Teaching Talia

Cross-Disciplinary Art and Design from an Advertising Perspective

Posted on: May 25, 2010


Some interesting campaigns make use of innovative media that do not fall into any of the normal categories, designed and executed to have the most impact at the right time to the right audience. It could be an ice sculpture that lasts all of a few hours or even a bizarre event, requiring the know-how of people in their respective fields.

Working with people from different disciplines is the norm in advertising. We work with animators, film directors, sound designers, illustration artists and photographers on a daily basis. But the exciting fact is that once you have a great idea, there should be no boundaries. This lecture will illustrate how different disciplines come together to do just that, the challenges you will face and how it can be an exciting process. The lecture may burst a few bubbles as well, but a dose of reality never hurts anyone.


First, let us acknowledge that the IDEA is king


Ideas can come from anyone

A copywriter–art director / graphic designer relationship is what you can describe as a ‘micro’ cross-disciplinary relationship. It gets more challenging and interesting when you start working with people outside your agency.



Look beyond the usual boundaries
Don’t just limit yourself to cross-disciplinary partners from your city, state or even country. If everyone you know uses the same few people (if they are good, every agency would want them on their jobs), look outside the ‘comfort zone’. Get reputable partners from beyond your borders. Your project will definitely look different and fresh. And we need that.

Find the passion
Sounds really cliché, but it’s so true. To some people, what they do is just a job. To others, they do it out of love, be it the love for music, for art, for illustration or for film. Meet and talk to these people. If their passion is contagious and they speak to you with enthusiasm and a gleam in their eyes (despite the dark shadows and eye bags), you know you’ve got yourself a good team. You know they will go above and beyond what is asked of them. You can see this passion in the Coca Cola case study at the end of the lecture.

Great. You know how to find the right people to work with. What now?

Get involved
They should involve you at various stages of the animation’s development and that’s when you provide your input. You should also listen to their recommendations with an open mind. But if the result is far from what you have pictured in your head, then perhaps being a pain in the rear is necessary. Stand firm with what your want. But first, give them the benefit of a doubt in the first few rounds of work-in-progress. Provide more references and examples of what you hope to see. If all else fails, kick up a fuss.

This can be mitigated by the way you sell the idea and the cost estimates. Give them analogies to justify the higher costs. Make them understand that they shouldn’t be penny wise and pound foolish.

Times like this, we learn to let go.

It’ll still be your baby. Just not as perfect. Learn to swallow the lump in your throat that is your pride. And if something quite terrible comes out on air or in print (and we all know it’s probably not all your fault), denial is perfectly acceptable.


Good use of art in advertising can be inspiring

Two years ago, Marc Ecko, founder of the Ecko hip hop fashion brand, purportedly sprayed graffiti on the Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base. A video of him spraying the slogan Still Free (the Ecko brand’s battle cry), on the Air Force One cowling was uploaded to YouTube. (http://www.youtube.com ).

Known for supporting graffiti artists and graffiti as an artform, Ecko claimed he did so to send a message to President Bush. The video showed hooded graffiti artists climbing barbed-wire fences and sneaking past guards with dogs to approach the jumbo jet and spray paint the slogan.

After the video began circulating on the web, the Air Force couldn’t immediately confirm if the plane had been vandalised. This “breach of security” sent the police and Secret Service into high alert. Before they found out it was a hoax, CNN and other live news networks had picked up the scoop, raising eyebrows across the country.

Authorities later confirmed that no such thing happened. Some were amused. Some were pissed at the silliness of it all. But it did what it set out to do. Lots of media attention. The type money can’t buy.

Ecko later acknowledged his company rented a 747 cargo jet at San Bernardino’s airport and secretly painted one side to look like Air Force One. People involved signed confidentiality agreements and worked inside a giant hangar until the night the video was made.

Not quite art per se, but it was a brilliant idea. Who was behind this? You guessed it. Droga 5.


Working in a cross-disciplinary way is all part and parcel of advertising, even within a creative department in an ad agency.

the questions below…

1. What problems have you faced when working collaboratively? How did you resolve them?

Various team members having different visions for the collaboration. This was resolved by having one person ‘direct’ the team, and establishing a combined vision.

2. What are your responses to Ha’s own personal approaches to finding the ‘right’ people to work with? Does this apply to your situation?

I think that the parts of this approach are very true.  This is particularly true (I think) in regards to finding the right partners, and not being afraid to look broarder then where you are located.
3. How could you evaluate the potential of possible collaborators?

I think the evaulation needs to be a based from a few things. 1. Past performance- what previous work have they done. 2. Experience in this area- other projects that are similar to what you’re looking at. 3. Idea generation- can they brainstorm and think of new ideas freely with you now, and 4. Interest- are they interested in your idea- is this an area of passion?
4. Can you draw any parallels between the case studies in the lecture and those you examined in your Portfolio B project?


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Just finished my Graduate Certificate in Cross Disciplinary Art and Design with UNSW.




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