I remember teaching advertising art direction at OCAD—before they added the “D” and the “U”. Back then, all you had to do in ad class was to come up with a few good print and TV concepts, do some layouts and you’d get a job. Today, in the same ad class, you still need to come up with concepts and layouts—but now, by the dozen. In addition to mastering traditional marketing approaches, you also need to create sophisticated convergent culture and transmedia campaigns in every conceivable medium.
You are expected to do the campaign strategic thinking, media selection/planning, budgeting, positioning, copywriting, execute expertly in the latest graphics programs for time-based media, print and digital. Understanding the digital landscape in marketing, creative and technical terms is a given. As if that wasn’t enough, creative directors today want collaborators, storytellers, and great presenters with tons of soft skills.
We hear over and over that agency cutbacks mean no more training wheels—students need to graduate ready to leap from the classroom to the boardroom, with a full complement of expert skill sets across multiple disciplines. A formal art school education has never been more important than today—you can’t just “wing it.” Today, many young grads with impressive credentials fiercely compete with multiple candidates for an unpaid internship. The “lucky ones”get free internship after free internship. Someone is creating all those $5 logos on fiverr.com.
Is there an upside? Of course. Creative people have never had more license and liberty to create entertaining, impactful work. The old rules have given way to more artistic opportunities that new media present, limited only by one’s imagination and skill. Multi-disciplinary demands mean a wider range of fun areas for a fertile, creative mind to play.