Illustration and Visual Media
For the past three months I worked in an advertising agency, in the art direction department. And yes, it has all the charms of a cool hip creative office: the slick decoration, the free drinks, the previous campaigns on the wall, the office dogs, etc. But, at the end of the day you’re there to work, and you work for the agency’s client. In my case it ranged from from tabloids, political parties, media companies and broadcasters. In this context, design is usually serves as an asset and media for the advertising campaign.The main function is to communicate to the viewer the brand’s message and product.
A few weeks into my internship, I began to reflect on the impact of what I was doing at work. One of the agency’s clients was a media company that owned a tabloid and a few other media channels (digital and OOH). There were always different briefs coming from them, to promote the benefits of having an ad on their media channels. I worked on some of those briefs, which mean that sometimes I would spend a whole day doing a mock up of a box that would go on a mailing for their clients. And yes, I did learn software skills, time management, problem solving, etc, while doing that but, I felt a big disconnection between what I was doing and my goals/interests as creative professional.
It is not uncommon for design to be attached with advertising, and therefore attract a lot of design students (like myself), as this is one of the very popular and glamorized ways into the creative industry. However, there are many different kinds of agencies, with different ethos and approaches, who therefore take different kinds of clients. From working in a place that didn’t have a limited or particularly socially engaged approach to advertising or design, I started to look for other agencies and studios that had a rather niched focus and clients, trying to bridge the gap between my interests and realistic work opportunities. On my research I found a consultancy agency focused on female narratives, a branding studios that works mainly with educational, cultural institutions and NGOs, a design studio with an ethnographical approach and human centered design; amongst many others. At this point, I started seeing the design practice as an agent of change. It can be used to visualize and communicate ideas/campaigns for clients whose aims are beneficial for society - being it either through diversity representation, education, social and environmental causes, etc.
So, even though it is east to be taken by the nice offices in hip neighbourhoods, with beautiful decoration and chilling out spaces, the job itself plays a bigger role. And it’s is great to have the privilege to be spending most of your day doing something that you care about and that it is giving back to society in some way.