Get a job in advertising: tips to become a Creative, from Razorfish

If you’re striving to become a Creative at one of London’s top ad agencies, then hopefully this post will be of some use to you. This is my third interview as part of my “get a job in advertising” series. This week I spoke to Ben Lynch, Freelance Creative at Razorfish.

Ben has been working at Razorfish for the past 3 months; prior to that he worked at the likes of M&C Saatchi and McCann Erickson. Having not long been out of the position many “soon-to-be-Graduates” will soon find themselves in, Ben offers a great deal of advice and insight on getting that first elusive step on the advertising ladder.

Based just off Tottenham Court Road, London (and with several other offices dotted round the world), Razorfish have a client list (and the creative output), any agency would envy, from Unilever and Nike, to Kelloggs and Audi. To a lot of young, dreaming Creatives, this sounds like the perfect kind of agency to work for. If this is you, see what Ben has to say on getting into the industry, along with his advice and tips.

1. Could you give a brief outline of your day to day role?

Get a job in advertisingA typical day for me would begin with a quick check in with people, get all my emails done, pick up a coffee and settle in so my mind is cleared to work.Usually I’ll pick up on whatever project I’ve been briefed on that day or the day before; as is the life of a freelancer. However some days become a bit more consistent so you know what to expect.Normally I’ll be working to whatever stage the project is at. So that could be coming up with ideas for the first internal review, making amends, presenting ideas to the wider team on the account, deciding which ideas are best before then putting them into a deck and sending them over, ready for feedback!Normally I’ll leave the office around 6:30, depending on what kind of day we’ve had. Oh and possibly slip out for an evening beer if there’s time…

2. How did you get to where you are now?

I completed a Creative Advertising degree at the University of Gloucestershire with one year studying Visual Communication abroad. During that time I did two work placements which helped me understand what kind of level I needed to get to. It’s all valuable experience really and I can’t emphasise enough just how much of a difference it’ll make to how you approach your career.

After that I worked abroad for half a year which was a bit like being thrown in the deep-end. Scary stuff but also invigorating – you learn by doing really. And having fun along the way, that should never be forgotten. Enjoy what you do and it’ll show through what you make.

Finally I studied an MA at the Hyper School in Digital Media Management which opened up my mind to so much, so quickly. I think I’m still working out what went on up there… Anyway, that was a great experience which led me to Razorfish where I completed my case study for my thesis and now I’m back freelancing!

Get a job in advertising - Hyper Island

3. What was the biggest challenge you faced to get where you are now?

I think it really depends, each stage had its different challenges…

Post Graduation was about securing that first role and the prospect of facing rejection, which was overcome by persistence, enthusiasm and good ideas to back up.

My first year was more about establishing myself into agency culture. That became tough, but also about keeping relaxed, approachable and making yourself known to the other teams. Once you’ve done that, it just feels like home.

Second year was about getting a strong agency portfolio under my belt. Again, easier said than done as most agencies will give you the bread and butter work to begin with. Through that will come the juicy briefs. Just be patient.

Get a job in advertising: Nike work

4. Where do you get your inspiration?

I usually try to get outdoors to find inspiration, rather than look online. Chances are, what you find online nowadays has already been seen and shared all over the place which I guess for me makes it less personal. You lose the value of learning something for yourself. But generally speaking, I find the best sources of inspiration come from architecture, cinema and visiting exhibitions or museums.

5. How do you personally overcome a creative block?

I feel that this varies from person to person and there isn’t really a solution that works for everyone. Usually I just empty my brain of all ideas at the beginning of a brainstorming session, good and bad, to have a clear mind. Then I can focus a little better moving forward and won’t be hung up on an idea for ages as it’s out in the open.

I’d also say if you’re idea generating in a creative team, using the ‘improve or approve’ tool on ideas helps gain momentum and keeps a good flow of concepts. It’s easy to kill an idea before it’s had a chance to grow, but if you agree between you to either approve an idea or improve the idea, it helps to get things rolling.

Three questions which also help that I learnt recently on building ideas are:

  • What’s the idea / what are we doing?
  • How are we doing it?
  • Why should the consumer care?

Other than that, taking a break for fresh air works, re-read the brief again, or take a completely backwards and bonkers approach to the proposition.

6. What advice would you give to future Creatives?

Always leave yourself open to opportunities and put yourself out there. Eventually one will find its way to you with open arms, or a contract. Take your pick.

Put yourself out there for feedback and don’t be too precious with ideas, that’ll help you grow as a person and know how to move on quickly to the next idea. That’s what we’re there for, right?

“Follow that gut feeling and don’t be deterred from it.”

Go to a whole bunch of industry events and mingle with everyone. Networks like the D&AD, YCN, Young Creative Council, Hello You Creatives are your best sources for that.

7. What steps would you recommend to becoming a Creative?

Keep at it. Nobody has the exact same way of breaking into the industry so there is no “right” way to do it. Whatever you feel is best, follow that gut feeling and don’t be deterred from it.

8. What has been your career highlight so far?

Doing the Hyper Island course would be right up there, it has completely changed me as a person, the way I approach work and how I come up with ideas.

What did you think of Ben’s interview and what key points has it taught you that you’ll take away with you? Got any questions, or anything extra you’d like to add? Add it in the comments or let me know on Twitter.

Hyper Island image here