Interview with Tara Lawall & Devon Hong

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Interview with Tara Lawall & Devon Hong

Coppie di fatto creative. Per l'advertising il numero perfetto è il 2. Tara Lawall e Devon Hong, rispettivamente l'una la metà creativa dell'altro, sono un Copywriter ed un Art Director giovanissimi e già sulla cresta dell'onda. Si svuotano il cervello per la BBH New York ed il loro portfolio è impressionante. Si raccontano a creazina rilasciando ottimi consigli per chi fa parte del club e spunti interessanti per i profani.

How and why did you begin to be creative?

DH: I think I’ve been an art director way before I actually got paid for it. In high school, I would spend so much time making presentations look good. I would come in costume, scent the hand outs (where applicable), and make videos for run of the mill book reports. I also made up a lot of stories. Teachers didn't like that but somehow, it set me up nicely to be in advertising. 

TL:
I wish I could say I was always a writer but that would be a huge lie. Writing was one of my weakest subjects all through school. The whole thing really clicked for me in Miami Ad School. I suddenly got it. Something clicked and I understood the patterns and language of creative ideas.
 
"To give birth to ideas." Is this only an expression, or are there really
parallels between giving birth and creativity?
DH:
Idea babies often come out mutated. With tails, flippers and two heads. It's rare for it to come out just the way you imagined babies should look like - ie. in a stock photo. Then again, stock photo babies are boring. So to answer your question: Yes, It's labor intensive.
TL:
Giving birth to ideas is more painful.
 
It is possible to fall in love with a bad idea simply because it is yours. How do you avoid this?
TL:
Ah, yes. It’s tough to not love all of your children, but sometimes you just need to face facts and realize that Billy is ugly and never going to be a soccer star. Its a tough balance that I haven’t quite figured out. In order to do good work, you have to care, but it’s the caring that ends up breaking you. 
DH:
What bad ideas? Yes it happens once in a while. But Tara is a good test for me. We like different things but ideas we both like usually end up being our best ideas. So if she's really against it, I think twice. that's the benefit of having a partner. That said, I’m a big believer that great ideas sound really bad at first. But if they're bad for a few days, it's time to move on.
 
Declaration: With what person or business would you like to work?
TL:
Any client that has a little money and an open mind. But preferably, a company that doesn’t believe in too much testing and a product that doesn’t require too many rounds of legal feedback.  
DH:
I would love to work with Christian Borstlap on a project. i love his work. it's simple, charming and always smart. http://www.partofabiggerplan.com/  And Todd Selby, David Thorne, Miranda July, there are so many… None of them are really in advertising though. 
TL:
My non advertising pick is Tina Fey.  I love that woman.
 
What is the best advertisement you've seen recently?
DH:
Not to toot my agency's horn. But I love BBH New York's Chrome Fast Ball. It's fun, beautifully executed, and it communicates the idea of speed by making the user feel rushed when playing. It's the kind of work I want to be doing. WWF's PDF alternative is also way up there for me. It's so damn simple!
TL:
Toot my agency’s horn sounds really dirty.  I really like NPR and Radiolab’s Words it is entertaining and captivating which is impressive for a 3 min long video.  
 
Which is the book a copywriter must read? Which artist an art director must
observe?
DH:
Ah. I should of saved Christian Borstlap for this section. Well I'll break it down by discipline. Typogapher - Letman. Mike Perry / Photographer - Nick Meek, Edward Burtynsky, Erwin Olaf / Artists - Miranda July, Peter Callesen, Christian Marclay / Illustrators - Dan Hillier, Jack Teagle, Blexbolex
TL:
Just read books, in general. Read articles. Read everything. Take an improv class. Go to comedy shows. Do stuff. As a copywriter you need to be able to write in many different voices, not just your own. You can’t use the same tone for diapers that you use for a guy’s body wash (although, I’ve tried).  
 
Which copywriter would you exhume from the grave? Which art director?
DH:
I would exhume Saul Bass but I'm sure he's very happy in a graphic 2D heaven right now. But I would like to bring back artist/industrial designer Tobias Wong. His wit and talents ended too soon. 
TL:
He wasn’t a copywriter but I’d bring back Edgar Allan Poe and give him a hug.  That guy seemed like he really needed a hug.  
 
When do you understand that you could stop looking for a creative partner?
DH:
I don't think there's one creative partner for everyone. Tara is a great partner - she's smart, articulate and allergic to bad ads. Though people change and what they want out of advertising changes so naturally I think it's understandable that people move from partner to partner. 
TL:
Creative respect. When you find a partner that can offers skills that are far superior to your skills, then you have found a partner. Also I love office banter and Devon is a gay Chinese Canadian guy so that gives me a lot to work with.
 
We have a lot of theorists about it. But for you, what is wrong with
Italian advertising?
DH:
Ha! Let's just say that when I was in grade 10 (15 years old), I went on a school trip to Italy. I turned on the TV and the first commercial I saw was with this woman running towards the edge of a cliff with only her bra. Jumps off. Pause. then you see her topless and her bra became this giant parachute. It was a great introduction to one of my favorite countries in the world and I ended up shooting two seasons of a cooking show in Florence. I think there's bad advertising anywhere you go so don't be so hard on yourself! I still remember that brilliant stunt JWT did for Heineken. It's high on my list of awesome campaigns.  
TL:
Too be honest, I don’t know a whole lot about Italian advertising and that may be part of the problem. Sometimes, ad agencies need to play the game.  Global award shows can be a dirty word to some people but they are a good way for agencies and countries to get noticed. 
 
Can a bad advertising campaign sell well?
DH:
Yes. And I hate that.
TL:
Yeah, there is a mysterious X factor that cannot be explained, measured, or tested. No matter how great or how terrible the creative is you never know exactly how it is going to be received and how it will effect sales.
 
What brings you the most satisfaction: when your advert pleases your boss, your client, your friends, or your mother?
DH:
Myself? I would say my friends would be next on the list. Making work to please other people is never a good place to start though. And there's no pleasing my mom. I heard Chinese mom's are like Italian moms. I'm going to guess that you'll know what I mean.
TL:
Any time anyone gives you positive feedback is a good time.  But my toughest client is myself. I tend to be incredibly hard on my own work.  Also, Devon’s mom.  
 
What advice would give to someone who wants to join the ranks of
advertising?
DH:
Run the other way! No it's fun if you can take a punch. There are awesome highs and some pretty bad lows but if you're working with the right people, those lows aren't so bad (since there will likely be a beer involved). Do what you love doing. and if you don't, RUN THE OTHER WAY. 
TL:
RUN! Is good advice. But if you don’t run, never ever stop challenging yourself. This is a hard industry. If you are not constantly improving, your brain will turn to mush. Also know that it is going to be really really hard to get the job you want.  If people don’t answer emails it’s not because you suck, it’s because they are busy.  Keep trying.
 
 
Interview /// Federica Caglioti
Interview /// Thanks to Lucia Moschella
Illustration /// Francesca Burrani
 
 
Devon Hong & Lara Tawall by Francesca Burrani
Devon Hong&Tara Lawall by Francesca Burrani
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A round of applause for your post.Really thank you! Braulio

A round of applause for your post.Really thank you! Bellendir

A round of applause for your post.Really thank you! Braulio

A round of applause for your post.Really thank you! Bellendir

nice job!

Hi Good Thanks

nice job!

Hi Good Thanks