My son was studying graphics & advertising at St Martins.
He’d just finished his second year and had one more year to go.
We were talking about how to spend the summer holidays.
I said, “If you’re smart, you’ll act as if you’ve already graduated and need a job in advertising.
You’ll spend the summer trying to get a job.
You won’t get one of course, but in failing you’ll learn how tough it is.
And you’ll learn what you need to do in your final year in order to get a job when you do graduate.
So you’ll be a year ahead of everyone else.”
I told him I’d Xeroxed my portfolio and mailed out 50 copies to get my first job.
He thought he had a better idea than that.
He made a website and emailed out 600 copies, CDs and ECDs.
Most people deleted it unread of course.
But from that he got 5 placement offers.
One of those was with Ed Morris, who was ECD at Lowe.
After a month on placement, Ed offered him a job: result.
But when college started again, my son wanted to finish his degree.
So I said why not do both, see if you can work it out with Ed.
He said to Ed, “I get 3 weeks holiday a year. Instead of taking it in one lump, can I take half a day off a week instead?
That will allow me to go into college for the weekly crit.”
Ed said fine, as long as he still did all the agency work.
But after a few months, his college found out he was working and gave him an ultimatum.
Either he had to quit the job or he had to quit college, he couldn’t do both.
He said to me, “What do I do Dad?”
I said, “Well, what’s the purpose of going to college?”
He said, “To get a job.”
I said, “Okay, you’ve got a job, so why do you need college?”
He said, “Well after all this work, I’d like to get my degree.”
I said, “Okay, then think creatively, go and talk it over with Ed.”
Like all creatives, Ed doesn’t like being told what to do by people in authority.
Ed said, “Fuck ‘em. Take as much time off as you need, as long you do all your work here.
Tell them you’ve quit the job, and if they ask me I’ll back you up.”
And that’s what happened.
He told his college he’d quit the job.
College work isn’t nearly as tough as real work, and he was able to do it at weekends.
Meanwhile, to pay Ed back, he worked harder than ever on agency work during the day and evenings.
He kept the job and he got his degree.
But I think something much more important than that.
He learned how not to let other people write your agenda for you.
He learned how to out-think people and situations.
He learned that creativity is about taking an advantage of people who are sticking rigidly to the letter of the law.
He got an education in the real world not just the college world.
Getting a result instead of just ticking boxes.
He got an education in real creativity.