The explosion of easy access to technology has created a generation of creative hybrids: writers art direct, art directors edit video and editors write. Talent is just not nearly as siloed as it has been traditionally, and everyone's bailiwicks are overlapping like back fat on a Southwest flight. Which is both good and bad news.
The good news is that ideas come to life faster and more often, particularly at boutique creative agencies that can benefit from the resources and convenience of technology to be more fluid and innovative. For example, I can write an ad, hack together a layout and present it to my boss in one tenth of the time it used to take to get my lazy art director/partner off the couch in his office (yep, creatives had offices back in the day). Entire campaigns can be reworked overnight when inspiration hits, and even interns are 3D modeling.
The bottom line is that thanks to the unprecedented genius of Tim Berners-Lee, the tyrannical vision of Steve Jobs and the never-ending innovation of the eggheads at Adobe, we work in a golden age of productivity where anything is possible if you've got a laptop, a dream and a Creative Suite subscription.
On the other hand, everything is a rush. Technology has rendered our most valuable resource of time as an unacceptable indulgence. Maybe that's why there are so many good ideas out there and not so many great ones.
Now that anything is possible and everyone can do it, the work is expected faster than ever before.
“Can we have those banner ads tomorrow?”
“Will you flesh out that print campaign by EOD?”
“Would you mind tightening up the roll-in video before our 4:30?”
That's the bad news. The answer is always “yes.” Yes, you can have aggressive requests fulfilled and that arbitrary deadline is acceptable. And we can’t tout our digital expertise if we can’t develop websites on the subway between client meetings from our smartphones, right?
Now, with high-powered Macs and the hybrids to work on them, everything is possible, and everyone can do it. And the biggest kicker? If you don't say yes, someone else will. So the answer is always yes.
But here's the thing: The work doesn’t meet its potential.
Yes, technology absolutely makes our jobs easier. It gives creative minds super-powered bodies. Thanks to my new Macbook Pro, I have the strength of ten art directors. But what I don't have is enough time. Time to figure out how to make that high-impact rich media unit really ‘burn’ the website down, literally build the mobile “takeover” or create the print ad that can mirror your movements. Time is the crucial element to execute and bring our big ideas to life. And thanks to technology, the luxury of time is dead.
Don’t get me wrong: Of course we get it right on the first try sometimes. There are occasions when the first thought to rattle out of the old coconut is solid perfect. But more often than not, we try to noodle and tweak and sculpt an idea until there's no more noodling or tweaking or sculpting to be done. That's the process … when there's time. Because that's what it takes to make so-so ideas into great ideas: TIME.
The bottom line? Thanks, technology. And up yours. No, wait. Thank you. No, up yours. Ah, to hell with it, let's make up. I love you.
Originally published Jan 6, 2014 12:00:08 AM, updated June 28 2019