Art & Copy

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Have you seen the movie/documentary, Art & Copy?

I had not (and shame on me!). I rented it from iTunes last week on my iPad and watched it on my flight back from London the other day. I got completely caught-up, lost in it and inspired. The movie looks at the early days of the advertising industry and how it has evolved. That’s not really true. The crux of the movie is about the creative process and how advertising – done well – is art (and it is!). The true inspiration from the movie comes from the interviews with some our industries leading luminaries (you know, the names you typically see on the signs of their office buildings or on all of the advertising awards).

Art & Copy left me breathless. It left me inspired. It left me wanting to be more. It left me wanting to be one of the people they should interview if they were making this movie again in a couple of decades.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

Here’s the synopsis from the website…

"Art & Copy is a powerful new film about advertising and inspiration. Directed by Doug Pray (Surfwise, Scratch, Hype!), it reveals the work and wisdom of some of the most influential advertising creatives of our time – people who’ve profoundly impacted our culture, yet are virtually unknown outside their industry. Exploding forth from advertising’s ‘creative revolution’ of the 1960s, these artists and writers all brought a surprisingly rebellious spirit to their work in a business more often associated with mediocrity or manipulation: George Lois, Mary Wells, Dan Wieden, Lee Clow, Hal Riney and others featured in Art & Copy were responsible for ‘Just Do It,’ ‘I Love NY,’ ‘Where’s the Beef?,’ ‘Got Milk,’ ‘Think Different,’ and brilliant campaigns for everything from cars to presidents. They managed to grab the attention of millions and truly move them. Visually interwoven with their stories, TV satellites are launched, billboards are erected, and the social and cultural impact of their ads are brought to light in this dynamic exploration of art, commerce, and human emotion."


  1. I hadn’t heard of it – and I’m really excited to watch it.
    Thanks for flagging it!
    (I join you in feeling silly about not having heard about it earlier)

  2. If you pair Art & Copy with the movies Helvetica, and Objectified then you have the creative triad of:
    – Branding
    – Graphic design
    – Product design
    I use all 3 movies when I’m trying to explain to someone outside the industry what it is that we do.

  3. Watched it a few months back billed as the real Mad Men…thought it was brilliant as well and loved it. One caveat, some of the “stars” of the film were some of the most inflated, arrogant people you would ever want to run across…maybe that’s what makes them good…but wouldn’t envy their self-aggrandized egos sprawled on film – happy to stay grounded and respected.

  4. I talked about this in a recent Blog post. It was called, Incompatible. I believe that people like this (and others) are incompatible. They have to be to do what they do. The trick is in figuring out how to deal with them and also how to use non-negative words to define them. Genius is often misunderstood and hard to work alongside with.

  5. The line that stood out to me in the trailer – and this rings true in every industry – there are a lot of people in the advertising industry, but very few good ones.
    There will always be those who make crap (refer to the every industry comment above) but as we lob the word “content” around like it’s some magical bulletproof substance, it does fit in one very important context – great stuff is great stuff whether it sells other stuff or not.
    A movie about advertising that is winning awards? Shock horror!
    Next time we know, someone from an ad agency will have a show on CBC radio about advertising. 😉

  6. I don’t think advertising is unlike anything or any industry. This is always the case: there’s only a handful of true genius work. You see this on Twitter and in Blogs as much as you see it in advertising or even manufacturing products. Don’t believe me, watch the movie, Objectified.
    Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should. If you think anybody should (which I happen to agree with), be aware that there are only a few who will truly transcend.

  7. As an in-house creative (and a department of one to boot), I’m surrounded by accounting-types who just don’t “get it.” I love what I do, but some days getting good ideas to see the light of day is a depressingly uphill battle.
    I sat down on my couch to watch Art & Copy, and within minutes it was like the clouds parted, a ray of light shone down on my coffee table, and the angels started singing. Here were the kindred spirits I so sorely missed at the office, offering more personal and professional inspiration than I could possibly choke down in one sitting. By the end of the movie I was running for my sketch pad and notebook, eager to start on the ideas that had already started bubbling to the surface now that the “administrative logjam” had been removed from my brain. There’s nothing like rubbing up against great minds (even if it is only via video) to get your own creative juices flowing again.
    Art & Copy — more stimulating than espresso and cheaper than therapy. I highly recommend it. 🙂

  8. Mitch.
    You’re right, the trailer doesn’t do it justice. I love’d the insight into the creative process and how it has evolved over the years. When we focus on others and not ourselves then our creative can become art.

  9. I’ll dare with you. It would be great to see it with the next generation of artists in the digital space. Maybe a passing of the torch. Congrats too on the top marketing firms nod.

  10. Good call Mitch, even for someone not in the industry, this documentary offered fascinating insight. I would be first in line to sign up for a one day event called “The Art of Advertising Icons” just to hear more stories. You know I almost never click on the bonus sections in a DVD, but I did this time because I simply was not ready for it to be over. Bravo, Doug Pray.

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