Where: London, United Kingdon
A career in imagineering…You could call me a copywriter, an art director, maybe even a creative. If you’re feeling particularly wanky you could say I’m an imagineer. But I’d rather you didn’t.
Basically, my job is to come up with ideas that’ll change people’s perceptions of a product, make them think about a brand in a different light, entertain them. Flog stuff.
Just a little bit of this and that…I work at an advertising agency called DDB. Doyle, Dane, Bernbach as it was back in the Madmen days. DDB has a huge array of really good clients: VW, Marmite, Harvey Nichols, Budweiser. The list goes on and on. I get to work across all those, which is great.
More specifically…If I say what I’m working on right now it’ll probably put some kind of voodoo curse on it and it’ll go pear-shaped so I’d rather not.
Back in time…Well, I took chemistry, maths and physics at A-level and failed my first year spectacularly. Yep, the only thing I have in common with Stephen Hawking is that we both drool occasionally. I was into drawing and art so I decided to chance my arm and enrolled on a graphic design course at Durham College. I did OK, not brilliant, but OK.
After that I moved to do advertising at Newcastle College. Where I met my partner, no, not in that way, my work partner. We moved down to London and started the long, painful process of trying to get a job.
How he knows what he knows…It’s a strange one really. College can only teach you so much. A few basics but beyond that you just need to get out there and do it. Work your tits off. Or if you haven’t got tits, work your balls off. There’s no real magic trick you can learn. The more you do the better you get.
Mini Mcananey…I was a pretty quiet kid really. At one point, when I was fifteen, I got ill for a long period. So I spent a lot of time on my own drawing and reading. I think, sorry, I know that lead me down the path I’m on today. Good things came out of it, although at the time it wasn’t much fun.
Confidence…I’d never thought I’d be good at what I’m doing. I had a good imagination as a kid I suppose but that’s about it. I still think I’m chancing it to a certain extent.
Nature, nurture…I grew up in Wolsingham, a village in Weardale, Co Durham. It was, and still is, quiet and green. I really like going back, running in the fields and by the little streams. It’s a great place to grow up. But as soon as I knew I wanted to do advertising there’s only one place to go and that’s London. I suppose I could have done the ads for Peggotty’s the bakers or Wolsingham agricultural show (it’s the oldest in Britain I’ll have you know) but I don’t think there would be much money or creative opportunity in that. Although I could’ve gotten paid in vanilla slices, Peggotty’s are particularly good.
The life and times…My week normally consists of me sitting opposite Christian, trying to squeeze out a modicum of an idea. If one does plop out and the creative director buys it and the client decides to run it, then I take my feet off the desk and do a little jig. After that we have to decide on which director, illustrator, photographer or designer to use. We have to ensure we get the right person to give it the look and feel we want. Someone who’ll polish that turd until it shines like the sun.
Encouraging family…Nah, they beat me with sticks and said 'You’ll never make it you are a loser Andrew, a loser I tells ya!'. No, they did encourage me. I think it could have seemed like a bit of a dodge, doing graphics and advertising. Oh you can’t do anything real, so you’re going to do some nice drawing. That’s nice. But my family knew it was what I wanted to do and were really supportive and that did help a lot. Especially since I wasn’t exactly full of confidence when I was younger.
Biggest obstacle…Being made redundant. Pretty soul destroying, I can tell you. It was mine and Christian’s first job and you wonder what the hell you’ve done wrong. We had to take a job, well a half-job, at a shit agency and belligerently try and crawl our way back to respectability. But we learnt a lot in that time. We became more tenacious, found out that there are people who will take advantage of you if you let them and I think we appreciate things more now.
Important lessons…We used to have a rep for being the wacky, car-razy team. Give it to them, they’ll do something bonkers mad. In retrospect maybe a 100ft golden statue of Ted Bovis wasn’t such a good idea for Ford Focus. Yes, I think our ideas are more grounded now. In the respect that are actually achievable. But I’m still quite happy to be different. What’s the point in coming up with something that the team down the corridor would? We always try to do something unexpected.
Obsessions…I used to be well into electronic music when I was younger. But I drifted away from it when I couldn’t afford to buy the vinyl and I sold my decks. But over the past couple of years I’ve come back to it in a big way. So I spend loads of time trawling blogs, going on Beatport and keeping up to date with what’s going on via Twitter. I’ve just organised a loan, gulp, so I can get the whole shebang back. And be crap all over again.
Sherlock Holmes is not Guy Ritchie, Robert Downey Jr and Jude fucking Law thank you very much. It is Jeremy Brett as the esteemed Mr Sherlock Holmes and, for me at least, Edward Hardwicke as his honourable companion Dr Watson. I’m pretty obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, as you may have deduced. There’s something about that gentlemanly Victorian demeanour, the capturing of ne’er-do-wells and general all round, god-damn suaveness of the guy that’s irrepressible.
Oh, and apparently I’m obsessed with handkerchiefs. In my opinion a modern gent should carry a handkerchief. Just in case there’s a spillage or the lady you are with has a turn and is overcome with sadness. As they are prone to do. Well, at least around me anyways.
Inspiration…I don’t think you have to go to specific places for inspiration like you used to. Yeah, it’s still awe-inspiring to go to the British Museum or the Tate. But you can find inspiration pretty much anywhere, if you look hard enough.
In awe of…George Orwell always inspires me. I hate flowery writing. His style is to the point. But still incredibly evocative. When I try to write I always try to adhere to his rules.
If he could go back in time…I wouldn’t be so stressy; it doesn’t really get you anywhere. You make better decisions if you’re not running around like a big Jessie. Oh, and to completely contradict that, I’d kick Steve Dunn, the creative director who made us redundant, full-on in the balls.
Another life…I’d like to write comedy. Christian and myself have written sketches in the past but we’ve lost the impetus, life gets in the way doesn’t it? I’d like to get back to doing that, even if it’s just to say I gave it my best shot but everyone thought I was about as funny as getting consumption.
Telling it like it is…Like I said before you need to be determined. I see loads of teams who think they’re going to waltz into a job. Wrong. You need to work like crazy to get a job and work like crazy to keep it. But there’s a flip side to that coin. You’ll have a great, enjoyable, rewarding job. And it’ll probably be a damn sight better than working in Dolcis. I couldn’t say that for sure though because I’ve never worked in Dolcis.
Optional extra…Let’s pretend this is the end of Masters of the Universe, I’m Prince Adam and I’m doing the cheesy summing up. What have we learnt today? Apart from I want Whiplash and Battlecat and Snake Mountain and Evil Lynn and, and, and… Well this is a pretty good quote and I think it applies to anyone who works in the creative industries. Ladies and gentlemen I pass you over to Mr Bill Bernbach, take it away Bill:
'All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can lift it onto a higher level.'
Or in other words: you’re in a privileged position, don’t churn out crap.
And that’s all she wrote.