WHEN YOU'RE A GIRL YOU HAVE TO TRY HARDER
Of DDB New York's 86 art directors, only five are women. Of these, only three are full AD's - Judy Katz, Carol Lane, and Maija Veida. Our interviewer talked with them and Assistant Art Directors Dina Cukier and Betty Vorbeck.
What kind of personality do you think you have to have to be a lady art director?
CAROL: Strong. Strong and open-minded. I don't know how other people see me, but that's how I see myself.
BETTY: Yes, that's how I see myself too. Now we may not look
it, but I've had a lot of heads turn when all of a sudden I'll stand my ground.
Sometimes because you're a girl, there's a tendency to almost look over you. So you have to speak up.
And you're soft spoken, which is a drawback, isn't it?
CAROL: I'm not soft spoken. But you know it's funny. When I first came here I didn't say anything. I was afraid.
And I remember meeting all the art directors and copywriters who I looked up to when I was in school - and I would just sit there, and I wouldn't say a word.
Then when I met Mr. Bernbach for the first time, I just sat there, and I couldn't move, and I didn't say a word.
Now I think I don't shut up.
As a professional, do you thjnk you've become more aggressive or authoritarian?
JUDY: I haven't become more aggressive, but I've gained more self-confidence. Aggression doesn't necessarily mean being loud.
Aggression can come on more subtle levels, because as a woman you could be even more powerful than a man if you do it your own way. But if you're going to do it on the same level as a man, it doesn't work, because then they really will resent you.
MAIJA: Yes, men hate women who are half-men practically.
But I find that I'm not aggressive enough - that I'm not as competitive as a lot of other people.
And I find it hard to talk about myself.
Which is a drawback, because in advertising you constantly have to be able to sell yourself - not just at the beginning, but all the time - until you build up a reputation.
CAROL: Well,1 don't think it's because you're an art director
that you become authoritarian. I think it's part of what you are to begin with.
You mean you think you are authoritarian, and therefore you pick a career in which you can .exercise that quality?
CAROL: Yes, that's a lot of it. But there are other things too.
Like when you get up to shoot a commercial. You have to push your way through all the men you're working with, and stand up there on the camera with the cameraman, and say, "Look I want it done this way."
At the beginning it was rough for me.
It made me feel kind of defeminized.
But you see, when you ask to be treated as an equal, you have to accept it.
And that means that as an equal, you can't expect anybody to help you on with your coat, or light your cigarette, or do any special things for you.
And that's okay.
But there's a lot of readjusting you have to do.
Why are there so few women art directors?
CAROL: I think women are intimtdated because they're not encouraged in any of the art schools.
They usually wind up being copywriters or housewives.
Why? In what ways are you discouraged?
BETTY: Well just from the teachers alone, telling you how rough it will be and about the discrimination there will be.
I know of only one other girl and myself at The School of Visual Arts who completed school, and she's become a copywriter.
I mean it started off almost even.
There were probably about 15 girls in the class, but by the end of the th ird year everyone was so discouraged that there were just two of us, and I wasn't going to be discouraged, because I felt that I could handle anything that a
man could handle.
And I still feel that way.
MAIJA: Well I went to Pratt, and I was encouraged there.
There were a LOT of girls in my classes.
And when I graduated there were about the same number as when I started.
No one mentioned anything about prejudice against women.
JUDY: I had the same experience at Pratt as Maija.
But actually art directing, for women, only opened up in about the last 10 or 12 years.
Before that it was basically a man's field.
Also the art director then played a different role - the copywriter would present the idea and the headline to him, and then he'd do the art.
So the art director was just a tool.
MAIJA: Yes, the idea of the art director as a conceptual person,
functioning as he does today on an· equal level with the copywriter, is new.
What about employment - did you encounter prejudice there?
CAROL: Five years ago I started in the business at another agency, and the first thing they said to me was, "You're a girl ... come back later." So I kept going back, and they finally
hired me as an assistant art director.
And it was fine, and I did lots of work and everybody said I was wonderful.
But they wouldn't promote me to be an art director.
So I said, "Why can't I be an art director?"
And they said - blatantly - "Because you're a girl."
Just like that. So I left, and came here.
And the first thing they said to me here was, "You're a girl."
But I came anyway - as a full art director - and I haven't encountered much prejudice.
MAIJA: It's true, there is prejudice when you're working.
When 1 was in the bullpen here trying to become an assistant AD and competing with guys on my level, I'd always be the last one they\ would think of because I was a girl.
And I've found that a man is valued more for his opinion, even without his work, whereas if you're a girl they tend to not even listen to you. So in your work you have to overcompensate.
JUDY: Yes, when I was in the bullpen, I had the same expertence as Maija.
And on many job interviews it was told to me specifically, "Well, you're a girl and we're afraid you're going to ~ un off and get married and not be here as a permanent Investment on our part.
" Which is RIDICULOUS, because this is a very transient field anyway - for both men and women.
Also, I was told that I was a female and therefore belonged on fashion accounts.
This was the response when I first asked to get off my fashion account, and I was shocked at it.
Because my portfolio had no fashion in it whatsoever.
But nothing has changed - I'm still doing fashion.
It's a very strange thing.
Then you don't think that women are best suited to certain accounts, like fashion or food?
CAROL: No!!! I think' you get stuck on them because you're a woman.
Name any account at DDB that's fashion, and I've been on it.
I do think, however, that women get placed on fashion and food accounts naturally.
I say 'naturally' because you do feel for it more than a man would ... like a woman wouldn't feel for a Winchester.
But just fashion or food gets boring.
And it doesn't mean that a girl can't do the same thing as a man.
It's just that maybe fashion and food are easier for a girl - like she doesn't have to think twice about it.
JUDY: I disagree.
It may be perfectly natural for a girl to identify with clothing and food, but it might be more interesting to have a
And a' girl might have a more interesting approach to tires or cars than a man.
For instance right now I'm working on Monsanto, but I've also worked on Volkswagen and Sony on the side.
And I feel that I approached them strongly.
My ads were well reacted to, and people thought it was kind of nice to have a feminine approach to a car.
CAROL: I've been on Clairol for two and a half years, and I've
worked some on other accounts too - like a piece here and a bone there.
But before I came here, I didn't work at all on women's products.
I worked on shavers and Vitalis and the Peace Corps and whiskey and things like that.
I do think that women do fashion well.
But I also think there are a lot of men who do fashion well.
Bert Steinhauser is a great example.
After you do your time in fashion, I really think you should be given the chance to break out and do someth ing else.
DINA: I think it must be some accident that I ended up on a fashion account, because in college I had a very strong science and liberal arts background.
And I'd love to be able to use it on the job.
I don't feel especially geared toward fashion in any way.
CAROL: But wait a minute - there's one thing I do want to say,
I think a lot of women fall into a trap, and I've found myself falling into this kind of trap at a certain point, and
it's this - oh well, they're prejudiced and they won't give me a chance, and isn't it awful, and I'm going out and picket, and things like that.
And a certain part of me feels that way.
But I really feel it's a cop-out to say that.
Because I really think that if you work hard and pursue it ... maybe you DO have to work harder ... that the climate is such now that you can make it.
Because, look, Mary Wells made it, even though she's a copywriter.
But I'm sure she ran into lots of prejudTces, and rmsure Phyllis Robinson ran into lots of prejudices too.
Why did you decide to become art directors instead of going into some other form of commercial art?
DINA: I was going to be a curator in an art museum - I got my
Master's in art history.
But I found that it was practically impossible for a woman to break into this field in New York, and then I heard about art directing.
Once I started going to Visual Arts and doing art directing work, I ioved it so much that I never even thought about trying the other stuff again.
JUDY: My background was in graphic arts and advertising design.
When I started at ＤＤＢ, I didn't have the least idea what advertising was about.
But just by being around the agency and absorbing, plus taking a course at Visual Arts, I began to be inspired and to see how much fun it could be.
There are other things I like to do.
I enjoy puppet making and painting.
But those are almost nonexistent professions.
And I think that in advertising, communicating is a very exciting art in itself.
Someday, if I can, I'd like to apply it to helping a community or some special cause - like the Peace Corps or a political candidate that I believe in, as others here have done.
MAIJA: I wanted to make a living doing something that I enjoyed.
I like pottery, painting, theater, dance, films - all the forms of visual communication - and I found that art directing, in some way or another, calls on all of these interests.
CAROL: I did fashion illustration for a while. But I found it
boring because I'd just sit home and draw, and I never met anybody.
And advertising always interested me - even when I was in high school.
But I wasn't encouraged to go into it, and I guess I wasn't strong enough at that time.
Then when I was about 20 years old, I thought it would be a really great thing to do.
I became more sure of myself.
I became aware that I am an idea person, and not just a person who can render and do things visually.
BETTY: I had people behind me back in high school saying that I
should go into advertising. Now, I also paint professionally, and I did that for a while.
But for me, just to paiht is not that rewarding. You've finished it, and that's it.
But to be able to get out and, like Carol says, meet people, talk to them, and toss around ideas - there's something really exciting in that.
CAROL: And you work on film and do commercials.
It's a whole other world - going on stage, or even to cast.
You know, you'll sit and cast and meet actors and actresses.
And recording sessions - music recording and voice recordings.
I rreally love it.
This kind of work is very demanding of yourtime and energy-,isn't it?
Does it leave you much time for a social life?
BETTY: Well I'm married, and fortunately my husband understands
because he's an art director too.
But there really are no hours. You don't work 9 to 5, like a secretary ... you work until your job is finished.
But you expect this when you go into it.
CAROL: Sure, it takes a lot of commitment.
Maybe that's why men have gotten further.
When you're doing a specific commercial or campaign, you have to care about it more than anything else in the world at that time.
And if you have a date or you have to meet your husband, and you find out at 6 o'clock that you have to work until 12 o'clock because everything you did was bad, then you have to be willing to do that and not think twice about it.
But actually I've found that when you work late or on weekends, you've built up such a momentum that when you finally get the solution, it's a great feel ing.
JUDY: I feel that anyone who has decided to go into this field has worked so hard that we are all very well aware of the fact that we will have to work evenings, that we will have to work as hard
as a man.
I mean we all knew what to expect.
So that's why when you go on an interview, or you want to move on to a stronger account, it's almost an insult to say to us, "Well you've worked hard, but we'll disregard that because you're a woman."
I mean we've tried to prove ourselves.