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How hands on do you expect a Creative Director to be?
I have seen differences across different organisations and countries. Curious what your thoughts are
Completely hands off.
CD's should guide and advise, not dictate or be overbearing. I've worked under CD's who are overly hands-on, and those which were the polar opposite.
The best CD's imho, are those which sit in the middle, are around to help and guide, discuss idea's etc, but allow others to develop a project or design under their direction.
I've never worked for a CD that has set a creative direction from the start of the project. Which I find so annoying. Surely a creative director should sit down with a piece of paper, engage some brain cells, do some research and figure out the 'creative direction'. Sell that to client. Then brief designers. The result = everyone happy.
Instead I find it works like this:
CD does nothing, all take and hanging out at soho house drinking with clients. Gives verbal light briefing to designers "we want something like this, like that, bit of this..etc" Designers going on nothing substantial start fleshing out a design as best they can. CD starts hovering and tweaking. Or see's the design and says change it completely... this continues until finally the CD is happy. Now, finally the design, the vision, is shared with the client, who understandably is a bit taken aback as hasn't been walked towards this design. Then follows lots of client amends - essentially undoing the CD's tweaks - until client is happy.
- *all talkshapesalad
- < this is the experience of working for Ad agencies in London.shapesalad
- You speak the gospel, shapesalad. However, if a CD tells designers exactly what to do, how do designers learn or develop?matski
- ^ So, get rid of CD. Designers can handle it. Where to draw the line right? Designers have creative and brains.shapesalad
- Problem is designers are kept at desk, not in the meetings loop, don't know the conversations with client, so can't be creative and work on a solution.shapesalad
- Either make the CD a designer and then get all designers involved from the start with clients. Or CD dictates the creative, designers are just technicians.shapesalad
As a Creative Director I used to be very hands on, then was told to be less hands on. So that I could think strategically and manage people.
Most recently on my last 2 freelance jobs as CD, I was told I was not being hands on enough. And should be working more on design.
I also realise there is a difference between the UK and the US. A CD in the US seems to be more of a Senior Design/ Art Director in London.
I think it's all essentially based on previous Creative Directors people have worked with. So it's really confusing.
I'm interested to hear how other people approach this.
Well, let's define 'hands-on'. I've always interpreted it to mean 'does the actual conceptual and execution work'.
When I'm working, I tend to be hands-off, which is to say: I brief the copywriters and ADs, have an initial brain-storming with them, then I leave them to develop, refine, and execute, always being available for questions, inspiration, when they're stuck, and — of course — scheduled review and feedback rounds on the work.
If the creative team is really in the shit on a campaign, then I'll jump in and do moodboards, headlines, art direction, and design on an executional level to help them out, if they need it. Mostly during pitches.
However, I do prefer supervising photo and film shoots myself (I'm a bit greedy that way).
A CD should absolutely be involved in the beginning and help drive the overall creative direction of the project. They should be able to communicate the clients goals and vision to the designers and from there, provide a clear direction and general destination of where the end result should be.
However, how clear the end destination should be kind of depends on the designer.
I had a very Sr Designer who would present 3-5 concepts during the design phase. I'd ask him to talk me through each and with his personality and work style, he needed me to be explicit in my creative direction and feedback, as well as explicit with the exact destination I needed his creative to be. Do - exactly - this, remove that, increase this... he needed that.
On the flip side, I had an equally very Sr Designer who would present 3-5 concepts during the design phase, and I'd ask her to talk me though, then ask her which she preferred and why. From there, I'd give her general direction and feedback which is what she personally needed as she still felt she had enough direction, but not too much where she didn't feel like she was able to be creative.
shapesalad, sounds like your CD suuuuuucks
Those who can, do. Those who can't become creative director.
I used to be a CD by the way. Now I run my own little company where i do a little of everything. Even getting really hands and building sets ;)
Sometimes people work for like film crews, photographers and such. I give them a general direction and just look at zoom out.
People excell when give them some room to think.
Micro mananging is a sign of weakness. And most CD's do this to justify their position.
- what if the position falls into your lap.
the reasons are simple: you are the most capable man covering lots of fields,working on the most profitable projects.sted
- And if you have to justify your position in a daily basis, yeah you are a weak insecure mofo, go home and think about your life.sted
- I like to think that after paying dues for years doing work as designer and AD, one earns the right to slow down and be CD. That shit is smart ahah.monospaced
- what if the position falls into your lap.
Think Don Draper. Half the gig is selling.
How hands-on I need to be is directly proportional to the level of talent that the AD or SD holds
All hands on deck...always!
How hands-on a CD needs to be depends entirely on the size of the company. This is where some confusion comes from - there is no one size fits all.
A small design studio (5 or less people) will need a CD to be very hands-on in order to help with workload. This will often include the production side.
A medium design studio (6 - 20 people) will need a CD to be partially hands-on, may be with the occassional production work.
A large design studio/advertising agency (20+ people) will need a CD to oversee delegation of workload, and shouldn't be needed in the production side.