Where To From Here?

Where To From Here?
The frighteningly misogynistic Don Draper from AMC's Mad Men

Personally, I’m in the Bill Hicks camp when it comes to advertising. You don’t have to dig too far through this blog to find some of my middle-class, white, uneducated rantings on the subject. But because of my vocation (and the previous list of adjectives), it’s likely I’ll find myself entrapped in at least a small part of this world at some point in my career. Why? Because it (mostly) pays and I’m comfortable with selling out.

And paying is the big question leading into my final year of undergrad. Just what is it that I am going to do to pay the bills? ‘Designer’ or ‘digital artist’ is such a horribly non-specific job title. For the most part it seems that ‘software operator’ is far more apt and doesn’t attempt to cynically hide the soul-destroying nature of the designer/client relationship. Whilst I have done a small amount of graphic work in the past, I have no real interest in pursuing this for the rest of my days, and need to find some kind of an angle to sell my favoured geek-based work.

It was a conversation with an Ad Man that reminded me of the fact. He too, was struggling with the daily disappointment of clients that whilst claiming they wanted something “cutting edge, unique and craaaazzzyyyy (for the kids)”, would always fall back on the conservative and safe ideas. You know, the ones that you show just as a bit of fluff to make them think that you’re earning their money, but don’t actually want them to run with for their national ad campaign.

A problem he is consistently faced with now is the need to find new ways of getting attention, which fall outside the traditional boundaries of print or screen media. If someone comes to their agency with a relatively small budget, the best chance they have to get noticed is to create some kind of event, or stunt, which finds its way into the news (or at the very least gets re-tweeted into oblivion through the social media networks).

What I’ve been hoping to achieve this year at university isn’t so far removed from this idea. I want to engage with an audience. I want to create an experience that is unique and is remembered by those who interact or witness it. Of course I don’t want a massive Coca-Cola or iPad logo plastered across my work, but there are certainly examples of corporate sponsorship that don’t equal sucking on the proverbial corporate cigar – unfortunately they all seem to be overseas.

Yes, Australian advertising and marketing is well behind when it comes to technologically-based installation/interaction work. And I’m told there are many reasons for this – our dispersed and relatively small population is one that keeps popping up. However, I still haven’t heard any that make it clear why there shouldn’t be a market for it. Perhaps I should lower my brow this year and study advertising. God knows I can’t call myself an artist forever.

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