May 30, 2018

Talented Art Directors are Raising the Bar

Artwork by Hana Eunjin Yean

Talented Art Directors are Raising the Bar

By Christina Roldan, NY Executive Producer, Gentleman Scholar

Choosing a career in the commercial production industry is a clear indication that a person is up for a good challenge. If your experience matches mine, this is a business of constant change. When it comes to producing the work, every project delivered is a sort of miracle unto itself.

With some luck, we can find our ways into groups with complementary skillsets where the chemistry conjures magic, and mutual respect abounds. The best companies in our business seem to have all of this figured out, and I’m proud to say that Gentleman Scholar has these areas covered nicely. Yes, our industry experiences continuous tumult – and yet, our client relationships are steadily growing, our staff turnover is low, and the creative quotient of our work fuels our dreams.

As we have honed-in on those business relationships and distilled these results, one of the strategic approaches that is an essential part of our workflow has stood out. Obviously, it’s no secret that most creative projects would die without an art director, but we’ve come to see that we are more formal in the amount of respect, trust and responsibility we invest in ours.

To explain our arrival here, let’s dissect one of the bigger challenges Gentleman Scholar has faced in producing our strong, cinematic commercials (essentially what people always want, regardless of budget or intended usage). Usually, live-action production and VFX/finishing are orchestrated to occur as separate pipelines – which are, of course, meant to be coordinated together closely. To this end, directors conceptualise, storyboard and then capture their desired footage on sets, along with a VFX supervisor. The point is this: Between the director and the live-action footage, and the VFX supervisor and the VFX/finishing teams, so often, the final result can be a far cry from the director’s vision.

In our combined experiences, this troublesome scenario presented itself so often, we were inspired to devise a solution. Happily, our approach has proven effective enough to make it worth sharing.

At Gentleman Scholar, our creative teams are assigned to jobs from pitch all the way through to completion. In every team, there is one art director assigned under the creative director or director, and that person is permanently attached through to the end. As you’d expect, given this mission, our art directors are able to spearhead the initial creative vision and carry it through to the finish.

When we began implementing this approach, it became clear that creative vision fragmentation between live-action and post had been eliminated. Our clients quickly began expressing appreciation for being able to work with the same team throughout their project. Persevering on this path, the seamlessness in the work and the relationships proved we were onto something.

As a company, we are inspired and constantly growing along with these art directors. They are as multifaceted as the projects we work on, so their backgrounds span from film to traditional cel animation and every other interest you can imagine. What we seek is more of a creative mindset than a defined skillset – aiming to attract high-calibre talents who want to work in team settings. Due to the structure of our teams, we look for those who are interested in being a part of a larger whole, while still being strong leaders who can communicate their vision.

The amount of respect, trust and responsibility being invested in these professionals is highly considered: Ultimately, it’s up to them to understand and fulfil our clients’ needs through the production and delivery of our most powerful creative visions.

Another payoff is evident in the growing tenure of our staff. It’s extremely gratifying to look around and see so many talents who joined us straight out of school, whose careers are soaring as part of this venture. From the top down, our commitment to supporting individual success is real. Whether it’s a side-gig opportunity, a creative conference or learning a new type of software, we encourage our art directors and staff overall to excel in every way possible. For every member of our project teams, experimentation and learning are priorities, and so is the dedication to our clients’ needs.

Listening to our partners at agencies and brands is one way to validate this essential project approach. Another bonus of integral art director involvement throughout project timelines is this: We are encouraging our ascending creative talents to stick with us, and to lead us on into the future.

Collaborators by Design