What working in a tattoo store taught me concerning the inventive strategy of promoting
It has something to do with stabbing a stranger for several hours who shows his true colors. Having previously worked in a tattoo shop, I learned early in my career how people make questionable creative decisions.
The tattoo parlor has been a constant source of life education. For example, women have a much higher pain threshold. You should never have your partner's name tattooed on you (this is really a curse). And most of the people choose the wrong tattoo artist for the job.
While a tattoo shop is seemingly worlds away from advertising, I have seen time and time again that the wrong creative person was chosen for the job. The fit is important.
The majority of tattoo hunters walked in, flipped through portfolios of amazing designs, and then selected an artist whose work had blown them. Maybe it was a black and white portfolio with incredibly detailed photorealism, or an artist with a new school style who specializes in geometry.
Don't choose the people you like for a job. Choose the people you need.
These clients chose their artist based on a particular talent or style, but most of the time they hired them to do something completely different. A client might fall in love with an artist's ability to create intricate geometry, but then hire them to paint an owl eating a mouse under a rainbow, surrounded by silhouettes of dancing frogs that spell the word "karma".
This happens all the time – not the karma frogs; Pick the wrong artist – and the end result could be worse than it sounds.
The mistake customers made was neglecting what they loved about the person they hired and making that artist shine. Instead, they insisted on an idea that was anchored in their minds and pushed aside the craftsmanship and brilliance that made the creative particular chosen. At this point, anyone could do the job. And many would do a better job.
Advertising projects may be less physically painful, but just like tattoos, ads have a long lifespan, at least on the internet. Clients who create terrible work or hire the wrong agency may never live it out. Worse still, a lot of talent (not to mention money) is wasted if the hired person is poorly suited for the job.
I've been thinking for a long time about what I learned from that old tattoo shop: don't pick the people you like for a job; Choose the people you need.
Sometimes employers and recruiters are so excited about an emerging portfolio that they want to hire it right away. But all too often they are quick to place these attitudes in situations where what makes them unique is ignored.
You can be overwhelmed with a person's work and still say, "No, you are not right for this position."
On the flip side, you might be overwhelmed with someone's work, be open-minded, and use what makes them special to create original work that will shake up your department and potentially win some awards in the process. An open mind can bring you years of pride and less regret.
It can be intimidating to give someone room to do work that doesn't exactly go with your original plan. It even goes against what many people believe an effective manager should do. But allowing that person to flourish and create is critical to doing really brilliant work. If you have no doubts during the creative process, you are most likely doing it wrong.