CHEERS TO TEARS
I’m a crier. No, not a town crier. An actual crier. One of those people whose facial flood gates open right up whenever I’m hit by a strong emotion, positive or negative.
Bearing this in mind, it came as no real shock to me that I was the first cry of the 2022 SCA intake (is there an award for that? Maybe a blue, tear-stained pencil which doubles up as a tissue box? Perhaps that’s an idea I should pose to marc…)
Cry-gate happened on the Friday of my first week at the SCA. We had been set a one-day brief in which we were tasked to come up with our own “North Star” (basically a personal mantra we’d try and adhere to during our time at the school) and we had to design a water bottle label based around this “North Star”.
Having received the brief, I took myself off to brainstorm, to really think about the type of person I am, and what message I wanted to drive home to myself whilst I embarked on my Ad School journey. I came up with a list of different concepts, picked one I liked, then got started on my design.
An hour or so in a mentor came over, and, like a proud, starry-eyed mother, I presented to him my half-developed “baby” (idea). I sat back and waited for a torrent of approving comments, “oh isn’t it wonderful”, “it’s simply darling”, “you should be so proud of yourself”. But no. My eyes soon snapped back open as my mentor took out a bludgeon and beat the living shit out of my newborn.
My baby was dead. Murdered in front of my very eyes.
As I looked on at the mangled carcass of my offspring, said mentor began to help me rethink my idea, and gave me pointers on how I may be able to create a better, healthier baby. Nevertheless, despite the fact I had been given a second chance to bring something better into the world, the time-pressure started to get to me, and I panicked. I needed a baby quickly, I wanted one NOW. It was this panic and frustration at myself that began to tickle at my tear ducts, and I became silenced by a lump in my throat as I wonkily smiled at my parting mentor whilst tears pooled in my eyes, and I muttered to myself “dontfuckingcry dontfuckingcry dontyoudarefuckingcry”.
Alone again I turned my head back to my adobe screen, which was now as blank as my spiralling mind.
My self-exasperation only grew as I knew in my head what kind of baby I wanted, and what I wanted it to look like, but, with the added time pressure and my oh-so-average adobe skills (I’m working on these), I convinced myself that birthing the child I wanted would be impossible. And this, dear reader, is what finally got the better of me. The floodgates gave way and I burst into tears as surrounding members of my cohort rushed over to comfort me. I was mortified.
The clock ticked away, and it was time to present our ideas. Shit.
I sat down, head hung, and awaited my design to pop up on the screen. And when it did? Crickets. My cheeks turned red as my peers and mentors looked on at my foul, mutated baby. You could say it had a face only a mother could love, but I was its mother, and even I thought it was a disgusting little freak in need of instant incineration. It was so bad all I could do at this point was laugh. So, I cracked a joke, which luckily landed well, and when the day was over, I made a bee-line straight home so I could cry some more, this time into my boyfriend’s arms.
However, I didn’t cry again. What actually happened was I sat down on the tube and thought. A lot. I reflected on the day I’d had, and instead of feeling sorry for myself like I thought I would, I felt like a fire had been lit under my ass. I didn’t want that fugly baby to be the impression I left the visiting mentor with. I knew I could do better. And once I was on the tube and felt the dark clouds of panic dissolve as the taunting knowledge of a looming deadline was removed, I began to think clearly again. Ideas for a new water-bottle label design started launching themselves into my mind. I whipped out my notebook in a flash and started writing. I was on a roll. And by the time I reached my stop I had a page full of new ideas and sketches. Bingo.
So, after a Saturday of decompressing, I sat down on the Sunday, took an hour or so for myself, and re-made my label.
“Fuck”. I Thought. “That’s actually quite good”. I was amazed at the work I could produce when I didn’t let the demons and pressure get to me. It was a massive wake-up call.
Feeling quite pleased with myself I sent this new and improved design off to my mentors.
The second school week rolled around, and, on the Tuesday, the whole cohort gathered to see which 6 label designs our mentors had decided to award points to. Considering the shitshow I had initially produced on the previous Friday, you can rightly presume I was not at all expecting to be one of the few people being awarded precious points. So, when my name and new design did pop up on the screen, I was taken aback. The only words I could muster was a loud “What?!”, which was soon followed up by a wave of joy and pride in myself, as my eyes began to well up again, this time with tears of happiness.
I suppose what I’m trying to say in this SCAB is that if it wasn’t for the brutal butchery of my “child”, and my subsequent tears, I wouldn’t have come away from that series of events with a lesson learned, a new point-winning “baby”, or a fresh perspective on how to tackle time-pressured briefs. I’ve realised how important it is to not let your mind become crowded with creativity-stunting panic, and instead just breathe through it, laugh in the face of fear, and never be frightened to start over.
At first, I’d found my tears embarrassing. But now I couldn’t be more thankful for them.
Always remember: Flowers can’t bloom without a little rain.
P.S. if you ever see me crying, don’t worry. I’m probably fine. My tear ducts are just fucked.