Product Design
  • Interview Excerpt: Ian Cohen, Owner & Creative Director, Wexley School for Girls, Seattle

    Check out the work of Ian Cohen.

    [ … ]

    What do you look for in a student book?

    I look for different qualities depending on whether or not I am looking at an art director or writer book. But in general I like seeing a variety of clients and voices, attention to detail, and unique approaches to solving problems.

    For writers, I look for someone who has a unique way of approaching ideas and creating different voices for each client. But it is important that those voices and tones are right for the client, not just writing different for different’s sake. I also like writing that doesn’t feel too perfectly crafted. Any writer can write a nice, crafted headline. It’s like any doctor can give someone a shot. So I am not a fan of a book full of headlines. Having some great headlines, so I can see how you tackle them, is great, but try other writing approaches too. I love writing that feels more like a conversation with the consumer than the company talking at the consumer. Also, I want to look at the writing and feel like it could only be for that company. Not anyone else.

    One problem with student books is that the student doesn’t always get into a real client’s problems enough to let those problems help them create a difference. For example, Diadora Soccer is Italian. To compete with Nike and Adidas, that is their one point of difference. But in a student book, you might still see headlines about how hard the shoes can kick. It’s more than that. And if you can find that true difference, it will help your concepts and writing and art direction stand out.

    For art directors, I look for attention to detail, unique looks, and type choice. I look for a sense of design. A lot of books come to me where all the art director did was put a logo and small line over a big picture. I want to see the craft. I want a book where the art director challenged himself or herself. The same goes for type as I said for writers above. Choosing the right typeface and creating the right tone for the client, not just because the student wanted to try a different typeface, is critical. I also look for simple art direction. It can have a lot going on, but the message has to be crystal clear.

    What are some common problems and things to avoid?

    The trend, these days, is to have tons of integrated ideas in your book. Don’t get me wrong, I love integrated ideas, we do them every day. But the problem with an entire book full of these is that we don’t get to see how you can stay on brand throughout the chain of actual campaigns or client needs. So it is great to see a great iPhone app idea, but how does the art director art-direct the rest of the brand? You can’t tell with a little iPhone app. It’s cool, but not bigger thinking if we want to hire an art director that will be actually designing across a lot of mediums. I want to make sure you aren’t just great thinkers, which you need to be, but that you can do your craft.

    I see a lot of art directors that don’t art direct and writers that don’t write. What I mean by that is that we see tons of books with great thinking and concepts, but as I said before, the craft isn’t there. There is no sense of design. No different writing techniques, lots of large pictures with a tagline. Lots of experiential creative that looks great, but is still singular in design and thought. I love these things. I truly do, but when it’s the entire book, we can’t tell if you love being an art director or writer or if you just like thinking of these fun things. You have to truly love your craft and skill in a small place like ours because we need everyone to be great conceptual thinkers, but we also need them to write and art-direct a ton.

    Ideas are great and half the battle. When we hire juniors or interns, we put them to work on real clients right away. So we need to know they can finish. At a bigger shop you can get away with just having amazing thoughts. We would still find a place for someone with the most amazing ideas on napkins if that person existed. But for the most part I am looking for someone who we can coach, not teach. So for art directors especially we need to see some finish.

    [ … ]

    Do you have any other advice?

    There are a ton of smart people out there with books that blend together. They are cookie cutter. Like in the real world, it is incredibly hard to stand out and do it intelligently. You have to put in the work to stand out. That extra five percent detail or extra 10 minutes changing up one word for a better one can make the difference in a piece. We can tell.

    I love to see how passionate a person is about their skill. If you are a writer, show your passion for writing and thinking. If you are an art director or designer, show your passion for the craft and details. For your generation, there is a sense of entitlement out there. We see a lot of students who just want to get into advertising because it seems fun. That’s great, but if you can prove that you understand how hard you will have to work, you will already have an advantage.

    Ian Cohen

    Ian Cohen

    Read the full interview in BREAKING IN: Learn more about the book or Buy it on Amazon
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    Next Up: Ian Cohen

    Ian Cohen is Owner and Creative Director of Wexley School for Girls in Seattle.

    Seattle Sounders

    Nine years ago we launched the Seattle Sounders FC to Seattle. it’s been a really fun ride and we’ve been able, along with the Sounders organization, to create some great things over the years. Here are a few. What we love most of all is that the Sounders are now one of the top 10 most supported soccer teams in the world. On par with the big clubs in Europe. With an MLS shattering average attendance of 44,000 fans a game, we are really excited to play a part of the whole thing.

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    Oberto Beef Jerkey

    Aside from refreshing the entire brand, we were asked to help build Oberto’s presence on all of their social platforms. One Facebook contest that worked really well was The Grab Bag of Excellence. In this contest the grand prize was winning an ASSLOAD of Jerky! We actually delivered a donkey with pouches of Oberto to the winner in rural Ohio. It was a huge hit and one of the most fun projects we’ve ever done.


    Darigold

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    Darigold_OOH_Dari

    Darigold_OOH_Whip

    Dareigold_Streetcar

    Darigold is a 100 year-old Northwest Dairy. We were able to rebrand them completely and also create a campaign called Farmalicious. Where farm meets delicious. And in doing so created some amazing things like a cornmaze at one of their farms, a giant mousetrap to launch their new cheese and we carved the Mayoral race out of their butter.


    Virginia Mason

    VirginiaMason_Cancer_Ice_Melt

    VirginiaMason_Cancer_Rainboard_Sequence

    VirginiaMason_Cancer_Rainboard

    VirginiaMason_graffiti_billboard

    VM is a Northwest regional medical center, but on par with would class medical centers like the Mayo Clinic. They are amazing, but not a lot of people know they are actually in Seattle. So, this is work we created to raise awareness for their cancer institute. We were proud to develop a water soluble paint where the type washed off with the rain on a time release basis. It was a technical feat and we were so excited it worked!


    Ian Cohen

    Ian Cohen

    Read the full interview in BREAKING IN: Learn more about the book or Buy it on Amazon
    The book contains over three times more interview content.

    Interview Excerpt: Nick Worthington, Executive Creative Director, Colenso BBDO, Auckland

    Check out the work of Nick Worthington.

    What do you look for in a student or junior portfolio? And what impresses you?

    [ … ]

    What I’m really looking for in a book is original thinking. And I’m looking for people who could potentially come into the department and not replicate what everyone is doing. The most disappointing books are the ones where you know every idea in there could have been done by anyone in your creative department. So really they are bringing nothing new. If you’re just coming into the industry, you should be full of ideas, opinions, and points of view, which might not be practical. They might be completely outlandish, but they should communicate something fast, have a clear point of view, and do so in a way that is surprising.

    The other thing is I want a depth of thinking. I’d say 90 percent of the books I look at have one really great thought. And then they have nine other campaigns which are kind of fine. And the books that really stand out are the ones with 10 really great thoughts. It’s really hard to do, but it is the thing that students wanting to get hired—not just wanting an internship—have to do. If they can do one great idea, they can do two, they can do three, they can do four; they just haven’t done them yet. I think a lot of students accept ordinary very quickly in the work that they show.

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    Next Up: Nick Worthington

    Nick Worthington is Executive Creative Director of Colenso BBDO, based in Auckland.

    Wrangler – “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”

    Levi’s – “Drugstore”

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    Interview Excerpt: Warren Brown, Creative Founder, BMF Advertising, Sydney

    Check out the work of Warren Brown.

    What do you look for in a student portfolio? And what impresses you?

    I look for clarity of thought. I like a combination of logic and madness. We work in an industry where we solve problems, and trying to define what is the problem that we’re actually trying to solve is quite often the biggest challenge. So I like people to have a very analytical way of approaching a problem and figure out what is important and what isn’t. If there’s a logic to the construct of your argument or idea, then you need to deliver it with a sense of irreverence and madness. And not fall into the trap of delivering it in a dry fashion that won’t catch anyone’s attention or get them interested. It’s a very “yin and yang” thing; if the fundamentals of the thinking are sound and given a “sticky wrapping,” then they will engage people.

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    Next Up: Warren Brown

    Warren Brown is the Creative Founder of BMF Advertising in Sydney.

    Toohey’s Extra Dry – “The Quest”

    Toohey’s Extra Dry “HarvesTED”

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    Interview Excerpt: Tony Liu, Greater China Partner, M&C Saatchi aeiou, Shanghai

    Check out the work of Tony Liu.

    What do you think about showing work other than advertising?

    I hired someone with no knowledge of advertising but she had a sketchbook, and I hired her as a copywriter. Later she became more interested in making beautiful visuals, so she turned into an art director. And now she is a very good creative director.

    Sometimes students have doodles—a small drawing—and next to it a paragraph or small poem. And from that you know that they live. Advertising people need to live life. Without that, there is no way you can have inspiration. You don’t have to always write advertising headlines. If a person loves life and wants to put it down on paper for themselves, that person has merit. As a Chinese creative director we are like a jade finder. There is no way I can know everything about you, but there is something in you that makes me think you have a chance to turn into jade. And I am responsible to help this person develop and turn into jade. And if I’m a student I want to find someone who will do that for me.

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    Read the full interview in BREAKING IN: Learn more about the book or Buy it on Amazon
    The book contains over three times more interview content.

    Next Up: Tony Liu

    Tony Liu is Greater China Partner at M&C Saatchi aeiou in Shanghai.

    bad day

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    Interview Excerpt: Justin Drape, Chief Creative Officer & Co-Founder, The Monkeys, Sydney

    Check out the work of Justin Drape.

    What do you look for in a student or junior portfolio? And what impresses you?

    Unique thinking and a willingness to learn. I don’t think you can teach either of these things, so it’s really important. I’ve met some juniors who are interesting thinkers but they have attitude problems and/or a sense of entitlement that will not sit well within our company culture.

    Also, in regards to their unique thinking, it doesn’t necessarily have to be advertising work. If somebody has a unique take on the world, you can see that through a piece of writing, a new business idea, or a personal art project. If they are showing initiative and a willingness to experiment, then that’s the type of person we want in the agency. Some of their work might not be perfect, but if they’re trying new ways of doing things, that’s important to us. It’s okay if you try and fail, but it’s never okay if you fail to try.

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    Read the full interview in BREAKING IN: Learn more about the book or Buy it on Amazon
    The book contains over three times more interview content.

    Next Up: Justin Drape

    Justin Drape is Chief Creative Officer & Co-Founder at The Monkeys in Sydney.

    Sydney Opera House – The Ship Song Project

    The Ship Song Project is a music project that invites the world inside the The Sydney Opera House and positions ‘The House’ as a contemporary cultural hub.

    Set to a re-working of Nick Cave’s immortal ballad, the film features performances by 100 of some of Australia’s and the world’s preeminent artists including Neil Finn, Kev Carmody, Sarah Blasko, Angus and Julia Stone, Paul Kelly, Temper Trap, Martha Wainwright, Katie Noonan and Daniel Johns and featured Sydney Opera House resident companies Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Teddy Tahu-Rhodes with Opera Australia, The Australia Ballet, Bangarra Dance Company, John Bell, Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

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    Read the full interview in BREAKING IN: Learn more about the book or Buy it on Amazon
    The book contains over three times more interview content.