The Kids – Gary Abramson: Taking Flight

It didn’t take Gary Abramson long to abandon advertising. After an internship and two years of studying advertising art direction, he’s seen enough of the ad world to decide agency life is not for him. Instead, he’s chosen directing and screenwriting.
While he gets established, he pays his bills running a part-time graphic design business. In another era, this Miami native would be on the fast track at a prestigious ad shop. Abramson, 29, seems to have what it takes.
At the University of Florida, he majored in finance and economics with hopes of becoming an investment banker. But after visiting Italy, where he “was blown away by the incredible art,” he vowed to focus on his own creative powers and started to think about advertising. First, he needed to try to fulfill a lifelong dream to become an Air Force pilot. A minor ear problem, however, barred him from training. The private aerobatics pilot returned to civilian life and talked his way into an internship at Harris Drury Cohen in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Executives there recognized his talent and suggested he enroll in the Miami Ad School. He heeded their advice, and poured his energy into the craft until he graduated in December 1998.
At school, he discovered he preferred directing to creating ads. “I enjoy every aspect of directing: writing, working with actors, camera and lights, selecting shots, editing, all of it. I was born to do it,” he asserts. Ad school, he says, also showed him that “becoming a writer/director is doable. It’s not a pipe dream. You don’t need a lot of skills at first, you just need to do it and be persistent.”
He picked design project work rather than an agency job as a transitional livelihood. With his own business, “I can set my hours, put aside time to work on my screenplays and not drain myself creatively.” It helps that graphic design assignments are abundant, and pay well, and that clients can potentially introduce him to people who might aid in his “real” career. Plus, Abramson is blissfully distant from agency politics. His friends keep him posted on life on the inside.
“They get really frustrated by working on one client” and constantly catering to that client’s sensibilities, he says. Creative people “need to stretch to keep up their interest.” And because agency creative teams often compete against each other, “Good work can get killed if you aren’t the one with the loudest voice.”
Indeed, Abramson is convinced agencies often underuse creative talent. Not that he spends a lot of time worrying about it. His mind is focused on the political thriller he’s writing, design projects, a new TV and film workshop he plans to attend and the screenplay he’s busy hatching.
Yet another loss for the ad industry. K