Monday, May 21, 2012

Woo-hoo It's Monday!

I can work anywhere.
And as a freelancer I have worked everywhere.

With nothing more than a laptop in my hand and a carefully-crafted creative brief full of meaningless planner phrases like "leadership position", "innovative thought management" and "humorous but not funny" at my disposal, I'm good to go. I have written brand campaigns in a park, in a coffee shop, even in an office that was a converted attic space.

I'm not complaining, even though that is in my nature. The jobs are usually short in nature and I'm very happy to be getting the assignments.

A few weeks ago I interviewed for a staff position at an agency where the creatives were stacked one on top of another like a chord of firewood. And I use that analogy purposely because those are the kind of working conditions that lead to burnout.

And they are not alone. If you watch AMC's The Pitch, you'll see many agencies opting for this elbow-to-elbow environment. They'll gussy it up and call it a open-space arena that curates creativity. But the truth is it's not so much about "sparking ideas" as it is about the soaring cost of commercial real estate.

About a century ago, when I first started work at Chiat/Day, I shared an open cubicle with my art director partner, Mary Ann. Just the two of us in an 8 foot by 10 foot area. And we actually did some good work together. But as many of you know a partnership bears a great resemblance to a marriage. A bad one. And after 6 months of close quarter contact, ticks become annoyances, annoyances become grievances and grievances become screaming matches.

Eventually someone goes home crying.

Years later, I found myself back at Chiat/Day in a different building with a different partner in a different 8 X10 cube. We too did good work, but like serial divorcees we found ourselves at each other's throats about the slightest slights. After 5 years of being attached at the desktop, it got to the point where I couldn't stand listening to my partner breath. "Do you have to breath so much?" I thought to myself, secretly planning hundreds of ways to kill this man.

Moreover he would bring his dog to work. And this dog, God rest his soul, was a very sweet dog. He could have used a Tic Tac once in a while but that's beside the point. But 80 square feet is tough to share with one other living creature, let alone, two.

Don't get me wrong. I love dogs. And I love kids.
More specifically, I love my dog and I love my kids.
Yours? Feh.

I have a lot more to say about the way agencies treat their Creative personnel but I also have some headlines to write. So I think I'll close the door to my office, stare out the window, kick some Scrabble ass and then get some work done.


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1 comment:

Jeff said...

My favorite phrase on almost every brief I've ever gotten is "increase traffic." Thank you for that. How else would I have know what the advertising was supposed to do.