Advertising Is Art, But ‘With Few True Artists’

I am so disappointed in Mary Warlick, David Lubars, Chuck McBride and Rich Silverstein for their views expressed in Wendy Melillo’s piece, “Is Advertising Art?” [Creative, Nov. 12].

Let’s assume Mary’s definition of art is a good one: “Art is a visual imagery that is meant to elevate thinking in an aesthetic context.” Sounds an awful lot like what Doyle Dane Bernbach’s VW ads did. Or have my highly esteemed colleagues forgotten the even-more-highly esteemed Bill Bernbach’s deeply held belief that “advertising is about persuasion, and persuasion is an art, not a science.” We only get to do the kind of advertising that we get to do today because of him, and others like him. People like Jay Chiat and Hal Riney and Tom McElligott and Dan Wieden, who fought innumerable battles against this kind of typically American utilitarian thinking to elevate advertising to the highest possible level. A level that some of us would dare to call “art.” Maybe David and Chuck and Rich felt some (economic) pressure to assure their existing clients that they “are there to sell ideas or products.” But the truth remains: If architecture is art, if graphic or industrial or interior design is art, if photography or illustration or even storytelling is art, then advertising is art. There may be few true artists. But it is art.

Austin Howe

President/creative director


Portland, Ore.

No Excuse for Rudeness

As a representative for freelance photographers, I’ve been subjected to the same treatment as Vicky Oliver in “Mini Me” [A&C, Oct. 29] and worse for over 15 years.

Excuses for such behavior abound, but the one I hear most often has to do with how busy the offender was/is. That’s not a great excuse, in my opinion. We’re all busy.

Returning calls promptly takes less time than wading through the repeated messages that result when you don’t. Honest feedback on a portfolio will keep hopeful “hangers-on” from continuing to call and pester you for work. The same applies to e-mails: answer them promptly and honestly and you’ll weed out those you don’t want to hear from in the future. Ignore them, and they’ll continue to come.

Treating others like you want to be treated not only saves time, it can make you better at your job, and a better person as well.

John Sharpe


Sharpe & Associates

Los Angeles