Although I believe in controlling my destiny and finding my own path in life and all that mumbo jumbo, I got my first advertising job purely by chance. At that time, I had just graduated from Billy Blue College studying Visual Communications and had just landed an in-house design job as a graphic designer at a firm which provides health services and assistance across the world. My job was to design packages for the doctors to present to the different hospitals around the world. About 3 months into the job I bumped into a college friend of mine who happened to be working at an advertising agency (Ideaworks) next door. She invited me to her office and showed me around and, next thing I knew, I was hanging out nearly every day at the agency. With masses of creative people around me, I knew I had to find a way to somehow work there. One day, we were drinking in the kitchen of the agency which had a blackboard wall on one side. I decided to write down my name, my number and wrote “hire me” on the board. It was a long shot, but worth it. After a week or so, I got a call from the agency and I never looked back.
Ideaworks was a full service advertising agency. During my 5 years there, my role progressively grew more creative. I started as a junior burger (junior art director) handling the BIG W department store account. My first campaign was the biggest event of the year: BIG W’s Toys Spectacular. Working with Louise “Lu” Mahoney, my creative director, we came up with a really successful campaign which won the catalogue of the year award. Andrew Fraser, my ECD suggested I study at Award School and mentored me on the craft of advertising. I had the opportunity to work on brand design as well as digital projects. One of my first branding jobs was creating a mascot for Fastway, a transport service company, under the guidance of Glen Barry, the creative director of the brand department at the time. It was at this point where branding and advertising became my focus.
There were a few different eras during my time at Ideaworks. I had four different creative directors, went through three general managers, and one company restructure; each with a different working process and I had the chance to learn from each of them. But I think the most important things I learnt from them were the unwillingness to give up and always to push for the best solution.
What I learnt from Award School totally changed my perspective on my work process and thinking behind every job. Three months, twelve briefs, no sleep and three boxes of red bulls to reach enlightenment. The process of understanding what an idea is. Coming up with an insight no one else can see. Finding the idea to reveal the insight. I learnt that behind every great idea are a hundred other great ideas thrown out. I learnt how to think. I learnt how to tell stories. I learnt how to sell. I learnt what the other person was thinking. Oh and I learnt how to make ads in the process.
I met Steve Arnold while I was still at Ideaworks through another friend of mine, and I remember we’d hang out and talk about all kinds of designs from the time we met to the time we left. It was always like that. He’s been my design mentor ever since I can remember meeting him. So when he started his own agency and asked if I’d wanted to work on a pitch with him, I jumped at the opportunity. It was at Iconika and through our many conversations about design and branding where I really started to understand what branding is and how to build a brand strategy.
Because Iconika had just started at the time, I couldn’t just rely on working there so I went back to advertising. I fell in love straight away with BMF. The rustic entrance into an open office interior, a wonderful, talented, creative team and an awesome, creative lead. It felt like I was part of the family there right away; plus I was reunited with my old account manager while I was at Ideaworks which was great. I was hired as an art director to work on an ALDI campaign (German supermarket chain) and it was the first time I art directed food. From chocolates to Thai cuisine to pulled pork, it was as insightful as it was tasty. Although shooting food isn’t always as easy as it looks, my team and I worked through each problem to get the best solution. I remember one time, the food stylist put freshly microwaved tampons that were soaked in water into a basket of hot cross buns to create smoke. Whatever it took to get the job done. I dare say we had the most beautifully shot photography out of all the supermarkets plus the client always welcomed fresh ideas and campaigns which made the job easier.
So as you can probably tell, I met a lot of great people at Ideaworks, and one of them is Matt “Baz” Barratt. Baz showed me the proper design process and what it takes in building a successful brand identity and presentation. He left after spending a year at Ideaworks to become design director at Hoyne design and it was during that time when he asked me to join him at Hoyne. Having developed a tremendous passion for both branding and advertising, I had the tough choice of whether to go back to brand design or continue the job at BMF. But Hoyne became my choice as I wanted to take on a challenge. Sure enough, Hoyne was one of my most challenging but rewarding roles to date. Not only did I get to design the brand identity, but I also got to be involved in writing the strategy and presentation, plus creating the ad campaign for the brand as well as the opportunity to work on beautiful illustrations for great brands.
I’ve always loved the unknown and I’m curious about what’s next. I don’t know where my next stop will be but I know it will make a great story…