Mad Men & Me

Illustration + Narrative

As far as I know, nobody at Newhall Klein keeps stacks of neatly pressed shirts in their desk so they can seamlessly move from the night’s debauchery to another day of booze, brilliant ideas and gazing at dresses so tailored they appear to be skin.

Then again, I’m not always one to notice. I tend to learn the office news from status updates rather than conversations occurring around the corner. That’s because sometimes, as a writer, you have to create your own world by drawing on details farther away. Writing, thinking, researching scenarios transports you. To a place that is, hopefully, better.

Then there is the other side of the story: illustration. What makes graphics so magical, and what attracted me to this business, is their immediacy. How long does it take to feel the mood, message and spirit of a work of art? A well-designed ad? Without even realizing it, you form an instant opinion that shapes how you view everything that follows. It’s like magic, and you can’t have effective marketing without it.

Now back to the flip side. Imagine the most captivating illustration with no narrative. Imagine all of those Mad Men and women dressed up on the set, puffing smoke, walking in circles with no story. The show’s success is not only its mesmerizing appearance, but its subtly evolving plot that draws you deeper and deeper until you realize you ended up somewhere entirely different than where you began. Narrative is lasting. While graphics can sometimes do it alone, words are too powerful to omit from the picture.

So how does all of this relate to our work for you? In a writer’s world, the one I imagine at a desk with no backup wardrobe tucked inside, every brand, every point of sale, every ad and campaign is the result of two good friends – illustration and narrative – joining hands and lifting viewers to new heights that are impossible to forget.

Author: Karen Williams

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