Check out some great work from Kara Goodrich.
WS: When you see a student book, what do you look for and what impresses you?
KG: Originality of ideas. Taking on some products or services that are a little deeper than the usual superficial stuff. It’s also easier to do good work for something that has more substance or story to it. Also I look for range. If they’re a writer or art director, do they have a schtick or can they really find the right voice and the right look for a brand?
WS: What about things that aren’t ads? Do you think it’s important?
KG: I personally do not want to see fiction writing or screenplays or art—that doesn’t do anything for me. If it’s advertising-related work, like guerrilla, alternative-type things that ultimately have a marketing purpose, yeah, but as far as your hobby, writing, painting, or poetry, no.
WS: Do you have any tips for someone who’s just getting into the business?
KG: Well, I’ve always said, “Hold out for as long as you can for the best first job you can get.” Which is sometimes easier for kids who either are from the city they are searching in and can live with their families still, or have enough money or whatever to hold out for awhile. Your first agency experience can really shape the direction of your career. But many entry-level people I meet are reaching the end of their financial rope and need a job, any job. I understand that, too. So my secondary advice is: If you have to take a job and it’s not “the” creative shop or you’re worried that it’s not the best shop, give it six months maximum. If you haven’t gotten book-worthy stuff at six months, work that genuinely replaces your student work with better work, then you have to look for another job. Actually, that piece of advice was given to me originally by David [Lubars] when I was just starting. And it seems really simple, but it’s true. The most productive years of your career go by too fast to waste [more than] six-month increments. The award shows…when you’re doing something and you realize that you can’t enter until the following year, that starts to press on you. You begin to feel that time ebb by, and you want to get your career moving a little faster than that. Try to hold out for the good first job.
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