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  • Retouching, The Industry and the Profession.

    The retouching industry is growing we all know that. Pushing that growth is a booming advertising industry looking for nothing but the flawless image displaying their products and services.

    I want to hear stories from the full time retouches out their?

    Are you super busy?
    How many images are you working on at any one time?
    Is there so much work the you have to pass it on?
    How much work do you do that is from overseas so their's no face to face with clients?

    Just anything interesting that you could share.
    Totally open to hear anything as an aspiring student of the art of retouching.

    Sam

  • #2
    Re: Retouching, The Industry and the Profession.

    The retouching industry is growing we all know that.
    Do we? Print (mainly magazines) are still fairly big only because of habitual behaviour - people are used to consuming their entertainment and advertising in this way. As the world moves into the internet - an unstructured, low res, hyperlinked word - advertising will change.

    Visualizing and design based retouching that's another thing. I think anyone working in high quality photographic based retouching at the moment, more or less spoon fed by good photography, would do well to improve their visualization and 'working from scratch' skills. These areas there is a huge lack of genuine talent from what I can see.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Retouching, The Industry and the Profession.

      Thanks for the reply

      Very interesting post you made markzebra.

      Can you further explain your thoughts on Visualizing and Design based retouching? Are you talking illustration, logo, image creation?

      Visualization skills meaning working from scratch? concept, idea generation, thumbnails etc?

      Cheers
      Sam

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Retouching, The Industry and the Profession.

        Originally posted by sammayell View Post
        Thanks for the reply

        Very interesting post you made markzebra.

        Can you further explain your thoughts on Visualizing and Design based retouching? Are you talking illustration, logo, image creation?

        Visualization skills meaning working from scratch? concept, idea generation, thumbnails etc?

        Cheers
        Sam
        Illustration, image creation yes. Logo's no - that's design work and a different discipline. Yes I mean being able to visualize and illustrate from scratch. Pitch imaging and creative illustration. There are a few that can do this well, but they are thin on the ground.

        Although most people don't realize this, there is also a higher level of technical skill required for this work. This is because of the speed necessary, and the ability to create workflows quickly for each challenge. As someone who has worked doing both, I can say that straight retouching (re-structure, BASIC color, detail recognition, skin) is much more straightforward, requiring a relatively narrower and repeated set of skills. Visual talents are needed but not technical talents as most of these can be communicated quite quickly.
        Last edited by Markzebra; 09-28-2009, 09:30 PM.

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        • #5
          Re: Retouching, The Industry and the Profession.

          Great post Mark. Very informative. Now excuse me while I go sign up for a life drawing class.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Retouching, The Industry and the Profession.

            I'm quite busy these days, working in an ad agency's "in house" studio. I do both finished retouching for print ads and comp retouching for pitches. Interestingly the pitch work is considered less valuable and billed at a lower rate than the finished retouching although, as Mr. Zebra pointed out, it is more challenging in many ways. The hours for pitches are just brutal - weekends and long hours combined, week before last I worked a full week, then Saturday through Monday I put in another 46 hours on a pitch. The level of perfection supposedly isn't as high, but truthfully the people who's work looks ragged and lacking attention to detail don't get asked back, so really it takes speed and tightness to succeed. The communication is more challenging; there are lots of new and temporary people working the creative side on a pitch, and some are better at describing what they want than others, and whatever comfortable relationships you may enjoy with the regular ADs do you no good since they are home sleeping. As the hours wear on attention to basic file management becomes crucial - erasing hours of work or overwriting crucial versions is not acceptable just because you are so tired you can't see straight. It's even a challenge to continue to appear cheerful and enthusiastic after 12 hours straight on the first day, let alone the 19th hour on the 2nd day.

            This brings up another crucial skill - communication - both ways. You need to be able to speak the lingo and sound competent, be able to listen and understand, be able to respond in a way that reassures people both that you are knowledgeable and that they are talented and thoughtful, and be able to anticipate problems and ask the right questions to collaboratively solve them while avoiding responsibilities for possible failures. To wit - do not promise more than you can deliver, do not accept a brief that is lacking crucial information or images, but divert responsibility without being abrasive or confrontational. There have been some talented artists through here that did not last simply because their people skills were lacking although their retouching was stellar.

            There is a third type of retouching here, a "creative retouching" department that functions as an adjunct to the ADs and CDs and is not required to bill time directly to clients. I was pioneering that type of position at my last agency, trying to combine photography and retouching and get included earlier in the creative process when a little input can have a larger effect, and I met a phenomenal amount of resistance to the idea. What little success I did have in that direction is partly responsible for landing me this gig, where the promise of working on "the creative side" was dangled before me when I was interviewing, and might still happen someday...

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Retouching, The Industry and the Profession.

              Hmm interesting post. Yes being asked to produce 3 to 6 client ready pitch images in a day, to a standard that is acceptable, is not a challenge that many could cope with. I think that it is creative, in some cases more so than straight retouching - its just that the deadlines limit this, because there is often no chance for proper execution, or even enough time to consider alternatives. Its also exhausting as you say, that's why I moved away from this, but sometimes miss the challenge to be honest.

              Its strange to me when people think of the idea of 'quality', they are willing to allow a team of people days for a job - a comparatively easy life. But if they are thinking about design based work, or pitching - one person, able to juggle the often conflicting interests of an art director, designer, copywriter, will do. They are really two extremes in terms of hard work and whats demanded of you. Just my experience

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              • #8
                Re: Retouching, The Industry and the Profession.

                What is "pitches"?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Retouching, The Industry and the Profession.

                  What is "pitches"?
                  Pitches are responses to "RFPs" - Request For Proposals. A company decides they want a new advertising agency and produces a Request For Proposals, which they supply to the agencies they think they would like to contract with. The agencies review the brief and make certain they do not have any existing conflicts of interest and decide if they want to attempt to win the business. If they decide to go for it they produce a body of work that responds to the brief and is intended to show off what the agency can do; everything from ideas scrawled on whiteboards to highly polished videos are produced. Media plans are outlined. Powerpoint decks are created that highlight the agencies strengths and recent victories. Posters are printed and mounted on boards. Fake ads are printed and inserted into real magazines. Billboards are designed and photoshopped into photographs of famous places. A show is choreographed and rehearsed, and the agency sends a team of people to the company to present all of the work and "pitch" the agency to the company. The work building up to the pitch can stretch on for months, but the final week before the deadline is always a crazy crunch time... and a good time to be an hourly employee that gets time and a half for overtime.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Retouching, The Industry and the Profession.

                    Originally posted by abenormal View Post
                    Pitches are responses to "RFPs" - Request For Proposals. A company decides they want a new advertising agency and produces a Request For Proposals, which they supply to the agencies they think they would like to contract with. The agencies review the brief and make certain they do not have any existing conflicts of interest and decide if they want to attempt to win the business. If they decide to go for it they produce a body of work that responds to the brief and is intended to show off what the agency can do; everything from ideas scrawled on whiteboards to highly polished videos are produced. Media plans are outlined. Powerpoint decks are created that highlight the agencies strengths and recent victories. Posters are printed and mounted on boards. Fake ads are printed and inserted into real magazines. Billboards are designed and photoshopped into photographs of famous places. A show is choreographed and rehearsed, and the agency sends a team of people to the company to present all of the work and "pitch" the agency to the company. The work building up to the pitch can stretch on for months, but the final week before the deadline is always a crazy crunch time... and a good time to be an hourly employee that gets time and a half for overtime.
                    Looks like like the film Brazil... So it ¡s like "I like icecream and I want to drink/eat the best icecream of the world, so I pitch many icecream shops in order to get the best icecream I would like to drink/eat"?

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                    • #11
                      Re: Retouching, The Industry and the Profession.

                      There are many different forms of pitching, very few that I ever did, allowed as much a few months to build images. Usually the end of the process, just as the deadline is a few days away, after they have brainstormed ideas around for a week.

                      Usually the image makers time, is not taken seriously in terms of time management in this field. An example, lets say that the copywriter comes up with 8 ideas. Design then says "Ok, we need them for Monday next week". Eventually only about 6 of them get presented. But of course you were obliged to spend more time on the 2 that got dumped - those were the one you were trying to make work, where the concept was wrong in the first place. But you learn about that one.

                      Sometimes, of course its the best IMAGE that gets chosen by the client, not the best copy or concept. Then some Photographer has to try and reproduce, sometimes fairly accurately, what you rattled out in a few hours from Google images.

                      All in all, an inefficient, 'scattergun' process. But actually done to make the client appreciate the EFFORTS of the Agency you are working for, more than anything else. Guess it makes them look like they had a team of 5 people working on the images for a week.
                      Last edited by Markzebra; 10-05-2009, 04:05 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Retouching, The Industry and the Profession.

                        There are many different forms of pitching, very few that I ever did, allowed as much a few months to build images. Usually the end of the process, just as the deadline is a few days away, after they have brainstormed ideas around for a week.
                        Yes, sorry to be unclear...

                        The "front end" of the process is a week or two to a month or two at best. (The longest pitch I took part in was for Rolex and was the better part of 3 months) BUT most of this time is taken up with brainstorming, concepts, and writing. There may be some retouching early, but very rough and loose and just for art directors to show their superiors. All of the final retouching comes at the end, a few days before the big presentation, under a crushing deadline.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Retouching, The Industry and the Profession.

                          So it ¡s like "I like icecream and I want to drink/eat the best icecream of the world, so I pitch many icecream shops in order to get the best icecream I would like to drink/eat"?
                          Sort of I guess. It's like the companies host a stylized competition between ad agencies to try and win the accounts, taking place in an ad-hoc system that's evolved over time and must be fairly accountable and transparent. Bear in mind that these accounts run from tens of millions of dollars per year to hundreds of millions of dollars (that's the whole account, which includes the creative work, production, and media costs like television time, billboards, magazine pages, subway ads, etc.) so it's a big deal for the people in the companies tasked with choosing an ad agency and it's a big deal for the agencies. A single account can be responsible for literally hundreds of jobs in an agency. When I was at Lowe and we lost Verizon I seem to recall about 350 people being laid off.

                          It is not always the best ideas or work that wins the account; it can come down to personalities, politics, locations, who is playing golf with who... but the whole thing must have the appearance of some sort of fairness and a rigorous selection process so people can have their asses covered if the advertising does not produce the desired results.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Retouching, The Industry and the Profession.

                            Awesome responses so far have learnt a heap

                            Few questions regarding pitching.
                            Abenormal I understand the retouching comes at the end of the pipeline just before the proposal but what exactly is the retoucher doing?
                            Are you putting together composites of ideas the design team have come up with for proposals?
                            Dealing with color, aligning text, retouching faces?
                            Its interesting to think you have to retouch to get the job and not just when you have the job

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Retouching, The Industry and the Profession.

                              Originally posted by Markzebra View Post
                              There are many different forms of pitching, very few that I ever did, allowed as much a few months to build images. Usually the end of the process, just as the deadline is a few days away, after they have brainstormed ideas around for a week.

                              Usually the image makers time, is not taken seriously in terms of time management in this field. An example, lets say that the copywriter comes up with 8 ideas. Design then says "Ok, we need them for Monday next week". Eventually only about 6 of them get presented. But of course you were obliged to spend more time on the 2 that got dumped - those were the one you were trying to make work, where the concept was wrong in the first place. But you learn about that one.

                              Sometimes, of course its the best IMAGE that gets chosen by the client, not the best copy or concept. Then some Photographer has to try and reproduce, sometimes fairly accurately, what you rattled out in a few hours from Google images.

                              All in all, an inefficient, 'scattergun' process. But actually done to make the client appreciate the EFFORTS of the Agency you are working for, more than anything else. Guess it makes them look like they had a team of 5 people working on the images for a week.
                              That's the hell! And surely, there is not extra payment for that over dose of multiple jobs. And they don't want just concepts, but finished jobs. I think pitching is quite insane and somehow, humillating just because the whim of some client who says "I want this" and lot of people have to run from a place to another, knocking their heads each other... Sounds like a totally madness!

                              Thanks for the very illustrative explaniation Markzebra

                              Mart

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