WHAT, HOW & WHY.
McCann Barcelona is one of the predominant agencies at a national level, handling heavy-weight clients like Coca-Cola, IKEA, MasterCard and ALDI. Ending up as the most senior acting Art Director in an enterprise this colossal is certainly a quick way to garner experience, contacts and leadership, all at once.
Through a series of lovely coincidences, I landed in TheBackroom as an intern. This site of McCann is particular in that it only handles one client at a national level; ALDI Supermarkets. It was summer and it was Spain, so amongst vacations and reduced hours, they needed hands. Interns usually last about 3-6 months, but I wanted to see how much 'stuff' I could juggle between school, internships and side-projects. I was there for 13 months.
I was expecting a lot of work and automatable tasks, but what I didn't expect was to enjoy so much working in a huge office, everyday, and actually seeing from the inside how a brand functions and why it does.
Up until this point, I hadn't really worked in anything that had a lot of money behind it. It changes things so much you wouldn't believe it's the same kind of business. I went from academic projects with a lot of strain, to productions with giant budgets and pressure of a whole different nature.
Also, I was used to working either alone or with small groups, never having to coordinate with 5 or 6 departments, multiple projects, and deadlines in several tenses all at once.
ORDER IN CREATIVITY
I had in mind what I was going to do; turn on my iMac, look at what the Art Director wanted, and see how I could lend a hand. That gets old pretty fast if you are pretty fast, so I'd just go help other departments out of curiosity.
I had absolutely no idea of what goes on behind the scenes at a production this size. The amount of stress, phone calls, lost files and spreadsheets that went into one catalog had me mesmerised. This was really eye-opening as I understood why one single person can't humanly produce an entire campaign in 3 months, regardless of talent.
HELP AND HELPED
I learned pretty quickly that the job is never going to end in the sense that if things go well with the client, the client won't stop wanting things. That aided in my perspective of helping on all fronts as much as I could.
I had assimilated the fact that nobody was going to hand me a guidebook of how to be an Art Director, so I just started pursuing as many tasks as possible in order to assess where I was most useful, making my supervision much more sensitive and accurate.
PRE-SHOOT, SHOOT, RE-SHOOT
In the same way that the amount of pre-production was insane to me, the amount of resources wasn't an exception. I was fortunate enough to direct the making of two catalogs, and how one .PDF file went from my inbox, to the studio, back to my screen was staggering.
The responsibility of presenting products in a interesting and realistic way was ever-present. One single page could take about a dozen hours spread around several departments.
Below you can see two slideshows, one for the covers of one of the catalogs I worked with, and the inside pages; 36 pages in total.
Another interesting discovery was how many times one idea bounces off of people's minds, as a concept went from my mouth, to the copy, then Creative Director, ends in client, and back again.
I was amazed at how easily criticism was accepted, as I had the notion that 'artsy' types are sensitive with comments. Likewise, I learned to have many filters for any one thing. I was getting a bit desperate when I saw an idea not being materialised, only to learn that there are 100 things I didn't think about because I have no legal, governmental, or musical background.
When I started my junior year in school, time constraints got tougher and I couldn't be on site that much. So now I had to dedicate my time to one department, and just one. I chose Digital, because even though everything has a 'computer' phase today, I wanted one medium that was entirely virtual.
It fit pretty well within my realm, as I'm used to being glued to a screen but also knowing that the best solution often comes with no light.
Towards the end of my spell, every single digital output was going through my hands in one way or another. Be it making sure that the formats were correct for social media, or generating from scratch entire weeks of content alongside the copywriters.
In fact, during the last month I was the most senior acting Art Director, as everybody else started after me. It was interesting seeing chairs change owners one by one, until the group I started with was pretty much gone.
I remember being chewed out by classmates because I was spending more time in the office that at a school, even though I'd never miss assistance.
"Is it worth it?"
Absolutely. I would do it 100 times over. Not just because of what I learned, but because the people I worked with.
Even though I was an intern, I learned quickly that responsibility is given to those up to the task. If one is engaged, being in charge of entire processes becomes much more important and rewarding.
Working there was certainly a blueprint of how I'd like my future endeavours to be.
CLIENT: ALDI SUPERMARKETS. SPECIAL THANKS: DRISS ABROUK, PEDRO BELLIDO, ANNA DE MAS, MAITE CARRILLO.