Chapter 10

“Toto, I Have a Feeling We’re Not in McMann & Tate Anymore”

Working out past the edge

PICASSO PROBABLY LEARNED TO DRAW a realistic head before he began putting both eyes on the same side of the nose.

Getting the eyes in the right place has been the subject of the first chapters of this book. Once you learn how, it’s time to go further out. So take everything I’ve said so far and just chuck it. Every rule, every guideline, just give ’em the old heave-ho.

Let’s assume you know how to sell a vacuum cleaner in a small-space ad with a well-crafted headline. Let’s assume you know how to put a great visual idea on paper and how to come up with the sort of idea that makes colleagues who see it go, “Hey, that is cool.”

Doyle Dane art director Helmut Krone had this to say on the subject:

If people tell you, “That’s up to your usual great standard,” then you know you haven’t done it. “New” is when you’ve never seen before what you’ve just put on a piece of paper. You haven’t seen it before and nobody else in the world has ever seen it. . . . It’s not related to anything that you’ve seen before in your life. And it’s very hard to judge the value of it. You distrust it, and everybody distrusts it. And very often, it’s somebody else who has to tell you that the thing has merit, because you have no frame of reference.1

There’s going to come a point in your job when the compasses don’t work. When you’re so far out there that up ceases to be up, west isn’t west, and “Hey, great ad” ...

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