The quiet queen
In an industry where the average age is 33.7 Janetta Lewin is a proud 66-year -old. The queen of her trade who loves running teams and mentoring young creatives as well as rolling up her sleeves and doing the work.
And young creatives love working with her. Probably because it doesn’t take them long to work out that this digital age may not actually be the ‘coolest’ time in history. Not after hearing her stories of art school in the sixties.
Or witnessing her ‘out of the park’ craft skills, honed by pencil and paper, ink and paint since her MA at the Royal College of Art. Skills that not only translate to the screen – they transcend it.
Like many art directors of her era, Janetta refused to learn computer skills. Few survived. But Janetta took the ‘director’ part of her title literally and refused to learn computer graphics for the same reason she refused to do cut and paste artwork. She’s a designer. Not an executor.
“I never learned any of that computer stuff, it’s always been about the ideas!”
Ideas that come from a vast bank of experience. Janetta started her career in women’s magazines and then moved to Fleet Street creating the first full-colour weekend lifestyle magazines. She was part of a small but fierce group of women who fought to get the white, male press establishment to take their women readers seriously.
After a stint in fashion at Burberry, Janetta came into advertising well into her career. Quickly rising to Creative Director and Creative Group Head for many of London’s top agencies
Which makes her a rare creature in the competitive world of advertising. She doesn’t measure her success by her ads. But by the lives she has touched.
She has spent most of her career working on big supermarket brands so her award cabinet is lighter than her talent and pedigree suggests. But like most creative women, she doesn’t weigh her value in gold. She knows how central feeding a family is to a woman’s life.
Especially being a single mum.
She’s been working hard to make it all a little cheaper and easier, a touch more inspirational and a bit more fun.
You could call her a quiet achiever.
But what no one knows is she was shouting at the patriarchy all the way. She was one of the bravest women on the frontline.
For advertising women of our era, no matter what happened in our careers, we were always told if we sued we’d never work in this town again.
Janetta has fought seven different pieces of legal action over her career.
“I wasn’t fighting for my career. I was fighting for my rights.”
She was fighting for all our rights. In secret. And alone.
All hail Queen Janetta.
Long may she reign.