Nadja Lossgott is a Black Pencil winning Art Director at AMV BBDO in London and former Outdoor Advertising jury member. Here she offers a few art direction examples and tips, including interacting with photographers and how to find the right person for the job.
The Guinness, 'Made of More' Campaign
'As a creative, you are always trying to find fresh ways of showing the same thing.
This Guinness campaign was a classic pack shot brief for outdoor– showing the liquid perfection of a pint of Guinness.
There are hundreds of solutions to a brief, but the idea we had in mind for this was to use macro photography and try to imagine what the pint would look like from within, while being poured - put another way, what would it look like if you shrunk a photographer and dropped them into a pint of surging Guinness.
All this lead us to the executional idea of shooting beneath waves to mimic the elemental power of the Guinness surge but on an epic scale, while also keeping in mind the high production values Guinness advertising is renowned for.
This meant it was a real casting job because we were looking for a photographer who could handle both the physical challenge of shooting under giant waves and the artistic challenge of re-creating the surge. Potentially it was going to be someone outside of the commercial world, which can be unpredictable because they might not be used to working under certain ad industry constraints. But ultimately it is incredibly exciting and rewarding to work with somebody so far removed from the world of shooting ads. A surf photographer doing a beer pack shot sounded interesting.
We found Brian Bielmann, a non-commercial photographer who has spent 30 years in the sea shooting the best surfers, in the world's biggest waves. Not only does he have an incredible eye, but he is comfortable shooting in extremely dangerous situations.
The campaign was shot in Teahupoo, Tahiti which is renowned for its giant waves, pure clean water and coral base, creating a perfect divide for the light and dark contrasting tones we were after. Because of the water temperature, Brian had the ability to be under the water, shooting for a long time. Every day Brian would time and again wedge himself between vicious reef and a ton of pounding water with only a few metres between. It all meant that besides slight tonal shifts by retoucher Mark Deamer, there was no other manipulation of the images involved.
Overall, by mashing two very diverse worlds together we created imagery that was powerful and fresh, but still relevant.
'Impossible is Nothing', adidas Barbershop Art Campaign
On the other end of the scale is a campaign we did for adidas a few years ago. We were briefed to do a print and outdoor campaign to celebrate South Africa hosting the Confederation’s Cup – the first time it would be played on African soil.
Our idea was inspired by “barbershop” art. In Africa the true measure of fame is having a haircut named after you on a Barbershop sign. This ubiquitous signage is an African graphic art form with its naïve renderings and pragmatic use of wood, metal and found material. We created a series of real barbershop signage that honoured adidas’ galaxy of stars – many of whom would be in Africa for the first time. We designated each footballer a title and a set of “African skills”. This job was all about using technology to bring together a basket of handcrafted material.
There were long hours of craft involved in both illustrating and retouching. Every execution was completely hand painted. It was unfortunately not as easy as quickly reworking an InDesign layout when it came to copy and design changes. Every minor copy change and ‘nose job’ when a star wasn’t quite happy with his caricature had to be repainted.
We collected beautiful pieces of wood signage and worked with commercial photographer David Prior and retoucher Rob Frew to build up the files that made the signs work in all their varying media formats. The completely varying scales meant it was a major retouching job for Rob to set up the files and keep the ridges and raw nature of the pieces as a whole in tact, but have the ability to completely rearrange imagery and design. Rob Frew, like all brilliant retouchers studies lighting and manages to remanipulate things in such a way that you hardly know they were touched; he understands the smallest of subtleties.
The Guinness and adidas campaigns had opposing approaches, but the common point was to strive to find the best possible people to serve the execution and do the idea justice.
If you think you have a campaign that deserves a Pencil, enter your work into the D&AD Awards and see if our judges agree. When it comes to awards, nothing matters more.