About BA (Betty Ann) Albert I live in Atlanta. I have been here since 1977. I graduated from Auburn and on my way home, driving through Birmingham to Decatur, I stopped and interviewed at an ad agency, Luckie and Forney (now LUCKIE) for a studio art director job that Ray Dugas had mentioned to my roommate at Auburn, who was not interested in being in an ad agency.
My portfolio was one of some conceptual thought, but mostly examples of how neat I could be with type and laminating. Luckily, the man I interviewed with liked me and hired me. Another person who interviewed me without his shoes on I later married, but that is another story.
I started as a mechanical artist, and felt from the first moment, the first day that I was absolutely in love with the business. After worrying a lot about what I would do to earn a living, the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. I was so happy that there was actually something I could do, around fabulously creative and crazy people and get paid for it.
I have had excellent mentors there and throughout my entire career. Sometimes they rolled their eyes at my ignorance and muttered “oh shit” when I asked about the Ex-auto-knife and other things I was clueless about. But people love to help and once they invest their time and effort in to you, they want you to succeed even more.
After two years in Birmingham, along with 11 other friends and work peers, I moved to Atlanta, where the opportunities were bigger. There were many more agencies to choose from, in fact I was told there were more ad agencys in Atlanta than drugstores.
You are a Creative Strategist at the Dalton Agency in Atlanta. Describe your role in the agency. My specific job as a creative strategist simply means that I try to make sure that our ideas and creative solutions are based on sound reasons and directions. That they are not only outstanding but relevant.
Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking? I have been lucky enough to work with some of the best, most talented people in the advertising business. Brilliant creatives, inspired writers and art directors, illustrators that blew my mind and scared my clients and directors and photographers that are considered the world’s best. They are the people who have influenced and motivated me the most. People that love their craft and are exceptionally talented.
“My personal mantra is laugh. Tell the truth. Be your best.”
How would you define success? Do you think you’ve found it yet? As for success being defined for me? I feel like if I am singing on the way to work in the car then I am happy.
What project or design problem have you faced (in the past or recently) that seemed to be a “failure” but was perhaps an extremely valuable learning experience? One of my favorite uh-oh moments was when we were presenting creative concepts to a funny, old southern gentleman who worked for the Southeaster Dairy Association. The assignment was to do point of purchase as well as television to help sell ice cream. One of the directions we presented was based on the idea of the hunger cravings being brought to life in the form of a grumpy dinosaur, we named Snackzilla. The client listened quietly, then cleared his throat and said loudly—“BEEEEEAAAYYYYEEEEE, let me get this STRAIGHT...you want me to have a DEAD LIZARD SELLING ICE CREAM?????!!!!!??????” He was quite adamant in his shock and dismay and so we quietly murmmered, “Well we have other ideas...”.
Do you believe that it is harder for women to become successful in certain aspects of the design field? Being a woman in the ad business, probably partly due to the time that I started, was always an advantage. There were very few women in management positions and it gave me a certain specialness that helped my cause I believe. For several years I was the only female creative director in Atlanta and also the only female CD in a large publicly held agency. What that did for me was allow me extra attention and also the fun of being the one to choose where we had dinner when we met in various cities around North America.
Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently? I always keep a notebook beside my bed, some of my best and worst ideas have surfaced in the middle of the night.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were in school? The one thing I know now that I didn’t know in school and I wish I had was that it is going to be alright. There are fun things to do and people that will pay you to do them.
Would you recommend some resources that young designers might find useful? I would highly recommend students find “champions” within whatever company they work for, people to pave the way for them, teach them and take pride in their successes. In our industry you must stay in touch with the people who are doing the latest work, in the most current media. Find people you admire and see what it is that makes them successful.
Designer responded to questions in 2016 via email.