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My old creative director, who is now one of my current working partners, used to have a printout hanging in his office that read:




It was always a joke between us. Sort of a mantra we repeated back and forth to each other with the same annoying tenacity as “toe pick” in The Cutting Edge, if you’ve ever seen that classic.

It was a tongue in cheek way to demonstrate the importance of having an eye for detail. One that we took seriously.

Many believe that kerning, defined as the setting of letters closer together than usual, is a concept only applicable to designers or art directors. If a headline or line of body copy doesn’t fit as it should, try bumping down the kerning a bit. Not too much but a bit, and it may work out just fine.

The goal is to not break up the fluidity of one thought with a line break. Dramatic pauses, of course, have their place … but they can also completely screw an ad.

Me being the sucker for symbolism I am, I have always thought of the whole concept of kerning as representative of the relationship between copy and art. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a double entendre.

You can have landmark copy. I mean the best copy you’ve ever written or ever read, but if it’s beside a less-than-inspirational image or broken up in a way that makes it more difficult to read, your impact is lost.

Image isn’t the only thing that matters. And, unfortunately, words alone often don’t have the impact they could have if paired with the right photo or illustration.

In order to create an image, an ad, a story that people are drawn to, there has to be a balance.

Throughout my career, I’ve had the privilege of working with designers and art directors, and even a few creative directors, who respect that balance more than most. And as a result, we’ve created some amazing campaigns.

When there’s balance, chemistry, an eye for detail, and most importantly, respect between the copywriter and designer, there’s really no down side. I would even go as far as to say that relationship between designer and writer is the most sacred in the advertising world.

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