Alexandra Taylor Masterclass, by @ClarissaDale94

Clarissa Dale




By Clarissa Dale

Alexandra Taylor Masterclass

This SCAB entry definitely won’t do justice to such an interactive and enriching day of learning, but I’ll give it a go. Alexandra Taylor is one of the most renowned art directors of all time. She is listed in countless D&AD Annuals, and has been awarded four silver D&AD pencils and eight silver nominations. Needless to say I felt hugely inadequate sitting in front of her as an aspiring art director.

I’ve met Alexandra twice before, yet still today I felt a bit star struck, and completely captivated by her stylishness and modest northern attitude. She truthfully spelled out that art direction is not a job, but a disease, and that she wouldn’t wish it on her worst enemy. This set the tone for the whole day, as it made me very quickly realise that to ever become a success, I will have to start dreaming in pt sizes and grids. I would have to live and breath art direction, just like Alex does.

Usually I would say I’m fairly confident with what I like and what I don’t like when it comes to art direction, and I have some understanding of the basic rules, yet what I learnt today is that this is completely irrelevant. It’s not about knowing the rules, it’s about breaking them. In order to make an advert that’s going to stand out from the crowd, you need to aim to create something completely original, fresh and disruptive.

This is no easy task. I speak for a lot of the art directors in the room when I say it took some time to push past the pain barrier or ordinariness on the Chevrolet brief we were set. It was a difficult task that required us to re art direct a boring existing advert and make it ‘fresh’ and ‘original’. Alex showed no mercy when critiquing our reworked approaches. Listening to her feedback the weaknesses and strengths she spotted became glaringly obvious, and made me instantly regret my timid approach to the task. I definitely did my best to change it and make it exciting, yet when I saw some of the more radical and unexpected responses, I felt frustrated I wasn’t braver with my idea, but also fired up to make use of the new tips and insights I had learned.

I took a lot from the day, and Alex shared numerous words of wisdom that helped me understand what is needed to enhance and distill a creative idea. Her way of seeing is invaluable and I strongly recommend anyone to listen to her masterclass if they ever get the opportunity.

Beneath are a few of my biggest learnings:

  1. Get beneath the wing of a creative who inspires you
  2. Break the rules
  3. Get out of advertising
  4. God is in the details
  5. Make mistakes, let them happen and use them to enhance your work.
  6. Justify everything on your page
  7. Do not do the same layout for every page
  8. Do not steal, originate.
  9. Constantly be in search of the new page
  10. Attempt to do over 1000 different layouts.

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