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Creativity Squared: Greatness Is in the Editing with Rachel Carlson

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Partner and ECD at World Famous on the benefits of being wildly lazy

Creativity Squared: Greatness Is in the Editing with Rachel Carlson

Rachel Carlson works alongside World Famous’ founder/president Alan Nay, and Chris Volckmann, partner/managing director, continuing to build a new type of agency that’s more beneficial to clients and creatives because it sidesteps traditional-model bloat caused by decades of old processes.

Carlson came to World Famous from Mekanism, where she was creative director. While there, she created a spot featuring the first lactating breast seen on network TV for personal breast-care brand Frida Mom, which aired during the Golden Globes. And for Alaska Airlines, she returned the brand to its comedic roots by revisioning Men Without Hats’ appropriately themed new wave song “Safety Dance” as a flight crew training video in which choreographed workers recited new COVID-19 safe flying measures as the lyrics.  

She worked several years as a freelance CD/copywriter and full time at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Doner LA, and Deutsch LA. She has received awards at Cannes, One Show, AICP, D&AD, London International, and the Webbies for her work as a creative director and writer.


Person

I am, first and foremost, a wildly lazy person. Everything I do is an exercise on how I can get away with doing it in fewer steps. Once, in 4th grade, we were asked to write an essay from the perspective of an alien coming to Earth for the first time. I procrastinated. I feared. I fretted. And then I realised a loophole: aliens wouldn’t write in our standard English script. So I scribbled some hieroglyphs all over a page and called it a day. The teacher gave me an A+. And I learned a valuable lesson that day: clever short cuts pay off. This is also, probably, why math scares the shit out of me.

Unfortunately for my lazy streak, I also enjoy creature comforts. Like shelter, food, and other adult things that are generally in conflict with doing absolutely nothing. So I decided to work hard with the ultimate goal of being able to enjoy Bougie-Lazy: the kind of relaxation that comes with a couch and a tangle of streaming services. In short: I will work really, really hard for sloth.

This innate contradiction makes me suitable for exactly one legal job: creative director.


Product

I want to see familiar things put together in a way that I’ve never seen before. Take a Gatorade spot and lay a Rogers and Hammerstein track over it. See what happens. Mix it up. Combine thoughts and stories. It’s no secret that nothing is original, thank god. It takes a lot of pressure off of us creatives. Do you know how hard it is to come up with something completely new? So instead, take two done ideas and mix them together. Maybe it’ll feel new or brave or important or fun.

The other way I judge work is an incredibly annoying answer. But this is Creativity Squared! If we can’t be honest here, well, what’s the point in of any of this. Yes, dear readers, honesty is something I can promise you. And I promise you’ll learn nothing from what I’ll say next: I judge work on instinct. Something I have no idea how to put in a scientific format because it has nothing to do with logic. When I see a really, really good idea, I just know. It’s a tingle of excited nerve bundles at the base of my fucking skull. The idea might not even be fully baked, but when someone is on to something right, my skull-base tells me. The strategy is spot-on, it’s relatable, it’s big. It’s simple. And my body experienced a visceral reaction upon seeing it.

This is why data-driven creative will never be great creative. Because data has no nerves.


Process

I make creative work like most others. I stare at a blank page and do everything in my power to avoid it. I clean. I go on walks. I catch up on timesheets. I watch Ryan Reynolds clips and fret. I feel like a hack. I am a hack. No one has ever been as hacky as my hack.

I am convinced this is the end. It’s over. I research masseuse institutes. I rebudget my life to fit into a massage therapist’s paycheck. I think about all the bodies and hair I’ll have to touch as a masseuse. I wonder if any masseuse has been creeped out to touch MY back. I should probably do more back work outs. I should do that right now. First I’m going to reddit workout threads. And then I emerge 87 minutes later, with no work outs completed. And then, the page. It’s back. And I just start writing something to get anything on the page. I will write nonsense like, “I feel like a hack. I am a hack. No one has ever been as hacky as my hack. I am convinced this is the end. It’s over. I research masseuse institutes. I rebudget my life to fit into a massage therapist’s paycheck. I think about all the bodies and hair I’ll have to touch as a masseuse. I wonder if any masseuse has been creeped out to touch MY back. I should probably do more back work outs. I should do that right now. First I’m going to Reddit workout threads. And then I emerge 87 minutes later, with no work outs completed. And then, the page. It’s back. And I just start writing something to get anything on the page.

I will write nonsense like, “I feel like a hack. I am a hack. No one has ever been as hacky as my hack. I am convinced this is the end. It’s over. I research masseuse institutes. I rebudget my life to fit into a massage therapist’s paycheck. I think about all the bodies and hair I’ll have to touch as a masseuse. I wonder if any masseuse has been creeped out to touch MY back. I should probably do more back work outs. I should do that right now. First I’m going to reddit workout threads. And then I emerge 87 minutes later, with no work outs completed. And then, the page. It’s back. And I just start writing something to get anything on the page.

And then it happens. Somewhere, somehow, I create something good. No, great. The work works. And sometimes, the work really, really works and headlines are made, awards are won. I love my job. I’m a creative god. And I am secure in my life choices, my brain, my Id and Ego are in harmony! There is no concept I can’t tackle! Until the next blank page.


Press

I am the product of American Imperialism, which is to say, I grew up an army brat. I moved every two or three years, through various countries, states, and islands. Being the perpetual new kid in school made me pay attention to trends and slang and the way things are done, which is not unlike getting briefed on a new brand. I can step into a new tone or mindset pretty quickly. This lightening-fast cultural assimilation is my greatest foundational asset as an advertising creative.

Here’s what breaks a creative project: the philosophical swirl. This holds true for any project, though. It’s easy to get stuck in the thinking of how it should be. Needing to mentally figure out every detail before actually starting the work. We can stay here for many, many meetings. Weeks can pass talking about strategy and creative philosophy. References can be passed back and forth, and data can be analyzed and sliced in as many ways as we need it to fit. This philosophical swirl is driven by fear, I think, mostly, because once you commit, you have to do. And doing is scary because then someone can say it’s wrong. But fuck fear, go forth. Do it. Even if it’s wrong. Even if it’s Not Great. Good gets you somewhere. Good fills the page. And greatness is in the editing.

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Sapka Communications, Mon, 06 Dec 2021 09:41:55 GMT