Working in graphic production at an ad agency means developing systems and procedures from the ground up, but also being prepared to throw them out the window. Organization is crucial in any project-based field like production and design. However, no amount of organization and proactivity will leave you prepared for last-minute requests and rush projects when new opportunities arise for our clients. Production is a hard train to turn around, and is derailed on a daily basis. For that reason, as crucial as organization is, it’s just as important to recognize when to forget the track altogether.
Production managers, myself included, often feel a sense of commitment to enforce rigid systems consistently across the board. More so, when a system is of your own inception, it becomes all the more important, almighty even. Why? It’s largely ego-driven. When your system works well, it feels good. And when it fails, it feels like you have as well to some extent. One of the biggest realizations I’ve made in my time as production manager at Bottom Line Marketing is that expecting every project to follow the same production process from start to finish isn’t only unrealistic, but is setting you and your team up to fail again and again. Being able to identify the nuance and uniqueness of each project and approaching it accordingly is essential to running a successful production department.
The challenges for assessing new tasks and campaigns are many. You’re often given very little information at the beginning of a project, so it involves a lot of inferring, drawing from your knowledge of past projects and brand guidelines. It takes a talented team to fill in those gaps. And when the mark is missed, we’re still left with a quality graphic delivered on time. What more can you ask for?
Yes there is color-coding, filing, alphabetizing, maintaining a calendar and following a schedule, but those are basic skills which all people possess. It’s also all very uninteresting. The true art of production and organization is knowing when to let go of the handlebars. It’s connecting the dots and building something exciting for our clients.