My Art Directing career began at CDP in London in 1986. Starts don’t get better than that. Working with the copywriter I’d teamed up with at college we converted a dream placement into a dream first job. We learnt about ideas, photography, type, and that in advertising you should always expect the unexpected. Three months into the job we were fired but given a couple of weeks grace. We knuckled down and worked around the clock for two weeks on any spare briefs we could find. That was the place we wanted to work. Two weeks later we were re-hired. My partner unsurprisingly found the situation erratic and left the agency to set up his own successful company.

Luckily for me, the mercurial Creative Director John O’Donnell thought I was worth keeping on. He hired a copywriter from a hot TV agency at the time, Gold Greenlees Trott, to partner me. For four great years we worked on Shredded Wheat, Benson and Hedges, Toyota, Barclaycard, Army Officer Recruitment and Olympus Cameras. The very best people in the business were there and you couldn’t fail to learn from them. Jeremy Clarke and Graham Fink, who went on to be president of D&AD, were my group heads. The most prolific award-winner in D&AD history, Neil Godfrey, was in the office next door, and the creative department was full of the great and the very, very good. When the agency lost two of its biggest accounts I was made redundant. My copywriter could have stayed on teamed with a more senior partner, but bravely chose to leave the agency with me in 1992.

We had award winning ads in our book, a Creative Circle Gold among them, from one of the best agencies in the world. We could have been forgiven for thinking we deserved a job locally. But with London in recession we took the opportunity to work down under with my copywriter’s ex Art Director, by then Creative Director of Y&R Adelaide. We enjoyed working for the agency on Mitsubishi and Adelaide Zoo, so when my copywriter chose to return to England for personal reasons I moved to the Sydney office to work on blue chip accounts like “The Australian” newspaper and Petaluma wines. There was more client contact than I was used to in London. Persuading the tough talking, table thumping editor of an Aussie Newspaper to run a potential award winner about the quality of French wine over Australian did wonders for my account handling skills.

I soon got an opportunity to try them out. In 1993 I got a call from a copywriter called Tony Veazey who had started up a small agency called Broadbent Cheetham Veazey in my home town of Manchester. I’d first met Tony when he interviewed for the job as my copywriter at CDP in 1986. They had some small clients and I helped them get more. The clients may have been small but we put big ideas into their ads which were rewarded at awards ceremonies. Kingfisher Toothpaste, Slimmer Magazine and Wilmslow Chiropractors all won awards at the Campaign Press and Campaign Poster awards and were accepted into the prestigious D&AD annual.

In 1995, looking to do more television I got in touch with a copywriter I’d enjoyed working with in Germany who was now at Grey London. She introduced me to Paul Smith and Mike Everett, ex-CDP luminaries and recently appointed Creative Directors who invited me to join them. Grey’s accounts were predominantly household names not noted for their creativity. We developed TV campaigns for clients like Remington and Fairy Liquid which won awards at British TV, Cannes, and D&AD. As well as working on the big accounts we worked closely with smaller clients like Speedo to develop campaigns that hugely increased their brand share and won awards at Campaign Press and the Association of Photographers. We were made board directors and group heads, and worked internationally with Grey in New York and Paris. Unfortunately, differences over finance and creative direction between the American and London offices came to a head towards the end of 1998. An American managing director came over to sort things out. This involved making almost all the senior creative staff, swathes of the account handling staff, and no small number of the production staff, redundant.

Once again I returned to Manchester to work with Tony’s developing agency, now trading under the name Fantastic Brilliant. For just over a year it went brilliantly. We pitched for and won accounts like Health Aid, Kitchen Devils and Ugly Models. On those accounts I did much of the account handling and production myself. A real high point was when we had an integrated campaign for Gericaps accepted into the D&AD annual. I’d hoped the success we’d had would provide enough resources for me to work for the company full-time, but I learnt that in business good accounts are only part of the story. Good accounting is equally important. In 1999, I left and came back to London.

I accepted a job offer from John Dean the Creative Director of an agency with a very good creative reputation, Butterfield, Day, Devito, Hockney. Teamed with the Head of Copy, we were responsible for key accounts Clerical Medical, the Co-op and The Guardian. As Brand Guardians we worked closely with the clients and the diplomatic skills I’d developed as a board director at Grey came in useful. It was here I began to see how important the internet was going to become during our exciting joint projects with sister digital/DM agency Partners Andrews Aldridge. Merger with another Havas owned agency, Euro RSCG, brought duplication of roles, redundancy, and temporarily an end to further exploration of the “new media”.

In 2002 I worked with Fantastic Brilliant on a project basis for Trees for London. The One Show thought the press campaign we produced for them fantastic and brilliant enough to be worthy of a Gold pencil.

Eager to return to online work I took a job at Arc Interactive, the digital wing of D’arcy. Creative Directors Jack Nolan and Graham Mills, formerly top team at Integrated agency OgilvyOne, thought I had potential. It was a risk on their part as there was little evidence of Online or DM in my book. It was a different way of working, but I picked it up fast. My partner and I produced a campaign for Dolmio which used a wide variety of media both online and offline raised sales by 12 per cent. A DM pack for Fiat raised sales by 15 per cent. A pack for Ariel washing tablets not only raised sales but was good enough to win a John Caples DM Award in 2004. After Darcy’s above the line agency lost the vital Mars account the entire company merged with Leo Burnett and brought duplication of roles and redundancy.

With the rapid move of the industry towards total media integration, my broad range of above and below the line experience got me some good freelance projects. The campaign for the Samaritans for Agency Republic to me was the real integrated deal. A big idea that carried through from TV to website with all media stops in between. Currys for M&C Saatchi, and the launch of the Purple for The Communications Agency followed a similar integrated path – TV, print, T shirts, instore, DM, online. Projects that created a good relationship with a number of clients and agencies.

At the beginning of 2008 one of them, Agency Inc, invited me to join them as Head of Art. Having previously worked for them on integrated campaigns for Ascot, Companies House, and the RFU, I was confident we could do some good work. And we did. Building up a small and talented team of people and producing a pitch-winning campaign for Brands Hatch is one of the most satisfying things I’ve done. Unfortunately the global credit crunch has forced the company to shed staff.

Fortunately I learnt a long time ago that in advertising you should always expect the unexpected.

I am currently freelancing.