It really doesn’t matter what kind of artist or creative you may identify with. It’s a universal need to keep ourselves stimulated and inspired through a lot of broadening activities like visits to a museum, cooking classes, listening to music, or even perusing the preverbal black hole that is Tumblr (or worse yet, Pinterest).  No matter your flavor for keeping the creative juices flowing, one thing remains for certain: You must consume as much as you create.

 

 

It really doesn’t matter what kind of artist or creative you may identify with. It’s a universal need to keep ourselves stimulated and inspired through a lot of broadening activities like visits to a museum, cooking classes, listening to music, or even perusing the preverbal black hole that is Tumblr (or worse yet, Pinterest).  No matter your flavor for keeping the creative juices flowing, one thing remains for certain: You must consume as much as you create.

 

Graydon Carter Photograph by Annie Leibovitz

 

Everyone’s entry into the Art Director arena probably has a heritage skill or experience like being a stylist or working in marketing so it’s easy to find common ground with fellow crew members. On the other hand, those you meet in the field and how they apply their skills can vary as wildly as the industries you may find them in. Communication is key but truly taking ownership for the final image means taking a deep dive into all of the disciplines that make a team of on-set creatives. But wait, I’ve spent my whole life becoming a director, now you want me to take a step backward? Not quite.

 

 

I recently had the pleasure of working with Stay Alfred Vacation Rentals, an unexpected and otherwise odd client for a fashion guy like myself but so, so rewarding. Not at all what I was expecting for a company in its adolescence based in a medium sized city that’s not exactly known for innovation. We guided the executive team of this booming startup through a series of photos and video interviews with a huge range of topics, personalities and ways we could use the content. Amongst this group of celebrated business leaders a common thread prevailed, one that can translate to any business: Investing in people is the core to every team’s success.

 

 

Being an accountable leader and investing in your team can be tricky business when crews rotate or there’s constantly new talent that you’ve never met. This is why it’s important to always control for your variables. The photographer may change but the principles and mechanics of photography do not; Aperture, shutter speed, depth of field, focal length, and color temperature are the language your photographer speaks, and so too should it be the language you use when communicating with them. Most of us have heard of the “Golden Rule”, treat people how you want to be treated, but the “Platinum Rule” takes it a step further: Treat people how they need to be treated.

When communicating with creatives this difference can be profound in producing a final product that meets your client’s goals with precision and efficiency. If discussing with your makeup artist whether or not the subject should have a highlight on the cheekbone are you specifying whether it should be matte, totally light reflective, or contain particulates like glitter? Three different options that can have three very different effects on the final outcome and is dictated only by taking the time to acquire the knowledge that allows you to speak in their language. Even with wardrobe stylists, the artist and clothes may change but the principles of emphasizing the human form remain largely the same. A successful Art Director is one that can connect with their creatives, identify their strengths and create synergy in a group where everyone can shine.

 

 

Now that you’re conscious of anticipating and addressing the needs of a dozen roles roles you may encounter in the day-to-day work of content creation, let’s complicate things exponentially by adding in the values and desires of the client commissioning the work. It may seem like a simple idea to put the needs of the client first, but not all of us are lucky enough to have the impeccable Agents at Scout to help parse down needs vs. wants and keep the project in scope. Much like you would with the creatives on set, doing your research becomes a critical part of understanding how your client intends on using the content you’re making for them and the words or terms you need to use with them in order to actualize that goal. They might be for social so is everything able to square crop easily? How about negative space needed for brand logos? More than that, how do you meet the clients needs while also maintaining your creative integrity? Learn your limits. The difference between when you’re making art, when you’re not, and most notably when to blend the two.

Once you’re able to wrap your brain around around the roles of everyone involved in your work, special opportunities arise to train and develop less experienced crew members(or even clients) to make sure they can meet the immediate needs of your shoot but more importantly, to nurture that relationship over time. 15 years ago I began my journey in this industry as a makeup artist, guided by a slew of amazing talent that also continued to grow and evolve into new and unforeseeable inspirations for success. There’s nothing more rewarding than hiring someone for a job and years later learning you’re a reason they can now hire you. Leaving a legacy and becoming a well rounded Art Director is a lifetime commitment to learning and constant self evolution.

 

 

What are some of your favorite ways to stay inspired? Are there artists you follow or periodicals that keep you in the know? Let us know! Now go share your resources, perspective and passions with everyone you encounter on this path and don’t forget to check out the other great blog posts form our incredibly talented Scout Creatives!