The Lost Art Of Art Direction
Software has replaced Imagination.
Sure: the Death of Print has had something to do with the sick state of Art Direction. But art directors (and art pretenders) make “print” layouts every day on digital/social platforms. And they are mostly unremarkable, at best. I know, I search widely, with waning hope, every day.
I don’t know who’s teaching art direction/design at ad schools now. All the old “masters” have either retired or died. I haven’t seen any new masters.
“Tech” has become the new “Creativity” of advertising. This seemingly is pushing many of the good art directors/graphic designers away from advertising and to publications or platforms. I can’t blame them. Data is taking over. But advertising is not a science. Never has been. Never will be. It is an art, or at least the creation of ads is an art. More on that at the bottom of this article.
I’ve been meaning to post about this for awhile. I guess I finally got disgusted enough. I’ve collected examples of magnificent art direction from the last 15 years, most from 10+ years ago, mostly to make me feel better. Maybe you’ll enjoy them, too.
Thai Health Promotion Foundation (Thailand)
Great art direction doesn’t mean insane art direction, right Brazil? You look at the brief, you present the problem or solution or both, dramatically, like the above ads for a Don’t Drive Sleepy Project by Thai Health. The visuals draw you in and then you’re hit with that magical Bam! creative moment. The campaign won a Bronze Lion at the Asian Cannes Ad Festival. Ad agency: BBDO, Bangkok.
Sta-Soft Fabric Softener (South Africa)
Yo, it’s Rambo made of clothing. “Softens even the toughest”. Again, it’s got that creative magic moment. And it’s so fucking simple. Art Director: Darryn Rogers. See the other two ads from the campaign here on Behance.
Greenpeace (South Africa)
“Every signature helps save our seas”. There’s nothing digital here. That is a undersea plant sculpted out of color pencils. It was created by Jennifer Maestre. See two more ads from the campaign here. Ad agency: Ogilvy, South Africa.
Der TagesSpiegel (Germany)
Ad for the German paper (The Daily Mirror) ran in October, 2016. Just a photo of a pile of newspapers. But you have to able to think like a classic art director to create an ad like this. Perfect. Ad agency: Scholz & Friends, Berlin. See the rest of the campaign here.
COPY: FOR EXTRA TOUGH STAINS. Dilemma: How to show “tough-to-get-out stains”. You make clothing and stains out of two colors of pickup sticks, of course. Again, no digital hooey here. Just beautiful art direction that draws you in and sells the product. How novel. Ad agency: Euro RSCG, Tel Aviv.
Dills Digestive pills (Belgium)
“DILLS FOR (A) FAST DIGESTION”. These are just georgous! A raw steak Porsche. A salmon Concorde. Both, fast. Any fucking questions? Ad agency: Mortierbrigade, Brussels.
Kapiti designer ice cream (New Zealand)
Yes, it is a real product and these are real ads, by Colenso BBDO. Well, how would you advertise “designer” ice cream to women? Yes obviously digital images, but stunning digital images. I want to devour that pump, and not just becuase of my shoe fetish (tmi).
Bill Bernbach resignation letter to Grey Advertising
Dear Data “Gurus”:
In 1947, creative director Bill Bernbach (the B in DDB) wrote a resignation letter to ad agency Grey New York. Two years later, Bernbach started his own agency, which started the advertising creative revolution that transformed the industry. And, as Bernbach predicted, Grey went on to become a hacky data-driven sweatshop — much like your digital/tech agency, only bigger. You should read the letter.
What can “technicians” learn from a 75-year-old typewritten letter by a man who died in 1982, without ever using a computer, even once?
Read the letter. And fucking learn something about “creative ability”.