How would you define success? Do you think you’ve found it yet?
Success to me is quality of life, and time to think beyond the immediate problems of the day. Still searching but I’m getting warmer.
What tips would you give to somebody who is looking to get started in digital media?
Get a smartphone, and opt in to every geeky app going. Get onto every social media platform you can find. You need to know about this stuff, there is no point in being shy.
What challenges does agency work bring? Do you think you’ve found a working environment that suits you?
Agency work is ever changing, no two projects are the same, this is the most challenging but also the most rewarding aspect of working for a digital agency.
How did you get into digital? Was there a defining moment, and if so, how did it shape your company?
I got into digital when the major adverting agencies were investing in in-house web shops. Advertising didn’t really get digital in those days, it was a case of trying things out to see if they worked. Digital has evolved into something more sophisticated now, but the fundamentals are the same: build, test, tweak, repeat.
What is your earliest memory?
A childminder on a skiing holiday getting eaten by a dragon that lived up the chimney she had woken up by being forced to hoover up some torn up Poinsettia leaves that us kids had left on the floor. From our position under the dining table in the adjacent room, we heard the whole thing. It was gruesome. I was four. Only many years later did I realise that she was just messing with us.
Who had the greatest influence on you during your career?
Steve Krug, Ben Hunt, Marshall McLuhan, Joseph Müller-Brockmann, Aphex Twin, not necessarily in that order.
Describe a typical day in your childhood.
Do you remember your first day of school?
Yes, it was a blast.
What teacher had the greatest impact on you?
Christine Thompson, my design tutor at WSCAD. She taught me to forget what you think you know and look again.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An architect, but I developed an antipathy toward quadratic equations that would have doomed my structural engineering module.
Who were your childhood heroes?
Tom Baker as Dr Who, David Attenborough, Mr Ben, Columbo, The Soup Dragon.
Were you popular as a teenager?
With my peers yes, my teachers not so much.
Did you feel different as a child?
As a child I always had clusters of kids standing around looking over my shoulder when I was drawing. Like I was being followed around by a weird art cult that smelled like gobstoppers.
If you could be or do anything else – what?
I’ve always had an armchair interest in astronomy and cosmology, I love the feats of imagination required by cosmology, but not the maths. If I had the sheer brain power I’d love to be one of the few who’s job it is to unravel the mysteries of the universe.
If you could live in any other time, when might that be?
300 years from now, I’d love to see how everything turned out.
If you could have dinner with five famous people from history, who would they be?
Bonzo Bonham, Evel Knievel, Gene Cernan, Hunter Thompson, Ernest Hemingway.
If you could change one thing in your past, what might that be?
What, just one thing?
What are you most proud of?
Apart from my son who, needless to say I think is my crowning achievement – I’m proud of Drum. I think building something slowly and with integrity is something to very much be proud of. Sometimes it feels like we’re figuring it out as we go along, but if it was all plain sailing – what would be the fun in that?
How would you like to be remembered?
For never dodging my round.
What’s the one thing about you few people know?
I once swam in the very centre of the Atlantic ocean alone and without a safety line.
What do you dislike most about yourself?
The propensity to over think simple things.
Do you talk about religion or politics?
I try to listen more than I talk on both those subjects.
If they made a movie of your life story… would it sell?
Yes, but it would have to be very well edited.
What do you like most about your job? What do you like least?
The huge potential of digital to be what you make it, and that I sometimes have to go home in the evening before I’m done.
Would you want your children to be like you when they grow up?
In spirit, yes.
What has been the happiest day of your life?
I subscribe to Joss Whedon’s theorem that if a human being experiences a moment of true happiness they instantly turn into a vampire.
How did you get into this business?
At its root probably as a result of an obsession with drawing and designing directly into a computer, and a fascination with early video games and the magazines full of code that came with them.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
When I visit foreign countries I like to bury stuff and make treasure maps for later.
Why would a client love you or maybe just want to work with you?
I think our clients love Drum because we’re refreshingly free of bamboozlement or hard sell, two things that more than a few digital agencies are guilty of.
Where do you go for inspiration?
The V&A without a doubt.
How do you remain ‘creative’?
Digital is always changing, and that helps keep creativity flowing. It’s hard to stagnate when the landscape is constantly shifting and bringing new challenges, new opportunities.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
Look beyond the day-to-day.
What is the biggest challenge for creative directors?
The blank page. Always.