally see that art in completion, it's a rush.  It's a feeling of satisfaction, it's a compliment to your skills and experience.

I love creating those advertisements ... the ones that make you take a second look, the ones that make you laugh or smile, the ones that make my day.

It's a very tricky business to create art for the purpose of advertising, but when it happens, and when it is done well, it just makes me fall in love with my job all over again.

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