see through me

A bit of my thoughts about life in general and things that keep it worth living...


Adtopia: Breaking in... part 1

Setting: 10 pm, office cubicle, a cup of cold coffee, ashtray full of cigarette butts, me taking break from layouting and chatting with a friend.

Friend: So, how exactly does one have to do to work in an agency?

Friend is working in a small design company (or creative boutique, as they like to call it). He is a quite talented graphic designer who wants to take his chances to be an art director, a highly appealing title indeed, but basicly doesn't differ that much from what he was doing.

Then I was thinking for a moment or two, and it occured to me that, yes indeed, there are many of those talented fresh grads who want to break in, but somehow lack the knowledge on how to actually get themselves hired.

Agencies are known to look for new raw talents, they are more than willing to hire people that they think would give birth to fresh ideas and thus help them to build the company stronger. So the first thing you should remember is that they are looking for people who would be able to solve problems. And that would lead me to this most important point:

Build a portfolio.

Let me say it again, BUILD A PORTFOLIO.

And do it seriously. Don't put your assignments from college, unless they worth the peek. Creative directors don't really want to see pages and pages of eye candies, they want to see real cases, or should I say dummy cases. You're hired to solve problems, not to be that lonely artist who only wants to create thing he desires to do. You'll have to take a real product -and more preferably something that the communication has been badly done- and make a new campaign around that product.

Remember, you're a problem solver, not merely an artist.

"But, but, what product should I take?"
you ask.

This is where things are getting tricky, because you would have to put some real efforts into the game.

Let's say you want to work in Old & Rubicube Communication. Do some research about them, buy that very useful book called ADI (Advertising Directory Indonesia) usually available in good book stores such as QB or Kinokuniya. Flip the pages until you find informations about their clients. And oh, you see something interesting. They have a detergent account, and somehow you don't really remember ever seeing ads for that product. That's a good sign, because good ads are always memorable. Now that would be your chance to prove yourself to them.

Go back to your home, and get some pencils and papers. And think. Think. Think. Coffee. Think. Flip books. Think. Ting! You have an idea. Good. Now it's time to execute it.

Create a new tagline, make some stopping headlines, take a different idea perspective. And make sure that your idea is better than the one they had.

I would strongly advice you to do a campaign. That means you would have to do prints, TVs and radios (if you're a copywriter). Because the impact would be greater if the CD sees that you're able to do the full monty instead of a single medium.

The execution should be near flawless as possible.

"But, but, I couldn't do any layouting?" says the aspiring copywriter.

First, it would be good for you to surpass your field's limits. If you're a copy, you should have a basic knowledge of layouting and design. If you're an art, work on your word crafting.

You could always work in pair. As you would probably do in the real situation. That's why you should extend your networking. If you're a copy, then find a talented fresh grad graphic designer. And vice versa. Maybe you could do a joined portfolio. That would show you are capable to work in a team.

Now it's time to send your portfolio with your CV. Put them in a CD and send it along your CV. Don't try too hard to be witty. The best CV is the clearest one. Name, age, address, phone number (home and cellular) and an email address. I would suggest you to open an email account exclusively for applications and maybe you shouldn't use weird address such as or And of course put in your educations and capability. Oh, and don't put Bahasa Indonesia in languages, because it's quite silly. Instead put the foreign languages you're able to speak.

And wait for the phone call. You could check once in a while if they are considering your applications, but don't harrass them.

When they ask you to come for an interview, print your works nicely, don't be cheap. Think of it as an investment.

Don't overdo your wrapping. The best portfolio would be the one that has layouts neatly put in a nice folder. Buy a leather bound one if you could afford it. Put your best works in the FIRST page and the LAST page. This is a thing I've learned from Marc Silvestri, a notorious comic artist. You would want to start with a BANG and finish with grace, because the last page is what would usually stay open during the interview afterward.

And whatever happens, don't argue. Ever.

Let the works speak for themselves. If the CD points out mistakes or such, just swallow them and make mental notes for your next portfolio. Be humble.

"Next portfolio? Are you kidding me?" you say.

Yes, next portfolio. Because if you remember what I wrote above, you would have to make a particular portfolio according to the agency you're aiming. You're not using a machine gun, you're a sniper. Choose your target and use the appropriate ammo. So be prepared to make tons of them. Hard work, but worth every second of it.

Well. This would end the beginning. I'll see you in part 2, ok?


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