Al Stuart Creative
Al Stuart Creative

Tuesday, 22 January 2008


Working in advertising or graphic design, to people in ‘ordinary’jobs is either a glamerous job filled withbeautiful people, exotic photo shoots and long lunches.
Or a world populated by a bunch of overpaid art school nancy-boys and lemon sucking po faced women with heavy drug habits, making really annoying commercials for the latest Ford Menopause sports utility vehicle..
My expertise, if you can call it that, is through -the- line advertising. This isn’t your fancy big budget commercials (or films, as top creatives call them). It’s all the stuff the superstar creatives wouldn’t touch with yours.
The Direct Marketing, the Door Drop, the Shelf Sticker, the end of gondola display(don’t ask ).
Sure, you do get the occasional ad to do. But there’s no huge photo shoot. It’s probably a Trade ad, or a small black and white ad in the regional press.
Oh, and don’t try to have a witty headline or some stylish photography. There won’t be any room left once you include the coupon (with a scissors motif,just in case people don’t realise they have to cut it out to post it ), the telephone number in a type size for the hard - of - seeing and the starburst telling you to hurry while stocks last!
Since going freelance most of my work has been for small,through -the-line Ad agencies needing a hand with creative work for new business pitches. This can be quite excitng. A blank pad, with no restrictions.
I usually ride (bike) into town. Meet the creative director and account exec at the agency to be briefed.It only takes an hour or so, I sit in the board room sipping my coffee, stroking my chin, nodding sagely and playing with my stylish Oakley reading glasses (age!) in a creative person sort of way,whilst they waffle on about target audience and other facinating facts.
Briefing over I ride home again.I usually have a couple of days to come up with some ideas. Agencies expect three routes or campaigns to show to their prospective client.
So that’s one straight fairly safe route, a slightly more edgy idea,and a really mad,crazy idea that all the creatives like but the MD'wife hates.
I usually present my ideas as magic marker sketches on layout paper, but increasingly agencies expect you to present visuals produced on an Apple personal computer. ( Mac visuals)
This brings me neatly round to the other area of my freelance work.
Graphic design.
I sometimes wonder how small Graphics outfits make any money at all. I have people call me up having seen my ad in the local Yellow Pages. They’re looking for, in the main, letterhead and business card design but sometimes even a logo and complete corporate identity .
These callers are, like me, small businesses trying to make a living. however when I mention my fee they gasp in amazement. “that’s a bit steep” they say .
It seems that they think I do this stuff for fun, I tell them I have 25 years experience, and I do this to earn a living in much the same way they fit replacement windows or whatever.
The trouble is at the back of their mind they’re thinking they could always design it themselves!!.
Since the advent of the dreaded PC nearly everyone thinks they’re a designer. I need look no further than my own father! A man in his mid seventies he spends his retirement designing posters and flyers for various organisations in the Warwick area on his home PC. He rings me from time to time to ask advice on type or how to retouch out a splodge on a picture in Photoshop!
Don’t get me wrong the PC/Mac is a very useful tool. In days gone by if I was doing a visual that had,say, a black background with white type, it would take forever hand drawing the type and then carefully colouring in the background round it. Now I can have the background any colour I like,I can change the font, its size, its colour,
its position on the page.
All at the click of a pearly white Apple mouse.
Thankfully however there is still no “ idea button on a computer!
So perhaps my skills and experience are good for a few years yet.


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