Meet Jon, our recently appointed Creative Director! Jon, Rich, James and Chelsea find out more about Jon’s career history and his interest in design. They then go on to cover what makes a good Creative Director and the great way Jon engages and encourages his team. Find out more by messaging us at [email protected]
new creative director
Podcast Introducing our creative director
Hi, and welcome to this episode of so what’s up? I’m here today with James rich and John. And we’re going to be chatting about John’s recent promotion to creative director.
So John, can you tell me a little bit then about your interest in design? And where that began, please?
Yeah, so I’ve always had a keen interest in design. Since school, really, it’s something I’ve always naturally excelled at, and throughout my entire education. I’ve got a keen interest in particularly typography and implementing that into everything I do really try and try and pull that through. And that’s something I get really excited about.
So with typography, then what was it that drew you to that?
It it’s, I think it’s the the traditional aspect of typography and the frameworks you have to work to. It’s knowing the fundamentals or the structures and how to implement it correctly.
And how did you learn about it? Did you gain this knowledge for your courses? Books? Like a degree? How, how did you come to know all of this about typography?
Yeah, so my degree at University of my course University was predominantly for print and it was heavily typographic focused. fitting that was mainly what we learned throughout throughout university really,
is quite interesting with typography, a lot of designers start outweigh rich I used to work back in the day that the guy that ran that was very heavily into making sure that type was correct on on documents is good learning ground wasn’t rich, when you were there,
it was really good at something I don’t see that often in designers anymore. It sounds crazy. But going through where I did quite a lot of design work. Before I started education, I started quite young. My stepdad was a graphic designer. So it always be tinkering on the Mac at home, I was quite fortunate to have a Mac from that went on to college and university, you believe you’ve learned everything when you leave university. And then I was in a studio, all of a sudden had a real job in the real world, and just constantly getting told you doing it wrong. You think you know the software, that’s great, knowing the software’s half of it. But then when it comes to typography, it does get quite complex, designing magazines, it was my steep learning curve. And I was quite lucky at the time a guy called Matthew from Tableau reproduction, a company that’s still going now very knowledgeable and typesetting, and magazine design and things. And he just taught me how to do it properly, which made my life easier. And everything was easier to read. And yeah, I think every designer has a keen interest in typography. Fonts are endless nowadays, especially with all the free font libraries we’ve gotten there, we’re quite lucky to have such a vast selection of them. So if you take away, do a task and take away all the all the elements that you’re used to using, like photography, or even, let’s say old school clipart. Back in the day, we used to use quite a few assets to make our job a little bit easier. You take that away, and you do a project just on typography, using just text. It’s quite tricky. Takes a long time to make it balance to make it work. But that’s what we all do as part of education and in our our day to day jobs. But yeah, I think I had a keen interest in it every bit every designer here keen interest in typography, and, and just a keen interest in doing things different. And using fonts that are a little bit unique and maybe adapting them fonts as well. It’s quite interesting.
Yeah, it’s a fine art, isn’t it? There’s a lot of underlining rules, they’re often overlooked. And there’s a lot of deeper aspects to typography that people don’t. Yeah, they will see joy in
logo design, we have the classic Can you supply the font to my logo, but when you’ve taken a font and you’ve adapted it much there’s no original font left, but you’ve you’ve drawn the type the actual typeface, and I’m sure you’ve done it as well, John, where you’ve made your own typeface? Oh, yeah. I used to use I believe back in the day going old school. Now I could tell him not doing much at the minute but air Fontographer was a piece of software, you design individual characters, it would take you forever, you put it together, save as a font, use it on the market, it looked absolutely rubbish. It looked great as you were designing it for key words, but as a font to use for titles, maybe it may work. But when it comes to body text, Joda time, it just don’t work. That’s why fonts nowadays some fonts are really expensive. The time spent creating them. Yes, unbelievable.
It’s amazing what people don’t know about fonts really, isn’t it? But I think also from our point of view, when we get people applying for creative roles, the way they present their their work, from a sort of typographical point of view is often one of the big determining factors whether they get an interview or not. Yeah, yeah, the amount of designers we get who, when you look at the the way they set work out It is just, it’s just shocking, you couldn’t send it on to a client. And it’s like a very core skill that some of them just don’t seem to possess. And I know that was, obviously when we first interviewed you, John was one of the very first initial things where we’re just so impressed with the way that you’re sort of your typesetting. And the way that you sort of put large amounts of information on a page that nicely organise it clearly show that you had interest in it, but also had experience of working with it, I think is a tip for any other designers who want to come and work for us, get your fonts, right, and get get some get some time spent on learning how to do that, right, because it literally would put us off interviewing in the first place, it needs to
be balanced, basically, a type or web is very different to type for print. And that’s why designers are quite split. Although they both do. All designers do design for web and print. You can really tell who’s got the strengths in what department at times, and this is something that you learn over time. And, and we’re here, I’d say we’re here as creative directors. So advice along the way, and we’re always learning as well. So I think that’s why that’s why we do what we do, really, to constantly make things better. And not every designer knows absolutely everything. And we’re constantly learning as well
as right. I think it was interesting about the other day, they popped up on there on LinkedIn, I think or Facebook, that you’ve been with us for two years now, which I think is really entirely realising that two years have passed so quickly. And which obviously sort of coincided well, with sort of you taking over, let’s say, Richards old role as the creative director of the business, which I think from our point of view, as employees is really because we understand that we need a, say, a figurehead in the business. It’s got his own style that can teach the the more junior members of staff how how you want things doing. So it’s almost like an educational role, but also your mark on the business, isn’t it? But your particular style?
Absolutely, yeah, yeah. So I try my best doesn’t wear a cancer office on inspiration to the team and given creative stare and creative direction to see through through all projects, they might or whether it’s for digital, web, social media, or wherever supplied to apprentice, it’s taking that creative vision and make sure making sure it’s nice and consistent for all there. No matter where it’s applied. Really,
yeah, I think I’ll put up obviously, you’ve been with us for two years. And in that time, you’ve done some move, let’s say a more high profile websites that we’ve put out there. So anyone that sort of follows our work portfolio was probably spotted that we do work for people at all to write direct and Pil. And in cinemas. And all those websites are ones that that John created. Obviously, when you in the last two years since you’ve been here, and I think a creative directors stamp on an agency does sort of flow through the style of work that agency puts out, you can see your look at agencies and you can go actually, you know, there’s obviously a theme going isn’t it with a particular company, or you can see the sort of work they do. And I think a lot of that comes from from the top really in terms of the the creative leads that you give to your your members of your team?
Yeah, absolutely. So any projects that land in the studio, I’ll obviously guide the other designers through the project and assist them as a word in it as
well, what are the things you do sort of tend to do other things? Obviously, you’ve got, you’ve got a sort of wide team that consists of developers, designers, maybe some with more print experience than web? So have you been sort of spending some time coaching them to develop those skills?
Yeah, we’ve, we’ve recently introduced a scheme, which is to encourage members of the team to further develop their own skills. So be it whether it’s in print, animation, or whether it’s a new, new technical language that the developers need to learn, or they want to learn where we’re encouraging them to find courses and go off and learn not?
Yeah, well, I think it’s really important in an agency to keep developing your skills building, everyone can easily say, yeah, 20 years ago, I used to build websites like I used to do, but I wouldn’t want to touch it now. I know for a fact that I’ve got you know, people here who we employ who are far better at it than me, but you know, at some point their skills are going to age and they need to be keeping up on that at the same time. But I’m guessing the same applies and design does it
absolutely. Yeah. So designs obviously very trend Trend based so you’ve got to keep up with the current trends and stay on top your game. As with development as well as there’s always technological advancements in languages, features and functions it’s ever evolving and yeah, I think most men didn’t seem a keen to stay on top of that. And
yeah, I think I think going back to light obviously John, John’s been with us two years now. I was previously the creative director from a design background always wanted to keep a hand in the studio. I’m still in the studio now. I still love design, everything about it, but I’m not necessarily on the tools anymore. Not that much. Anyway, the demand here and that feels very weird. But it was a natural progression a little bit like James used to be quite technical heavily developed a heavy developer really back in the day. And now he’s he kind of stepped to one side worked on the business like he should do as an MD. And my job has evolved in the same direction. I’ve worked closer and closer with James and Mike on the business end of the from a sales perspective and dealing with customers enjoyed that getting on with customers and kind of floated away really from that creative director role. So John come on board at the right time, at the right time. And from day one hit the ground running. Everybody, I believe loves him to pieces. So that does help because you’ve got to be a people person, you’ve got to deal with people in the right way. And and I know it’s quite alien to you at first, and we threw you in at the deep end, literally, through the deep end thought, let’s see what happens here. You put processes in place systems in place and made sure everybody was looked after. And that’s all we needed. So we’re really confident in the way the studio has run. John, as a creative director was one of the best decisions we’ve made. And I think the whole team will agree on that. Since then, the whole team have started to develop a really good pace. We’ve got designers learning 3d, we’ve got designers improving their video skills and animation skills that they previously had. But we’ve now allowed time for them to do that illustration in house, they’re doing more of that. And it’s just nice to see that a vast skill set. So from photography, animation, video, all the things that are required now for a modern studio, are existing stuff already had an interest in it, and they’ve got that flair to, to make it happen. So I’m quite happy. I’m more fun to house with James. Now, as a senior partner, we’re both working with customers, and dealing with close proposals and everything. And I’m totally happy, although I’m still based in the studio. And I’d like to still pretty much sit there. Because I like to see what’s going on from a project point of view. But I’m well and truly kind of I’ve stepped back and John stepped into my shoes and hit the ground running. So yeah, great job.
And I was just gonna say, Chelsea as well. I mean, what I’m working with John, in terms of sort of as a senior person in the team, do you sort of run everything by him that you put out from a marketing point of view as well? Or is he help you and advise you in terms of the creative side of what you do as a business?
Yeah, definitely. So I think my role of in the businesses to I guess, a jaw role, really, but to sit alongside half of it is to sit alongside you guys and make sure that we’re actually getting the business in and like we’re talking about things. And John has been an integral part to actually enabling me to do the role, because when I came in here, I think it shook everyone up in the sense that we weren’t really marketing ourselves very frequently, it wasn’t consistent. And just kind of getting that ethos in place where people come to me live like ideas on what they’re talking about. Because I’m I’m good at spinning information and getting it out there I’m not good at, I can’t build a website, and I can barely use Photoshop. So for me to stay on top of all of these, like Vash trends is quite difficult when I don’t know the nuances of what they actually do. And Jon’s been really good at like getting the team behind all of the marketing activity and really encouraging them to give me the information I need in terms of the creative direction of the agency and the work that I do as well. I don’t necessarily run what we’re doing by John, but John helps bring it to life in a visual way that enables the team to then quickly like take that creative direction. And if I come in at say, half past three on a Wednesday and ask for a graphic quickly, everyone knows how to create that in the style for social media and a style that John is happy with. And also as well, we can’t really talk about this without talking about the rebrand that we’re doing as well at the moment because obviously John and I came in and John has been in here for two years now. I’ve been in I’ve been in this agency for eight months, and we both inherited a brand that meant nothing to us or the team. So a whole part of the rebrand is John getting his chance to really set his creative vision for us as an agency and to take us forward now into the next phase of where we want to be. And I’m just so excited to see it come live because it’s already looking amazing.
Yeah, I was gonna, I was gonna move on to the rebrand topic. And I think yeah, every agency’s critic, Creative Director wants the agency to look like their vision for it. So obviously, John, you’ve been working for a little while now on our sort of potential rebrand, which is going to be a couple of months away yet. Yeah. Are you sort of working on it to make it more how you would want it to be versus what it is now? Yeah,
so as Chelsea mentioned, we’ve been working with the existing brands, and we’ll continue to do so till the new brand is ready to launch which will hopefully be in a couple of months time. But yeah, I’ve I’ve I’ve injected quite a lot of my typographic flair into new you, Brandon visuals, just kind of maturity oppelo But
I think I think every company as it grows and ages needs to change how it looks, you know, obviously, we’ve been going 15 years now this will be essentially, I think, our third or fourth look and feel. Yeah, let’s say, I think like Chelsea was saying, you know, the team’s very, you know, you have new people come in, and then the brand means nothing to those people previously. Yeah, we’ve had the same team now for a few years, but they’re still working with that brand. So are you are you sort of hoping then that the the creative team that the dev team sort of have more ownership of something they’ve created?
Absolutely, yeah. So I’ve been involved in the creatives and the development team, and then you’ve your website concept. And Brandon, it’s, it’s really to get them excited and engage with the brand. And
yeah, from our point of view, it’s making sure that the staff are proud of what they’re sharing. Yeah. So I think with all companies, and everyone has experienced the same problem, sometimes you struggle to get stuff by in from social media point of view. Yeah, sometimes it’s like, nobody really understands why they’re being asked to share things constantly on social media. And from Yeah, I’m quite excited about having the team excited about what they’ve created, and then be really positive about everything we put out there sharing tagging people, essentially, you know, being really happy to say, Yeah, I’m proud to work at this company, I created that brand. I was involved with that. And I think yeah, hopefully, it’ll sort of bring a bit of new life into what we do internally for our own marketing, then
I think as well like to me a brand is it’s essentially a tool to enable you to help you reach your goals, and we have ridiculously aspirational goals, but we actually have the drive to achieve it, every single person in this agency absolutely loves what we do. And I think the brand for me is just a vessel to help get us all on the same page and working towards that goal. And Jon’s an integral part of like making it and bringing it to life. And I’ve been working really hard on the strategy side of it, and like how we want it to all play out together. And then you guys have done a really good job of just stepping back. And
there’s quite a few agencies where the the, the original founders will be always kind of having a peek. And given a little bit of direction, a bit of steer, we’re quite good at that we’ve stepped back a long time ago, it’s quite tricky at times, myself, especially more. So I don’t think James is too fast. He just likes everything that we do. And he’s confident in the the new team and what the guys can create. And when John started to put together visuals, it just worked. It just worked. We loved it. So I actually
always use that as a case study with clients where I talk about when we’re doing branding work for a father, our current brand, neither neither me nor you had any input into it, it just happened, we just let the team run with it, because we want them to own it. And so we always use the same theory with our clients where we say, Actually don’t micromanage that project, you know, you’re paying an agency to do it, who knows what they’re doing. You don’t need to give feedback for the sake of giving feedback. And so I always try and apply that theory to you guys, where I don’t really want to give feedback unless it’s a fundamental we sell that product. Got it. Yeah,
trust in the experts really. And that’s what you guys are, we don’t just employ juniors, the experience in the whole team is phenomenal. So it’s definitely something we can hand over and, and have trust, I think, timescale wise, and the size of the project we all really underestimated it started with while we started being a little bit creative at the start, and then realised we needed to wind it all back in and then several hours a week, Chelsea and John sat and just brainstorming, and the ideas they were coming up with it was all around brand messaging to start off with and the services that we offer and how we can just distil it down to two main things simple and mature. And that took a long time. And that was without getting design. Yeah, without even getting on the tools and starting the creative part of it, which has happened, but then you all of a sudden realise there’s so many elements to a business to rebrand. Do we do it in one big hit, Jaci? Like gasps a bit, let’s do a big launch. Oh, and even even the website some of the things John’s what John wanted to do. I don’t even think were invented the development at this stage. But as we’ve gone throughout the project, it’s one of them. Steve Jobs philosophy of can this be done? No. We’ll do it to catch up to make it happen. So the website is going to look great and function. Great. And yeah, we’re looking forward to seeing that.
Cool. So yeah, so I hope you enjoy your new role, John. Yeah. And yeah, you can get the team behind you with everything you want to do. I think obviously, we’re dead pleased that you sort of took it on for us. And yeah, we’re looking forward to stepping back and doing no work and you’re doing everything for the business. Obviously, you know, everyone’s career develops obviously for you. This is obviously completely logical next step, I think and you know, we just definitely have you on the team really. So say if anybody wants to get in touch with John and talk about any ideas they’ve got from creative point of view, I’m sure many of our clients Meet John on projects when they either come into the building or resume call when you kick offs and things like that just drop us an email over at Hello at so marketing.com