Any art director reading that headline will no doubt point out that clients interfere with art direction just as much as they do copywriting.

Sure, they’ll have their opinions on how they think something should look, and sometimes they’ll let their visions get the better of them. But in my (admittedly short) career, I have never seen a scamp or even basic layout doodle handed from client to suit. What I have seen, numerous times, however, is headlines, sentences, and whole paragraphs of copy supplied by clients.

Sometimes it’s thinly veiled as guidance – ‘the client just wants something like this,’ they’ll say. But when you read between the supplied lines, you can pretty much take that as ‘the client just wants this’. The more straight-talking clients will even bypass this faux humility and insist that lines be changed word-for-word. As in their word for your word.

And to be honest, that’s part and parcel of copywriting. But it should also be part of art directing. It’s not fair, miss! Why do art directors get to do what they want while we have to tow the lines that are written for us?

The answer of course – as my esteemed colleague points out in this excellent article – is that everyone can write. That is to say, everyone client can structure something that passes for a sentence. But why can’t everyone draw? Perhaps clients think art direction, design and layout is something that they shouldn’t attempt without an art degree. If only they paid the same respect to the occasional art of copywriting.

I want a level playing field, miss! I want clients to stop copywriting and continue abstaining from art direction – or to draw just as much as they write.

Who knows, they may well turn out to be highly-skilled at both disciplines – and we might all end up having to get proper jobs.

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