As industry veteran, having been in the branding and creative business for decades, how have you seen it change since you first started?
It’s very different. The industry didn’t change a lot between the 1950’s and 1990’s, but once personal computing took hold it changed very rapidly.
People began doing a lot of their own brochures, ads and other creative that was once only done by professionals trained to do it. As such, the overall standard of creative work dropped a lot. The Internet caused a lot of design-dysfunction, too, at first.
More recently, however, quality is beginning to turn around. The introduction of cloud services like Adobe’s Type Kit is helping improve typographic standards, and Google’s new Material Design guides will go a long way towards cleaning up all the unnecessary noise in web design.
It all comes down to attention to detail. That’s what differentiates good from great work.
Prior to joining 451 Marketing, you established your own boutique agency back in your hometown of Dublin. How has working with international clients influenced your method?
Working internationally isn’t much different. A lot depends on the personal relationship with the client and what they expect from a creative specialist.
As both a strategist and designer, I’ve learned to be flexible in my approach depending on client needs and expectations. You can’t work successfully with multiple clients in different industries with a one-size-fits-all approach.
What was your dream job as a child?
I wanted to be a fireman. I really liked their shiny red engines! I had a really cool little fire engine peddle car with ladders on the side, and a fireman’s helmet.
What’s something about you that would really surprise people to know?
I’ve practiced Karate and Jiujitsu for over 40 years! I train almost every day and mentor a group 12 black belts that have their own schools in the US and in Ireland. It’s keeps me grounded.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever gotten?
What have you found to be the biggest challenge in branding and creative?
Being original… there is just nothing that has not been done already in some way, shape or form.
Which brands do you admire for their branding and creative work?
My list seems to change almost weekly these days, but at the moment, I’m a big fan of Apple, Audi, Toms, London Transport, Vueling, and El Banco Deuno.
You’re a big proponent of listening to music while you work. How does it inspire you?
I’ve been told my music is sometimes too loud… haha. I use music in a couple of ways, one is to get in the zone when I need to write or do some creative thinking. For that I like classical or Jazz. I listen to Fauré, Debussy, Prokofiev, Mozart, Stan Getz. I am not adverse to some Gregorian chants either.
If I want an energy boost I turn to rock or punk. I’ve got all The Clash, The Jam, Ramones etc. I saw lots of the original British punk bands live in Dublin. On the rock side I listen to the classics like Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and some of the newer bands like The Mescaleros, Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, Smashing Pumpkins, Ryan Adams, The Killers, Kings of Leon etc.
I do like some of the new stuff and have playlists with Banks, Selah Sue, James Blake, Lord Huron, Edward Sharp, and lots more. I use Spotify or Pandora for this stuff.
For some mystic inspiration it has to be Van Morrison… an old favorite. Never tired of Astral Weeks. Check out his live performance of the whole album at the Hollywood Bowl in LA a couple of years back… outstanding.