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Damn Good Advice by George Lois Last week I had...

May 20, 2012
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Damn Good Advice by George Lois

Last week I had the very strange and imposter sydrome-esque experience of being the closing speaker at a conference that George Lois opened, so I picked up his book and read it on the plane home.

Lois, in case you don’t know, is a legend of advertising and one of the models for Don Draper on the show Mad Men.1 (He’s interviewed a lot in the movie Art & Copy.

What you need to know about Lois, other than his huge body of work, is summed up quite succinctly in section #115: “My professional practice derives directly from romantic ideas of the superhuman artist.”

So, given my contempt for “creative” as a noun, you can imagine how many things I disagreed with in this book, but I was also surprised by how many things I was touched by, particularly towards the end of the book, when Lois softens up a bit with the ego and becomes a little less “superhuman” and more “human”: he reads the New York Times every day, he goes to The Met every Sunday to look at art, he’s been with his wife and muse for over 60 years, he hates Twitter but loves drawing, he believes in extolling mentors, etc.

The book is full of good war stories, and if you’re interested in the history of advertising, I’d recommend it — especially contrasted with Ogilvy’s Confessions of an Ad Man or the work of Howard Gossage.



How does Lois feel about Mad Men? “The more I think about Mad Men, the more I take the show as a personal insult. So, fuck you, Mad Men…besides, when I was in my 30s I was better-looking than Don Draper.” ↩

Damn Good Advice by George Lois

Last week I had the very strange and imposter sydrome-esque experience of being the closing speaker at a conference that George Lois opened, so I picked up his book and read it on the plane home.

Lois, in case you don’t know, is a legend of advertising and one of the models for Don Draper on the show Mad Men.1 (He’s interviewed a lot in the movie Art & Copy.

What you need to know about Lois, other than his huge body of work, is summed up quite succinctly in section #115: “My professional practice derives directly from romantic ideas of the superhuman artist.”

So, given my contempt for “creative” as a noun, you can imagine how many things I disagreed with in this book, but I was also surprised by how many things I was touched by, particularly towards the end of the book, when Lois softens up a bit with the ego and becomes a little less “superhuman” and more “human”: he reads the New York Times every day, he goes to The Met every Sunday to look at art, he’s been with his wife and muse for over 60 years, he hates Twitter but loves drawing, he believes in extolling mentors, etc.

The book is full of good war stories, and if you’re interested in the history of advertising, I’d recommend it — especially contrasted with Ogilvy’s Confessions of an Ad Man or the work of Howard Gossage.


  1. How does Lois feel about Mad Men? “The more I think about Mad Men, the more I take the show as a personal insult. So, fuck you, Mad Men…besides, when I was in my 30s I was better-looking than Don Draper.” 

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