5 odes to the ladies

December 5, 2019


Nils Adriaans, editor of Dutch Advertising magazine Adformatie, asks colleagues about their inspiration in the column Random Pic (k) Of The Day For A Week. When he turned to me as Creative Strategy Director and copywriter at Omnicom PR Group, we agreed I would pay tribute to the ladies.


Where are the ladies in our profession? I feel like the glass ceiling has been broken somewhat by managers, but the creative floor is like reinforced concrete. Even in hip online agencies you hardly encounter any female copywriters or art directors. Are we all so biased or just super conservative? Are men refusing to give up their esteemed positions? Are women unable to make sacrifices as opposed to men? It intrigues me that ladies in the periphery of our profession do know how to claim their position. Think of directors, stylists, illustrators. And it works even better outside our profession. I have a few successful examples. The creative footprint these ladies are leaving behind is impressive. Hopefully it serves as inspiration for their peers to firmly plant their heels or boots into the creative floor. Because it’s not necessary to discuss if women have talent or make the world a better place.

‘I’m opening with Es Devlin. She calls herself artist and stage designer. I call her a devils artist. It is hard to put into words what she does and creates — she describes it herself as “creating large-scale performative sculptures and environments that fuse music, language and light”. Freely translated, it means shaping global tours of the greats, like Beyoncé and U2, building impressive museum installations and transforming public space with AI into a poetic universe. Netflix has already made a documentary about her, the Wall Street Journal and New Yorker devoted articles to her, Ted offered her a stage. Es Devlin is a boss. And not only because she manages a complete studio full of talented guys.


Design and surf culture have always been a match made in heaven. Surf hippie David Carlson is living proof of that. Last year I was one of the chosen ones to sit-in on a private lecture by this legendary designer. Incredibly inspiring. It wouldn’t surprise me if Astrid Niari sees him as shining example. The young Italian graphic designer has recently graduated and is a promise for the future. Just like Carlson, she wants to transform magazines and surfboards with enchanting style solutions. Her site alone is a feast for the eyes. You should also check out her Insta filled with motion design, made for an expo in Lisbon. Will she become the next Carlson? You go girl!


Some women need to come from far to gain ground. Singer-songwriter Karsu from Amsterdam, started behind the piano in her dad’s Turkish restaurant but eventually made it to Carnegie Hall. Not bad for a girl that got bullied because she loved classical music, turned down by the conservatoire and had to deal with Mediterranean macho men. In Gijs Groenteman’s podcast (of Oktober 18th) she explains how she overcame all this and found her own form. In her last album “Karsu”, you can hear her wayward character. It’s a quirky mix of jazz, classical music and Turkish traditions. Delightful for at home, on the road or as your commercial jingle!


Welcome to Eindhoven, at the ladies of Atelier NL. The artist duo, consisting of Nadine Sterk & Lonny van Ryswyck, build, drill, bake, paint or whatever else they feel like doing in their Earth Alchemy Factory. What do they make exactly? Anything. Polder ceramics. Soup machines. Sand archives. Clocks that don’t tell time but a story. A lamp that knits its own shade. Incredible stuff. Raw, earthly but undeniably elegant. As profound as it is accessible. As far as I’m concerned, it oozes fun. I have the deepest respect for the fact that these ladies make what they believe in. They don’t know fear. And definitely have balls.’


Currently Thessa Meijer is without a doubt the biggest talent in film. Last summer she received a Cannes de Young Directors Award for The Walking Fish and with that same movie she’s now nominated for an Oscar. Imagine Thessa, barely 27, in a beautiful gown on the red carpet amongst greatness like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. That’s how fast it can go. Last winter she found herself in Monnickendam – of all places – in a soggy swamp. In those ugly thigh-high fisher boots. Next to me. We made a little film about the Water Board Elections (Waterschapsverkiezingen). She was, as she said herself, looking for the magical twist to make something so absurd it’s recognizable. For me it felt like the exact opposite: she turned something so recognizable into something absurd. Anyway, I’m very happy with the end result. Let’s all hope she strikes at the Academy Awards next year. Then at least we can say at Omnicom PR Group that we’ve worked with an Oscar-winning director.