Every experienced creative recognises there are countless ways to approach conceptual creativity. There is no formula. No golden rule. No step-by-step instructions on WikiHow.
For those new to the industry; brimming with ideas and enthusiasm, seeking the guidance from those more experienced can help them refine their ideas and processes. But the benefits go both ways.
“It reminds you of the fire you had at the start of your career, which keeps you sharp and alert. It forces you to explain your craft, which gives you confidence in your own ability.”
Mark Starmach, Copywriter at the Special Group
Whilst imparting knowledge and advice at AWARD School, Jared Wicker, Copywriter at DDB took a lot from:
“Seeing the unique way that students unadulterated by the industry approach briefs. It can teach experienced creatives a whole lot more than they may realise.”
Being a mentor exposes you to the different approaches to conceptual thinking of junior creatives. Pete Sherrah, Senior Creative at Host/Havas comments that being a mentor:
“Forces you to strip back any preconceptions and judge work on the purity of ideas, objectively. Without this, creativity is easily boxed into your own understanding and preconceived views of the world.”
If the approach to briefs was always same, then our work would be predictable. Just imagine if all ads used humour. Or celebrity endorsements. Or were applied to only one platform. It would make for a pretty boring award season.
“It was certainly interesting helping others hone their own ideas rather than pitching ours. It's helped me think about my own ideas in a bit of a different light.”
Tim Batterham, Freelance AD at M&C
Being a mentor relies on being effective at critiquing work and articulating your feedback in a constructive way, helping flex and grow your creative muscle.
“Being a mentor requires you to think about what makes an idea good, forces you to articulate things that might be second nature to you as a more 'senior' creative. The ability to clearly explain why something does or doesn't work is a really important skill to have.”
Grace O’Brien, Copywriter at The Monkeys
“Being a mentor means giving clear, well thought out, actionable feedback, which encourages you to be more analytical about the work and less reactive or subjective.”
Jessica Roberts Associate Creative Director at VCCP
This ability to communicate clear, constructive and actionable feedback is what can be the difference between seniors and leaders in the industry. Recognising that the process can help both the mentee and mentor progress in the industry is a point that Elaine Li, Art Director at DDB made:
“It's inspiring to see the drive of aspiring creatives, to help shape their ideas and get into the industry. It's also a great way to train ourselves towards more senior Creative Director roles in the future.”
Your journey can inspire and guide others, and by providing a sounding board for rising stars to learn from your prior direction and experience, can help them make better decisions in similar scenarios.
However, to do that successfully does mean being generous with your time. This is especially the case during AWARD School as Rob Gordon, Art Director at BWM Dentsu explains:
“Give them your time, they are like sponges. You realise how much you actually know when you see them note taking at everything you say. Be prepared to give up more time than you might think. But it's worth it.”
If you’re considering taking on the role of a mentor, or a tutor at AWARD School, I’ll close off with a quote from Pete Sherrah: