Originally from India, Karan Singh is an illustrator living and working in Australia. To get to know more about him and his works, visit his portfolio Wake Up Mr Singh.
How do you define a great advertisement?
I’d like to think that perfect advertising is where you don’t feel like you’re trying to be sold something, further, that you hardly feel like it’s an ad but more a creative solution or interpretation for the use of a product. Good advertising should sub-consciously evoke an emotion and aim to build a temporal relationship through association with the audience.
What are the challenges of designing for commercial purposes?
Often I feel that the primary challenge for designers, in designing ads, is the client. The client understandably has a vested interest in the product and often feels like certain boxes need to checked in the order to fulful the purpose of the advertisement, i.e. the ad needs to express x number of the products attributes all within the 30 second spot or a billboard. A fair claim as a lot of money goes into producing the product as well as developing the ad and purchasing the advertising space. It’s a classic case of ‘Could you please make the logo bigger’. Contrasting to this, we as designers long to create something iconic, memorable and pleasing to the eye. Very few agencies around the world can effectively balance all the points in the brief accompanied with good advertising.
What does the cooperation between numerous persons (copywriters, art directors, creative directors, artists) which are need for designing an advertisment look like?
Generally the best way to approach this is to collaborate together on this rather than to work on it in separate stages. I find that working collectively to resolve the copy and execution reduces problems further down the track eg. a style guide is created but the illustration/image clashes with the guide/copy/layout. Further, working together on these elements often allows for a more creative approach on harmoniously incorporating all the design elements.
What is your opinion about the numerous renowed advertisement awards? Are they neccessary? Do they create a bigger competition?
I’m in two minds about this. Firstly, I feel that recognition amongst your peers is something that we all yearn for, whether we like to admit it or not. It might be nice that a random person from the public appreciates your ad but a panel of judges who are experts in your industry appreciating your execution can often speak volumes about your talent and expertise. On the contrary, good ads and how they are gauged are incredibly subjective. Whilst an ad might serve well in dramatically increasing sales, it could be creatively flat, or visa versa; these circumstances question the grounds on how we measure good advertising or if they can be measured at all.
How can we imagine working for ad agencies? Can you generally bring in all you creativity or are your ideas often restricted by clients?
This branches off my primary challenge with advertising. Often this depends upon your client and how open they are to hearing you interpretations. A lot of the larger brands contract their marketing to agencies who, often create the concepts for a campaign, and then pass on their concepts to studios/freelancers to realise them. If this is the case, trying to implement your own ideas can leave you fighting a tangle of bureaucracy as things need to go back and forth in order to be approved. That being said, I feel that scenarios differ from job to job; there might be an agency who have defined an idea and would like it executed an specific way, whilst others might have secured a concept but would like a few approaches on how you plan to undertake the job. Nevertheless, regardless of the rules, the great designers are the ones who can still create something amazing whilst being confined to a tight brief.
What does a typical advertisement designing process starting with the client brief and ending with the client’s approval look like?
The process I’ve often dealt with involves first receiving a brief from either an agency or brand requesting work. Often they like to see 3-5 rough sketches on your approach. Following this stage, the client will select 2-3 to pursue to the next stage where the sketch is refined to show a more accurate realisation of the ad. The client then will then select their final concept which; here you proceed with final production of the ad, showing samples as you progress. This process can take anywhere from a months to a week depending on the deadline. The number of sketches and options to provide will vary depending upon the duration of the job, the mediums you’re applying it to and how many versions are required.