An Open Letter to Dylan Lee

Hi, Dylan.

We've never met. I don’t mean to weird you out. But you're one of my heroes.

The first time I came across your name, I was a portfolio school student looking through the 1999 CA Advertising Annual. Those ads you and Monica Taylor did for Victorinox just floored me. They were gorgeous, and the copy sang. Even back then, before tweets and status updates, body copy was considered a dying art. It was nice to see someone who was still able to craft it.

Of course, I'd already seen that great ad during the Superbowl that year, and when I realized you were responsible for both campaigns, I made a mental note to look for your name in the back of every annual afterwards.

A year later, I got the 2000 CA Advertising Annual. And you weren't in it. There's a Michael Lee and a Miriam Lee. But no Dylan. You had two amazing additions. And then nothing? Honestly, it was a little confusing to my portfolio school student brain. (I'm sure it bothered you more than it did me.) But you've made several appearances since. Not every year. Just most years. And that reinforced something I once heard Mike Hughes say: "Advertising isn't a sprint. It's a marathon." It was good lesson to learn early on. Thanks for that.

In school, I was lucky enough to have Ernie Schenck assigned as my pen pal/mentor. Here's what he said about you without knowing I was already a fan:

"Ever heard of Dylan Lee? Dylan got his first job with John Doyle. He later went to Pagano Schenck & Kay and later Mullen where he did all that fantastic Swiss Army stuff. Now he's at Wieden. Just a huge talent."

There were a couple more good lessons to learn early in my career: Your reputation can proceed you, and it's because of your work. And talent is usually surrounded by talent.

So why am I writing you? A couple reasons:

  1. Generally, when I have a generous thought, I try not to suppress it. Just wanted you to know I think you do great work.
  2. Since a lot of portfolio school students and junior creatives will be reading this too, I want them to understand how important it is to have heroes in this business. Heroes beyond the figurehead Boguskys, Goodbys and Hugheses. You don't have to have your name on the agency to be worth following. You just have to be doing great work.

All the best,