Visual thinkers, clever word jockeys—Rachel Tompkins notes one major similarity between creative professionals you find in the advertising industry. They’re all “idea people.”
“As someone who started at College for Creative Studies (CCS) with an interest in art direction, I have found working in this field to be a rewarding experience,” said Tompkins. “I chose advertising over graphic design because I love the thinking that goes into ads. ‘Art Director’ or ‘Copywriter’—we’re all idea people. And seeing something go from a silly sketch or line in my notebook to a finished commercial or print campaign is the best feeling. It’s what keeps me going.”
Tompkins is currently the president and creative director of Clockwork Integrated Marketing in her hometown, Traverse City. The agency is comprised of a small, integrated team of creative professionals who met while working together at Britten Studios, a Traverse City-based commercial printer that specializes in large format printing and banners. The owner of Britten backed the agency’s start up and is now Clockwork’s largest client, followed by their sub-companies: Britten Decor, Britten Metalworks and Britten Woodworks.
“We moved into our new space at the end of December (2014) and already have some great prospects lined up,” said Tompkins. “We also just got word that one of our campaigns won an award in the 2015 AdAge B2B Best awards, which is super exciting considering we were up against the industry’s top shops!”
While working at Britten, Tompkins worked as a creative director and oversaw the marketing department. She worked on the company’s complete brand overhaul, including new print collateral, direct marketing, new website and ecommerce site as well as print/traditional advertising for both Britten and several of their proprietary products.
“Working at Britten meant I had gone 'client side'—something I never thought I would do!” she explained. “It also meant that I would be doing more B2B (business to business) work than before. It was a great experience, since in my previous positions, I almost exclusively worked on B2C (business to consumer) initiatives.”
Prior to her new position at Clockwork, Tompkins was at Saatchi & Saatchi in New York where she collaborated on projects with several big name clients, including Cheerios, Capri Sun, Trident, Theraflu, Tide and Amdro among others. She has also worked at Team Detroit, Doner, and Young & Rubicam. These experiences have provided her with valuable advice to those considering a career in advertising.
“Push yourself hard when you’re young,” she said. “Work late. Work weekends. Work on your birthday if you have to. And have a good attitude about it! Build relationships with your fellow creatives, account folks, production, and so forth because when you’re a junior, people want to help you. Let them! Soon enough, you won’t be a junior anymore, you’ll be a threat. So take advantage of this time and learn everything you can.”
In her spare time, Tompkins enjoys working on her “crooked old house,” drinking beer, and hiking nature trails. Mostly, she likes to kick back with her husband (Dan), newborn daughter (Clementine), and two puggle pups.
Her portfolio can be viewed at rachel-tompkins.com. She admits it’s out of date.
“Whoops, I’ll have to work on that.”