Guts, Grit and an Open Mind.

Interview originally published by Lecture In Progress, with photography by Richard Kelly.

“Some of your best ideas come out when you have something to prove.” Determined to move to Manchester, creative copywriter Ellen Ling spotted the perfect opportunity in the form of a job listing at LOVE. Previously an executive at D&AD’s New Blood and with a background in contemporary performance, Ellen took a somewhat unconventional route into the industry. But whether it’s pitching or channelling Sherlock Holmes to crack design briefs, it’s something that comes in useful on a daily basis. She tells us about getting to go crazy on copy, why ideas don’t need to be shiny and why the industry needs more all-rounders. 

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“I’d love designers to have more of a point of view on copy. The industry needs all-rounders. I’m actively fighting against being pigeonholed.”

How collaborative is your role?
You do need 360 thinking; if you get really into a project, you’ll be thinking about it in so many ways – not just copy, or design. And if you care about stuff, you have an opinion on everything. I’d like to have more involvement in creative output as a whole, and I’d love designers to have more of a point of view on copy. The industry needs all-rounders. I’m actively fighting against being pigeonholed. For example, I’m mega into film and production, so that’s something I’m always trying to stick my nose into. 

What are the most and least enjoyable aspects of your job?
I love working on advertising briefs, coming up with ideas and brainstorming as part of the team. Taking something from a blank sheet, to pitch, to production is the best thing. Hopping from project to project, never getting to sink your teeth in, is probably the least satisfying way of working. I do a lot of copy heavy toolkits and guidelines, which aren’t always the most exciting. But I think it’s really important to have jobs that don’t stretch your brain to the very limits of your creativity all the time. Being on big jobs that require a lot of bitty tasks can make you feel really flat. But they also give you space in your brain for more creative stuff. It’s up to you to look after yourself and make sure you’re fulfilled. If you’re not getting something from your day job, look beyond your desk.

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“I try and see briefs as Sherlock Holmes cases. You’ve got to take all the info as clues and crack it.”


What skills are essential to your job?
There are a few things that are a bit boring (but true): Good writing, obviously. For me, that’s not about reciting the dictionary or being a punctuation freak. It’s about understanding rhythm, how to create layers of meaning and how to say something and mean it. Communication – an idea’s no good squirrelled away unsaid. Problem solving – I try and see briefs as Sherlock Holmes cases. You’ve got to take all the info as clues and crack it. It really works for me as an analogy, I could go on and on about it. Then I personally think anyone in this game needs guts, grit and an open mind.