The Drawing Board

Someone once asked me what my favorite part of the creative process was and to that I answered ‘nothing.’

I don’t despise what I do, quite the contrary. Turning an idea into reality (or a close facsimile) is one of the most exciting things I can think of, especially when I look back at what I started with… nothing. A blank canvas, a clean slate, call it what you will. Every project starts there, and for me there's no other place I'd rather be.

Think about it, from here you can literally go anywhere. Perhaps you might decide to ‘this’ in place of ‘that’ or ‘zig’ where others might ‘zag’. The paths are many and the possibilities endless! That’s why I love brainstorming so much. There are no wrong answers, just ones that seem, for some reason or another, more true. In a way, it’s a lot like fishing, you wait (for what sometimes seems like forever) for a bite. And like fishing, the more lines you cast out, the greater your chance of catching the big one. But before you set your boat adrift among the hypothetical waves of your imagination, it’s important to carve out a little place where your thoughts can gather and organize. Socrates had his scrolls. Galileo collected manuscripts. We have our white boards. Way back in the early days of cycle 1, the freshly painted walls of our Launchpad office began to quickly subside into the ranks of obscurity. Research documents, Post-It notes and cat memes hung from every corner of the office with all of the spontaneity that might remind one of the set of the movie Se7en. It became apparent that our creative process, while spirited, could benefit from a little organization. You can imagine my astonishment when, following a simple ‘wouldn’t it be great if’ moment, Bill Hughes, the H in HLK, stopped by to tell us he’d ordered whiteboards for our office.

A critical part of working in a group is making sure everyone is on the same page. When balanced with regular time to regroup and reflect, collaboration can be a beautiful thing. Did the success of our team hinge upon and a piece of laminate and set of dry erase markets? Of course not, like most anything it’s merely a tool to facilitate productivity. But for me, nothing beats a creative brief, a cup of coffee and a good old whiteboard.

Launchpad Lingo

Every workplace, however subtle it might seem, speaks a language of its own – a unique combo of industry lingo and metaphoric gobbledygook that can range from the silly (‘herding cats’) to the imposable (‘a hundred and ten percent’). Working at an advertising agency these last few months, I can tell you, seems to be no less immune. For example, to the production team, ’bleeding off the page’ is far less painful than it sounds and if an account person tells you ‘your brief is showing’ there is no need to look down. 

While it’s ultimately just as important to 'walk the walk' you’ll seem infinitely more professional when you can ‘talk the talk.’ Here are a few I’ve picked up on so far:

Deck - A Keynote (or rarely, PowerPoint. Ad agencies live in a MAC world.) presentation.

B2B - Short for Business to Business. In the world of advertising, B2B is a phrase used to describe a business that markets it’s products and services to other businesses.

B2C - Business to Consumer. You get the idea.

FPO - A term used a lot in production meaning for placement only. Often you see this on low-resolution images or stock photography. It is intended to be swapped out before finalization.

RFP - Means request for proposal. When a client is interested in doing business with an agency they will ask for one of these. In other words, a pitch.

Pitch - A presentation to the client with the intention of selling ideas and creative work.

Thumbnail - A quick sketch done to represent an idea or provide a brief summary. 

Wireframe - A sketch or image designed to communicate the functionality and structure of a web page or interactive element.

Hot - When something needs to be done… like now.

Assets - A collection of art and copy that contains things like logos and brand standard guides, as well as any previous work that might have been done on a particular brand.

Deliverables - A list of things that will be produced for the client, as spelled out in the creative brief.

Creative Brief - A document, usually written by the account manager, that highlights objectives, strategies and tactics of a campaign and gives reference to work that will be produced.

Be on the lookout for more industry lingo weaved into future posts, since much of that learning comes from experience, not just a week of picking the brains of HLK’s cultured creative directors and wise account managers.