I see the world as a huge blank canvas with splashes of green and blue. Nature gives us a spectacular space to express our creativity, so let’s rise to the challenge and take advantage of its generosity.
Our work should measure up, but so should each of our actions. Today we are responsible for the art direction of our planet, for the visual, audible and sensory layer we add to it each day, piece by piece.
The world’s art direction is one big picture, hidden inside each and every emotion.
It might be a designer chair, a 93-storey tower block, a master painting, the typography of a neon sign, but also a woman’s silhouette, the intonation of someone’s voice, Kendrick Lamar’s flow, David Lynch’s hairstyle or even John McEnroe’s personality, which at the time didn’t just dictate his game, but imposed his personal form of art direction on the whole world.
Our attitudes, the things we do and build, are all touches of colour we add to the canvas. Everything we create has an influence on our behaviour, our lives, our moods…and our wellbeing. And our sense of wellbeing is a great goal for art direction. We need to stimulate pleasure and excitement every time we act on the world, because the world needs it.
The main concern of our industry today, the industry of ideas, is the need for a global vision of how we craft our world. Because the saturation of our creations today tends to bring more stress and cacophony than joy and wellbeing, especially in city centres.
The art direction of our planet is our responsibility as agency creatives, film directors, graphic designers, architects…we are the craftsmen of this bigger picture. We should continue to paint the world, as long as the painting doesn’t result in a poor version of a Jackson Pollock, a visual and audible commotion which we could quickly tire of.
If we can’t fight the chaos, let’s at least make sure it’s done with style.
We need to respect our environment, all together, with a global and mindful vision…this is what is at stake here. Because today the craft is being sacrificed at the altar of profit. We are constantly being pressured to consume, faster and cheaper, every single minute of the day. Brands are being imposed on us everywhere, half-cooked ads are being thrown in our faces, dreadful ads that leave scars on our cities. More commotion. More regurgitation of colour.
Each piece of Tetris (yes, I’m a retro gamer!) looks great on its own, but when they all land in the wrong place, game over.
In an ideal world, we should sign an Art Direction Treaty. We need to slow down, sit down and really ask ourselves what’s going on with the canvas? What the hell have we done to it?
It’s no longer just about doing something eye-catching to get noticed, but about taking the time to think how we can do less, better and in harmony. Each time we create something, we need to ask ourselves if it’s worthy, if what we are about to add to an already saturated world is essential, different and original. It’s about taking our time, crafting and then crafting again. We need to be extremely demanding about every tiny little piece of the puzzle, keeping in mind that global vision.
Craft is a sign of caring.
Kant believed that the beauties of nature seem intentionally created: how could such things come from chance? So out of respect for the magnificent canvas nature has given us, let’s take the time to reflect on what elements we add to it.
I remember a quote from Berghain’s world famous-bouncer in Berlin, Sven Marquardt: “You always want friction. That’s the theme in any good club: diversity and friction”. A good ad agency should be like a good club. Filled with diversity. It’s the key to creating friction, that electric spark, that source of creativity. When you gather round a table (or turntables), surrounded by totally opposite people, with different backgrounds, cultures and inspirations, the result is a unique piece of creative work. And being unique is an essential strength in advertising.
You can’t do surprising work if you’re just surrounded by people reading the same books you read, watching the same TV shows you watch, or going to the same exhibitions you go to. Boring. Boring. Boring. Having people from different cultures, different whatever, is the only way to create little earthquakes that generate outstanding and unexpected work.
If you enjoyed this opinion piece, you can read more thought provoking essays from D&AD Jury Presidents below.
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