Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Something I miss.

I always, since I started in advertising, did a lot of print. In fact, if I didn't worry about making money and moving up within agencies, I would have been happy being a print copywriter.

There was something special about print before digital came around. Something more careful somehow. Primarily I think this had to do with what was a cumbersome process of setting and getting type and making sure it looked good and fit in the ad. A last minute client change meant a mechanical artist had to go into the repro type and with the writer sitting over his shoulder, had to construct words out of the type that was already there. This was dangerous. Because type was simply glued onto mechanicals in those days. If you monkeyed with it, it could fall off along the way and you'd really be in a pickle.

What I miss--in addition to the labor I described above--is that the door closed on things. Things were done.

I can't help but feeling that in our digital age--in which changes can be made with such ease, we actually make more changes. And many of those changes which we can now so easily make are done at the whim and caprice of someone either without the confidence and/or brains to resist making changes for changes sake.

Well, it ain't never coming back.

But I miss it.


Tore Claesson said...

It's a double edged sword. The discipline of a process has gone out the window as last minute changes are technically easy to make. In digital you can keep changing after publishing. We have much more flexibility today. The problem is the reason for changes may not be well enough thought through. We spend more time than ever in meetings discussing things, with more people than ever having a say. But also probably even more time sweating details than before, up till the last second. We're not necessarily as focused. A lot of work is done in vain. Because we're no longer used to see and read sketches. We don't know how to tell a digital sketch from the final product. So a lot of us kind of try to make every step look final. Otherwise it dies internally. People kern before they have final copy etc. I do think, however, on the upside, that there is a newfound interest in design and type and the well written text.
In the beginning of the web it was close to impossible to make things look good on someone else's screen. So there was a notion that good craft was going away. That is becoming less of a problem. Production values are in fashion again. Craft is back. Or will soon be. As will great ideas told well and designed with care. Someone like you, who can write well, and also have the ability to write well and a lot fast, should be thriving if things were fair in this world. You're made for this time and day even though you often look back for quality. As you've said so many times; there's no way one can survive doing an ad per month any longer. Which is of course also one reason the classic agency model is struggling. It's not geared towards producing lots of stuff in a short time span. And the fear that senior guys can't keep up with it means they are being replaced by younger turks, who are also paid less well. The margin per item is much less than it used to be. It was always, to some degree, a young person's business. Now there is more than one reason for why it is so.

Tim said...

The side effect of digital technology, like all technology, is that it's a real pandora's box of potential abuse. Yes, the flexibility it offers is a Godsend. But a lot of the time it's more of an excuse

Anonymous said...

It ain't coming back. That 's the operative phrase.