The Ranch - Interview with Dabitch
Back in 2006, the University of Texas had a special creativity style blog, founded by David Wen, a Texas Creative senior. David had high ambitions for the blog; "A place where people can surf to relax after a hard day at work or a week full of stressful tests, where they can see the freshest student thinking, where they can read smart, insightful commentary about life and the advertising industry. A place where students can feel free to post their thoughts, ideas and rough comps for feedback." David interviewed a lot of advertising people, and eventually there was an interview with Dabitch. It annoyed me that he kept repeating Adland's URL, rather than the name. I recall we discussed this, because the name of Adland was adland, but the url back then was ad-rag.com. Same as "The Ranch" which was called just that but existed at http://txadv.blogspot.com/ before securing the domain theranchblog.com
How do you find all the ads on the site?
They find me. Industry submissions you know. In the beginning I had to beg
friends and colleagues to send their work in, which I still do on occasion
if something really good appears out there and nobody submitted it yet -
but these days there is a steady flow. Don't forget kids, we like your old
commercials too! Send in your reels!
You're Swedish, graduated from Parsons (in NYC), graduated from London School of Communication Arts, and currently live in Copenhagen, Denmark. How have these varied cultures influenced you?
I learnt to hack, sorry understand, cultures quite fast.
This comes in handy when you have to sell cars to grease monkeys, booze to
connoisseurs, fashions to fashion whores. Cultures don't necessarily have
to be from a country. ;)
Which country's culture did you like best?
Can I choose all of the above? I adored New York which taught me how to
cuss, and when I moved to London it took me a good six months to
understand what on earth everyone was on about. "Got a fag?" what?
"See you half ten." What time is that? But when it finally clicked I laughed so
hard at British sitcoms I now carry a permanent smiley dimple. Now I'm
just terribly happy that I can laugh equally hard at both US and UK ads -
you never see Americans or Brits doing that. Same language, but not. I
don't have a favourite - all cultures have good and bad.
You've both freelanced and worked at agencies. What are the pros and cons of each? Which do you think jr. creatives should do?
Jr's should take the plunge - if they get offered freelance, grab it. Pro's of agency work is a steady paycheck and you get to know your workmates well. Cons of agency work is agency politics most of the time, it's hard to find a good match, and will take a few tries. Don't worry, everyone goes through it. The pro's of freelance is flexibility, the con's an equally flexible paycheck. Another con is that in smaller markets you'll never get the "good work" unless you haven't gotten the "good work" at agencies already. And by "good work", I mean international clients, big budgets and perhaps telly. I do believe that all creatives should freelance at least once though. You learn a lot.
What should a good portfolio school or program teach?
How to charge people for your skills. Seriously, schools teach you so much about the craft but forget to tell you how much it is worth and how you send out a bill or create a contract before the project starts. Since so many students will freelance in the future - at least once ;) - this needs to be taught! Also, what your rights to your work are - and how to not sign them away. So many people are terribly confused when it comes to rights, it really should be taught.
How do you become a better AD?
Keep looking. Keep your eyes open and drink it all in. It will help your ideas, and it will help you communicating your ideas through your art direction. No label is too small, no design too obscure, and since the punters are getting their input from the real world rather than the ad world, so should you.
Speaking of small labels, am I the only one who collects rows and rows of those fruit-stickers in my scrap book? I have two pages with "toMAHtos"! Oh yeah, that's the real advice, keep a scrap book. They do come in handy. Stick all things that visually grabbed you in them. Especially the truly ugly stuff.
What advice do you have for Creatives to break into advertising and for staying in advertising?
To break in you need a heavy brick and to stay put you need a lot of
You've seen a lot of advertising throughout the years. What do you think the future of advertising is?
Whenever this question is asked one is usually expected to name a new
media that will happen. The future of advertising is that people will
finally realize that the message is and always was what is important.
Personally, I hope for less clutter, but I know that brands will tailor
their message to different targets, in different media, with different
ideas and style - unfortunatly creating more clutter. And they'll think
it's the best thing since sliced bread too, even when they miss all their
targets as they jump all over the map with the message.