You are a failure.

21Jan10

I was reading a couple great blog posts today that got me thinking.

The first is from Seth Godin. He went to see the Tim Burton retrospective at the Moma the other day and was surprised to see how much time Burton spent on failed projects. By his count, Burton was involved in tons of films that never made it including Catwoman, Conversations With Vincent, Dinosaurs Attack!, The Fall of the House of Usher, Geek Love, Go Baby Go, Hawkline Monster, Lost in Oz, Mai the Psychic Girl, Mary Reilly, Superman Lives and X: The Man With X-Ray Eyes.

Seth’s takeaway? “One key element of a successful artist: ship. Get it out the door. Make things happen. The other: fail. Fail often. Dream big and don’t make it. Not every time, anyway.”

The second post was from the great blog Junior. They interviewed Victors & Spoils founder Evan Frye and he had a really interesting story about how he got a job at Crispin Porter + Bogusky. I’ll let you read it, but the short version is that he tried a bunch of stuff and then tried some more and then even more before he finally got a job there.

He also talks a lot about how he got past his failures. “If you know you’re good and you know you’re smart but can’t seem to get a break, you’ve got to prove how smart you are and make your own break. I’m 100% convinced of that.”

All this got me thinking about failure in advertising. As creatives, we try new things all the time. But we can’t be afraid to fail. As a Creative Director, a huge part of my job is to create an atmosphere where it’s ok to fail – because the alternative is people being safe and trying only what has worked in the past. That’s a sure recipe for work that never rises above mediocre.

Unfortunately, I see it too much these days: Derivative creative, websites that have the same stock layouts and UI, repetitive layouts and same same sameness. But there are reasons the good creative shops are good. And an agency that’s been great for a long, long time has a motto that says it all.

“Embrace failure.” – Dan Wieden.

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One Response to “You are a failure.”

  1. Really liked this post. Nice writing. Inspired to fail more now.



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