My creative upbringing was always a little unconventional — like everyone else I spent my childhood drawing, sketching, building, shading, colouring and generally making a thorough mischief of myself. I watched Tony and Rolf with unrestrained awe, and sent my pictures to Vision On until they finally put one in the gallery. When it came to career choices there really was only one and I headed off to art school to find myself in a haze of charcoal dust and paint fumes.
form and print
I trained as a three-dimensional designer, with both my B.A. at Farnham and my M.A. at the Royal College of Art seeing me specialise in ceramic and glass design. At Farnham I learned form and technique, at the RCA I developed concept and theory. My first years beyond art school saw me pushing myself ever forward in my conceptual work. I worked in many different forms of media, from collage to box art to print, and spent what seemed like days hunched over black and white photocopiers. My final work stayed in three dimensions but I found my fascination with the surface decoration slowly taking over. What had started with my final pieces at Farnham, the screen printed transfers which I had excitedly applied to my slip-cast forms, was becoming the full focus of my attention.
The Mac I had borrowed from a friend suddenly became my best friend and I pounded the keys long into the night putting text and image together in a frenzy of pixels. I worked with my artist friends on something we called multimedia in those days, with projects slowly blurring the boundaries between the tangible and printable, and the esoteric and digital. I built my first website as the Millennium approached, and the possibilities of the digital age seemed boundless. Visual design fascinated me, but my application of it came with a multi-dimensional flavour.
sydney, the states, and back
The move to Sydney and the job with Sapient showed how these ideas could be set to a commercial rhythm, and when I got to work for a few weeks at the former Studio Archetype in San Francisco I knew something special was happening. It was a very exciting time for everyone, the creative possibilities seemed endless. The dot-com crash two years later dampened our spirits a little, but not for long. My return to London brought a renewed interest in print — my new role at Cinnamon allowed me to play with more traditional ways of communicating with people, as well as the familiar digital, and we honed our old-school skills at the same time. I pushed the keyboard to the side and started designing with paper and pen again. Suddenly I knew I had to be an art director.
So why an art director? After so many years designing in two and three dimensions, as well as the multi-dimensional maelstrom of digital, my creative work had always involved the bringing together of elements to form concepts. Sounds obvious doesn’t it? To me it was a revelation — copy, photography, form, illustration, idea, all flying around the creative ether making connections and forming concepts. Art direction unshackled me from the minutiae of design technicalities, setting me free to play with ideas in the same way I did when I was ten years old. Digital or print, interactive or static, real or imagined, it’s all about the ideas. Love it.