An Examination of the Delicate Relationship Between Art Director & Copywriter, Part 1

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By Copywriter Ashley Billings

I wish you would stop repeating back exactly what I just said only slightly rephrased. When I share an idea with you that you like, just say, “Good idea,” and leave it at that. Because when you take exactly what I just said and slightly rephrase it, your insecurity threatens my insecurity causing me to experience several emotions that I’m not comfortable with.

First of all, there’s no way you actually believe that you just said anything different from what I just said. It’s not like you changed the idea or added something to it, which are both completely acceptable by the way. Are you honestly so insecure that you have to feel like everything we come up with is your idea?

Second, what you are doing in this situation is referred to as a defense mechanism. Who exactly are you defending yourself from? If you haven’t noticed, I’m not holding a sword and challenging you to a duel. We are on the same team. Sometimes the ideas will come out of my mouth, and sometimes they’ll come out of yours. You just need to sit back and let the magic happen naturally.

Third, I’ll most likely respond with, “That’s what I just said.” After I say this, I will immediately feel asinine. I have now stooped to your level and because of this I am not only annoyed with you, but I’m also annoyed with myself.

Fourth, you should feel embarrassed. If it doesn’t seem like you feel embarrassed, I will create a very awkward tension in the air. This means I might have to whip out the old passive aggression.

And last, the best way for you to make up for what you’ve just done is to tell me how smart and hysterical I am, because I am also incredibly insecure and I’ll take approval from anyone who will give it to me.

Ashley Billings, the author of this piece, is a Freelance Copywriter who has worked with several local agencies including Crispin Porter + Bogusky, TDA, Cactus, and Factory Labs. She would also like to add that she loves her dog very much. Check out her site for a view of her work.


  1. B April 27, 2009

    do you like fishsticks?

    do you like fishsticks?

  2. Christopher Cox April 27, 2009

    Well Ashley, ‘at the end of

    Well Ashley, ‘at the end of the day’ we are all on the same team right?

    (inside joke there) wink wink.

  3. Ryan Geiger April 27, 2009

    Ashley, this article is

    Ashley, this article is hilarious and great.

  4. Rachel S April 27, 2009

    My favorite part is about

    My favorite part is about whipping out the “old passive aggression.” The humor you bring to this emotionally charged situation is so creative. Love it.

  5. sean April 28, 2009

    i’ll stop repeating


    i’ll stop repeating everything you say if you’ll give due consideration to the ideas i do have. instead of acting like i just said, ‘i think my fish just farted.’

  6. Ashley April 28, 2009

    Just to clarify, this is not

    Just to clarify, this is not from a writer to an art director, just a look a the delicate relationship between the two.

  7. Rae April 28, 2009

    from the point of view of the

    from the point of view of the account girl that interupts this convo to see if anyone wants starbucks….this put its finger right on the tension b/w CWs and ADs. you could easily interchange the two and it would still work.

  8. anthony castellano April 28, 2009

    You are so smart and

    You are so smart and hysterical.

  9. Paul Caiozzo April 28, 2009

    great piece

    great piece

  10. Brian Manzanares April 28, 2009

    Ha Ha Ha

    Ha Ha Ha

  11. steve Whittier April 29, 2009

    This article would have been

    This article would have been a lot better if it was layed out differently.

  12. holly May 1, 2009

    You know, this article, had

    You know, this article, had been layed out differently, would have been a lot better.

  13. Jon May 2, 2009

    Speaking of being insecure… I

    Speaking of being insecure… I feel like I should call my (totally awesome) copywriter right now and make sure he doesn’t feel this way about me!

  14. golublog May 3, 2009

    So true.

    So true.

  15. Brian W. May 15, 2009

    please, read my copy and love

    please, read my copy and love it. read it you illiteratnoramus. love it. love me.

    how would you like it if i never noticed your kerning? stupid sexy kerning.

    at least do me the honor of mumbling, “that’s cool,” under your breath. i don’t even need eye contact.

  16. mia May 28, 2011

    This is exactly why I have a
    This is exactly why I have a New Yorker cartoon framed in my office. It has a copywriter sitting at a bar saying to the bartender, “Just once I’d like someone to walk up to me and say ‘I read your latest ad, and I really enjoyed it.'”

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