24 Oct

Specialise, expand, collaborate

I saw a wonderful exhibition, a couple of days ago, on classic children’s book illustrations.

Among other collaborations, it showed the one that certainly marks my childhood, between Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake.


Roald Dahl was a phenomenal writer, as shown – if nothing else – by the fact that his books are still as popular with primary schools kids as they were when I left primary school, 20 years ago.
However, would his books have stayed in my mind – or the minds of anyone else from my generation – if it weren’t for the wonderfully quirky illustrations of Quentin Blake, which really lifted the stories?

It’s no different (artistic merit aside) than the same consideration in producing a piece of communication – not necessarily straight-up advertising, it could be campaigning – for an organisation.

A TV script/press ad/blog post/viral idea, without any visual input is just a Microsoft Word document, or – worse still – something scrawled on a pad.
However, the visualisation (whether it be illustrations, animation, photography etc) of something, without the copy – conceptual or literal – is just art.

Think about it: the Meerkats (CompareTheMarket.com), as a written idea, have no potency until lifted on-screen but, without the copy, they are just another vaguely funny video doing the rounds on YouTube.

Industry professionals, in my opinion, can do one of three things:
*Specialise in one particular area, and make sure they’re darn good at that one thing.
*Expand their skill set so that they do a bit of everything … but risk becoming ‘jack of all trades…’
*Collaborate with trusted, skilled individuals in areas outside their own area of expertise.

In truth, specialising and collaborating go hand in hand, unless you want the scope of your work to be incredibly limited.

I learned, a long time ago, to stick to the copywriting and work with the best possible people in other areas: they trust me and I trust them.
I know cracking art directors, photographers, illustrators, web designers, animators. Why compete with them when I can collaborate with them? (only if the brief calls for it, obviously)
Not only that, but quite often visualisers come up with great copy – to make an idea even better – and writers come up with fantastic visual ideas.

so, whilst it’s good to take the credit for a brilliant piece of work, collaborate wherever possible: you never know where it might lead.

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