Why are you doing this? An Art Director in a Writing Workshop – By @elisaczerwenka

By Elisa Czerwenka


Why are you doing this? An Art Director in a Writing Workshop


Last week we had the great opportunity to take part in a writing workshop with Caroline Hampstead. I thought about signing up but wasn’t sure if it was right for me. After all, I was an art director with no confidence in my writing at all. The fact that English is my second language also doesn’t really help with my writing. I thought I might embarass myself and people would ask why I am in that writing workshop. Yet, I signed up. 


Funnily enough, soon later I did get asked why I was doing a workshop for writers. Not by Caroline, she actually encouraged anyone to take part. It was the writers in the room. Some said, it would have no use for me as an art director and my time would have been spent better moving around pixels in photoshop. I disagreed completely. I felt like there was this myth in the room that an art director in a writing class did not spend their time well. 


So, here are there reasons, why I think it is important that art directors should learn how to write and writers should learn how to art direct. 



  • Get out of your comfort zone.


You can art direct? Great. You’re a writer? Amazing. But don’t believe just because you found your tribe that that’s the end of the journey. Getting out of your comfort zone and working on your weaknesses is just as important as improving your strengths. If you always work on what’s easy for you and might be natural, you’ll be missing out on a lot of skills, waiting for you to acquire.



  • We work in teams. Behave like it.


What I have learned is that in order to be a good creative you have to embrace working in a team. It’s crucial. Ideally you have a partner that you can trust and that knows their role. This way you can focus on what you have to do for the brief. The best work however, I have made with people that cared as much as I do and didn’t just exclusively care about their copy or art direction. Copywriters that didn’t just leave me to make the visuals but actually supported me as much as they could. And if they know how to judge visual work quickly and constructively, it takes off a huge amount of stress. I want my partners to feel like they own the work as much as I do, at every step of the journey. So it’s important to get rid if your ego that tells you the art direction or copy is all yours. If your copywriter tells you it looks awful, it probably does. And the same goes the other way. If you’re a writer and your art director tells you the copy isn’t clear, you should probably have another look…



  • Forget about what people think 


My biggest doubts about doing new things are usually not related to myself but actually about how other people think of me. I was worried that I would embarrass myself. My grammar is far from perfect and oftentimes I still feel like people can tell I am not English after the first sentence I say to them. What I have realised is that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t. Yes, I am a foreigner and my English will most likely never be perfect. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t work on improving it, together with other people. To improve a language in isolation rarely works well. You have to speak to other people, listen, listen and listen in order to get better. So that’s what I try to do. I fail, often, and say weird things or mix up words. In the best case it makes people laugh, in the worst case I offend someone. But that’s part of learning a language and I will keep pushing my skills. When I ended up doing the writing workshop I didn’t feel judged for a single moment. Everyone was so lovely and encouraging, Caroline truly created a safe space to write for everyone. But even if that wouldn’t have been the case, it is important to forget what people think and do what’s right for you. I am glad I did and can’t wait for part 2 of the workshop next week. 




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