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14Aug 2018
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Taking a Sample of Dublin’s New Creative Blood

Blood bags with name labels reading Cian O'Connell and Georgia Murphy

Advertising agencies are only as good as the minds they bring together under their roofs. And for an agency to make an impact on today’s world for its clients, it’s going to need some pretty sharp minds. But what sort of minds? The job of a creative in 2018 is overwhelming in its breadth. The days when combining an arresting image and a precise line of copy on a billboard summed the job up seem like ancient history. We live in world where creatives are grappling with the intricacies of the Blockchain and trying to apply their ideas to the dozens of digital mediums brands now exist in. They need to show the same kind of problem-solving talents as ever, but in a landscape that’s never been so fragmented.

Rather than ask creative directors what they want from new talent, LBB’s Alex Reeves asked six Irish creatives at the start of their careers for their perspectives on the sort of people agencies should be looking to build their futures with. Two of those were our very own Cian O’Connell and Georgia Murphy.

Cian O’Connell – Junior Art Director

Cian O'Connell - Art Director

LBB> From your experience of entering the industry recently, what sort of person grows up wanting to become an advertising creative these days?
COC> When I was in school I was never really told about art college. The conversation always steered towards academia when it came to courses and colleges, I distinctly remember the day I heard about art college and I thought to myself, “yep, that’s for me”. Then, when I got to NCAD my work was more design/typography inclined so I managed to get into the visual communications course where the term advertising was almost scoffed at. ‘Art director’ wasn’t in my vocabulary and I didn’t really know it existed, but there was something in the back of my mind telling me that graphic design wasn’t the right way to go. I spent about eight months figuring out what work I liked doing and where my passions lay, this led me to art direction.

LBB> And how do you think aspiring creatives now differ from the aspiring creatives of the past?
COC> I feel like creatives of the past stayed in their lane a lot more. Copywriters were copywriters and art directors were art directors, the lines are a lot more blurred these days. Along with this, I think creatives are pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved in terms of changing social, environmental and many other issues through advertising campaigns.

LBB> What talents or traits do you think are commonly undervalued by agencies when recruiting new creatives?
COC> The hunger to work. I think a hunger and a passion to work can outweigh any other trait. If you have a combination of talent and hunger, it should be a no-brainer. I also think that the ability to learn quickly can often be undervalued. New creatives can be shielded from certain things, like presentations and pitches when essentially it’s an enormous part of the job – even if you’re not speaking you should be present to learn from the senior members in the agency. Luckily, I’ve been included in presentations from early on so I’ve been soaking up all of the word-wizardry I can.

LBB> And is there anything that they overvalue?
COC> Maybe a portfolio. I’m not sure a person’s book is the be-all and end-all, I think a proper conversation can unearth a lot more about their style of thinking.

LBB> What did you find most challenging about trying to get into the industry?
COC> Getting my foot in the door (it was more of a drop kick). Dublin is small and saturated with tonnes of great creatives. Everyone knows everyone so, when there is a free space in an agency, friends or acquaintances will get the nod first to get their work in front of a creative director.

LBB> How do you think agencies should make sure they’re recruiting from a broader pool of talent?
COC> The industry should be pushed towards providing properly paid internships. Without this, it’s cutting off everyone who can’t afford to intern for little or no pay which is a shame. If the talent pool in Ireland was to be represented as a pizza, the ad agencies are eating one slice and leaving the rest to go to waste. More talent means better work, so dig in CDs, bon appétit!

LBB> Is the distinction between art and copy still relevant to young creatives? What value do you think there is in that distinction?
COC> Both art and copy are still relevant but I think there needs to be more of an awareness between what both do so that they can learn from each other. I think it’s pretty important that I can also write copy and understand the tone needed for the project that I’m working on. In turn, I think copywriters need to know their way around some of the Adobe suite so that they can visualise what is in their mind. In terms of the value of that distinction, I still think the combination of the two makes for a great spark in idea generation.

Georgia Murphy – Junior Copywriter

Georgia Murphy - Copywriter

LBB> From your experience of entering the industry recently, what sort of person grows up wanting to become an advertising creative these days?
GM> A person that doesn’t want to grow up. I spent a lot of time in the world that was in my head as a kid and probably still do. I always knew what I wanted to be and would go off on tangents trying to explain it. Then somebody told me what a copywriter did.

LBB> And how do you think aspiring creatives now differ from the aspiring creatives of the past?
GM> As the industry is more fragmented now the road to success isn’t as clearly sign posted. Back in the day art and copy were much more segregated. Now there are a lot more mediums and you’re expected to have a wider range of skills, it’s a given that in addition to your normal job you have at least one hobby that you’re turning into a fruitful side business. The best of this generation are all multihyphenates.

LBB> What talents or traits do you think are commonly undervalued by agencies when recruiting new creatives?
GM> Hard work. Talent can sit on the cool bean bag or swivel chair in your agency and tell you about great work, hard work will make it.

LBB> And is there anything that they overvalue?
GM> There’s no magic formula to advertising, I’ve searched. I think inexperience is sometimes forgotten about. Watching how senior creatives work, solving a problem or presenting work is invaluable. It’s a fast-moving job where there isn’t always time for teaching moments but if a little more time is taken to break it down at the start, the work can go ten times faster the next time. Give a man a fish he’ll eat for a day, teach junior creatives how to work and hopefully they’ll win you some awards.

LBB> What did you find most challenging about trying to get into the industry?
GM> Prying open that door. The industry in Ireland is quite small, everybody knows everyone working in it so if you don’t have a reputation that precedes you or at least a distant cousin in the business you have to be a little bit more relentless (stage a sit-in and refuse to leave) starting out.

LBB> How do you think agencies should make sure they’re recruiting from a broader pool of talent?
GM> There are certain briefs that are put out to art colleges; I think they should be put out to all colleges. Industry bodies, and agencies themselves, should cast a broader net to attract more diverse talent. An idea can come from anywhere and so can fresh new creatives.

LBB> Is the distinction between art and copy still relevant to young creatives? What value do you think there is in that distinction?
GM> Yes and no. It is still relevant when people have a passion for the side they’ve chosen. I must admit I’ve probably given my partner an extra wrinkle or two with my current technological abilities and figuring out which words work best beside each other brings me an alarming amount of joy. I think for the exciting part (coming up with ideas) there’s no distinction. You both see an idea from a different perspective which only serves to make your work better.

 

This article originally appeared on Little Black Book.