Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesday Tip No.41 - How Do You Know When Something's Finished?

While David Bowie was recording 'Low' in Berlin, he apparently took so much coke that he was unable to finish any song, instead spending weeks on a restless, repetitive fiddling that he later referred to as 'punding'.

Be wary of punding.

As a Creative, time is your only resource. And just as stopping too soon is a deadly sin, so is going on too long.

Hence, it's vital to know when something is finished. Unfortunately, as there are an infinite number of ways to write a headline, or crop a photo, there is no 100% foolproof rational method of deciding when a job of work is done, especially when it comes to craft.

All you have to go on is a feeling. The time to stop is when whatever you're working on 'just feels right.' You need to listen for that feeling in your head, nurture it, and pay heed to it.

Perhaps a couple of analogies might help explain what 'it' is:

In his magnificent book "Hey Whipple Squeeze This" Luke Sullivan quotes the poet William Butler Yeats who said the sound a good poem makes when it's finished is like a lid clicking shut on a perfectly made box.

Then there's these lyrics by New Zealand songwriter Don McGlashan, as featured on Cleaver's blog.

Look at the way this gun fits the crook of your arm
To make a thing like that you’d need to know what you were about
You’d need to know where you were going and go there in a straight line
And everything else you’d have to shut right out

Can you see the man who made that?
Can you see him putting it down and standing back?
Can you see the moment when he said, “that’s it, that’s perfect”?
At a time like that you wouldn’t care about your job
Or your mortgage or the fight you had with your wife
‘Cause when a man holds a thing well made there’s connection
There’s completeness when a man holds a thing well made

I don't actually know who Don McGlashan is, but he hit the nail on the head there for anyone whose job involves crafting something.

Tip No.40 - Challenge The Brief
Tip No.39 - Tell The Truth
Tip No.38 - Playing To Lose
Tip No.37 - How To Write Headlines
Tip No.36 - How To Do Direct
Tip No.35 - How To Do Radio
Tip No.34 - How To Do Press
Tip No.33 - How To Do TV
Tip No.32 - How To Do Digital
Tip No.31 - How To Do Posters
Tip No.30 - Look At Weird Shit
Tip No.29 - Presenting To The Client
Tip No.28 - Presenting To The Team
Tip No.27 - Presenting To The Creative Director
Tip No.26 - How To Deal With Rejection
Tip No.25 - Look Creative
Tip No.24 - Don't Be Afraid To Ask
Tip No.23 - Your Idea Has To Be 120%
Tip No.22 - Read Iain's Tips
Tip No.21 - Don't Behave
Tip No.20 - How To Discuss Ideas
Tip No.19 - Read Hugh's Tips
Tip No.18 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part IV - How To Turn A Placement Into A Job
Tip No.17 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part III - How To Approach Agencies (re-print of Tip No. 7)
Tip No.16 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part II - How To Put A Book Together
Tip No. 15 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part I - FAQ
Tip No. 14 - Make Friends With Traffic
Tip No. 13 - Get Reference
Tip No. 12 - Don't Stop Too Soon
Tip No.11 - Be Very
Tip No.10 - Breaking Up
Tip No.9 - Working Well With Your Partner
Tip No.8 - Finding The Right Partner
Tip No.7 - How To Approach Agencies
Tip No.6 - Never-Seen-Before Footage
Tip No.5 - Dicketts' Finger
Tip No.4 - Two Blokes In The Pub
Tip No.3 - Play Family Fortunes
Tip No.2 - Should You Take A Bad Job?
Tip No.1 - Don't Overpolish


Unknown said...


Scamp said...


Unknown said...

something you build as you learn. by experience. i guess it´s not experience but criteria what makes cds, cds. criteria is built on experience, being cooler at thought than young exited idea horny creatives. and as a creative, i guess it´s not just being up to date, experimenting, observation and not being afraid go different and always trying to go with something else what makes you good at what you do. but what you do with that, and that´s criteria. i´m leaving out communication-strategy-consciousness here and also surely off-topic.

Anonymous said...

Amen to that. And beware the CD who noodles your spot endlessly. this is a clear sign that they don't know what the f**k they are doing. perfectionism is just insecurity in a fancy frock. avoid it at all costs. a few imperfections on the veneer can be a good thing. you can polish the life out of an idea.

Anonymous said...

It's only an ad lovey.

Anonymous said...

I bet Campaign's journalists feel that connection when they place the last full stop on their article about the Fulborough Council media planning account being up for grabs.

Lunar BBDO said...

Dear Fact Fans,

Frank Budgen still tweaks the director's cuts on his reel THREE YEARS after the original ads have gone out.

And that might be why he's Frank and you're not. Unless you are, in which case, Hi Frank.

Anonymous said...

The ad is perfect when the planner has finished editing it.

Ha ha no offence. Just horseing around.

Anonymous said...

directors cuts arent usually any good. overlength and indulgent. franks are no exception. the levis twist with the shot of the dog running off with the spare arm. unneccessary and nothing to do with the idea.

Anonymous said...

@ lunar,

if so, frank needs to get a life. that's really sad and not at all impressive, if it's true. smells like a rumor his EP started to impress the luvvie creatives.

making TV ads just isn't that hard.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Lunar.
Attention to detail. Never Compromised.

Which is the exact reason we look back on previous works and kick ourselves for not changing them.

Anonymous said...

Hi Frank, just wondering how your cut of play-doh is going.



proxikid said...

This is becoming a bit like a rule-book. so much advice for a young creative to take in, to follow, to craft...

Anonymous said...

It's not just Frank, I think most people look back at their work and think, "wish i'd just done that."

Truth is the deadline, that's when it's finished.

Anonymous said...

re Annon: 4:56 PM

Its sad is it? Its sad that Frank Budgen is one of the worlds most awarded Directors, (previously a heavily awarded Creative), its sad that most good creative people in the Industry, and I mean globally not just here in London would love to work with Frank Budgen, its sad that he has won D&AD Gold’s, Silvers, Cannes lions, BTAA Golds, One show Pencils infact enough god damn awards to fill a house with. I could carry on if you want me to?
I think its sad thinking that someone devoted to their work cares, cares so much they want to craft it even when lesser people think its finished. Helmut Krone (famous Art Director) would still be re art directing concepts for clients even after the agency and client had parted company. A little odd I know, but says something about his love of his work.
Yea he was sad too right?

Anonymous said...

Mr 4.56pm.

Your right making TV ads just isn't that hard.

Unless, of course you're one of those sad, need to get a life people who actually take pride in making good ones.

Anonymous said...

no. you two previous are just wrong.

i take pride in my ads and they've won a lot of awards and all that BS. and i've done plenty where i wouldn't change a single frame. and they're always done on time. you know why? because i know exactly what i want before we shoot a single frame. i know the effect i'm trying to achieve. and when i achieve it i stop. it's that simple. it's not a mystery.

doing what we do should be fun. and squeezing the life out of things is no fun for the viewer, the creator, and let's not forget the poor editor.

it's a simple forest/trees thing.

Anonymous said...

What's with all the anonymous stuff. At least build up an online identity. So we we can see a continuation. Like Kate Moss.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:19.

I've made many good ads without trying too hard. The trick is to get a good script, a good director and plenty of cash.

Advertising isn't rocket science nor is it very important. I found this out when I discovered that my ex-girlfriend (the cow) went to an awards ceremony at The Grosvenor with everyone in Black Tie and ball gowns and plenty of charlie and twattish behaviour. What was the awards? The sausage awards. She won a golden fucking sausage and thought it was the best day of her life (I certainly wasn't providing her with many good days I can tell you but then she didn't deserve any. The cow.) Advertising is just sausages. What's the opposite of sausages? I'll do that.

Anonymous said...

I was wrong. I see that now. I'm sorry.

Anonymous said...

mr. orange,

because anonymity is cool, that's why.

i'm just agreeing with mr. scamp. because i've seen too many creatives ruin good ideas by tweaking them to death. because they didn't know what they wanted and in the process drove all around them insane. and then they call it "perfectionism". i call it being an insecure arse.

know what you want. get it. stop. go for a pint.

Mark McGuinness said...

Have to say Low sounds pretty finished to me - or was that Eno wielding the big stick?

kate moss said...

Another couple of years and he'd have got it to the level of Hunky Dory.

Anonymous said...

the time to finish making your ad is the moment when it just distanced enough from the person you stole it from to be able to pass it on as yours. after that just dress creative and count the bucks.

Anonymous said...


you KNOW it was Eno all the painful way. and you know eno's family relationships suffered. and his wife kept asking why he was taking so long in berlin. and dave kept snorting lines....etc...boring.

Rob Mortimer (aka Famous Rob) said...

Look at Ridley Scott, is it 5 versions of Blade Runner we are up to now?

I hope he doesn't do that with his old ads.

The Hovis Ad - Final Directors Cut

Anonymous said...

more importantly does anyone have the full list of creative circle finalists?