Check out some great work from Crockett Jeffers.
WS: Do you think books have changed recently?
CJ: From when I put my book together, and I finished at the Ad Center [now VCU Brandcenter] in 1999, it’s changed so much that I feel like I kind of got in when it was still relatively easy to get a job in advertising. Because it was just print ads, and you could do spreads and maybe you might have an outdoor idea like a bus shelter, or a billboard, or something like that. But this was before people started putting guerrilla ideas in their book or anything interactive. It seems like that came not too long after, but now you have to. I think you have to show so much more of who you are and show that you’re an interesting person and can think beyond just the page. Like a print ad, I think now, is pretty boring to a lot of people; but at the same time we still do a lot of print and you still have to know how to write a headline. And so I think there’s probably some sort of balance or a sweet spot in there where you can show that you do a headline, and a great headline, and then you also can do a website and write in the interactive space.
WS: How do you think you should show your personality in a book? Through ads, or through other things than ads?
CJ: Well, both. I think that if you’re a funny person, you should have work in there that shows that. And that makes it seem like you would be a good person to have around. You understand what’s funny. Because it is a fun industry. And people like to have fun people around, which is a sort of silly statement, but it’s true. But beyond the ads, I love seeing when people have little things that they’ve invented, or designed, or published. Like poetry or something—it just makes you seem more interesting and makes it seem like, as a writer, you have an appreciation for more than just the language of advertising. I think it’s really cool and it’s almost a lost art nowadays. So, anything that shows that you’re, and I hate to use this word because it is so overused, but that shows that you’re a “creative person.” I think that is really interesting and you kind of have to have it now. It’s hard to get hired on just a traditional book of advertising. At least if you want to work at a great place.
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WS: What impresses you in a student book other than having personality come through? What do you look for?
CJ: I like to see people who try to have something difficult in their book. I’ve seen so many books from ad schools where it’s just these really great, simple, a lot of times visual solutions to products that really aren’t that hard. And it’s just like in the real world, you’re not going to work on, you’re not going to have clients like that, 95 percent of the time. So I think it’s nice when someone’s got a bank, or a utility, or something like that and you can tell that they really made the most of a difficult assignment. Because it shows that they’re ready to step in and tackle the business problem and that’s really what it’s all about. You don’t start working at an agency and it’s Mad magazine, you know? People are looking to you to solve their business problems, and if you don’t know how to do that for a real-life client, then you’re not really adding much. So I like to see students that really have some smart solutions for hard products.
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