Internship SmackDown! Week 3:

I kicked ass today.

I know I’ve repeatedly said that I’m not going to focus on this internship and get all competitive, and that I was going to take the class in stride, but sometimes, you get a win when you need a win, and dammit, you have to celebrate. 

Why I Needed A Win

Monday was a rough day for me. The morning started out with the revelation that one of the biggest projects I would have to date just got killed by the client. I spent the rest of the morning trying to get answers, only to be told none were there. Between that and worrying about money coming in, and trying to nail down potential clients, it was one gut punch after another. On top of all that, I’d just come back from a getaway weekend in Las Vegas, and despite all my best intentions, had gotten little homework done. 

I really wanted to bail on the class. I only had half the assignments done, and the stress from my clients were pushing me close to the edge. I was trying not to lose my head. A-huh-huh-huh.

In-Class Assignment

I’m learning a lot more in this class than I did in the Wexley class. I’m trying to avoid direct comparisons, but as we talked about strategy, and pulling a strategy statement from an ad campaign, I felt something click-it made me want to go back to all of the mock campaigns cluttering up my book and make them better. I felt like I was learning a technique to make my ads work, not just a visual and tagline. I don’t know that I ever had that moment at Wexley.

For our in-class assignment, we were tasked to create a campaign for craigslist. Art directors were to create a headline driven campaign, and copywriters were to create a visual campaign. We had a half hour. Before Kurt left, he made a passing comment about craigslist being a “good place to meet people”. In my head, I said, “yeah, to fuck.”

Click.

People use craigslist for any number of reasons. It’s the ultimate message board to find whatever-or whomever-you need. And the gift and the curse about craigslist is that it’s plain and simple. People have tried to redesign craigslist for years, tried to give it a brand image, but they’ve stubbornly held on to its simple page of blue links. It is their brand image. 

I dove into my iPod and started nosing around the site. I noticed that the headlines sometimes had some very catchy writing, and that could be the hook of the ad. craigslist is the ultimate messageboard. I can work with that. I jotted down a few ideas, then realized, maybe the copy is the visual. Maybe I can use the brand image of Times New Roman and a blue underlined link as my visual and copy, and the breadcrumb link that takes you back to craigslist’s homepage could be the logo. I started jotting down ideas.

Hell Hath No Fury Like a w4m Scorned. 

Where Free Wood Could Be Found In Three Different Sections.

Where Full Service Web Design Happens for Only $200. (Yeah, maybe I was a bit bitter.)

Reconnect With Mr. Poopnoodle

Rough ideas to be sure, but I felt like I had something there. Even better, I thought they had the potential to be great. The hair was standing on the back of my neck. I’ve been told that happens when a great idea comes to you, but I’ve never had that moment. I was literally bouncing in my chair, ready to pour my brilliance all over the bulletin board. The skies would open up, angels would sing, job offers would fill my inbox to the breaking point. 

Unless Kurt and Mike said my idea sucked. Shit.

The Critique

I have a long-standing policy when it comes to presenting in class that I cultivated way back in my art classes at the University of Dayton. I only share it here because there are only eight of your reading this, and I trust you won’t tell anybody. 

Always present third. 

Why third? You don’t go first because you don’t want to look like a kiss-ass rushing to show your stuff. You don’t go last because you might get rushed because of time, or there might be a chance that someone shows your idea first. You go third. Because after the first two, you’ve got an bead on how the teachers are critiquing, and you can prepare mentally for the firing squad [link]. And I’ve been in critiques where the first few went well, then someone puts something lousy up, and if you have the misfortune of presenting after that, you may as well jump into a pit of rusty X-Acto knifes and broken metal T-squares-it’ll hurt less. 

(I realize there are some of you reading this who have no idea what a T-square is or how to use one. Just know that I hate you.)

You go third. Always. Except this time, dammit, I was going first. I’ve often heard about the feeling you get when you’re on to something great-the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, you get goosebumps. I’ve never had that feeling before Monday night. I just wanted to get it on the board. I practically skipped up there, and pinned my mockups to the board.

I close my eyes, and wait for the bullets. Only this time, I opened one eye. 

“I like them”, Mike said. “Relevant, interesting, funny-very solid.” Kurt also liked them, though he expressed concern that “A Great Place to Meet People” would never actually be able to run anywhere.

I felt great. I felt like I hit a homerun, and I made a note in my book to flesh out this idea for my portfolio. So far, I’ve got my Up North campaign and my craigslist campaign to wrestle into presentable shape. Remember what I said back in week one?

This is first and foremost a class, and I’m there to learn, and hopefully work with some really great people. Even if I don’t get the internship, if I leave the class with a better book than I currently have, it will have still been completely worthwhile.

I already have two strong ideas that I can flesh out for my book. This class has already paid off in spades.

NEXT TIME: I take a break from the class recaps to figure out this black people in advertising thing. Can black people only sell ads to other black people? I dig into AdAge’s Diversity Special to figure out what the hell I’m getting into. Also, I enjoy a yummy Chipotle burrito.

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Dwight Battle

Studio Battle, 9410 35th Ave SW #A, Seattle, WA 98126, USA

Dwight Battle is an award-winning independent art director specializing in mobile and digital design, branding, and creative direction. Dwight has been an art director and designer for over twelve years, and have worked with a variety of clients in a variety of stages of growth, from Fortune 500 companies to small family businesses, and from established companies to early-stage startups.