At 16 I had to choose what I would do for a living: portrait painting or writing? And since it’s always about the guts you know you have deep inside, my calling pointed to a keyboard (at 12 I had started touch typing my essays to spare my teachers the agony of deciphering my handwriting). And so it was that I keyboarded my way through interlocking careers as a book writer, English teacher, translator, journalist, editor, art historian, advertiser, web copywriter and marketer. Who would turn their back on a claim to professional happiness?
“Spotting the 5 differences” was how I joined Netstudio in 2009. Knocking at Yannis’ door out of the blue, without a vacancy announcement, I got the job after two hours of listening to why Netstudio didn’t need an insource copywriter. With God’s help, the right answer to a 3-choice test involving a background color and a difference in punctuation (already A/B tested on the internet) got me into the payroll. And right from the first day, I followed the Master’s advice to learn some basic html to gain a relative freedom of movement adding or optimizing content in Joomla, the modus operandi at Netstudio in those days. Even now that we do things in Drupal, I’m grateful I can go unfiltered to add some tag quality to my headlines etc.
My first ad (waaaay back) was a flyer about a book for Greek high school students (“The Language of Numbers and Shapes”), in which I had contributed several exercises and a chapter on the use of math in everyday life. At the time I was studying Marketing as a major for a BA in Business Administration at Deree College, Athens. A Diploma of Higher Studies in English at the Hellenic American Union had already quenched my lust for literary analysis. As for my love for the visual arts, that ended up in a thesis (Mimetic and Creative Art in Plato) for a Master’s in Art History and Theory at the University of Essex, UK. How did Plato and Aristotle top up Retailing, Statistics, Marketing Research and Consumer Psychology? To be honest, two more years of academic studies were just for satisfying my ardent need to explain what exactly made my stomach go “wow” or “yuk” before a visual presentation, commercial or otherwise.
Journalism (Cosmopolitan, La Cucina Italiana - Greek Edition, TV scripts etc.), and especially copywriting for an international advertising agency (Leo Burnett) migrated my holistic design/copywriting urges from the realm of personal pleasure into the sphere of money-making concepts. Athens International Airport, Kellogg’s, Diageo, Piraeus Bank, P&G − even pharmaceutical companies (Janssen, Roche) burdened by advertising limitations − found a persistent friend for things that had to be told one way or − most often − another: viral videos, consumer brochures, packaging copy, corporate taglines or product slogans, banners, exhibition booth panels, customer loyalty promos, logo concepts, brand naming, you name it (couldn’t help the pun).
In our internet days, it’s as if websites and social media were just devised to torture the copywriter in me with an incessant seeking for my platonic other half, the design. Even in AdWords I’m looking for the full picture and each critical detail (a Certification for Digital Analytics Fundamentals by the Google Analytics Academy has helped).
This is why I sort of understand why the cartoonist of my first flyer dropped his ink pen for drawing broader pictures as a reporter and publisher (zougla.gr) to reveal things untold.