Learning the language of drawing
I’d like to think of myself as a creative being. I love finding solutions no-one else has seen and putting things together that never existed before. On my career pathway to this I have moved from creative agency account handling to innovation direction, copywriting and now comfortable in the creative planning space.
However, the one skill that has always evaded me has been putting pencil to paper and freehand drawing. At primary school my cars looked like dustbins on wheels and the only thing I could draw reasonably well was the Bell helicopter from the front cover of the Abba Arrival album – which was limiting. Being able to draw people doing things, which other people would be able to easily decipher, I just couldn’t do and it ended in frustration for both parties. I could always knock out a creative direction and headline that served as a briefing to art directors or packaging designers, but this summer I decided to build on that.
I worked with the brilliant Edinburgh Drawing School on devising a bespoke drawing course for the agency – think ‘Drawing for Dummies’ meets ‘How to produce packaging concepts and adcepts at pace’. My tutor was patient and took me right back to coordinating the eye and pencil to see what the image was, instead of allowing my brain to rush and put down what I thought it looked like. Slowing down to speed up, my accuracy improved and I was able to move to simple shapes, focussing on bottles, ellipses and circles. From there, over a course of several weeks, we moved to figures, using a simple formula of limbs and joints, all in proportion, to help make a person’s pose life-like –not a big-headed stickman with anatomical issues.
It’s been like learning a new language and one I’ve already been using. It lets me quickly express an idea to one of our designers with an efficiency that before I would have needed several coffee chats: “Could you just try this…” or “Why can’t you make that this shape?” Drawing it showed them a quick way forward. It’s a brilliant language that unlocks exactly what words can often fail to articulate (or they don’t want to hear).
I’m no artist by a long shot, but my drawings can now express my ideas. Case in point was a tricky animation we needed to crack for new client, Cake Décor. Their brand logo is a classic apron and our campaign proposition was about showing how easy Cake Décor products were to use no matter what the situation – even a TV showstopper. I had an idea to animate the apron to have it take a bow for its effortless performance as the end frame in our advertising. I could see from the length and shape of the apron strings and its overall shape how it come be done, but explaining what I wanted had a few frowns from the creatives until I just drew a couple of the end frames, reasonably accurately. Suddenly I was speaking their language and they knew how they could improve these crude scamps. Together we cracked it, and you can see an example of the end result here.
If I can draw, anyone can. As marketers, I’d highly recommend developing this brilliantly expressive language we all have the potential to speak.
Managing Director, Guy & Co