Friday, September 7, 2007

A Thankless Industry!

It's Friday and it happens to be my favourite time of the week, cos tomorrow is the weekend :) Yes, yes, I look forward to weekends. Anyone who doesn't would have to have their head examined I think ... hehehe ... well, unless of course you do work a 5 1/2 day week. Gosh, I can't see myself working a 5 1/2 day week anymore. I say 'anymore' because at one time I used to work on Saturdays too.

I really hated having to work on Saturdays. I'd have to drag myself out of bed to get ready for work. Somehow getting up for work on Saturdays was always all that much harder. Practically half the weekend would be gone cos by the time I get home. It would be late afternoon and I'd take a nap (yes, yes, sleep is still precious to me ... LOL!) and by the time I wake up from my nap it would be around 6-7pm. (See, I told you half the weekend would be gone!)

I'm just glad that I work a 5 day week now though there are times when I do have to work on Saturdays or even Sundays sometimes when the workload is pretty hectic. And in my line of work one can't really estimate when the workload will get crazy. There are times when we'd be free for weeks on end shaking our legs and doing just about nothing in the office and then there are times when just taking a breath is so difficult! The thing is I thrive on days like that.

Ok, since I'm on the subject of work, let me tell you a little about what I do. Most of you would probably know from reading some of my earlier post that I do some form of advertising, well, you're right. I do work in the advertising industry and it really is not at all as glamorous as some people make it out to be. I should know, I've been in this industry for close to 16 years or so! And I'm seriously sick of it but unfortunately I don't really know how to do any other kind of work.

I've always had this interest in advertising and drawing ever since I was a kid. I still remember back when I was young, if anyone had asked me or my cousins what we wanted to be, the usual answers from them would be 'I wanna be a policeman' or 'I'm gonna be a doctor' or 'I'm gonna be an air-steward' (don't ask me why air-steward, probably cos you could travel and see the world for free, I guess) but I'd always answer with 'I wanna be in advertising'. The weird thing is I didn't even know what advertising meant back then. All my cousins would look at me with this blank look on their faces ... hehehe ...

As a kid I was always doodling or drawing stuff. I even produced my own comic book ala Roy of the Rovers which I called, The Kid from Germany ... hehehe ... It was a football comic that had this on going saga of a young talented football player from Germany who played for this fictitious English team called Tynefield Rovers in this equally fictitious English League I made up. Once I finished an issue (it was single publication thing ... hehehe ...), I would mail the original drawing, bound and all like a real comic book to another cousin who lived in another state. He used to eagerly wait for it every month :) We were both around 8 years or so and he was my number one fan ... LOL!

I can't really remember for how long I drew this comic book, maybe about two years or so and I'd even have a six month colour special thrown in. Now that took me longer to do ... hehehe ... The sad thing is he lost the original drawings that I sent him (not that there were any good, mind you) but it would be great to actually see what nonsense of a storyline I created as an 8 year old boy ... hehehe ...

So, when I finally finished my education, at first I really didn't know what to do, yes, I know I was interested in advertising but back then there was really not many options to get into it. So for 2 years or so I wasted my mom's money taking a course in Stamford College (that's where I met my 2 best buddies) and after that I finally found a place that was offering a Graphic design course. I enrolled, took another 3 years to complete and upon completing it and getting my diploma, I was lucky enough to get a job immediately in a small design house.

I was ecstatic. Working in an actual design house, I felt I was finally realizing my dreams of getting into advertising. I still remember the day I first started work. It was the day the US invaded Iraq, by the way. I was so overjoyed to actually be setting foot in a real agency, though in true fact it was a small design house, but to me it felt like I was finally making it big time! I started on the lowest rung of the advertising industry back then, a lowly FA (finished art) artist earning a measly sum but I didn't mind and didn't care. I was in the industry I've always dreamed of and money didn't matter to me at that time (LOL!)

I was new and everything was an experience but then I learned the ugly truth of advertising. It was sooooo bloody demanding and stressful. That's when the late nights started. Right from the very first week I had to to call home and let my mom know I'd be late again. And apparently it was a normal thing to be staying back! But it was something I've always want to do, so I stuck with it. I worked as hard as I could to get the experienced I needed to go further in this industry.

And through time I did rake up enough of experience to move up the ranks, from an FA artist to a visualizer to an art director. It was hard work, the numerous late nights and with clients who always thought of their work as urgent, I decided to switch from the graphic department to the client servicing department thinking it would be easier and the late nights would be a thing of the past cos when I was in the graphic department I used to always see the client servicing people always heading home at normal hours. How I wrong I was in that assumption!

Client servicing, I later discovered was hell on earth. Now, instead of just doing my work in the comfort of my office, I had to face the clients in person and some of them were pretty nasty. And when anything goes wrong, who else would the clients call and scream at but the poor client service people? And worse yet, I had to do presentations. I am a very shy person by nature and public speaking was never on my list of things I could do. The first time I ever did a presentation to a group of big shot company directors (I was still new with servicing) I was sweating so profusely that if you collected my sweat, you could irrigate the whole Sahara Desert for 12 months. LOL! My shirt was soaked to the skin, my voice broke and trembled and it didn't help that they asked so many questions during the presentation.

Over time, I did become a little less nervous about doing presentations (yes, even till today I'm still always nervous before any presentation). And my days of going back late didn't end. I'm a stickler for getting things done properly. I always practice the hands-on approach. I can't stand people who work so bloody slow so most of the time back then, even though I was in client service, I stayed back and bugged the hell out of the creative people to get my work done fast. I was in the creative department before and I know how long it will take to complete something so when I see them taking so long, I get pissed off that I would actually ask them to move aside and let me do the work myself. Trust me, I wasn't very popular with the creative department back then ... hehehe ...

Eventually (though I still practice the hands-on approach) I backed off and let the designated people do what they were paid to do even though it bugs the hell out of me at the way some of them work! I'm no longer that young gung-ho person who adored the world of advertising. I'm much saner nowadays and and when I meet people who ask me what I do for a living and I say 'I work in the advertising industry' and they go 'wah, so cool and glamorous. You must be real lucky to be in advertising', I smile, grind my teeth and keep both my hands in my pockets for fear of smacking them silly!

The thing is my son loves to draw and doodle every chance he gets and he reminds me of myself when I was young. He's pretty good at it and I am so afraid he'll go into advertising. I want him to grow up and be Prime Minister or something ... LOL!


  1. Nick, that would have been really neat if your cousin still kept the originals of the comic books. It's so nice to look back and see how far you have come.

    LOL - Prime Minister is a good aim for a proud papa :)

  2. Aiseh. Boleh tahan. Drawing comic at childhood can become an artis. Hmm... I wonder where my art talent goes now. Opss... It's behind the paint! (hint : wall)hahah...

  3. THis was a really interesting read, Nick. Now I feel like I know you a little better. What I am learning is that more people than not seem to reach a point in their career where it no longer makes them happy. I wish that life came with a "do over" button at that point! I think it's awesome that your son has inherited your creativity - maybe he will grow up to be Prime Minister, but I bet the person that he most admires is his Dad!

  4. No wonder you are such a creative artist. The banner alone on your site is a stand out. I like that "irrigate the Sahara desert thingy.." (LOL) you just gave me a big crack...I took up mass communication back in college, i never finished it though, if i did, i would have either been in advertising or journalism, as usual, i enjoyed your stuff here...^^

  5. Sharon, Well it was mistake though. I should have kept the originals and send him copies ... LOL!

    Yeah, Prime Minister doesn't sound too far fetched an idea now does it ... LOL!

  6. Hey Lee, nice to see you here again :) I've really lost my talent for drawing now. My son draws better than me nowadays. With computers, I forgotten how to really draw anymore ... LOL!

  7. Josie, well, I guess sticking in the same job for 16 years and seeing everything there is to be seen in the industry can make the job pretty stale at times. But this is the only kind of job I know how to do so I'm stuck with it till I retire ... LOL!

  8. Lordmanilastone, thank your lucky stars you didn't get into advertising ... LOL! Thanx for the compliment on the banner but with computers nowadays anyone can be creative :D

  9. Another good read!

    Not only are you good in drawing but even your stories have a good script to it, now that's something I tell you.

    I noticed you've changed your header, it looks much nicer now (not that the other one wasn't...) Hopefully one day, you'll be able to teach us some of your tricks. *he he he*

  10. Great read, Nick. I always like these posts that give a little insight into people. And the new header is great as well.

    I've never been able to draw anything other than stick figures. My oldest boy, now that kid has got talent. He's going to be working for Dark Horse Comics after graduating. I've always been a little envious of people who can put pencil to paper and evoke emotion with a single image.

  11. wow nick, you are one in a million. very few ppls managed to achieve what they wanted to be when they were young. Some may hv diverted their intention, some may just forget about it as they grow. Good determination!

    it's be cool to see back your own drawing and what kind of story you've created as a child. and you can show it to your son too!

  12. Wow, you can draw! Since you're in advertising company, maybe you can start drawing The Kid From Germany again and promote it! Who knows.. can become famous like Stan Lee! :D

  13. Hey, new look for Anything Goes, cool!

    Well Nick, sad to say this but since u've been in the thankless industry for 16 years and obviously have the talent and patience to remain in it for so long, it sure looks like ul continue in this hectic world we live in for many more years! But u have to admit there are some good points to advertising. Putting aside the pressure, the ridic deadlines, the many many changes we gotta make on the spot, the stand-by nights and the screaming we sometimes get from ungrateful clients,I'm sure ul agree with me on the satisfaction and pride we feel looking at a job well done, the compliments received and the word of mouth reccomendations from clients?!

    Oh and would love to read the comic litlle Nick produced! :):):)

  14. That was great to read about what really goes on in the world of advertising. Every word you wrote screamed "PISCES" to me, your conscientiousness, shyness and the "dreamer" quality I sense in you.

    What a priceless treasure that would have been if your cousin had kept your comic. Great post Nick and love the new look.

  15. Nick-Several things. First of all, I think your son will inherit your title of "Supreme Ruler Of The Universe!" Prime Minister really would be a demotion! LOL!
    Secondly, great post! I can just imagine the comics! It would be VERY cool to go back and look at them now. I am very lucky that my MOm is a "pack rat" and literally sved EVERYTHING! Including all of my old manuscripts! Some of them are hilarious and I have toyed with the idea of publishing a few on the blog! Great post, as per usual and I am eager for the next!
    Lastly, I LOVE the look of the blog! It is nice, very cool look! Just wanted to give you some props on the new layout! Take care buddy and have a great weekend!

  16. Hey Nihal, always glad to see you here :) Thanx for the compliment on the header. Was getting kinda bored with the old one. And there really isn't any 'ticks' to it ... LOL! There are some blogs out there with headers that make me real envious :) Now I would love to learn their tricks ... hehehe ...

  17. Hey Seiche, I have to agree with you about people who can really put pencil to paper.

    I wish I could draw as good as them nowdays but unfortunately my drawing skills have taken a turn for the worse what with being pampered by computers and their copy, cut and paste buttons. My son can draw better than me now!

    Nice to hear your oldest is talented in drawing. And I do hope when he gets that job as senior illustrator at Dark Horse Comics, I'll be receiving a years free supply of my favourite comic, k? You be sure to tell him that now, you hear Seiche? LOL!

  18. Jean, I wish I did keep some of my old drawings to show my son but unfortunately I didn't.

    I do have loads of my sons drawings when he was 2 years old that I keep so that one day when he's older I can show them to him ...

  19. Cindy, Let me correct you. I COULD draw ... LOL! Nowadays my drawings skill not that good la. I guess Photoshop and Illustrator ruined it for me. Too dependent on the computers nowadays to do all my stuff that I'd probably go crazy if I had to work without them!

    Become another Stan Lee, hmmm, maybe in my dreams la, Cindy ... LOL! By the way, Stan Lee is one of my idols :) And it sure would be fun trying to draw the 'Kid From Germany' again ... hehehe

  20. Marzie, yup, you're absolutely right. I'm gonna be in advertising till I retire ... siggghh ...

    Like you said, there are some satisfactions from it though especially when you see your work out in the newspapers or hear them on the radio, etc. It makes you swell with pride :D

    Now if only the pay was much better ... LOL!

  21. Gypsy, it's that obvious I'm a Pisces, huh? LOL! Glad you enjoyed that little insight in the often thankless world of advertising.

    I wish he had kept at least one copy. I'd really love to read my own silly comics too ... LOL!

    Thanks for the compliment on the new look :D

  22. Hey Barrett, as always you leave such nice comments *blush* ... LOL!

    Buddy, I envy you. Your mom actually saves all your old stuff! My mom threw most of my old stuff away. I'd really like to read some of your old manuscripts and stuff, so I'm hoping to see some them in your postings soon *hint, hint* ... hehehe ...

    Thanx for the kind words on the new look. The old one was getting a little stale. I just wish I knew html programming a little better then maybe I could have tweaked this more but for now, this will do until I get fed-up of the layout ... LOL!

    Great weekend to you too Buddy!

  23. hey, i wanna go to advertising too! thats the reason why am i studying graphic design now you know! XD haha... after reading your story i'm thinking if i should reconsider my path lol... but aww, life is all about experience right? maybe i'll end up in your office's creative dept and you will get so frustrated wif me lol..

  24. Hi Conan, thanks for the visit. Don't let my scary advertising story stop you from pursuing your path. It's not as bad as it sounds ... LOL!

  25. Hey Nick,

    It's very cool how enjoyable things can be if you let them. Judging by how Spiff's lunch was, it could have been a not very fun evening as well.
    Glad you didn't let that happen!

  26. Nick - when I was working as a clerk at a newspaper (many years ago) I toyed with the idea of going back to school to learn graphic design. I learned that I was making more money as a clerk than the designers and dropped the idea. I ended up an Advertising Manager who felt the same way you do/did about the job of Art Director. Now, I'm a Banker!
    I still want to spend my time creating rather than managing.

  27. Menopauseprincess, I am so glad Spiff's bad luck didn't carry on any longer. At least the evening turned out great :) Happy Monday to you.

  28. Micki, glad to have someone who understands my situation :) I guess it just boils down to what we really like doing.

    I still am involved directly with designing and creative work and I guess I'll always be involved in it :D

  29. I'd be drop dead if I were to do a presentation!

  30. Hi Emila, nice to see you here. Oh, I still feel like dropping dead from fright everytime I do presentations ... LOL! I can never, no matter how much preparation I do before hand, ever get used to presentations.

  31. Well, one AE to another ... we know the job is cool but some clients can really get us hot and bother.

    The fact that you were an AD before becoming an AE actually made your job easier. At least you won't be giving really nutty instructions to the studio.

    PS: I guess you not keen on that tag I left you sometimes back on the rules for creative folks ..

  32. Hi Vivienne, yes, being from the creative department does help in my servicing methods. As for nutty instructions, I'm not so sure ... LOL!

    Which tag was that? I seriously don't remember a tag from you. I'll go and check your blog out later. I get so many tags I forget that I forget to them sometimes ... LOL!


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