By ArJun Mukherjee, Bates 141, Kolkata
There’s suddenly this great divide. Art Director vs Designer. It has almost come to the point where it feels that each is a specialized area and one of them is not supposed to delve into the perimeter of the other. Every other day we hear good art directors starting up his or her own design agency frustrated with the cuffs slipped around their hands that limits any creativity whatsoever.
Who’s the culprit? The agency and the system of course. Hand on heart the scope for experimentation has hit rock bottom in ad agencies. Expect for some patli gali work any brave effort draws jeers and in this hard times it is best encouraged to stick to the tried and tested. On an average print work is unpalatable and indistinguishable. Mediocrity dominate the white pages and the less said about logos and fonts the better. Talk about brochures and even interns find it an unglamorous thing to do and web… hey isn’t that the digital agency’s job anyway. So what does the art directors do? They slog away, following templates, following last year’s successful campaign, following what the strategy head says and following the client’s scribble on the layout.
Check out the websites of the biggest advertising agencies and see the amount of drabness which sticks out like fish bones. Except for some great films which in most cases are the legitimate children of good production houses there is nothing to talk about. On the other hand Indian design agencies are having limitless fun and it’s reflecting in the cutting edge stuff you can see in their portfolio. And mind you all of them are released work, done for an actual client who is happy about it, have backed it and paid for it. Vivek Sahni Design, Lemon Design, Fisheye Design are creating eyeball bouncing stuff not to mention the path breaking canvasses by biggies like Bosedk Designs or Ray and Keshavan.
There’s no overnight solution. Ad agencies have to look inwards to create great work and one of the steps is to put the zing back in the art person’s life. Give him the freedom, appreciate when he breaks out of the box, recognize his analytical brain when it comes to understanding a brand and more importantly don’t disassociate him from the designer in him. These are the same guys who slam down their resignations one day to start a design house of their own…firstly it’s a shame to stand back then and say ‘wow this guy was good’ and most importantly it’s a loss which advertising can’t cope up with.