By Miranda di Carcaci
Double-dose of Miranda di Carcaci for the price of one tap
Wire in the Blood Part 1
On the first of the month we left the land of yogurt, cereal bars and crisps to try something to take on a bigger beast. D&AD New Blood was finally here, and as I write this now, it is finally gone. So what differences have I seen and felt within the group?
Let’s first discuss the work. After a slightly murky start, with people juggling partners and briefs, the ideas began to streamline as priorities set in. The initial threes and fours (though there were notably some sixes and sevens) became ones and twos, and the soft clay of initial ideas were fired under the scorching WIPs of mentors and penguins. Some of the ideas, including my own were late births, having spent too long holding on and trying to work and rework an idea that didn’t have legs to stand on, let alone run with. However, finally it was here and it was time for the crafting to begin.
As a copywriter who can barely tell Microsoft Word from Excel, crafting for me took the form of endless iterations of script, followed, painfully, by endlessly recording myself reading it. I have never particularly objected to my own voice, though I do find my sister’s nasal and irritating. You can imagine my shock when, listening to a recording of my voice on a high quality microphone, I realized they were exactly the same.
Despite this unexpected hurdle we persevered in the process, even cajoling my poorly trained pets (two dogs, one cat) into a photo-shoot. The brief (Fur for Animals) clearly stated that no animals can be harmed in the marking of the videos. I originally laughed at this, imagining a disappointed group of would-be-pencil-winners sheepishly returning skinning and trapping equipment to the counter of wherever you’d buy it from, and mumbling ‘back to Photoshop, I guess’ . However, the last joke was on me, thanks to Charlie’s (one of the dogs) bid for freedom while being photographed on a chair at the top of the stairs. Having finished the cheese we’d craftily placed there to keep him distracted he leapt, missing the top step and tumbling down. Fortunately he was fine, and immediately scuttled off to his favourite place under the dining-room table. Nevertheless, it felt like a strict reminder to consider the safety of situations while making things. It’s easy to let the work you are trying to do blind you from more serious implications.
When all the work was finally done, a further twist in the process reared its ugly head. One day before the deadline, ready to pour our sweat, blood and tears into the New Blood chalice, the site itself decided to give up, refusing our entries, teasingly allowing us to upload to 98%, falsely claiming we had uploaded to 101%. The site was down. Leaving us in the twilight zone but in the process teaching us a valuable lesson. As a young creative, we must always meet deadlines internal and external, even if they choose to disregard us.
Wire in the Blood Part 2
Post D&AD, I think it’s as good a time as any to consider the psychological implications of being a creative, working to deadlines and if at all possible achieving the mythological ‘work-life-balance’.
During D&AD I was in full burn out mode. The kind some might remember from university finals, or other such periods. Where you swap hours of sleep for extra coffee and cigarettes, and ignore any friends who dare text you because you’re ‘really, really busy at the moment’. Promising them you will be able to see them soon ‘when all of this is over’, while they say things that are semi-supportive back, secretly not understanding why you are making such a fuss over a student advertising competition.
There is certainly something enjoyable about this period. You don’t have to go to the gym, ‘no time’. You can order Deliveroo at 11 (am or pm) ‘sustenance must come first’. Laundry becomes a figment of your imagination as you begin to steal your flat mate’s socks ‘I’ll do mine soon, I swear.’ The problem is, as enjoyable as it is to revel in one’s self-created chaos, it is not actually conducive to work. It has long been upheld that creativity flourishes at the cost of the human body. We can all picture the artist coughing in his garret. The sallow skinned, left bank philosopher inhaling deeply on a Gauloises as he imparts existentialist knowledge. Even the wild opium dreams of Coleridge. But the sad truth of the matter is, the brain functions best after a good night’s sleep.
Yes, the odd late night is inevitable, but as we ascend the ever-steepening slope towards portfolio day, D&AD has made it clear that learning to meld work and downtime is vitally important. The first stop towards this goal is setting your boundaries. By picking battles rather than throwing yourself towards every pursuit and challenge on the table, you make room to achieve the ones you really want to a higher standard. Trying to do everything will come at a price.
As an aside, I was recently part of a conversation about John Galliano, the ex-head designer at Dior. Famous for his visionary collections, and infamous for his drug and alcohol fuelled anti-Semitic rant at a Parisian café, which led to his fall from grace. Though his words are inexcusable, it is interesting to note that in the run up to this public melt down he was creating eleven collections a year. The peak of his professional success was the trough of his mental well being. With this in mind, it’s important to remember that as we work towards the success we hope for, we need to create a system that can help us deal with its pressures in a sustainable and healthy way.