A BIT MORE ABOUT ME…
Apart from designing, I have a passion for cooking, I like to shoot arrows and spend time with my children and our nutcase Jack Russell, Lucky!
I'm originally from the South of England and I moved to Australia in 1997. Back then I was madly into windsurfing, and decided to quit working in London and move to Australia and windsurf everyday. Back then I thought I could possibly go professional.
Three months of windsurfing everyday, I realised that my brain needed some stimulation, so I moved back to London for a few months and freelanced. During that time I got to work on some cool annual reports – my favourite being one for Virgin Clothing and Cosmetics.
I attended my first art college in Reigate, Surrey, England from 1988. This is where I was taught traditional design skills. We practised drawing, illustration, photography. We learnt typography using hot metal type. We screen printed. Everything was done by hand and we became proficient at painting graphics using gouache paint.
Reigate was a great college. I still to this day keep in contact with some of my old mates from there, and a couple of those friends went on to become really successful in their own right – Jason Smith who founded 'Fontsmith' which is now owned by Monotype and Simon Manchipp who is co-owner of Someone, in London.
I graduated with a diploma in Graphic Design (Distinction)
Following Reigate I then attended Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication for 3 years. Ravensbourne was a cool college with a brutalist, industrial style building set on beautiful grounds in Chislehurst in Kent.
At Ravensbourne I studied the Swiss style of typography and focussed my attention to corporate identity design and publications.
I left Ravensbourne with a 2:1 BA (Hons) in Visual Communication Design.
My first improper job and my first proper job…
I used to work during college holidays for The Perfect Design Company from around 1988, until we had the recession that put many design businesses out of business and this was to continue for the next few years. As I needed to work to help fund art materials and other stuff, I signed on with a temping agency who found me the funniest job that I have ever had – working for the customer complaints department of Ann Summers, the largest sex toy mail order company in the UK!
The mail order sex toy business boomed during the recession!
I worked in an office with three females – who were all pretty cool and funny. My job was to open the letters that accompanied the returned items (luckily I only got the letters!).
The letters were hilarous, and some just had to be read out loud to my colleagues. We would often spend from 9 to 5 in tears of laughter – and we got paid for that too!
We were still in recession when I left Ravensbourne but it was time to get a proper job.
I wasn't deterred and walked the streets of London with my heavy portfolio for weeks, knocking on doors, hearing the same thing, 'we are not hiring, there is not enough work'…
And one day by chance, I was in David Quay's studio (David Quay designed Brush Script) and he told me about a corporate communications firm he had previously visited who were looking for a junior.
One thing led to another and I got my first post graduate job at Fishburn Hedges, right on the corner of Trafalgar Square in London. In fact my first desk was next to a window with a full view of Trafalgar Square!
At Fishburn Hedges, I had truly landed on my feet. It was the best place that I have ever worked. We were paid well, we were treated well and the parties were brilliant. We had the best client list that you could wish for which included Lloyds of London and the Royal Palaces. I was at Fishburn Hedges for a little over 5 years.
Australia and windsurfing
In my early and mid twentiesI was a keen windsurfer and also pretty good at it. I have windsurfed in many countries around the world. Life back then consisted of work, windsurfing on the south coast of England and socialising with my mates. I had a yearning to try windsurfing full-time and also to move to a place that was warm, sunny and had lots of nice sandy beaches.
So I quit my job and moved to Western Australia. That was pretty cool. I windsurfed for three and a half months until I felt my brain going to fudge.
And due to some personal reasons, I found myself back in London and walked straight into a job at McBrides and Grandfield where we mostly designed annual reports. My favourite report was one that we pitched for, for Virgin Clothing and Cosmetics. It had a decent budget and I was able to choose the model I wanted from the Storm model agency. COOL!
Back to Oz
I moved back to Australia later that year with my girlfriend. We collected my 4WD that I had left in storage and embarked on an adventure that took us from Perth up to Darwin, down the middle and across to far North Queensland. It was awesome. I wish we had done it for longer, but I had a formal job interview for a senior designer position in Sydney that I had been headhunted for back in the UK.
There actually was no job. The Creative Director of the firm was an egomaniac that liked to string people along. As it happens, the truth always gets out in the end and I discovered that 2 of my former colleagues had also had a similar experience with the same guy.
LKS and Landor
Arriving in Sydney in early December, renting a flat only to be shafted wasn't great for us. My girlfriend was able to get a good job in January and in early March 1999, I was employed as a senior graphic designer at LKS in North Sydney – a firm with some great accounts and a great reputation. It was here that I began working for Mission Australia and also worked on some packaging design for the first time.
LKS was purchased by the global design company, Landor Associates and we became the Sydney office. There I met some great friends – in particular Tim Warren (Believe You Me.) and Austin Marsden (Owner AKA Design), and I still stay in touch with two of the Directors that I worked for and have since worked with since we all left Landor.
I remember watching the footage live as the planes hit the towers. At first I thought it was a movie. I wish it were. It was a horrible moment in history.
In any downturn the first industry to suffer always seems to be design and marketing. At Landor our work dried up, we were twiddling our thumbs for months, and in February I was retrenched. And that was scary as only two years prior I had bought a house on the Central Coast. How was I going to pay the mortgage?
A new beginning
I had been the primary designer on the Mission Australia account and had achieved some good results for them - mainly with an advertising campaign that I devised which raised their unprompted brand awareness by 70%.
When my contacts at Mission Australia discovered I was no longer at Landor, they found a way to get in touch with me – to say farewell and wish me luck. I remember I was chaperoned to a cafe by an account handler at Landor to meet with the Marketing Officer of Mission Australia. After coffee I was asked to accompany her to the head office; I was told that the Marketing Director and Marketing Manager had not been able to make it to the cafe, but they also wanted to say goodbye.
So we went to the head office (sans account handler) and it was put to me that they wanted me to continue to work on the account, as a contractor and that there was plenty of work.
So that was the start of self employment. I earned more money in the first year than I had with Landor, and this was a stepping stone to getting new clients and growing my business that was eventually called Creative iD. I had some of the best accounts on the Central Coast and retained Mission Australia for 12 years until a reshuffle within that organisation removed all of my contacts overnight.
Creative iD as a company ceased to trade in 2016 due to a horrible divorce.
Pepper the Naughty Cattle Dog
In around 2002 I started to write and illustrate a children's novel about the Adventures of Pepper the Naughty Cattle Dog. This became a love job in the end and I got to a point where I had to complete. While I had pitched it to several publishers, there were no takers, but there was some interest and positive feedback. I decided to publish it myself. While the book wasn't a mega success, it was still a success. I am glad that I completed it and learned a lot along the way.
2015 – 2017 were horrible years for me. I was fully consumed by a nasty court battle that threatened to destroy everything that I had, including my children. I am glad to say that the truth came out in the end and I won the court case but was battle scarred.
During that time, I worked on a few projects, mowed some lawns, headed up a print and signage dept for an office supplies business and worked part time as a designer for a small company in Woy Woy.
Then one night, out of the blue I received a phone call from the owner of the KDR Group in Erina. He was interested in talking to me about me working for them.
In October 2018 I started work as a designer at KDR. It was fast paced, some of the work I wasn't used to but it was great. Good pay, flexible hours around my children's school time. KDR is a well oiled machine. I couldn't ask for more.
Then COVID hit…
My boss had no choice but to let me go. I really felt for him at the time as he had built a business that we all perceived as bullet proof.
I did return some months later, and work on an ad hoc basis. We moved premises and the new place is awesome. It isn't like working full time though – and I am working on getting back to that one way or another.
Dad, archer, amateur chef
I have two children, Holly and James. I think being a Dad is one of the greatest gifts that you can ever have. I take being a Dad very seriously and strive to be the best role model for them. Both are gifted in their own ways – Holly is on the NSW Archery Team and she also likes to play the guitar. She also likes to draw and paint. James is super smart and also very funny. During lockdown he started a zany YouTube channel about our dog, Lucky.
We all compete in archery and have done for several years now – it's a sport that is great to share with your own children. I can't say I'm particular good at it, but the kids have a zillion medals each!
My creative outlet is cooking. I love cooking, especially barbeque, tex mex and asian styles (Vietnamese). I once auditioned for Masterchef which was pretty cool – mystery box challenge in 60 minutes.
I completed the challenge but didn't get through. Perhaps that wasn't a bad thing because if you go on Masterchef, you also say goodbye to your family for six months. I couldn't do that…