I landed my first job as a keyliner (pre-computer) at an ad agency out West while finishing my BFA in graphic design. Both the art director and creative director I worked under were prolific idea men: creative, meticulous and demanding. They were great examples of how the [successful] game was played, and my bar was set pretty high fairly early on. I am forever grateful.
Rather than returning to my native Chicago after growing homesick for the Midwest several years later, I went northward from Chicago to central Wisconsin, taking a position as the art director with a small, successful, award-winning ad agency. As before, the creative director and writer were both hard-driving, and I absorbed their diligence in never settling on half-there concepts.
Ironically, it was my then-husband's professional path that led me to the state in which I came to realize that my own creative ingenuity could power a long, respectable career. In Minnesota, I went to work for the only marketing firm at the time dedicated solely to direct response. Talk about sea change! Direct marketing, as I quickly learned, is not advertising. As a discipline — from the standpoint of a creative role — it’s first understanding what motivates your audience, taking every opportunity to engage with them as individuals throughout the relationship cycle, and caring deeply about the outcome. It’s something more, and it made sense to me then and still does today. No matter the medium or discipline for which I’m designing, its principles guide my strategic thinking.
In 1995, I went out on my own and, as they say, never looked back. Having successfully been independent for more than two decades says something, I believe, about my vision and work ethic. I do smart, bright work in partnership with my clients, giving them my all and turning projects around in timeframes that, sometimes, surprise even me.
Today, I work out of my home office in the quaint and creative village of Stockholm, Wisconsin along the Mississippi River at Lake Pepin. My education continues.
~ Jan Eckhart