In his keynote address to the young guns of America, Neil Gaiman said one of the most inspiring things I’ve read in my life. He said no matter how hard life kicks you in the balls, make good art.
Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it's all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn't matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.
In the profession I am in, unfortunately it takes more than moments of jubilance and misery to make good art. It needs a good art partner. Copy and art is an arranged marriage made in the supreme court of procrastination. If you’re lucky the most productive hours of your day between you and your art partner are spent in criticizing the system, the account management, the client, the boss, the overly sweet canteen coffee, our laughable CTCs, the new loony Priyanka Chopra song. It is an incredibly creative exercise after the hours you waste on mindless internet trolling.
However, when it comes to thinking on things you’re actually paid for, the equation changes dramatically. Art directors may adeptly write a thesis on how lazy piece of morons our lot is, but sitting down with a pen to crack an idea or sketch a scribble is a rare priced quality these days.
Overlooking all this, if you’ve managed to write a half-decent headline, chances are your art partner would ask you to axe it with the professionalism of a seasoned gardener. You can’t make the logo bigger with a headline line this long, he argues. To which, you have nothing to say but despondently question your choice of career. At which point, the happy harmony of the arranged marriage goes for a flying toss.
In our field, the idea of you making getting over creative differences with your art partner after a stormy brainstorming session shares the collective fate of Indo-Pak peace summits that have happened so far. Ego, procrastination, demotivation are the familiar demons, we fight too on most days.
The reason I come across so strongly on all this is because I was lucky enough to overcome all this pretty early in my current job. And I’m dreading the days that lie ahead of me, now that my art partner has flown off to another place, a better one I would hope for her sake.
This is probably the most cynical goodbye note you would have read. But that’s only because putting her worth in a few nice adjectives would be belittling her talent and her persistence in chasing the deadlines we set for our self, the weekends we spent in office more than just sulking. From her, I learnt the importance of presentation, neatness and elegance in the little things we do. The ground rules of teamwork, when it came to defending cool ideas, and clipping the not so cool ones.
And now that she's gone, my only demand from you- the rest of hackered species of my profession would be make good art partners