Breaking into the industry & the future of digital creative

Tell us a bit about Brave and your role within the agency.

Brave is a creative advertising agency. We work with both large and established global brands as well as small niche start-ups. We’re an integrated agency, which means we work across a number of creative mediums - from TV ads to apps to album artwork. We strive to help our clients believe in braver, bolder ideas so we can produce work for them that is not only memorable but wins hearts.

My role within the agency is Digital Creative Director. I lead, nurture, support and manage our team of digital specialists. I’m a hands on CD and still love the craft of design. I work closely with our clients in a collaborative way, championing Brave’s ideas and work. I also give the agency a voice within the industry - last year I spoke at Dubai Lynx on ‘De-risking Creative Bravery’.

It’s a great job, I love that no matter how long you’ve been working in the industry there is always room for growth…

How did you initially get into the creative industries?

My mum was a graphic designer and my dad worked in interior design so I grew up in a creative household. From an early age I knew I wanted to do something art based. I’m dyslexic so words are not my jam - the creative world has always made sense to me. Pictures I get!

My first experience of agency life was at FutureBrand. My then girlfriend, now wife, was a PA to the creative directors there and I managed to get myself some experience working in their design team over the summer. There is a lot to be said for who you know, and of course, once you get your foot in the door, working your socks off and showing you have passion.

What do you think is the biggest barrier facing junior creatives and designers getting in to the agency world today?

Firstly I think the education system isn’t updating quickly enough to reflect the speed at which the industry is progressing. We need to change the way we educate creatives/designers to better suit the way agencies operate now. Most uni’s expect people to be either art directors or copywriters if you are creative but we often like to mix up the talent here without pigeon holing. Some briefs end up with developers, copywriters and designers all working together.

If you could go back in time and give your younger self 3 pieces of advice, what would they be?  

Firstly - Don't take it personally. Constructive criticism is the only way to grow so be open to it. Ideas get better and better through collaboration.

Secondly – Don’t get complacent - the industry is always moving - trends, tech, ways of working are continually evolving. Keep up and keep inspired. Especially with digital, what was practiced 5 years ago doesn't even matter now. Be open to change and learn to embrace new developments.

Thirdly – Stay curious. Look for inspiration. There are so many great influencers who give talks, creative meet ups and artist exhibitions in London. Soak it all up and be culturally aware of what is happening in your own city. Your 20’s will fly by!

Where does your passion to give graduates/juniors the opportunity to gain experience at Brave come from?

I remember how hard it can be getting a foot in the door. People need to be given experience and opportunities – for the future of the industry, supporting fresh talent is crucial. And as a leader, I love nurturing young designers - it can be rewarding and inspiring. Many of the juniors I have mentored along the way have grown to become successful designers in their own right. That makes me proud!

In what areas do you see the biggest opportunities for juniors to evolve when it comes to digital today?

When I first started out as a junior, ‘digital designer’ was a new role. I was the first in my agency and I worked on websites, emails and banners because that’s what digital was back then. Now it’s everywhere and so many new roles have formed from UX to IA to VR. I think I was lucky because as I grew as a creative, so did the digital industry. I think it’s a lot harder to crack into it now as it’s more competitive – so many more graduates coming out looking to work in digital. But on the flip side, it’s exciting that new roles and opportunities are being created everyday. I think understanding the interfaces of the future and creative opportunities through tech is the best place to be. It’s very exciting.

 What does a typical day at Brave look like for a junior just starting out?

When someone joins the agency they are inducted into all areas of the business to understand how all the cogs fit together. We appoint mentors to juniors to give them support and help them to develop their role.

They will likely get to work across a wide range of brands and shadow me, and other creatives, learning new skills and processes within an agency.

We all have ‘love projects’ here too which all juniors will be able to work on. Normally this is an area people are passionate about whether it’s a VR interfaces or the latest frameworks.

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