The Interview Series // 04

Junior started out as conversations over beer and goon (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Box_wine) at bars in and around Melbourne. Right from the beginning we planned an international focus. “It’ll be awesome,” we collectively said. “We’ll go to New York, London, even Amsterdam.” Then we clapped and patted each other on the back. “Right. Who knows someone we can interview?” Silence… Damn. A few weeks ago we got an email. It was from a friend saying they knew a Creative Director in Amsterdam by the name of Craig Lovelidge. “Perfect,” we said. And with that we began emailing Craig, who turned out to be one of the most switched on, helpful and willing CD’s we’d come across. Not only that, but he gives some very good advice to those of you thinking about heading overseas for your next big break. And that’s where he’ll be waiting, of course, for people like you. So listen up.

Junior: Who are you and where do you come from?

Craig: I’m Craig Lovelidge (http://www NULL.craiglovelidge NULL.com/). I’m 38 years alive and a Creative Director. Originally from London, England and currently living and working in Amsterdam.

Jr: We’ve heard some things, but we’re still out of the loop. What’s your story?

C: Ok, so for the past 13 years I’ve worked in above the line advertising (that’s TV, print, radio, etc…). My career has seen me ply my trade in London, Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. During this time I’ve been lucky enough to have worked at some great agencies like Jung von Matt (http://www NULL.jvm NULL.de), DDB Berlin (http://www NULL.de NULL.ddb NULL.com/public/de) and StrawberryFrog (http://www NULL.strawberryfrog NULL.com/) (now known as Amsterdam Worldwide (http://www NULL.amsterdamworldwide NULL.com/)), working on brands including VW, Heineken and Coke Cola Light to name just a few.

Jr: We also heard something about a Trojan Horse? Fill us in.

C: It’s a long story. It involved my partner and I being headhunted by a German agency. We wanted to impress the agency’s creative director so I built a wooden Trojan Horse portfolio. This subsequently landed us a full-time job at Jung von Matt in Hamburg back in 1999. For the full story, please click here (http://craigology NULL.wordpress NULL.com/2008/10/02/dobbin/). (Editors note: Best. Story. Ever.)

Jr: And now you’re in Amsterdam. That’s awesome. Some of the best agencies we know are in Amsterdam. The work is quite often leagues above the rest. Why do you think this is? Does it have anything to do with Space Cake?

C: I think the simple answer here are the agencies themselves. They hire good people. These people believe in the work they do, they work hard creating it and the results speak for themselves. Amsterdam has countless amounts of inspiration to offer. Artists from all creative backgrounds live, work, visit and showcase their talent on a daily basis. There are designer fashion boutiques, museums housing modern and historical masterpieces, big name bands tour here… The list is endless. Amsterdam is a village and every corner has something to seduce your creative senses. As for Space Cake – they have that here too. The effects of which allows the locals to spot the tourists from a very safe distance!

Jr: Ha. That makes sense. Amsterdam must be full of tourists looking for a good time. Lame. Ok, so I guess we should ask your advice from a Creative Director’s perspective. What is the role of a junior in an agency, what should they be doing and how can they move to the next level quicker than the rest?

C: From an ad agency point of view, a junior creative’s role is to enjoy their new found creative freedom to find ideas. Ideas that allow them to create new work from the brief that they are given. And also think outside of the box for ideas that might not be part of the brief. This gives them a focus to be open minded. It’s not a license to fuck about. Although playtime does have its advantages as it helps release those deep-rooted, outlandish ideas that hide themselves deep in our sub-conscience. Tim Brown, CEO at Ideo (http://www NULL.ideo NULL.com/), gave a great TED talk on creativity and play (http://www NULL.ted NULL.com/index NULL.php/talks/tim_brown_on_creativity_and_play NULL.html). Watch it and see why the two things go hand in hand.

To get the hard work/playtime balance right, I always remember this – an hour of pure concentration is better than a day of half-arsed thinking. When you realise you’ve been surfing the net for too long, playing pool or simply goofing around, this statement makes you sit down and pick up the brief/project you are working on. Look at your previous scribbles and doodles on your pad. See where you previously were. Now concentrate on finding new ideas/solutions. Can you combine your previous thinking to make new ideas? Do it for an hour. Be serious. If you’re in the zone, carry on. If you’re not, perhaps you need to loosen up… Playtime again?

So what will get juniors noticed in an agency? Their work will. If it’s great, it’ll opens doors. If it’s shit, you’ll be shown the door. It sounds too simple, but it’s true.

Jr: Simple is a hard pill to swallow. Especially for juniors. But it’s not always just about having good ideas. Any advice on how to act once you’re in?

C: Yes! A junior’s behavior will also get them noticed. Be polite with everyone you encounter. You’re a junior advertising creative, not an egocentric A-List celebrity. Be an arrogant shit and no-one will want to work with you. Work hard (as mentioned above) and produce results! Most creative directors (http://www NULL.diaryofacreativedirector NULL.com/) don’t care how you work as long as you’re producing ideas that stand out and get noticed. If you’re working on a huge car account and you want to go to work dressed as a mechanic, then do so if it gets your brain pumping. As long as you’re coming up with kick-arse ideas, no-one will care!

Jr: Every junior we know wants to travel. The grass is always proverbially greener on the other side of the world. But only a handful can actually get a job, and the rest come home with their tail between their legs. What’s your advice for juniors before they spend their savings on a one-way ticket?

C: Before you travel, do this – LEARN YOUR CRAFT! Get a couple of years working in an agency before you think about upping sticks and becoming the next Dave Droga (http://www NULL.diaryofacreativedirector NULL.com/david_droga NULL.html)! Actually Dave is a good example. He knuckled down and worked. He put in the hours and by doing so started to have his work accepted by his CD’s, they in turn showed it to the agencies clients, the clients bought Dave’s ideas and Dave found himself producing his ideas. It’s the production of your ideas that start you wanting to think of more ideas that you want to produce. The more ideas you produce, the less you think about the grass being greener on the other side.

Jr: This industry is all about ideas. If you don’t got ’em, you don’t got nuthin’. But coming up with a stellar idea is hard work. Any secret tips from your time learning from other greats in the business?

C: As I mentioned before, if you get your thinking right, you’ll constantly have fresh ideas on tap. Read James Webb Young’s book (http://craigology NULL.wordpress NULL.com/2008/11/12/james-webb-young/) and understand the technique for finding ideas. Learn the rules and then run with them. Combine this book with a publication that I’ve found to be invaluable – Jack Foster’s book, How To Get Ideas (http://craigology NULL.wordpress NULL.com/2008/11/12/jack-foster/). It’s educational, inspirational and above all, undetectable! (Rule #1 when finding ideas – Never divulge your original sources!)

For inspiration and advice from some of the world’s most renowned creatives, pick up a copy of The Copy Book and also the Art Direction Book (http://craigology NULL.wordpress NULL.com/2008/11/12/copy-book-art-direction-book/) (published by D & AD mastercraft series). Both these publications will inspire you to find great ideas as well as understand how some of the world’s most famous ads came to fruition. Closely inspect their work (and the work of others who inspire you). Ask questions like “How did they come up with that?” Look for the things in their ads that you find amazing. Is it the image? Is it the headline? Is it the feeling you get from the ad? Try to work out what made them come up with the solution you see on the open page. I still do it today… I still have my heroes.

Jr: Having heroes is a very important thing.

C: Absolutely. Back in 1996 when I was a junior art director, my copywriter and I wanted to work at BBH. At the time they produced some of the best advertising and it inspired us constantly… Unfortunately our portfolio didn’t impress the CD enough for him to open his cheque book. Disheartened my partner and I found solace in an book-crit we had with Peter Souter at Abbot Mead Vickers BBDO.

He looked at our work, said we were doing OK and then asked us if we knew the Albany Life press ad “Work out the date of your own death” (http://pic0 NULL.yupoo NULL.com/paolo1984831/4403e1653871/medium/) written by Tony Brignull (http://www NULL.indrasinha NULL.com/tonybrignull NULL.html). We both looked blankly at him and replied “No”. With that he simply zipped up our book and said “In that case, you need to learn your craft. Go to the Westminster Reference Library (London) and read every D & AD annual they have. Study the ads and within a week you’ll make your book even better.”

We did just that. We read, we studied and we made photocopy after photocopy (http://craigology NULL.wordpress NULL.com/2008/11/12/advice-for-junior-creatives/) of the ads that inspired us. Tony’s work came up time and time again. It had a tone of voice that simply rang true on every ad he wrote. He inspired us to “talk the talk of the public.” We re-wrote our work but it still didn’t get us a job at BBH (http://www NULL.bartleboglehegarty NULL.com/). Instead it got us our first full-time job at a smaller, not-so glamourous, lesser known agency. We worked on TV, print, posters and radio. The pay was terrible but everyday we learnt something new, we gained experience and this in turn taught us our craft… 2 years later, we left London and started working in Germany. Was the grass greener over there? Not entirely, but the German beer tasted far superior to the stuff they served in London!

And a final thought from Craig if you’re having difficulty getting work up:

If you are not getting your ideas produced, question why not.

Are you putting in the hours?

Are they focused hours of thinking?

Are your ideas good?

Are you having a laugh finding your ideas?

Is your creative director offering you good feedback?

Are you simply bitching because you think you’re better than you actually are?

Written by Junior
Originally posted on: 19/11/2008