Monday, August 25, 2014


Twice late last week, echoing off of various agency walls, I heard the word integrity.

I'll admit the word stops me in my tracks like a great black and white photograph, something by Walker Evans, Bernice Abbot, Ansel Adams, Edward Curtis or Louis Hine.
A Louis Hine photograph.

It's an old-fashioned word, integrity.

As old-fashioned as the aforementioned black-and-white photographs.

Like those photographs, the notion comes from a time when things were labored, costly, scrutinized and cared for.

I imagine a monk in a dimly-lit room making each letter letter perfect. And then the illuminator of those illuminated manuscripts making perfect prose art.

Integrity, if you look at it etymologically, is not about honesty. It's about wholeness and purity. It's about doing the job, doing it completely, and doing it well.

I understand, maybe better than any copywriter who's ever lived, the need for speed. Work needs to run and reach people if it's going to have an effect.

I also understand the tendency rife among creative people to be too precious. To perfect something to death.

But integrity has, really, little to do with time or speed.

And everything to do with breath.

Taking breaths, taking a moment so you know what it is you want. Seeing it in your mind or on your Mac. And working it to make sure it works.

Structuring it. Making it stand. And stand for something.

Work with integrity--work that is the product of care and caring, isn't always easy to come by. There are a lot of vicissitudes along the way, a lot of temptations to process, a lot of things that can get in the way.

The biggest obstacle to integrity isn't lack of talent. It's expedience. It's the attitude that the little things don't matter.

When usually it's the little things that matter most.

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