The great majority of commercial appeals that we see every day are horrible. They’re poorly thought out and hastily made. The reasons for this sad state of affairs are many, but I’d like to address one key reason here: people working in commercial art or writing are often hesitant to embrace their own artist within.
Generally speaking, designers and writers are hesitant because they are afraid of rejection, and afraid of not being taken seriously. Ergo, we overcompensate, remove our berets, put on our business helmets and prepare to do battle in the Ideas Arena.
Culture today is becoming a mass affair, and the artist must step down from his pedestal and be prepared to make a sign for a butcher’s shop (if he knows how to do it). The artist must cast off the last rags of romanticism and become active as a man among men, well up in present-day techniques, materials and working methods. Without losing his innate aesthetic sense he must be able to respond with humility and competence to the demands his neighbors may make of him.
Munari asks artists to get down off their high horses and endow the commercial sector with their refined sensibilities. Of course, the world has changed since 1966. I think there is less of a stigma today for artists and writers who choose to work in advertising. For me, the more important part of his challenge is holding on to our identities as writers and artists, or what Munari calls our “innate aesthetic sense.” Not just to save our souls, but also because it is good business.
Years ago, I used to advise aspiring copywriters to stop being writers and start being problem solvers for brands. Because that’s the job, and it is crucial to understand what the job is. Today, I see the need to adjust my line of thinking. Today, you must know what the job is, and know who you are. In other words, do not drift too far from Art’s sandy shore. Or phrased another way, do not focus on career to the detriment of craft.
If you do choose career over craft, you may have mormoney in the bank, but you will have deprived the culture (and your clients) of your unique skills and point of view.
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