Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Some thoughts on a handwritten note.

Dave Dye—a famous English art-director—keeps a really great blog on advertising. He calls it “Stuff from the Loft” and you can find it here. 

In contrast to so many of us in the blogging game, Dave does not write short, ephemeral posts. He interviews luminaries from the past and he goes deep. For instance, his latest post, an interview with Jay Maisel, includes nearly 200 photographs.

Dave's are posts you should copy and save for your files. They contain the wisdom of the ages. I copy them then save them as pdfs for future reference.

Back in early June, Dave interviewed himself. You can enjoy the piece here. There's a lot of great stuff in it--a lot of great stuff--but the thing that really struck me was a handwritten note Dave had saved from Tim Delaney of Leagas Delaney in which Delaney offered him a job

That prompted me to send Dave a note:


Hi, Dave,

I read your latest on Jay Maisel and, with even more interest, your profile of yourself and your work.

I was thinking of writing a blog post about drawing and handwriting--as symbols of what's gone wrong as we've overly-professionalized our business. We are precise, legalistic and tight-assed now.

I was particularly moved by your "offer letter" from Leagas Delaney. It was human and spoke volumes about the man, and about the agency he was trying to create. At least to my eyes.

OK if I use some of your work in a post?

Here's Dave's reply:


Be my guest, take what you want.

It's why I show roughs, keep scribbles and bits of ephemera, like that letter from Tim.

I like seeing humanity at work, the rough edges, the bits that are only a few steps away from those old drawings on cave walls.

Here's the letter from Delaney:

It reads:

Dear David,

Following our meeting, I confirm that I would like you to join us. Salary, 45K. Begin as soon as you can get away.


Today, of course, there's no such thing as a simple offer letter. Life is way too tortured for that. 

They have to be "vetted." Go through HR. And my guess is if you make more than $12.50/hour, they have to go to a finance person who sits way up in a holding company. That person will probably issue you a barcode requiring that you report on such and such a date at such and such a time and bring a stack of official documents as long as your arm.

We have, in short, removed almost all the humanity from what used to be a very human business. I miss, like Dave Dye does, "seeing humanity at work, the rough edges, the bits that are only a few steps away from those old drawings on cave walls."

I don't know why we've gotten so professionalized and inhuman. I don't know how--or why--the business transmuted this way--how we went from humans to technocrats. I suppose it has something to do with our society being litigious and giant communications conglomerates covering their EBITDA-asses.


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