Does your art loose its soul once you join an agency?

Art Article

If art provokes change, whose role is it? Are graphic designers, copywriters and photographers artists or is it the preserve of painters, actors etc? What role do they play in provoking change in society? It has been argued that designers think they can save the world with a poster, maybe not but they can provoke conversation that leads to change.If you work in an agency, what did you “call” yourself before you joined the agency, not only how you referred to what you did but also your skill? Did you call yourself a graphic designer, a copywriter or an art director? How did you think about the possibility of your work, could it change hearts and minds, if so, do you still think the same thing about it?

The Predicament

Working in most agencies is quite interesting your 8am-5pm easily stretches to 8am-10pm and your days are filled with meetings, deadlines and more work pouring in. The thing with profit is that’s the motive for all companies and the best way to do it is to put in as little resources as possible and make the most money out of it. This profit should keep growing to appease shareholders and investors.
To achieve this in a service industry, you then use as little human resource as possible, to make as much as possible. What then happens is deadlines take center stage, your work becomes about delivering to the client in shorter and shorter time-frames. With the main premise being “This needs to go out.” So you think quickly and work even quicker so that it can go out. Eventually, your work becomes about beating the deadline.

If art is meant to provoke thought and action to change society for the better, do you feel your work does that? This doesn’t have to be your 8-5 job (already established this is profit based). Once you work in an industry where your time is elastic, then your personal work tends to become less and less. If you used to write articles before, sketch, then you do it less often and the back seat becomes the main seat. Eventually, the excitement of creation starts to slowly fade away and soon it becomes drudgerous and in no way is it about benefiting society or yourself but delivering what the client wants and at the bare minimum. In no way I’m I saying that work done by agencies does not address social issues there are some pretty good projects done by agencies that bring about a positive change in society like the revolutionary tinder project but you’re mostly limited on what you can address based on the brand you are working with.

Does your art loose its soul once you join an agency?

To maintain your creativity, freedom and artistry:

Take on personal projects- Fight for it, it may not be easy but do silly, creative, challenging projects to completion.
You will have the freedom to address whatever issues you want however you want. For instance, this 100days of feminist ads is a personal project by Eileen Matthews that addresses how women are perceived and treated, she works in an agency but has done multiple personal projects. Closer home, personal work by Osborne Macharia tells of Kenya’s history, he has severally shared his satisfaction and drive to take on personal projects and the outcome of which has highly elevated his work.
Attend events with other creatives that start the conversation and empower you to achieve what you want. For instance, Pawa Hub and creatives Garage.
Volunteer to help institutions and individuals that need creative solutions
Can you train school kids about freedom of thought and art? You will have nurtured art in others
Do you think this is accurate? Do you have other tips on how to preserve your artistry?

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| June 5, 2017