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My new partner picks me and my work to shreds


Hi Jancy,
I work at a great mid-sized agency in the States. I graduated from the top ad school close by. I consider myself a pretty laid back kinda guy and very detailed-driven art director. I’ve been paired up with a copywriter who has a tad bit more experience than me. Nice guy but always nitpicks as if he is a creative director himself. Everytime I send something out for review, he waltzes in my office and demands that I revise the art as he directs over my shoulder. Those demands are disguised as “What if we do this…” and “What would it look like if we did this…” Sometimes it leads to better things. But mostly it comes off as if I’m his graphic designer. He has even stated that he considers himself a creative director. I was told by many people that I need to put my foot down and tell him to bugger off. I did it once nicely last week, he got pissed, and now this week he’s back at it. Not that I’m trying to exclude him in any way, I depend on his brains too for concepting and bring ideas forward. And I want to hear him out but at the same time I don’t want to be a pushover. Is there a happy medium? Being 2 months new, I want to avoid “complaining” to my supervisors. Help!
Pecked to death by Copywriter Crow,
Art Director Wannabe Scarecrow

intro My new partner picks me and my work to shredsTell him to back off. Be as straight with him as you are here. He may be right at times, as you note, but his style is off-putting and it’s going to lead to bad things. Tell him how you’d rather communicate when he has ideas on art direction (which we think you should still welcome—just as you should feel free to make observations on his copy). It is too soon to complain to your CD. Try to work it out. If he refuses to change his ways, you should talk to the CD, maybe at your 6 month mark. And if nothing happens after that? Once you’ve put in a year, you should consider looking for another agency. The wrong partner over too long of a period of time will hurt your work and could sour you on the whole business.

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About Jancy

'Jancy' is Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk, Co-Founders of Swim, a unique “creative leadership training lab for advertising creatives and marketers.” Prior to Swim, Jancy was globally renowned as the Co-Chief Creative Officers of Ogilvy & Mather Toronto, a position they held for thirteen of the twenty years they were a creative duo at the agency. Over the years they've racked up Cannes Lions, Clios, One Show pencils and CA credits, and have lead their shop to two Cannes Lions Grand Prix and a Grand Clio. They've judged CA, Cannes, D&AD, the One Show, the Clios and other prestigious award shows. Creativity named them two of the top 50 creative people of 2008. Known for their outspoken, no-bullshit style and a passion for mentoring juniors, they're ready to give you advice if you're ready to take it.

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