Words of Discouragement for Aspiring Creatives

Having just gone through the hiring process and gained some new creative worker bees I thought this would be a good forum to speak with those who want to leap into the fictional world of glamorous advertising.

First, let’s go back to a time when the fairy tale wolf actually ate Grandma and the fairy tale children were roasted and eaten by the fairy tale witch in the candy house. I believe that in both cases, the age of Disneyfacation gave those highly realistic tales a happy third act that included a heroic woodsman, uncooked children and undigested septuagenarians.

I will simply try to tell the truth.

1.) The industry has been shrinking worldwide but in this particular town it’s been shrinking since I started in 1987. The bleeding includes, in this short sampling: IKEA, Woodwards, Investors Group, Canadian Airlines, Finning, Boston Pizza, Cal Van, Scott Paper, Superstar, A&B Sound and Subaru. All have either moved away or gone broke. High real estate prices continue to drive head offices out of town.

2.) Many jobs continue to be eliminated by technology – in the pre-Mac age what client in their right mind would bother with their own production department let alone creative department. Nowadays, most clients think the opposite.

3.) The world has been nice to you so far. People have been full of praise for your artistic talent in this everybody-gets-a ribbon extended childhood that you’ve been treated to. Here’s some perverse advice: Criticism and brutal truth will be your best friends. Embrace them and learn. Actively pursue feedback however painful it might be. Don’t cry as much as you want to which will be often.

4.) If you don’t demonstrate extraordinary talent and the work ethic of a junior sous chef, you’ll fail.

5.) If you are lucky you will be paid nothing, then paid next to nothing then spend years trying to create any kind of distance between you and nothing.

6.) If you don’t talk to at least ten people in the business before you get in – that is fight your way in to their office and actually meet them, go do something easier and better paying.

7.) If you did and you don’t have a job yet, your portfolio needs work. If you don’t have an internship it’s probably worse than that.

8.) Nobody is waiting to meet you. Here’s an excerpt from a guy who didn’t get a job but got an interview and an internship. “Hi Springy People, You guys are awesome. I am also awesome. We should work together. Here's my resume with links to my online writing portfolio.” I had to meet that guy. He’s pretty awesome.

9.) There are no jobs. This is one of the least economically screwed cities in the world and yet one of the big four just shed 25% of its staff, many others are on life support and one perennial award winner and long standing shop is very deep in bankruptcy protection to the tune of $5 million dollars. $5 million?!?! Do you have any idea how long it takes to make that kind of money in this business? I do. 940 years.

10.) OK, I’m running out of gas but some words of encouragement illustrated with a related and fairly accurate statistic; 1% of musicians make 99% of the money. If you are the very best in the world, with courage, patience, humility, perseverance and strong interpersonal skills you might get a job. If you’re not, if this is something that try as you might you’re medium OK at, your calling is elsewhere – go find it.

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