I thought I was good at drawing. That was until I enrolled in a class at Glasgow School of Art. When the life model caught a glimpse of what was on my easel, she threw her clothes on and left. Never in her career of nudity had anyone insulted her that much. With a heavy heart and charcoal-covered hands, I realised my days at the art school were over. That’s when I decided to join the Words in Progress class at Glasgow University, taken by the writer Ian MacPherson. The combination of a brilliant teacher, a lively room full of gobshites and the fear of a deadline started me off on a long and winding road that has lead to me finishing my first children’s book. I am going to be writing about my journey (which I am still very much on) in the hope that it will help encourage others. It is a tough industry to get in to and I have no idea what the future holds in store for me. But funnily enough this was exactly the same situation I was in when I started out in advertising. I guess I like a good challenge.
Talk to me about what I do job-wise and you might be in for a few surprises. Some people automatically assume I spend hours hunched over my laptop writing websites. It happens, but there is so much more to my job than this.
I work on pitches. Not football ones; the-winning-new-business-with-exciting-creative-ideas ones. I provide adcepts for tenders. Of course, I write advertising campaigns. I direct voice over artists in radio commercials, work with photographers on shoots and collaborate with TV directors on set. Armed with a dictaphone, I’m a marvel at winkling information out of reluctant interviewees for magazine articles. I fire fight. Not often. But it can happen. If an agency runs out of time and needs assistance with the creative for a client presentation, who do they call? Well, me.
I help start-up businesses eke out what sets them apart from the competition and make sure their company has a distinctive tone of voice. I craft creative rationales and bullet point not-to-be-messed-with brand guidelines.
I can do rough scamps for presentations, like the one above. This was for a hairdresser to put on all of his mirrors, including one just outside the salon.
My favourite job? Coming up with company straplines. Can’t get enough of it really. Well, this and press ads. You’ve got to love a great headline.
I’m on a big new business push at the moment: networking, reconnecting with old contacts and cold calling advertising/design agencies in the hope that someone will be so enchanted by my portfolio, they’ll agree to meet up for a chat. It’s daft, I know, but I’m always really nervous talking to companies who don’t have a clue who I am. Armed with a bottle of Calms, I started working my way through a Top Ten list of agencies I’d love to freelance with. My heart raced. My mouth dried. I even managed a good stammer or two. It took me back to the days of having to read out aloud in class, which was about the most nerve-wracking thing you could do and lead to all sorts of nervous ticks and spectacular mispronunciations.
I’m happy to report the Calms are now in the bin. I’ve chatted to and met up with some fantastic people. And, as a result, I’m very excited about some new projects that are currently in the pipeline. I’m thoroughly surprised to say I enjoyed flaunting my wares – so much so, it became slightly addictive. The good news is I’m down to only one new business call a day now. So watch out, if your phone starts ringing, it could be me.