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New Talent

Taking a Sample of Dublin’s New Creative Blood

Young creatives from Boys + Girls, JWT Folk and TBWA\Dublin give their take on how Irish agencies should be injecting fresh talent into their ideas

Taking a Sample of Dublin’s New Creative Blood

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.



Cian O’Connell - Art Director at Boys + Girls 

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 - Copywriter at Boys + Girls

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.



Rebecca Dore - Junior Copywriter at JWT Folk 

LBB> From your experience of entering the industry recently, what sort of person grows up wanting to become an advertising creative these days? 

RD> I believe anyone with a natural drive to create, that is interested in the world around them, will enjoy working in the industry. That’s why I love working with the team at JWT Folk. Everyone has come from such different backgrounds and because of that they can lend fresh and interesting perspectives. It’s energising. 


LBB> And how do you think it's a different kind of person from the aspiring creatives of the past?

RD> The industry has changed. Now it’s much less about product – we have to really make people feel something. Digital is pushing us to adapt faster than ever before. The fundamentals haven’t changed – passion, curiosity, and bravery are essential.


LBB> What talents or traits do you think are commonly undervalued by agencies when recruiting new creatives?

RD> Design ability. I have a background in fashion and film so I joined the course with a focus on art direction. I quickly found out that it wasn’t the avenue for me. Having seen the pace of art directors in the industry, and the level they are expected to finish to, having a background in graphic design or visual communications is a definite plus. That said, I know very talented art directors who are self-taught, who I can only commend. 


LBB> And is there anything that they overvalue?

RD> The big idea. But they’re right to. 


LBB> What did you find most challenging about trying to get into the industry?

RD> The MSc in Advertising from DIT was a fantastic launching pad. I was very fortunate to secure an internship with Target McConnells off the back of it. The hard part was putting my portfolio together, and figuring out which ideas would best demonstrate my thinking, my creative style and my potential. 


LBB> How do you think agencies should make sure they're recruiting from a broader pool of talent?

RD> Advertise widely online, not just on the company’s social media channel. Creatives are looking everywhere for jobs. 


LBB> Is the distinction between art and copy still relevant to young creatives? What value do you think there is in that distinction?

RD> If you can do both well, power to you. When it comes to coming up with ideas, it’s all about collaboration. Art directors can write, and copywriters can think visually too. Listening to each other and challenging each other can really help bring out the best in an idea. But when it comes down to execution – craft is key. Pick a side. 



Dean Ryan - Art Director at JWT Folk

LBB> From your experience of entering the industry recently, what sort of person grows up wanting to become an advertising creative these days? 

DR> To work in the advertising industry, you really have to love what you do. It’s not like other jobs where you go to work, then get home and completely switch off. Creatives are constantly thinking about the next project, whether it’s the weekend or on your summer holiday basking by the pool in Spain. It’s about being constantly switched on. I would say a person with a mix of creativity, passion, drive and dedication would be a good fit as an advertising creative. I am early in my career but I have developed an obsession with the industry. If you get goosebumps when you see an amazing idea, then I would say advertising is for you. I have come to the conclusion that it’s not really a job, but more a lifestyle. 


LBB> And how do you think aspiring creatives now differ from the aspiring creatives of the past?

DR> The creative personality and skills are the same now as they were back then. We can learn a lot from past creatives. I often go back through awards books and see names of people I have worked with or learned from. So the traits or skills don’t change much, however over the years advertising has changed. The solutions are now found in a much deeper pool of information. We have to interrogate briefs, look at insights, analyse data to find the best possible solutions. There is a new wave of technology at our fingertips and I think success is partly about keeping up. It may no longer be a clever, traditional ad that impresses a creative director. 


LBB> What talents or traits do you think are commonly undervalued by agencies when recruiting new creatives?

DR> From my experience I have found design skills can sometimes be undervalued. There is never enough time to typographically craft a project and that is just the fast paced nature of the industry.


LBB> And is there anything that they overvalue?

DR> I feel sometimes finding research online can be overvalued as in my opinion there is no better way to research for a project than getting out and talking to people in the field. This often leads to much better insights.


LBB> What did you find most challenging about trying to get into the industry?

DR> I was very lucky to land a job in the first agency I applied for but as a graphic designer. I swiftly worked my way up to art director by asking for creative briefs, showing interest in the role and showing potential. The industry can be intimidating for a young creative applying for jobs. It can be a hard to break into but once you get in, you can get where you want to be if you keep learning and developing. Internships and courses are a great way to get your foot in the door of an agency. I remember struggling to know what pieces to have in my book and holding onto a lot of design projects, instead of pieces that demonstrated art direction. I found the ICAD Upstarts a fantastic course to help build an advertising portfolio and quickly learn about the industry. 


LBB> How do you think agencies should make sure they're recruiting from a broader pool of talent?

DR> Agencies need to contact art colleges and go to view degree shows. There is hidden talent in all disciplines – fine art or design and agencies need that diversity. We need new thoughts, new opinions and a variety of life experiences. Other than that bring in some interns from other countries.


LBB> Is the distinction between art and copy still relevant to young creatives? What value do you think there is in that distinction?

DR> At the beginning of my career I would have said definitely yes. As I have grown as a creative I have learned that you can have an idea which is led by the copy. I think the best results are a collaboration between the team. I know young creatives often question whether they should be doing art direction or copywriting. If you can do both then embrace it. You shouldn’t be slotted into a title and that is all you are capable of. Creatives express themselves in many different ways. I am an art director and I enjoy creative writing. Each role has their main focus but the lines do blur.



Zoe Perrin - Art Director at TBWA\Dublin

LBB> From your experience of entering the industry recently, what sort of person grows up wanting to become an advertising creative these days?

ZP> The kind of person who possibly wants a little more structure or purpose to their creativity. Personally I’ve always needed a problem to solve or challenge to overcome to feel like I was creating worthwhile work. I think also that the lines between a lot of creative disciplines have become pretty blurred so there is more movement between fields now than there used to be. It’s maybe less about growing up wanting to become an advertising creative, and more about falling into it.


LBB> And how do you think it's a different kind of person from the aspiring creatives of the past?

ZP> The industry may have had a more glamorous sheen in the past. I think that’s gone now, but people can still see how their skill set fits in and be drawn to that. 


LBB> What talents or traits do you think are commonly undervalued by agencies when recruiting new creatives?

ZP> Hunger. Young creatives whose experience is underwhelming on paper can be passed over for more experienced candidates, though their hunger and drive for interesting creative projects could end up being more valuable to an agency’s dynamic.


LBB> And is there anything that they overvalue?

ZP> The sheer length of time someone has spent working in the industry. Being comfortable isn’t always a good thing for making creative work.


LBB> What did you find most challenging about trying to get into the industry?

ZP> Trying to convince someone to take a chance on you can seem a heartbreaking effort. I also think trying to keep value on your own work (and live in Dublin) by avoiding long unpaid or badly paid internships can be tough when you desperately want to break into the industry. And there’s a chance of being stuck in a cycle of short unpaid internships, with no marked improvement, which can really beat people down, though this looks like it might be becoming less common.


LBB> How do you think agencies should make sure they're recruiting from a broader pool of talent?

ZP> Graduate shows at art and design colleges seem like a wasted resource. They’re an opportunity to see young creatives, among their peers, showing you the best they have. Even if you’re not hiring it’s interesting to see the trends and topics being explored by people who are just beginning their careers. Also, only offering paid internships means you’re not limited to creatives who have the luxury of a viable cheap and close living situation. By not paying creatives you (unsurprisingly) cut out vast swathes of talented people who simply can’t afford to work for free.


LBB> Is the distinction between art and copy still relevant to young creatives? What value do you think there is in that distinction?

ZP> I would say it’s of course important to recognise that your own strengths are different from others. Blurring the line between roles can be great and valuable to the creative process but it’s definitely important to recognise when to ask for help and to accept someone’s skill is superior. The distinction between art and copy can help us do that.



Eva Redmond - Art Director at TBWA\Dublin

LBB> From your experience of entering the industry recently, what sort of person grows up wanting to become an advertising creative these days? 

ER> I didn’t really know what an advertising creative was until about two years ago... so I’m probably not the best person to ask! I suppose it’s a job that really attracts people who enjoy doing something different every day and who like being challenged. I think creativity is a term that can just get thrown around a lot but in this job it’s really about problem solving, and someone who enjoys that way of thinking will thrive in this industry.


LBB> And how do you think aspiring creatives now differ from the aspiring creatives of the past?

ER> While advertising has obviously changed a lot through the years I think, fundamentally, people who were drawn to it in the past share the same desire to create things and find the best possible solution to a problem.


LBB> What talents or traits do you think are commonly undervalued by agencies when recruiting new creatives?

ER> Things like critical and strategic thinking are hugely important for any role in an agency but also for creatives, I think it’s so important to have an understanding and an interest in people. You have to be able to understand who you’re talking to and figure out what’s important to them to be able to come up with something that they’ll respond to.


LBB> And is there anything that they overvalue?

ER> I’m not sure that anything has struck me as being overvalued as such. I suppose in this role, I’d say looking at something like technical skills, they can always be picked up pretty easily once you can understand why something looks good or bad visually.


LBB> What did you find most challenging about trying to get into the industry?

ER> For me, I found it a little hard to know what an agency was really looking for and presumed because I didn’t come from an art background that it would count against me. So I think it was a bit of a challenge just figuring out what the role actually involves! As I learnt more about the industry I realised that it was really ideas and the way you think that’s important and other things can follow. 


LBB> How do you think agencies should make sure they're recruiting from a broader pool of talent?

ER> I think agencies put up a lot of entry barriers for young people. Having to do an internship to get into the industry instantly limits the pool of people you’re choosing from to those who are largely middle-class and from Dublin. You hear a lot about the importance of diversity within the industry but there doesn’t seem to be as much commitment to actually encouraging it. 


LBB> Is the distinction between art and copy still relevant to young creatives? What value do you think there is in that distinction?

ER> It’s definitely really important to have someone to bounce ideas off and to be able to feed off one another but I think, as we move further away from traditional media, the roles are probably not as clear cut as they once were. Personally, I’ve always really loved writing as well so I don’t like the idea of feeling too constricted or pigeon-holed when working on ideas. At the same time, I do think there’s value in having different roles from the perspective that people can bring different skill sets to the table and have different ways of thinking but that mightn’t always have to mean two people who are a copywriter and an art director. 



Special thanks to Laurence O'Byrne from Boys + Girls.

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