This afternoon, Paul Belford shared a masterclass in art direction. He informed us with some invaluable tips about his experiences and impressed us with a collection of his work over the years. It was my favourite masterclasses this year, not only for his honesty, but more because I feel I can look at my briefs in a new way. I won’t want to create something that looks like other ads, but create art direction that is fresh, and never been done before.
Both Alex Taylor, and Paul Belford have cited Helmut Krone in their talks. He is largely an inspiration and hero to all art directors and considered to be the pioneer of modern advertising. A lot of people in this industry state that ‘it’s okay to copy’, and ‘stealing’ if you’re good at, it isn’t an issue. Krone thought otherwise. He stood for originality. For ‘Newness’. In a documented short film, he states that one should always be in search of the ‘New Page’, which means making the same old everyday canvas of white A4, appear to be something completely new and radical, every time. The main point we all took from Krone’s film and Paul’s talk, is that an ‘ad should not look like an ad’, and this should be something in which we are all hoping to achieve every time we art direct. Of course this is by no means easy, and will require hours and hours of our time figuring out how to make an ad work in a unique and fresh way, without using traditional layouts. The more time I spend soaking up advice from the greats, the more I realise how difficult it is to truly produce great work. In an ever changing industry where work is rewarded for being fast, cheap and occasionally topical, it immediately strikes me how hard it is to create work that wont be shot down immediately by clients for not meeting brand guidelines. Like the majority of students that attend SCA, I want to produce game-changing work, but it seems like for a junior or placement team, it is going to be an almighty struggle to do things that are out of the safety zone, that are cutting edge and have never been seen before. The problem with new, is that you distrust it, and everybody else distrusts it, and as a student/ junior, this is risky territory. However, instead of avoiding them, creating heated discussions isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s creating controversy in the early stages, meaning that it’s grabbing attention too. Our work should always aim to be at the forefront of people’s attention, it needs to divide opinion and gives clients that nervous butterfly feeling you get before you present on stage.
Paul explained that ‘God is in the details’, and looking through his vast body of work I realised how important it is to be a magpie, and store hard drives, books and folders to the brim with inspiring details and references. Being a magpie means we are always collecting, and always absorbing everything around us. I’ve started to do this, my ‘interesting’ folder is crammed full of strange little things Ive dragged in, that I’m sure i’ll come back to later. Ive also got a draw in my room filled with old tea stained post cards, illustrations and drawings that I did when I was a bit younger, amongst other random clippings. Paul’s masterclass only further illustrated to me how valuable these small yet precious pieces will eventually be. Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes and we never know when we might need to use it.