I remember vividly when I first saw the poster. I was walking through the Trafford Centre with my mates, out to play video games in the arcade and see if I could catch the eye of some pretty girl (which I didn’t, of course). However, it wasn’t a girl or the latest edition of Time Crisis that caught my attention that day, it was an image of a Roy Keane Subbuteo figure leaving a trail of other broken Subbuteo figures behind him.
I’d love to tell you it was a great piece of work or a specific designer that got me into interactive design, but in truth it was an unhealthy amount of time spent playing video games.
Some may scoff, but I believe video games deliver interactive experiences and it was these that helped inspire me to get creative.
Besides my appetite, okay addiction, to video games, I suppose I better give some credit to my friends and family too who, from an early age, kept telling me I was ‘arty’ and I have a great imagination.
I was always very visual, a TV addict who loved to draw and paint. I’m sure my parents had many a sleepless nights worrying what I’d grow up to be. But I always knew it would be something to do with my passion for art, particularly my love for the work of Neville Brody. I was blown away by how he used typography to paint a picture.
The way he played around with type was like nothing I’d ever seen before. The way he mixed bold and light, serifed and sans serif characters in single words was hugely impressive, as was his ability to space out letters to square off long and short words and experiment with bold, eye catching colours. I especially loved the piece he did for Nike, making the word literally bounce across the page.
There’s a bit in Confessions of an Advertising Man when David Ogilvy recounts his first job as a junior ad man. He’s given $500 and told to advertise the opening of a hotel.
His solution is to buy all the post cards he can lay his hands on and send invitations to as many people as he can from the phone book. It’s a great success and he famously recounts, “I had tasted blood.”
It’s a moment of revelation, when the power of advertising becomes clear to him. I had a moment like that myself once. But it wasn’t over the opening of a fancy hotel. It was over a page of washing machines.
I could tell you that it was the thrill of seeing my first Tango ad or watching the Guinness surfer advert in wide-eyed wonder. But in truth the reason why I ended up in the creative department of an ad agency was the fact that I didn’t have to wear a suit to work every day. As a scruffy business studies graduate in my first job in the accounts department of an ad agency I used to gaze enviously at the casually dressed creative’s who seemed to be having all the fun.
As a kid I loved looking at the photos, pictures and glossy spreads in magazines. I was always asking myself ‘how did they do that?’ or ‘I wonder what went on behind the scenes of that’.
On my 10th birthday I begged my parents for a Polaroid camera. I was an impatient child so loved being able to instantly take photos really appealed. My fascination with photography and art continued into my teens and I was soon studying both subjects at college. But it wasn’t until I started a design degree at University that I started to fully appreciate the talent and skill that goes into the polished, glossy images being produced by the likes of Mario Testino. Read more…
I’ve always had a vivid imagination. So growing up I loved adverts that played upon bending reality and shaping it into a memorable communication. One of my earliest memories of ‘loving an advert’ was probably the Indiana Jones inspired Terry’s Chocolate Orange advert… but I’m not sure that was the one that made me want to become an advertising creative.
Looking back now I’d like to say that the advert that inspired me to want to get a job in advertising was the beautifully written Cinzano adverts. The ones featuring Leonard Rossiter… you’ve probably seen them appear in the top ten of some naff list programme where they count down the nation’s favourite adverts.
But it wasn’t that in truth.
“Television rots the mind” they say. Well that’s just nonsense, isn’t it? I’d say TV is hands down the most creative outlet on the planet. I can already hear the cries of protest from hardened intellectuals and arty types, but just hear me out a moment…
I grew up in what I consider to be the golden age of advertising, the 1980s. This was a time when TV advertising could be as popular as theprogrammes they interrupted, when people genuinely cared about the blossoming romance of the Gold Blend couple and jingles could infect your consciousness to such an extent that, even now, hearing the first few bars can prompt an involuntary word-for-word recital.
As a designer, you can take inspiration from anywhere, but most of us will cite somebody who has influenced us in our early years which led to the work we do today. For me, I can delve back to my school years where I had two very influential people in my life, my art teacher, who showed us ways of looking at the world beyond the superficial, and my tech teacher, who showed me my very first grid, making up what I would understand to become typography. I never knew these two worlds would come together as interactive design, I didn’t even know what graphic design was let alone how to make it interactive. I was even more surprised to find out through my college years that I could make a living doing the things I love.
So fast forward to today. I’m sat in Red C thinking about why I became an interactive designer, which piece of work truly inspired me in the past to form my future. You have to understand that when I was in college, the web was first beginning. The words from my tutors mouth “Don’t bother learning about the web Wayne, it will never take off. Go to Leeds University and study editorial graphic design” will stay with me forever, and be quoted whenever I talk about my formative design years. I stuck to my guns (thankfully).