Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Help Settle An Argument

Scowling A.D. has very kindly read the first draft of my book for me, but he disagrees with a bit I've done about the differing personalities of Art Directors and Copywriters.

I wrote that Copywriters tend to be the talkers, and the strategists, whereas Art Directors prefer to say less and do more (even if what they call 'doing' I call sitting in a photographer's studio reading the newspaper).

Scowling A.D. complains that "Art Directors aren't always strong silent types - just as likely to be stereotypically louder, more energetic, more colourful, harder-partying, more passionate than Copywriters."

Who is right? If you meet a team in the pub, can you always tell which is which? Or is there no real difference between the two breeds?


George said...

There's no rhyme or reason to it, but I can usually tell I think. The clothes, the language, the tone of voice. I'm not saying one is more or less than the other, but you can just tell. I can't quite put my finger on it.

Anonymous said...

in my experience, the art director is the loud, extroverted guy in the middle of the dance floor with his cock out, whilst the writer is the introverted, more self conscious guy worrying about it in the corner.

exceptions do apply of course.

Anonymous said...

i agree with both of you.

writers tend to be more strategic. but I think they're normally shyer. bit more awkward and argumentative too normally.

and i think art dirrectors on the whole are more passionate, warmer, maybe more emotional and less analytical.

Not much help in solving your argument, but there you go.

Anonymous said...

you're right, scowling AD is wrong. generally speaking.

Ben Kay said...

I thought your point was generally correct, although there are enough exceptions that Nick has a right to be very, very stroppy with you and your pie-in-the-sky generalising.

But then he is a typical bloody art director.

Anca said...

I’m with Scowling A.D., but without the “more passionate than Copywriters" bit – I think good copywriters are just as passionate. And yes, it is usually obvious who’s the Art and who’s the Copywriter and when it’s not, it is mostly because at least one of them can play both roles.

RFB said...

Not sure it can be simplified that easily, though I would tend to agree more with Scowling AD.

But if we're talking about AEs, they are almost always the brash assholes.

Advertising said...

I don't know about other people, but I find there's usually a "Good Cop and a Bad Cop" in most teams.

i.e: one who talks a lot and spurs you on and one who tells you everything in your book is shit.

The Good Cop makes you want to go back because he/she is someone you get on with and you always feel encouraged by, and the Bad Cop is the one you work hard to impress because you'll know the ad/campaign is a killer if they like it.

As for which one is the AD and which one is the CW, I find that it the roles of "Good Cop, Bad Cop" aren't necessarily bound to either.

Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

I think it depends on people really, I am an art director and I love to talk, because my partner always stay in silence, it just feel awkward if both of us keeping silence.


Anonymous said...

I agree that they're harder partying folk. And they are passionate - a moody kind of passion.

Writers are 'good cop' but they don't necessarily speak up more.

Anonymous said...

You can easily spot an Art Director in the pub.

The fact that he's actually in the pub automatically means he's an Art Director.

The copywriter is back at the office trying to come up with some ideas for the morning review.

Anonymous said...

I always thought the louder of the two was the one with less to say.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Scamp, but what about the trend nowadays of creatives having both Copy and Art director titles?

Anonymous said...

Depends Scamp.

If your book is more retro - like Gettin' Smashed - then it's probably easier to tell the difference between Scowling A.D. and blogging writer.

These days is a lot harder, I feel.
Maybe because the importance and amount of copy has been greatly reduced.

Also depends on how senior the Scows/Blogs are.

Harder if they're senior - someone fresh out of school who has never seen Dave and Gordon, for example.
It would be hard to know who spends his time reading newspapers at the photogs going by the togs.

Whereas for the younger Scowl/Blog, might be a bit easier.
Scowl being generally more flamoyant in dressing (although of course it could well be a young Robin).

Love to see your book - the one with more words than pictures.

Anonymous said...

i'm the art director in the team and normally i'm the louder cockier one.
surely one's creative skill whether it lies in words or visuals, is totally irrelevant to one's personality...?

Bolty said...

Not sure, but there's bound to be a suit at the bar actually buying the drinks.

Or is that just my fond memories of you and Scowling A.D, Scamp?

Anonymous said...

That is so fucking true.

Anonymous said...

Copywriters tend to be talkative. But not necessarily always, are they the strategists.
In fact, art directors are often great strategists. The good ones talk little...just as much as required to get the point across.
Copywriters that are passionate about art, are usually less talkative than the ones that aren't.
Whereas art directors that are not exceptionally talented, often tend to make up for it by talking a lot - challenging briefs and suggesting strategies at brainstorms. Some which may be good. And that's when you get campaigns that are sound on strategy but not well executed.

Ridder said...

Hi Scamp. Here's my ten cents for your argument: this stereotyping thing is pointless. With my previous partner and me, they where completely the other way around. Same with a lot of other teams I've met. It just comes down to personalities. Not to the job description.

Anonymous said...

the one talking to a girl is copy.
the one standing there, looking pretty, waiting for a girl to start talking to him, is AD.
the one taking a girl to bed is CD.

never fails.

Anonymous said...

Dead simple.

The one dressed in a flowery shirt and uncomfortable looking shoes is always the art director.

The tosser with the glasses and half-finished manuscript is always the writer.

Anonymous said...

i think its aboslutely ridiculous that there is still talks of seperation of who is who. if anything it shows the old school (dare i say it) mentality.

i think the future is hybrid. hybrid teams where both do both. and by both i mean not just writing and art directing, but films, and making stuff and whatever.

maybe you should all go and work at ddb. if thats your kind of thing.

i means its not bad is it.

]-[appy Thought said...

In my, admittedly limited experience, I'd be inclined to agree with you Mr. Scamp. This trend includes our art directors and flash designers. Actual code programmers - who after a fashion work with words and numbers all day - are quite chatty and spend time trying to (noisily) work out why what they have just done doesn't work!

Anonymous said...

If you take me and my art director, Scowling AD wins the argument.

But I've known other teams where you'd be right, Scamp.

Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Do copywriters generally have less hair?

Anonymous said...

Everybody always thinks I'm an Art Director, even though I'm a writer. And this despite the fact that I fit your description quite well.

Doesn't stop me being quietly flattered though.

Anonymous said...

There is some truth in the stereotypes of Art Director - Copywriter, although i think it's less about the actual jobs and more about the dynamics of the people in the team, the best teams tend to be very different, whilst at the same time think very alike, they work off each other, when one's quiet the other is vocal and vice versa.

Anonymous said...

The planners are the ones talking about random stuff.

The copywriters are the ones talking about work.

The creatives are the ones that turn up late and then expect free drinks all night.

Anonymous said...

I think you're both right.

There are just as many pensive, bespectacled wordsmith types as there are loud, self-congratulatory, coke-hoovering, gobby art directors.

I think on balance it's 50/50.

Anonymous said...

I tend to find copywriters are the quiet ones who never leave the office. It is always the A.D.s who go wandering.

That is if they ever unlock our doors here

Anonymous said...

in my experience the art directors tend to do most of the talking/presenting. they're also the ones who enjoy the actual making of stuff more?
writers tend to be better strategists and obviously, better writers. it can be quite tricky presenting a script you wrote yourself? saying that, my writer is louder than me and doesn't mind putting his oar in, in meetings.

(any writers spot the error? if you'd have asked me to draw it, this post would be awesome.)

Anonymous said...

Copywriters are usually shy, quieter, have more of a sense of others, want to do great.

Art directors tend to have gotten into advertising because they're more show-offy. They're generally more confident and outgoing. The title Art Director initially sounded 'cooler' to them.

Art Directors get more women. There are more gay copywriters, but there aren't as many gay copywriters as there are planners.

Copywriters have higher foreheads and less wacky living rooms. They're more normal.

Those blurry Creative Teams (ie. where they don't like to label themselves with either of the two tags) are invariably cunts.

Art Directors are more likely to lie - make out they know what the hell they're on about. Whereas a copywriter would be more likely to admit he doesn't know something. Copywriters are usually duller to speak to. Art Directors are outwardly entertaining.

There are other things but I can't remember right now.

Anonymous said...

ummm....errr.....yeah.....I dunno.....what do you think?

Art Director 27

Anonymous said...

I'm with Scowling A.D.
Art directors tend to talk more, mostly they go all over the place, jumping from one idea to the other.
Why? because they know what they want to say but it's harder for them to articulate it. Copywriters stay quiet and try to spot the useful bits. When interesting thought pops in, they are able to articulate it much better.

I'm thinking Tony Davidson and Kim Papworth. Can you recall a louder ad director? or a more quiet writer?

Well that's me but, what do I know, I'm just a guy in his pyjamas.

Anonymous said...

without wanting to sound like a curmudgeonly old git, these days all the young teams are just clones of each other from watford/bucks college who both 'deal in ideas'. There aren't any proper copywriters any more. Most of the teams I work with just answer all print briefs with a visual metaphor and no decent copy anyway.
ask all teams in the industry with less that 3 years expereince and i bet they shuffle awkwardly in thier seats when you ask 'which one's the copywriter'

Anonymous said...

My copywriter is definitely the talker and generally much more logical whilst i'm the silent type. I tend to read the papers a lot and in the ideas stage I'll throw out random thoughts which he then tries to make logic of. It works for us.

Anonymous said...

Think it's equal.

Just that copywriters tend to do more at the beginning of the job and art directors more at the end perhaps? That would explain why I'm writing this while my art directors working hard anyway.

Think there's always one talker and one silent type. Just not always the same way round.

And if a team both wear glasses the art director will be wearing the ones with the bigger blacker rims. Fact.

Anonymous said...

please tell me your not writing a book about juggling your crazy capers in advertising with blogging. I think i may have to eat my own testicles if that is the case.

And you should know that the first rule of good writing is avoid all cliches, so it doesn't matter who is right, both points of view are obvious.

Anonymous said...

copywriters tend to have bigger foreheads (receding hairline?) I've found this with mine - any one else tend to agree with this?

Anonymous said...

I was brought up in the US writing headline led ads, inspired by the old One Show annuals from the 70s. I'm now an art director who still loves writing headlines, dialogue and radio as well doing all the other arty stuff. I'm not extroverted in a 'look at my cock' sort of way and I don't wear specs or bang on about the book I want to write. Therefore, I don't believe in your stereotyping of creative personalities. However, where stereotyping do exsist, is that copywriters are generally acknowledged as the ones who come up with the ideas. I for one think it's a shame but that's just coming from an art director who loves doing everything.

Anonymous said...

I think Copywriters are usually moodier and more 'serious'
Art Directors are warmer people, probably because their moods are more consistent. They are more executionally talented whereas i think copywriters are better at coming up with campaignable ideas.

However this all goes out the window if you're one of the glut of swedish teams. They all look the same - like they've just fallen off the fashion bus from shoreditch. and both of them will be art directors - because that's like coolier and more like trendy y'know.

Anonymous said...

AD = Skinny jeans, thick bold glasses and whatever hair style is in fashion.

CW = Stupid T-Shirts, baggy jeans, dirty trainers and a stubble beard.

Gareth said...

Art Directors are the more talented of the two. We're grumpy because we have to drag the writer along kicking & screaming. Eh eh eh eh eh.
A good debate. My old writer just directed the new Coldplay video. He's done a not too shabby job of it too.
Worth checking out on Youtube.

Anonymous said...

9.55, i think you are wrong in your criticism of watford/bucks.

i see alot of teams from Watford who seem to have some excellent writing skills. often there's too much copy in the book.

Bucks do tend to do the visual metaphor thing a bit and they all seem to be AD's.

Anonymous said...

i've worked with a few art directors now.

generally speaking, they aren't the ideas generators, but they are good at judging a good idea when one is raised.

maybe that's just the dynamic of what i attract/am attracted to.

interesting study, scamp.

Anonymous said...

RE: Gareth12:06 PM

Did he do the horrible rip off of Beck?

Anonymous said...

Here's how to tell who is who: Ask them what they really want to be. If they say a novelist, they're a Copywriter. If they say Director, they're an Art Director. Simple, hmmm?

Tony Santos - @tsmuse said...

I'm an AD and I have to say I fit more into your copywriter description than your art director description. The copywriters I've worked with tend to be quieter, and we both tend to work out strategy equally.
Sounds to me like you're taking a stereotype from the 50s/60s of the "the writers are the ones steering the ship, the art department is just making it look good." Maybe my situation is the exception but I don't think that's the break down anymore.

Anonymous said...

I'm the quiet copywriter type. I've never been terribly comfortable presenting, so I tend to let the AD take the floor and add support when needed. Don't know if that makes us the exception to the rule, but it does give our concepts a lot more hope of getting through...

Anonymous said...

Copywriters have massive cocks. Even the girl ones.

Anonymous said...

@tony santos
don't kid yourself tony. you're just the art monkey for your writer. now go and make their concept look good.

Anonymous said...


Now copywriters and art directors are fighting and bitching against each other. What a nonsense post and massive generalisation. But i have to say you're closer to the mark.

Tim said...

CW: talkers. AD: artist.

Yet when AD's talk, people believe them. They are the more sincere of the two. Their quiet gives them a sense of authority. CW's are generally whorish politicians who sell the work, and often sell it out.

Bigger question is: which ones make better creative directors? Hmmm? Scamp? Hmmm?

Anonymous said...

I don't know and I don't think it really matters. Different CWs are different. Different ADs are different. Different teams are different. End of.

john p woods said...

Art Directors are like Pineapples. The pineapple is the dragon of the vegetable kingdom. It wears the armor of the reptile, spiky scales, and also the plumes of the knight, and reenacts their contest. Beware the pineapple. Try to cut it and you will bleed.

john p woods said...

Of course Pineapples aren't the only fruit. So which fruit are you, Scamp?

Anonymous said...

side theory...

lots of interesting ways to categorise art directors or copywriters, but what about different types of CDs?

i've always thought that an art director CD is like a batsman captain in cricket, whereas a copywriter CD is like a bowling captain.

Anonymous said...

Writers tend to be smarter. AD's tend to get laid more often.

Ash Cooleman said...

A copy writers genitals have a subtler presence: Laveneder, earthy herbal tones occasionally frequented with plucky wet dog.

Art directors start fruity and dynamic, building with harmonious notes - and tail off with a subtle warmth.