Expectations in Creative

I used to work in creative. I was a designer, technical illustrator, and in the olden days a paste-up artist.

I made that switch from a drawing board to a Mac. It changed everything.

I didn’t have to spec and order type, size and order color separations, do imposition guides – you know, all that prehistoric stuff we had to plan. Before we executed anything.

With the speed of a keystroke, I could change the parameters of type, re-size images, impose in the file. Pretty much could do my planning as I was doing my work.

Expectations changed radically. Especially from those who didn't do the work. Like your VP of Marketing, or your client.

“It’s on the computer; it’s just a quick change…”

That dazzling piece of technology has made you a slave to lack of planning, and expectations that are somewhere beyond reality. But you work to meet them anyway.

Because someone committed you to those expectations.

You see how those expectations make it from the client, right on through past account and directly to creative?

I know you’ve been there.

I have a special place in my heart for creatives. I am awestruck by great copy; a great headline. I hung up my t-square long ago because I had the privilege to work with designers/art directors/creative directors who have blown me away with things I never imagined. And they did it so effortlessly.

So, about expectations…

Creative folks, you deserve to receive a comprehensive brief; to be a part of developing that brief and defending that brief. So that when it comes time to execute, you actually recognize it.

You also deserve to get clear documentation with expectations defined – scope, timeline, budget.

What is expected of you is this: stick to the plan; immediately notify your AE and PM if there are any issues with scope, timeline or budget. And come to an agreement on any deviation before proceeding.

I expect you to defend your work, and know when to give-in when the client plays Creative Director. Because knowing when to cut your losses and take the paycheck leaves you time to do wonderful work for those who really recognize your talent.

I expect you to provide updates without prompting – so we can keep the work moving.

I expect you to post any time you work on any projectto the correct project number.

I also expect to know if you’ll be out of the office: for offsite work, vacation days, illness, coffee, or that pint of Bagdad Ale if you leave at 3pm on Friday (because a client will always call at 3:15 with an emergency).

I expect you to do your timesheets. Every day.

I know that last item is the thing you hate most, but it is the one thing that tells us – with more simplicity than any other piece of ‘technology’ – how expectations are being met in the agency.