The Experience of Being an Art Director
I work as an art director for Teefury.com.
We sell a different shirt every 24 hours.
With the assistance of a curator, I process over 365+ designs a year, and make decisions on what get’s printed.
I was thinking about my thought process that goes into to picking the designs.
It’s not just, “hey, that’s an artistically well crafted design, let’s print it.”
Rather, it’s a large web of wandering questions and IF-THEN statements with a dose of intuition.
Although intuition may seem amorphous, I feel that intuition is a legitimate source to tap for decision making ability since it seems based on a vague cloud of similar experiences that substantiates an accurate ability to predict outcomes that is accessed and manifested as an unexplainable emotional response somewhat like the concept of wu wei or savoir faire. TL;DR, shoulda just left that out.
One would think that the easiest question I ask myself before picking a design to be printed is, will this product sell?
Ostensibly, that answer is yes, but under the initial question lies a myriad of other questions that dictate the outcome of the answer, and that answer is never a straight forward answer. If it was, there would be a million millionaires selling the most awesome products and no mediocre products would ever be created.
These are just a few of the questions I ask myself when picking designs:
Can we print this as shown?
Have we printed a similar design?
Have we printed too many shirts on this color blank recently?
Have we varied the offerings enough to keep the community wondering?
Is this art good?
Even if this art isn’t good, is the concept good?
Is this artist a dickhead?
Do I care that this artist called me a derogatory name at one time or another?
Is this genre of art popular with our consumers?
Will this design peak the interest of a new market we haven’t tapped yet?
Is this design safe under the description of a parody?
Will this excite the community?
Are the colors of this design too fringe to appeal to a large market?
Should we sacrifice sales number in order to vary the lineup?
What sequence should I arrange these designs to utilize, most efficiently, traffic and subtle internet buying habits?
Are the comments from the community regarding these types of designs accurate and justified?
Is printing the design topical to current trends/news/culture?
There are so many questions, but here is a few points I would like to make:
This is NOT important. Do I like this design?
This is important. Will others like this design?
I am by definintion of MBTI, a psychological personality test, an INTJ. Although I won’t go into a full description of my type, it is said that “[INTJ] are able to see the problem from many different angles.”
It is this tendency I would surmise is one of the greatest assets to picking designs or even being an artist.
I find that if one is too narrow minded that they cannot see from the perspective of others, they risk hindering their ability to succeed, not in art, but in the commerce of art.
I find that being an artist is mostly about entertaining others. Whether you sing a song, draw a pretty picture, unless you create and never share it, it’s hard not to evaluate being an artist as a transaction seeking endeavor.
You make art.
You want money, praise, or recognition.
Plain and simple.
If you want to make the most money, the most praise, the most recognition, you don’t go shit on a canvas and call it art because you want to stay true to your vision. Instead, you consider the sensibilities of your audience; you delicately consider how to effect them to cause the most positive reaction.
That sounds ridiculously rigid and methodical, almost like if your sexual partner told you, “now, I am going to twist your nipple very gently 23 degrees clockwise in hopes of causing your brain to release dopamine thus increasing your sexual arousal,” but isn’t it the delicate dance we play every day in communication with others regardless if it registers as conscious action?
I find that being an artist and a director, there are compromises if you intend to make a livelihood out of art.
Although in the beginning, you may begin with your vision, as time goes on and you gain a consumer base, it will eventually become a partnership in which your desires will eventually have to become a compromise of what the audience wants from you as well.
When it comes down to business, it’s not really 100% about what you want, it’s about what you want, what your audience wants, and what you can achieve together.
Now… I’m twisting it to about 34 degrees counterclockwise.