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August 12, 2011 3:51 AM   Subscribe


 
My experience has been that the person in the chair is the art director. The audience is usually marketing and sales droids intent on making sure the projects receives their thumbprint-of-approval. Wannabe ADs.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:04 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not just art directors. My boss will sometimes come by with some programming problem and then hover while I try to fix it. I CAN'T THINK WITH YOU STANDING THERE WATCHING EVERY MOVE.

The problem is made both worse and better because he's kind of impatient. It's worse because every missed keystroke makes my heart race because I'm wasting his precious milliseconds. It's better because if I don't fix the problem in under 30 seconds he'll usually race off and let me work in peace.
posted by DU at 4:17 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah try tattooing someone's forearm.
posted by chronkite at 4:34 AM on August 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


Wow, these are producing a surprisingly visceral reaction for me. Really setting off my AAHHH PLEASE BACK AWAY FROM ME NOW BEFORE I FREAK OUT detectors. Weird, photos don't usually affect me like that. And I don't even suffer from any sort of hovering art director PTSD.
posted by phunniemee at 4:55 AM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


In the era of CRTs it was possible to find the people doing the most interesting work by counting the number of finger print smudges gesticulating reviewers had made on their screens. (With LCDs the prints are still there but more subtle - visible clarly to those who had their work reviewed by people who were simultaneously eating fried food).
posted by rongorongo at 4:56 AM on August 12, 2011


This guy is displaying the international symbol for "I am not currently entertaining guests in my workstation." Hovering art director guy is clearly breaking all sorts of protocol.
posted by phunniemee at 4:58 AM on August 12, 2011 [13 favorites]


Read the fucking brand guidelines.
posted by punkfloyd at 5:07 AM on August 12, 2011


This guy is displaying the international symbol for "I am not currently entertaining guests in my workstation."

In fact, I think they are both looking at Hovering Art Directors.
posted by DU at 5:13 AM on August 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


I, too, have suffered the indignities of the hovering supervisor. In both art ("I think you should make that text bigger." "That line is the margin of the page, it won't print." "Really?") and programming ("Can't you just look at the SQL and fix it?" "I don't know the structure of this database." "Isn't there an error in the query though? You should be able to just look at it and fix it.")
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:15 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


First reaction: I'm going to make a lot of effort in the future towards never ever putting my hand on my chin.

Second reaction: my god, people who work in web development really do all look alike, don't we? I'm going to go shave and tuck in my shirt.
posted by ook at 5:27 AM on August 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


looking at this makes me anxious
posted by nathancaswell at 5:29 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


They all look like they're doing their jobs, to me.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:41 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Minesweeper coaches.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:47 AM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Art Director's Panopticon
posted by hydrophonic at 5:47 AM on August 12, 2011


My experience has been that the person in the chair is the art director. The audience is usually marketing and sales droids intent on making sure the projects receives their thumbprint-of-approval. Wannabe ADs.

Yep, exactly. I think they it's their way of being part of the process. People want to feel needed. If someone, like me, says "I've got it from here, will bring/send you the proof if you need one" that's like saying "We don't need you here, for this important task, ergo you don't really matter."

There's also a mixture of lack of conceptualizing ability and wanting to be clear on the final product. If they say make it grass green, they're picturing a particular shade of green, which is almost certainly not what's the AD is going to do. Unless they've been working together a while or have similar tastes. Doesn't mean they're wrong and the AD is right, but it helps to get all that on the visual carpet, so to speak, and hash out those differences.

It's a social arena. There's a time and manner which you can send people away and when you can, but shouldn't and when you shouldn't but really need to.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:48 AM on August 12, 2011


Hovering art directors or communally watching youtube videos; how can you tell the difference? For example, this one could fall on either side.
posted by hariya at 5:49 AM on August 12, 2011




Second reaction: my god, people who work in web development really do all look alike, don't we? I'm going to go shave and tuck in my shirt.

Good idea. I think we all should. That'll show 'em.

(seriously overweight, untucked t-shirt, a week of beard, vat of caffeine, wireless headphones - I'm not a stereotype...)
posted by twine42 at 5:56 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


See also hoovering art directors.
posted by dabitch at 6:06 AM on August 12, 2011 [35 favorites]


There's a drinking game in this.

Rule 1: Take a swig every time you see a Mac in a converted loft with wood floors.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:08 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Rule 1: Take a swig every time you see a Mac in a converted loft with wood floors."

I don't know about you, but I'm jealous.
posted by fusinski at 6:13 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


my god, people who work in web development really do all look alike, don't we? I'm going to go shave and tuck in my shirt.

And get a PC, evidently, if you want to be a real iconoclast.
posted by The Bellman at 6:14 AM on August 12, 2011


I work at an agency; one of the frequent comments we get from clients is that they don’t understand how a small, quiet, “non-name” agency keeps putting out work that's better than most of our peers for much lower rates. I've never really understood it either.

I think I understand now.
posted by Shepherd at 6:15 AM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have had the hovering boss thing happen to me in several previous jobs. Now that I manage two people, I make sure to say something like "is it OK for me to look over your shoulder?" when they call me into their office to ask a question about something. It's not like I'm not going to look at the screen when they ask me to, but at least I try to give them some agency.
posted by LN at 6:16 AM on August 12, 2011


Dammit GallonOfAlan, I'm sitting here in front of my iMac in my converted warehouse top floor office with old wood floors and brick walls. I'd have to be drunk constantly.

[NOT CLICHE-IST]
posted by rusty at 6:16 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


rule 2: for every hand on chin, drink
rule 3 for every pair of thick glasses , chug
rule 4: for every finger touching the screen, scream.
posted by dabitch at 6:18 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


rusty: "I'd have to be drunk constantly."

And..?
posted by titus-g at 6:19 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


And get a PC, evidently, if you want to be a real iconoclast.

Well now, there is such a thing as going too far.
posted by ook at 6:22 AM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


whoah my old boss and coworker!! http://28.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ll32cw1hfB1qi6mzdo1_500.jpg
posted by rollerball at 6:27 AM on August 12, 2011


Ugh design intern PTSD...
posted by The Whelk at 6:34 AM on August 12, 2011


hahaha. i work in production at an agency and this is so spot on. the AD--->studio artist hovering relationship is special. it is like no other hover on earth.
posted by apostrophe at 6:42 AM on August 12, 2011


Dammit GallonOfAlan, I'm sitting here in front of my iMac in my converted warehouse top floor office with old wood floors and brick walls. I'd have to be drunk constantly.

And that would complete the cliche.

I'm sitting here counting the number of agency clients I have that could fit that description. There are a bunch.
posted by Mcable at 6:45 AM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thankfully, not as many toys and action figures as I expected to see.
posted by davebush at 6:50 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


rule 3 for every pair of thick glasses , chug

These are officially known as "Ira Glass-es" now, right?
posted by aught at 6:57 AM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thankfully, not as many toys and action figures as I expected to see.

/me hides Spock and Lost in Space robot figures in file cabinet.
posted by aught at 6:59 AM on August 12, 2011


Yesterday my AD partner had the Global Creative Director of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide over his shoulder. I felt so bad for him. But I giggled nonetheless.
posted by functionequalsform at 7:00 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


These are officially known as "Ira Glass-es" now, right?

Years ago, I guess when the chunky glasses thing was still sort of a thing of big cities, I knew someone who had them and I really liked them but did not know they were a trend so had to think about how to ask for them.

Eventually I went to LensCrafters and said, "Give me the most National Health Services-looking glasses you've got."

This was in the US, but she still knew what I meant, and sold them to me.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:13 AM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm gonna go with 'people doing their jobs', too. How else are you supposed to work on something creative? With memos?
posted by signal at 7:27 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was wondering how long it would take me to see someone I know.

Three pages.

Hi Jay!
posted by slogger at 7:37 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna go with 'people doing their jobs', too. How else are you supposed to work on something creative? With memos?

My memos have awesome typography.

A single, still, photo doesn't really capture 'hovering'. Did the AD just walk up? How long has he been there? A photo could have been snapped moments before "looks good, Bob" and exit, stage left.

To really capture hovering you need like an animated gif captured by the video chat camera, sped up, with time stamps to show how much hovering is going on.

If you make it a video, then you can include a wacky soundtrack.

Oh shit. I'm art directing a web site aren't I?
posted by device55 at 7:41 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


None of us is as dumb as all of us.
posted by brand-gnu at 7:43 AM on August 12, 2011


The really great thing about being hovered is that the hoverer is strategically positioned for an elbow in the groin. Remember that, people, before you speak while hovering. Elbow in the groin. And the best thing about being hovered is that you can say that you were just reaching for the mouse.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:46 AM on August 12, 2011


See also hoovering art directors.

See also: hovering and hoovering art directors ist.
posted by phunniemee at 8:18 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna go with 'people doing their jobs', too. How else are you supposed to work on something creative? With memos?

In my experience, like so:

1. Client sends a brief. Creative team sits down and reviews it, discusses it, brainstorms some ideas. 30 minutes max. Copywriter and designer sit down together and hash out some copy and visuals.

2. Copywriter refines copy while designer works on design. Both are left alone instead of micromanaged by somebody drifting around next to their shoulder saying "move that over there" or "turn that green" or "I don't like the word 'pencil', use something else” while they're still in the draft process.

3. Copywriter and designer share material, compare notes, realign, and repeat step 2 a couple of times.

4. Whole team sits down again, goes over all concepts to date for 15 minutes. Talk about improvements and adjustments. Creative guys make arguments for creative choices, account people try to ensure they hew close to exactly what the client has asked for. Improvements and adjustments are agreed on.

5. Adjustments and refinements. Once again, the copywriter and designer are trusted to do their jobs and do them well, as opposed to having somebody hovering around like a highway job site supervisor “suggesting” things.

6. Repeat step 4. 99% of the time a two-minute sit-down resulting in “great, let’s move that forward” or some sort of very minor refinement.

7. Off to the client.

TLDR: if more than one person needs to discuss something, you sit down and discuss it. If somebody needs to work on something, you let them work on it. Discussion time is discussion time, working time is working time.

There is no room for half-assed design-by-committee half-meeting half-work-sessions where people just kind of cluster and dither and talk about what's on the screen and then talk about the new Bon Iver album for a while and then maybe that should go on the other side of the screen and hey you smell nice today oh thanks gee maybe that word should be yellow I don't know how about green well god the brand colour is purple look guys what if it is in italics but yellow while the designer sits there and seethes silently.

This requires (a) the hiring of excellent people you trust, and (b) trusting that those people will do their jobs better than you can probably do them. Learning to trust them and leaving them alone to work without micromanagement is a hard skill to adopt, but once you adopt it, everybody is happier, more productive, and produces better work.
posted by Shepherd at 8:19 AM on August 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


Hovering bosses make me crazy, but hovering creative colleagues, collaborating or offering feedback and suggestions, (and then going away) are a thing of wonder and delight.
posted by cccorlew at 9:22 AM on August 12, 2011


Despite the location tags, I can't shake the feeling that most of these photos were taken in exactly the same office, with many of the same people. I had no idea "design/internet/media/startup" culture was so uniform across the globe.
posted by treepour at 9:23 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


As both hoverer and hoveree, I think it's win-win if you do it right. Hoveree gets to delegate responsibility and get auto-signoff on what they're doing, so they know they won't have to do it again (and that if they do, the request will at least be sheepish :-). Hoverer gets to stay in the loop so they can keep the larger systems coordinated, and/or get what they need, eg if they're blocked by some little thing, it's often better for both that it gets adjusted on the spot rather than drag on over weeks of lists and emails.

That said, while the hover vibe where I am seems to be a friendly hanging-out one, looking at some of these pics... ugh... I think I'm going to be more careful and aware of when the vibe could get more borderline.
posted by -harlequin- at 9:24 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


TLDR: if more than one person needs to discuss something, you sit down and discuss it. If somebody needs to work on something, you let them work on it. Discussion time is discussion time, working time is working time.

Yup, though my assumption is that a lot of these pics are actually good examples of discussion time, where the thing being discussed is something onscreen, and someone needs to "drive" the computer - bring up the detail under discussion, move on to the next thing when that discussion is done, etc. No work is being done, but someone still needs to drive.
posted by -harlequin- at 9:28 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yup, though my assumption is that a lot of these pics are actually good examples of discussion time, where the thing being discussed is something onscreen, and someone needs to "drive" the computer (...)

One hopes; given the name of the site, and the fact that it's obviously industry people sending in the photos, my knee-jerk assumption was that it was people doing what it says on the tin. I'd be happy (for the people in the pictures) to be wrong, though.
posted by Shepherd at 9:32 AM on August 12, 2011


The only thing worse than a hovering art director is the entire fucking team hovering around your desk making directionless random comments. My favorite is always the douche in the back that says, "The type is hard to read.". Well of course the type is hard to read – you are standing 10 fucking feet away from the monitor!

After being subjected to this kind of unproductive "critiquing" a few times I finally laid down some rules. 1) if you must sit with me at my desk and comment on something I will only accept one person at a time. No groups. And only then if I'm not busy. 2) If we need to gather around and make comments it will not be at my desk. We will either look at printout in the conference room or check it out in a totally neutral workspace. 3) I will probably send out jpegs to the team shortly before our review. This is so you can have comments prepared. Having comments prepared means we have shorter meetings and thus spend less time sitting in silence while flipping through screens.

Seriously designers, you don't have to put up with this BS. You can dictate how your work is reviewed.
posted by quadog at 9:34 AM on August 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just don't touch my fucking monitor screen!
posted by tippiedog at 9:54 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


"There's a time and manner which you can send people away and when you can, but shouldn't and when you shouldn't but really need to."

There's a time and manner when you can send people away; when you can, but shouldn't; and when you shouldn't, but really need to.

I am so sorry, but that was killing me. I had to read and re-read it many times before I figured it out.

And here is the obligatory but generic Clients From Hell link.
posted by Xoebe at 11:25 AM on August 12, 2011


Joseph K. Semicolon just rolled over in his grave.
posted by phunniemee at 11:33 AM on August 12, 2011


I just noticed the title. Who has ever been asked to make the logo smaller?
posted by entropicamericana at 11:55 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are probably two people in these rooms responsible for the work who have slaved for a year over it but thanks to the other 8 that stopped for 30 seconds to gawk and throw their 2c in, they now all get nominated for a gold award. That's because they all insist on getting their name added to it, they then get to tell their friends "I did that!" and ride off it for the next 5 years. I only wish I was kidding. Who, me... Bitter? ;)
posted by Jubey at 1:54 PM on August 12, 2011


entropicamericana:Who has ever been asked to make the logo smaller?

I have, in many an AD huddle. It's the classic opening gambit in the client-creative brand visibility battle. Make it smaller, so when client asks for it bigger it ends up being at an acceptable size.
posted by elphTeq at 2:36 PM on August 12, 2011


I was looking to see if my own dear Mac Monkey would turn up among the images, but I started to feel kind of sick and dizzy. Who knew that so many plaid shirts and all that statement eyewear swarming those helpless production artists pinned to their swiveling chairs in converted industrial spaces would make me feel like I've ridden the Spinning Teacup Ride of Sympathy for my poor husband?

Let's see: It's 5:30, he should have been finished half an hour ago - so, of course someone gave him some revisions (without change forms and probably with the wrong logo) that aren't approved, yet were due yesterday, for something that's supposed to be at the printer's first thing Monday morning, and everyone who could sign off has left for the weekend, and so he'll be leaving in another twenty minutes if he's lucky. I think I'll have a gin and tonic ready for him when he gets home. And I'll show him this.
posted by peagood at 2:37 PM on August 12, 2011


Your husband finishes at 5? Really?! If he only has to stay back half an hour and that's a big deal that warrants a gin & tonic, he has the best working hours I've ever come across. I would kill for that. Lucky man.
posted by Jubey at 2:45 PM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ha! He's home now (he's a Studio Manager, and made whatever issues someone else's problem - but he brought stuff that has to go to the printer's across the street from us so he could use a cab chit and it had to be there by 6) and I just showed him this. (That said, he goes in really early, and there's nothing to say he's not going to have to suddenly go in at 3:30 on Sunday afternoon and stay until 8 am. And, he's to be available by/check email at all times. GRRR.)

He said: "They guy with the hand on his forehead? That's the Print Production Manager. The proofs just came back and the Art Director who is pointing there has decided to change the headline on that book cover and they're not going to make the deadline. That was my day."

And, he said "The people who are pointing at the screens? Those are the people who can't do what the production artist is doing. They're saying "Move that thing there two clicks over that way and then two clicks up. And it looks too orangey."

Now, it's time for cocktails and then fish tacos, before he has to start on the freelance work that he does from home - you know, the ones he has to take to buy our baby's shoes, because while it's incredibly privileged these days to have a job at all, let alone the one with good benefits - it doesn't actually pay the bills.
posted by peagood at 3:19 PM on August 12, 2011


This guy is displaying the international symbol for "I am not currently entertaining guests in my workstation." Hovering art director guy is clearly breaking all sorts of protocol.
posted by phunniemee at 4:58 AM on August 12 [13 favorites +] [!]
Look closer! That's the Hovering Art Director web page on his screen.

Yes, my friends, we are viewing human infinite looping at its finest.
posted by MysteriousMan at 6:07 PM on August 12, 2011


I will confess to hovering, but I swear it's only when A: the deadline is literally minutes before air time, and I really need to save the time it would take for the artist to render the quicktime and email it to me, B: I have been specifically asked to stay and weigh in, or C: we are obviously not communicating well on a particular issue, we have made at least 5 attempts to get on the same page, and I'm really trying to make number 6 the last one.
posted by Noon Under the Trees at 6:57 PM on August 12, 2011


Husband also said "It's not so bad then they stand around you - I've had them five deep. But when they pull up a chair, you know you're in for it."
posted by peagood at 8:34 PM on August 12, 2011


Okay, now I’m scrolling through this looking for people who work in one of my company’s studios.
posted by spitefulcrow at 7:36 AM on August 13, 2011


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