Let's Talk About Craft

Tue 28 Mar 2017

Craft is, and always has been, at the forefront of everything we do. In fact, it’s the very reason why we do what we do. And, whether you’re a copywriter, creative, director, producer, artist, designer - the list goes on - we would wager that the same goes for you, too.

So when conversations started emerging to suggest that advertising agencies were disregarding the importance of craft as a result of everyone’s favourite duo, Time and Money, we thought it was time to shine a spotlight on craft and what it means to us as an integrated agency and production house.

Jelly’s founder and British Arrows Craft Judge, Chris Page, and Head of Illustration, Nicki Field, took some time out to give their opinions on the subject and why it’s so important for agencies to continue to embrace and invest in good craft.

Nicki Field, Head of Illustration, Jelly London

“To me, craft in what we do, is everything. I love and I crave good, skilled execution of great ideas. The carefully crafted copy, the highly considered creative brief – and the bar that raises for us to match with a beautifully crafted solution. To me that is craft. And it gets me to my job in the morning; it’s what makes me tick.

It’s importance is not just to win some shiny awards or to navel gaze about how great we are as an industry, but it’s about effectiveness. The power of a brilliant idea executed with precision and care, reaps results.

In my every day, I love working with artists who have honed their talent, their style, their skill; evolving, growing, adapting and applying their unique perspective and talent to commercial image making. Delivering messages on brand, transcending that brief, delivering the clients vision and often with delightful and unexpected results.

There have been recent rallying talks in the advertising press, like this article in Campaign, about craft being forgotten and they resonated – because if it is, then the effect it has on us as a company is direct and significant.

The work we produce, the skills of those we work alongside is hard to measure. Often – as happens with something valuable but slightly intangible – it becomes easily endangered. Skill, expertise and craft needs support, space and respect to flourish.”

Chris Page, Founder of Jelly London/Three Blind Mice & British Arrows Craft Judge

‘”My love and appreciation for craft is actually driven by a simple sin: Envy.

When I entered the creative arena all those years ago, my aim was to be able to create beautiful, well made designs myself. However, it wasn’t long until I realised that I wasn’t blessed with the necessary skills to back up my meagre conceptual nous.

It was frustrating, always being surrounded by people who had the necessary skills to craft great work: patience; diligence, application, attention to detail and (goddam it!) pure natural talent. Impatience and mild ADD put paid to my ability to craft and for many years I was left floundering.

The light bulb moment was realising that founding a creative business would enable me to surround myself with great craftspeople without ever actually having to be one myself. Since then I have been privileged to work with some of the best craftspeople in the world and, let me tell you, for a man who would happily watch a glass-blowing video for an hour, it’s been an honour.

The challenges to craft now are predictable: time and money. Very few projects in the commercial arena are given the necessary air to breath, to allow craft to flourish within them. You can always tell the difference between the ones that have been granted the care that they need and the ‘that’ll do’ ones and it’s sad to see that mostly, compromise is winning. However, there is a definite movement toward the positive and it just needs more clients to realise that the best way to achieve ‘stand out’ for their content is to invest in craft.

I’m looking forward to sitting on the British Arrows Craft Jury this year and having the chance to reward the work that has had the care and attention lavished on to it that it deserves. I hope to show that all the things listed above (that I can’t do myself) add value to this industry, now more than ever.”

So, is craft really in danger? Perhaps. But as an industry, it’s down to us to rally together to remind people why well-executed craft should still be the driving force behind everything that we do and why we need to invest in it. It’s our job to remind people why we do what we do, and it’s our privilege to be able to inspire people with craft, every day, in all its many forms.