Understanding the Creative Director

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There Are 9 Comments On This Article.

    • @Rob Greer,

      Please. Ideas are a dime a dozen. The ‘curatorial filter’ does not just separate the good from the bad – it has to do that AND make them coalesce with the overall vision of the brand. The filter is much more important than all the things that get thrown in initially.

      If you look at that cartoon and laugh at CDs, then you’re probably still working for one, instead of with one.

      • @Mason,

        Huh? I don’t understand your rant (or why you had one). If a photographer comes up with a great idea and a CD then runs with the photographer’s idea, then that’s good for the CD and good for the photographer. In that situation, I don’t think it would be out of line for the CD to give a nod to the photographer when accepting an award. I was simply wondering aloud as to how frequently that kind of acknowledgment might occur. I’ve not been present at enough award ceremonies to know the answer.

        • @Rob Greer,
          Sorry, the rant was not directed at you. Just the cartoon makes it seem like ideas are claimed and appropriated by a creative director, who wins the actual ‘awards.’ Its cute but overly simple – I think creative directors deserve more respect.

  1. Kathleen Clark

    As much as I love them, I can’t tell you how many times ADs that I’ve worked with have received awards for “Art Direction” for editorial pages in which I art directed the shoot. It doesn’t even seem to phase them when they weren’t present on set nor did they have a single conversation with a photographer and yet they freely fill out entry forms with their names. One would think at the least, shared Art Direction credit might cross their minds…. I can’t fathom taking that sort of credit from someone else. Just one of the reasons that I loathe awards competitions.

  2. The value of credit is overblown. The way I look at it, if we make the AD look good, even win him or her an award or two, they will be more likely to hire us again. I charge for my talent, if they pay me, then that’s enough credit for me. This just doesn’t bother me.

    Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the Forest Service, and in his time the greatest champion of the common man, once wrote:

    “Yet however much I may love angling for trout, angling for credit is a form of sport with which I have little sympathy. The task I have set myself requires me to tell the truth, let the credit fall where it may.”

    My own father couldn’t have said it better.

  3. I agree with all of your gripes about this perennial and industry-wide imbalance of credit. And I laughed out loud when a photographer friend sent me a link to the cartoon, because of the sad truth in it.
    But here’s the perspective from someone who’s been an art director, more-or-less, for over 20 years:

    First, the awards – nobody really cares about art-direction awards except for other art directors and designers, and maybe the publishers. Forgive us for simplifying but in a highly-competitive field, an award can sometimes mean a little more cred amongst your peers and, optimistically, a better gig, which benefits YOU when the AD hires you at the new pub he or she is working for.

    Second, it’s the AD’s ass – the artists and photographers don’t have regular meetings with the publishers in which they’re confronted with sales and distribution figures. Artists and photographers don’t have absurd conversations with editors and writers about why they should be the ones shooting the cover. You don’t see this, but many good art directors fight for your work behind doors and put their necks out arguing for better rates and terms for the people who make them look good.

    Last – it doesn’t make it right, and doesn’t take away from the work of pulling off a successful shoot, but most ADs I know put in about twice as many hours as most photographers I know. I’ll catch a lot of flak for that, but will stand by it. I often put in 60 and 70 hour weeks. Being a professional martyr gives one a distorted perspective.

    So don’t go too hard on your credit-hogging ADs. We love you – it’s a twisted kind of love, but love, nonetheless. It’s why we pick up the phone.