A fascinating read on Cecil Beaton, a fashion photographer whose skills were commandeered by the British Ministry of Information during WW II.


God, that would suck right? A creative mastermind crammed into a bureaucratic hellbox, right?

Not so fast.

I love it when art accomplishes editorial aims. It’s what makes working as a commercial creative gratifying.

If you’re 45 years old and toiling at a job you hate, with a copy of the great American novel moldering in your desk drawer, get off your can and find a job that scratches that itch. Something, anything. If you think you’re supposed to be in a creative job, and you’re not, who’s fault is it?

I worked 15 years in positions best described as “creative-adjacent,” bitter and resentful that the crown and scepter had been bestowed to others but not me. Damnit, I was “more creative” than all five art departments I worked with put together.

I was miserable. I gave my clients my best work, but I did a lousy job meeting even the most basic responsibilities for my position. But if those creative people would just give me a chance!, I whined. To everyone. All the time. Thankfully, I got fired.

Doubly thankfully, I almost immediately found work as a copywriter. I took a 30-percent paycut. But in retrospect, it almost seems like an entrance fee I needed to have paid years before in order to do what I was supposed to have been doing all along.

In the seven years since, whenever I’ve caught myself slacking, staring at my navel and bitching that those idiots in the x department wouldn’t know solid creative if it came up and fellated them, I remember that better than half my job is figuring out how to do soul-gratifying work within the confines of someone else’s time, budget and expectations. Creativity, true creativity, is making art regardless of what you’re given.

So you’re an “art” photographer and your boss is making you go shoot propaganda pictures. There’s no possibility for expression in an assignment like that. Boo hoo. Woe is you.

Now shut the fuck up and go make the art you’ve been promising yourself.

Cecil did. And look what he ended up with.