Monday, 8 March 2010

Sometimes it hurts

One of the things that I probably should have learnt at university but didn't was how to grow a thick skin. When I left university and started working, I'd never until that point been rejected. I'd always been near the top of the class, won prizes and received praise. So when the first job rejection came along I was gutted - I'd been working on some television adverts for Minute Maid juices back in 2007, thinking that this could be a big break for me, and then my agent got the call that they had decided to go for something more 'graphic' and made in 3D. I was pretty upset at the abruptness of the dismissal, even though it was not because my work wasn't good enough, it was just not what they wanted in the end. Since then I've grown a thicker skin and rejections tend to slide off my back these days. I sometimes go through a bit of a cathartic rant just for the sake of it - once I did some drawings for a big department store's sale and then the agency, over the course of a weekend, decided to use someone in-house instead; I was pretty annoyed and subsequently decided that I HATED their campaign - but I get over it quickly enough.

So you remember that I told you with excitement the other week that we'd been working on something that was linked to Hugh-Fearnley Whittingstall? Well, it was for Jordan's cereals who are the new sponsors of River Cottage. I don't usually talk about work commissions until they are definite, but I got a bit carried away with this one and told you all. And, lo and behold, on Friday I got the call that they had decided not to use the stuff I'd been working on (these are some of the images I produced for my pitch) and instead to go for something in the style of their current television advert.

Needless to say I just shrugged over the telephone and said 'never mind, it happens all the time', but I'll tell you this: this one hurt a bit. I am fed up with doing things that I think are suitable for the project only to be rejected for something more 'commercial'. It happens to me all the time - it is the nature of the advertising industry to do this - they hedge their bets and get loads of different styles to choose from. They will try to push the boat out and do something different but then they always revert to type in the end - colourful, noisy and obvious. Every few times it gets to me. It makes me question whether I'm trying hard enough, or if I'm not good enough, whether I should try and change myself in order to win jobs. I was told, with great emphasis, that the rejection had nothing to do with the work I'd done, that the agency and client had loved it, but that they just decided to use the same style as the existing campaign. I totally understand that choice - it's all about creating a recognizable brand after all - and I don't take it personally, but I couldn't stop it from stinging a little bit. I am full of self-doubt and I hardly ever like the work that I do for money - that's why there is so little of it up here on this blog. Every time I get the chance to do something that I think might look nice, it seems that I get rejected in the end. It wears me down after a while :-/

Ah well. Next time, eh?

On a much lighter note, and sorry about the swearing, but this video, entitled 'graphic designer vs client' had me WETTING myself (DISCLAIMER: I really DO NOT feel like this about any of my clients, but it's damn funny, especially the bit where he asks for the size of the advertisement).


  1. I'm sure I'm biased, as I think your work is always wonderful, but what they chose (if it's like that ad) is very Teletubbies Cutesy and what you created was timeless and beautiful.
    Silly them.

  2. precicely what lynn said.
    and i remember you being pushed pritty hard at uni!
    i think its often very difficult being the tin can at the top ...further to fall.

    have you seen designer verses client 2
    ha ha
    you can always use the images for somthing a bit more self promotional ...they are lovely ..

  3. Aw. Thanks guys, you make me feel so much better. I wasn't fishing for compliments - I just thought I'd write about it because otherwise it seems like I lead a charmed life that's full of great work and no rejections :-) I'm glad you liked the stuff I did - maybe I will use it for myself!

    Yes, I watched no.2 too. They are very funny. Microsoft Word...!

  4. I know, I think I snorted and a little snot came out of my nose at that one. Genius.

  5. I feel like this about science. You try not to get bothered by paper rejections and job rejections, but it does get to you. Sometimes it is because people do stuff better than you (its not always possible to be the best) and other times its just because its not what people want (more of the problem with your stuff I think).

    I personally love these drawings. I think the advertising world (whether it be shop signage or TV adverts and their loud volume) is like an arms race. If one advertiser makes their adverts "stand out" more, then everything else has to go that way or they won't get noticed. Its not just about fashion but about actually exploiting peoples senses.

    Its all very stupid though, as it runs away on itself and no one wins in the end.

    I'd love more subtle adverts. More thought has to go into the content!

    Rejection is something that Oxbridge does not help people deal with. I vote for shouting "FUCK THEM ALL", throwing something across the garden and then drawing a monster that represents all the shit heads that have rejected you.

    But then, I probably have issues.

  6. I guess everyone has stuff like this in their lives. It's nice to know you're not alone in feeling like this sometimes. I know I can't be the best person for every job that comes my way - I'm getting used to it :-)

    I find that the subtle adverts are the ones that grab the most these days. Some agencies just don't get that.

    Yeah, Oxbridge is full of overachieving types - it's not the healthiest place to learn how to get along in life :-)