Control Freaks

Years ago, as a student at the VCU Adcenter, I remember Jelly Helm admitting to our class that he was a little bit of a control freak. He said that if you asked the rest of the faculty, you’d find most of them were control freaks, too.

But the thing that’s really stuck with me, is that Jelly believed that having control-freak tendencies was probably a big contribution to his success.
“Control freak” has negative connotations. Who wants to work for a tyrant and an ego-maniac, right? The thing is, I don’t think Jelly is a tyrant or an ego-maniac. He just really cares about his work. He doesn’t stop at “good enough.”
Embrace your inner-control freak. Nourish it. You can be a control freak and still be nice and humble and respectful and open to other opinions.
But if you’re an art director, have an opinion about the copy your partner’s writing. If you’re a writer, weigh in on your partner’s layout and typeface. It’s you’re ad, too. Because when you show your book around and have to explain, “Yeah, my partner wanted it this way, but I didn’t really agree,” what you’re really saying is, “I put this in my book, but I don’t like it, so there’s really no reason you should either.”

One thought on “Control Freaks

  1. This is always a good topic of debate, because it comes into play a lot. There is a good type of control freakishness and a bad type. The good type is an obsessive attention to detail, a drive to make things as good as they possibly can be, and an unwillingness to settle.

    Balanced with that has to be an openness to what others can bring to the table. This is an essential part of the creative process. You might, in the end, decide that you still like something “your way,” but you should always be open to the fact that someone else (a partner, another creative, a director, talent) might have a better solution than you do.

    The worst manifestation of the control freak is the creative director who, without being able to articulate exactly what it is, wants you to guess what's in his/her head. A good creative director will give you clear direction to help guide you to the best solution, not just try to get you to execute his/her idea and shut down anything else. This can also be true of a partner.

    Good control freakishness = a perfectionist's drive
    Bad control freakishness = closemindedness


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