Four years ago, art director and Cliff Freeman alum Matt Vescovo left Fallon/N.Y. for freelancing, so he would have time to focus on his own work. But even that work-comic instructional diagrams Vescovo dubs "Instructoart"-eventually became advertising in the form of MTV's award-winning "Watch & Learn" image campaign. "For me, it really allows me to focus on what I love to do, which is to just create the work," he says of freelance life. "I don't spend a lot of time doing things I used to have to when I was fulltime. The objectives are really focused." Lately, Vescovo has been focused on work for Sprint-Nextel out of TBWA/Chiat/Day/N.Y., ads for Goodby and Hill, Holliday, and the release of his second Instuctoart book, The Life and Death of Bling Bling.
Copywriter Colin Nissan had been telecommuting from New York to Goodby, Silverstein & Partners for two years when he-along with longtime partner Sean Farrell-decided to take the freelance plunge a year ago. The pair were responsible for Goodby's memorable "Laurel Lane" campaign for Pac Bell and won a Gold Lion in 2003 for The Omen-inspired milk spot "Birthday" directed by Noam Murro. "You can work on anything," Nissan says of being a freelancer. "Any client that exists, you could possibly get a call from them." Nissan has been getting calls from both coasts. Recently, he has worked on Sprint-Nextel with Vescovo and on spots for the California Lottery out of BBDO/West with former partner Farrell.
Speaking of Farrell, the other half of the team that it's hard not to think of as "Colin Farrell," remains in San Francisco, working with Nissan, sometimes daily, via videophone. But the art director is also getting back to print by designing movie posters for 20th Century Fox. "I had started my career doing print and kind of missed it," he says. "It's kind of exciting. Advertising is down to a little bit of a formula with the planners and the science and all that. The thing that's nice about freelance is it frees you up. You can take on little projects."
Linda Knight & Ned McNeilage
When Linda Knight and Ned McNeilage-who have been both creative and domestic partners since meeting at McCann-Erickson/Sydney in 1992-returned to the U.S. from Wieden + Kennedy/Amsterdam to freelance fulltime, they sent out a pair of frantically designed books to prospective clients. The books told their life stories and showcased their best work. The promotional pieces made the cover of Creative magazine in the couple's native Australia, and-more importantly-landed them plenty of work. "They've done us really well," McNeilage says. "We sent about 20 out and we didn't have to send anymore out."
While Knight started her career as an art director, both now work as copywriters-sometimes together, sometimes separately-and have brought their experience on brands like Nike and Miller to bear on work for Dove, TIAA-CREF, Coke and Sprint. "I think the key is that after all those incarnations, we're very versatile," McNeilage says. "When we go into these projects, we can bang out a few scripts, but we're also comfortable doing campaigns from scratch." says McNeilage, who is currently finishing up a direct-to-client campaign for Pony, which he also directed. "It's about being able to go in and deliver the most pure idea you can that's right for the brand without having to worry about politics or getting fired."
Joe Ventura, a Wieden + Kennedy veteran who did tours in New York and Amsterdam-as well as a stop at Mother/London-returned to the U.S., and freelancing, two years ago. He and his former partner-art director Anthony Sperduti, who recently took a fulltime job at TBWA/Chiat/Day-created the wacky eyeball campaign for last year's Advertising Week and Ventura's currently working on a Dish Network campaign out of Publicis/Seattle. He's also sold a few screenplays.
While Ventura says the downside of freelancing is that work doesn't always get produced, the upside is that you're only brought in when there's action. "You're usually not hired until deadlines are to be met," he says. "The good thing about freelancing is that when you're working, you're working."