By Pjotr Barakov
You’re In For A Treat
Still wondering how to build a portfolio that will get you hired? Breaking In by William Burks Spencer might provide you with some answers.
Thought it ended there, didn’t you? Here are the greatest pieces of advice from the world’s best creatives I found in this book.
Mike Lear, VP/ACD, The Marting Agency, Richmond
I look for great, simple thinking. In many different forms of media. I still see a lot of books that consist of print campaigns blown out into other media. And that’s not what I mean. That just tells me they don’t get it yet. I want to see great ideas, that are totally media agnostic. Maybe it’s an idea of how to use Twitter in a way I’ve never seen. Or…well, just lots of digital.
Greg Hahn, ECD, BBDO, New York
If you’re not sure about something, don’t put it in your book. Put in only the stuff you’re sure about. Even if other people have said it’s great, and you have that sneaking suspicion that it’s not, than I wouldn’t put it in.
Ida Gronblom & Fabian Berglund, ACDs, R/GA, New York
IG: Sometimes students try to see the most senior people in the agency, like the ECD. I’m not sure that it’s always right because, first of all, they barely have time. Chances you’re going to see them are slim. And are they going to be impressed by you? No. They look at a lot of books, and they look at award-winning creatives’ books all the time. They go to award shows to judge. It’s been ages since they were in school. So they’re just going to think you’re shit. So always aim to see more junior people, then work your way up–make them recommend you up. I think you might just burn all your bridges if you go straight up to the top if you’re fresh out of university.
FB: It’s better that someone else in the agency sends your work to them and says, ‘This student is really good.’ Because, again, they’re going to look at your book with that in mind–that their colleague who they respect thinks your work is really good.
Ian Reichenthal, ECD, Y&R, New York
What do you think about putting things that aren’t ads in a book?
I think it needs to be at least as interesting, or more interesting, than what you have in your book if you’re going to include it.
Kara Taylor, Director of Creative Recruitment, CP+B, Boulder
As long as there is one person in the building who you can learn something from, the job is worth taking.
Michael Russoff, former CD, W+K, London
I’d much rather see someone with a big heart in their book than a big brain. I think that means a lot more in a book.
I think the first job is the most important. To get the right people around at the very beginning is the most important thing. And it’s worth waiting, I think, for that moment where you feel it’s really right.
Oliver Voss, President, Miami Ad School, Hamburg
Start with the best and end with the second-best thing that you have.
Monica Taylor, CD, W+K, Portland
I like knowing what photographers you really admire, or designers, or what books you’re reading, or something else that draws a portrait for me about your general creativity and taste.
Raj Kamble, CD, BBDO, New York
Always choose a partner who is better than you. And that’s it. That’s the secret of this business.
David Droga, Founder, Droga5, New York
About putting things in a book that aren’t ads: If it’s just things you like and borrow from, if it doesn’t manifest itself in your work or your thinking, then it’s a distraction.
The first question I always ask when I see anyone’s book is, ‘Do you like your book?’ Because it tells me a lot. If a student says that, ‘I absolutely love it,’ and I look at it, and I think, ‘Oh, that’s rubbish’ then I’m thinking, ‘Well, maybe we’ve got different sensibilities.’ If they say, ‘Well, you know, not bad, but I think I could do better.’ Or they know what they like, and they know their weaknesses, then it’s sort of more an open and honest conversation.
Jamie Barrett, Partner & CD, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Fancisco
Don’t do the advertising book you think will impress someone else. Do the advertising book that impresses you.
Ari Merkin, ECD, CP+B, Miami
Have faith that your difference will be appreciated, welcomed, and, ultimately, celebrated.
Jose Molla, Founder, La Comunidad, Miami
I think it’s great to finish a book with, ‘Hey, I write poetry, here are a few examples. I do photography or I paint, here are more examples.’ But avoid getting into, ‘I like hiking.’ Who cares?
Jeff Kling, former ECD, W+K, Amsterdam
All a book is, is a request for a conversation. That’s all it has to do is be something that gives enough evidence that I should talk to this person–I should get to know this person a little better.
Kara Goodrich, CD, BBDO, New York
If you have to take a job and it’s not ‘the’ creative shop or you’re worried that it’s not the best shop, give it six months maximum.If you haven’t gotten book-worthy stuff at six months, work that genuinely replaces your student work with better work, then you have to look for another job.
Tony Davidson, ECD, W+K, London
A lot of book feel quite the same. Perhaps because a lot of people go through the same courses, get the same briefs, and then they continue with that product. So you’re even competing against other students who’ve got the same products. I would pick stuff that no one else is doing because then at least you’re not competing with them.
Jon Bunning, ACD, Berlin Cameron United, New York
If someone doesn’t like your work, you probably don’t want to work there.
Susan Hoffman, ECD, W+K, Portland
I would say don’t look at ad books. Stop looking at ad books because they’re all the same. I have ads in my portfolio that are the ads in those ad books now. Maybe just a different typeface. Look at editorial magazines. Look at Nylon magazine. Look for new and inventive editorial ways to think about advertising.
Steve McElligott, CD, BBDO, New York
Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, if you say anything confidently, people will believe it. And it will get you 75 percent of the way there. This is a business full of really insecure people and insecure clients. And if you believe in what you’re saying, other people will believe it.
Ted Royer, ECD, Droga5, New York
What impresses me most are smart business ideas, not just funny ads.
Andrew Keller, Partner/CCO, CP+B, Boulder
There is no lack of jobs, only lack of skills. Cultivate a passion for everything. Learn digital.