A former intern emailed me this morning to ask advice on putting her book together. After I wrote my response, it dawned on me, it could be helpful to just about any aspiring creative. If you are not smart, or not an art director, maybe it applies less to you. But if you're not smart, you're probably not this far into this post anyway, so there we go.
Hey [FORMER INTERN],
I think, first and foremost, you need to identify where exactly you see yourself for your first job (and for the three jobs after that, if applicable). Then, focus your book and all your efforts on that goal. Show the best work you have: the most thoughtful, the most finished, the best designed and the most surprising.
Second, I think you'd do well to demonstrate that you're proficient across multiple media channels. It's 2011. You need to have digital thinking in your book. Period. To skip it would be stupid. And you're not stupid. So yes -- do the integrated thing (as long as it's strong and makes you look smart.)
Third, I hear over and over from creative directors that they want "ideas", no matter how unfinished. At a large agency, that probably plays. At a small agency like Slingshot, I'm looking for a lot more: do you understand how to use type? Do you understand how to use (not shoot, but use) photography effectively? Do you push for an unexpected solution?
Your book gets you in the door -- EVERYTHING else is about you: can you talk intelligently about advertising -- and about the advertising you admire? Especially the advertising you admire that has been done by the company you are interviewing with. Do you have any experience in the ad industry? Be your enthusiastic self. And have some confidence in the fact that you are worth a great deal -- and focus on that job you want. Not necessarily the job that wants you.
Biggest mistake you can make is taking a job your heart isn't in.
Send me your work. And tell me where you see yourself.
I'll try to help you get there.
(You guys can do that too. I'm always excited to see a new book.)