NOT IN-CAMERA: GILES REVELL

Where did you grow up?
The sleepy town of Sawbridgeworth, it’s on the Hertfordshire and Essex border.

When did you take your first picture?
There was no eureka moment, I inherited my grandfather’s Silver Ilford Sportsman.
silver-ilford-sportsmangiles-revell

I do remember being intrigued by its beauty; a matt silver finish with shiny brown hinged leather case.
I wore it across my waist in my early teens, but had no idea what I was doing with it.
It felt sophisticated, technical, way beyond anything I’d ever come in to contact with at that age.
It was the act of making that I enjoyed, rather than ever believing that I was making anything important.
I liked the idea of editing a scene through the viewfinder.
Most of the time it wasn’t even loaded, film was too expensive.
It was in a time when a roll of film had to last you the whole summer.

What was your first job?
Express fruit & vegetable delivery man.
A white van man 
at 17, straight after passing my driving test.
Deliveries at extraordinarily dangerous speeds, I was compelled to drive as fast as I possibly could on every journey.
I went on to be a geologist, mainly because I wanted a job outside in the landscape.

How did you make the jump from white van man to photography bloke?
Was it a wise move? I tussle with this nightly, I might have had my own van by now.

One thing is for sure; we didn’t operate six month credit schemes before you got paid.
It wasn’t such a jump, photography was becoming an everyday activity.
The geology degree was a brilliant insight into the English landscape and how it was made.
I had aromantic vision of a career roaming the World recording and mapping extreme environments, physical and mental challenges.
I ended up in the gold fields of Western Australia, it was an experience, I was very fit then, surviving the elements as well as a very male dominated high testosterone environment.
But it wasn’t for me.

After a year full of the bullshit of travel I returned to the UK and started applying for jobs as an assistant.

Who did you assist?
Steve Rees gave me my first job, he was a good tutor and generous employer.
Then Bob Elsdale, he was the first photographer to own a Mac in London.
People would visit just to see it, they’d crowd around, scepticle if it would ever take off.
Both good people who showed me the ropes.

ls3 cats-bob-elsdale

(The work above is Bob’s, not 100% sure whether Giles assisted on this job.)

What was the first image someone paid you to produce?
Rubber Plants for a brochure,  a tropical plant rental company paid me 250 quid.
Ludicrous money at the time! I was on £100 a week as a full time assistant.
My first ad job was a series of nudes for a medical insurance company, commissioned by the Marshall brothers at Leagas Delaney.
Just before I startedI vomited with fear.
I had gone from table top still life to a full on big production over night.
I didn’t really know what advertising was, I h’d previously only worked in design.

Who were your photography heroes?
Many.
Henri Cartier Bresson; informative social documentary imagery with an exceptional graphic eye and sense of timing.

jump-henri-cartier-bressontrafalgar-square-henri-cartier-bressonAndrez Kertez, he found beauty in the mundane, presenting it in a very simple reductive way.
fork-andrez-kertezsnow-andrez-kertez
William Klein for his fearless, confrontational portraits, shot on a 35mm lens.
He clearly had built up a rapport with his subjects and tried to capture people from afar in voyeuristic way.
I also think the ease with which he experimented with other media shows an artistic man way ahead of his time.
smoke-veil-william-klein
cinema-william-kleinSebastao Salgado for his social documentary.
The body of work that explored international mining and heavy industry in the developing World is exceptional, highlighting working practices that hadn’t changed since the Industrial Revolution.miners-sebastao-salgadowater-sebastao-salgado
Jeff Wall.
One of my favourite images is a ‘Sudden Gust of Wind’.
T06951_10.jpgIt’s based on an Hokusai painting.
'The Great Wave At Kanagawa' Hokusai.jpgIt took months to construct, the airborne papers have all been placed in post production.
I don’t care how long it took, compositionally it’s brilliant.
milk-jeff-wall

Karl Blossfelt; a botanist with an artists eye.
He made photographs to catalogue plant specimens.
I’m really interested in the interaction of Art and Science.
common-male-fern-karl-blossfeldtmaiden-hair-fern-karl-blossfeldt
The illustrator Haeckal is another example of a body of work born out of a fascination for science. 

I first became aware of your work via Big magazine, did Vince Frost get you going?
Yes. it was a big break.

You come across a handful of people in your working life that are true talents, Vince is one of those.
He is instinctive and trusts in good work, the work comes before the reputation.
We became very good friends and have worked a lot together ever since.
The images were raw, and when combined with letterpress typography made a very bold, confident magazine that everyone wanted to contribute to.
screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-10-32-59-am
Do you prefer tight or open briefs?
It depends what it is.
Commercially I like to work on the best idea whoever has conceived it.
I’ll always give my view on a campaign, it’s up to the agency whether they listen.
I’m a wasted resource when used just as an art worker, but some jobs are like that.piccadilly-circus-london-underground-bmp

What’s the difference between shooting for an ad agency and a design company?
Advertising employs you for your technical ability or aesthetic, in the States they call you a ‘shooter’, which sums up the role.

All of your energy is focused on executing a collective vision, one an agency team has championed for a brand often weeks or months in advance.
You take on the commission with the commitment as if it were your own.
It’s all about the production of the shoot and building a team, the bulk of the thinking has been done for you.
It is a tried and tested model so who am I to criticise, but it but seems a little outdated.

Stronger ideas result from photographers being involved earlier in the process.
There are some talented photographers out there whose creative abilities are underutilised, I’ve noticed a generic quality to a lot of recent photographs, probably as a resulting from countless references found on Google images, I know it helps to sell an idea to a client, but it can limit the imagination of the creatives.
Advertising is fixated with being first, building a story around a technique, but being first today is old news tomorrow.
Designers are out of a different mould, the life span of the work tends to be longer.
Budgets are smaller but their i
deas are ambitious in a different way, the limitations encourage more thought and imagination.
It’s also a relief not to have to spend two days writing a treatment every job you do, to justify your creative credentials.  

The application of images is also more diverse.
I’ve worked on design projects from postage stamps through to huge interior installations.

‘Can you shoot me a face that works upside down as well?’
I can’t think of another photographer I’d ask to do that.
Or one who’d take on that ludicrous challenge
?merrydown-giles-revell-rough-1-%22down%22-01
merry-giles-revell-01

It’s one of the trickiest challenges you’ve ever given me.
But it was such a good idea, all the artists involved in that campaign produced wonderful work.

Your work is more like Art than any commercial photographer I can think of.
Wouldn’t you be far more famous in in that world if you were more pretentious?
Or spelled your name in a more exotic way? Gilles Revelli? Gilmondo Rev-El?
Probably, I think the public warm to an aloof, renegade facade.

You are what you are though.
If you play that role then you have got to sustain it.
I’m hoping that the latest projects will make an impression on the Art world, without having to take on a tempestuous, rockstar persona.
However, I’ve often thought about trying a pseudonym like Sebastian Conti; a new photographic presence in the fashion world.
Try it, but swap that ‘O’ for a ‘U’, it might give you a bit more attitude.
Giles Revell - Fish 2, Dave Dye
Do you think digital technology has helped photography?
Yes, undoubtedly when used intelligently and creatively.

It has allowed quicker workflow and more possibilities creatively.
The draw-back is that there’s this obsession with sharpness.
‘Hyper real’ is one of the most annoying terms attached to imagery at the moment.
I’m excited by imagery that takes away and refines .
Half of the images we value today in the galleries around the World are ‘soft’ by modern-day standards.
The speed that images can be made encourages sloppy practice, multiple versions are made to cover all eventualities, then cobbled together in post-production.
The expectation of how much can be achieved in a single day are being pushed so hard now that photographers are having to cut corners.
I’m excited by modern photography, but I am certain that when film was the dominant medium the whole team were sharper, because there was more at stake.
You had to be confident that when you walked off a shoot with just a few polaroids and half a dozen rolls of film that you’d executed the job.
You didn’t have the luxury of cross-referencing every frame.
Commercial imagery seems creatively very static at present.

The platforms on which we view the digital imagery has evolved beyond any of our expectations.
photography-book-giles-revell
Unlike a lot of commercial photographers, you don’t have a ‘look’ or style?
At first glance I’d agree, but when you look at my work as whole there’s a common thread; the subject matter is revealed minimally, through the use of a line or a plane.
The Port ‘Ten Ten’ cover is a good example, revealing the watch elements through hard shadow and silhouette, the geometry of the plane defined by black.
tenten-cover-giles-revell
It was a lesson to myself of making a composition where every corner of the frame needs to be considered, as well as balancing the proportions of black white and grey.
The great Bauhaus influences played a part in this composition.
Also, I’m interested in the content not the gloss.

Different ideas employ different processes, it means the images have a variety of looks rather than always using the camera optics route.
The common characteristic of the work is it’s stripped back with a definite intension.
The commercial world is obsessed with look and feel, it’s an irritating development over the last few years.
I’m always looking for discoveries and new ways of approaching themes.
Giles Revell - Heals Shaddow 1, Dave DyeYou’re always trying new things, lighting with an estate agents digital ruler, taking portraits with a photo finish camera.
Why? 
It’s not enough just to point off the shelf lights at objects.'Gold Leaf' Giles Revell-01.jpg'Gold Leaf 2' Giles Revell-01.jpg
autumn-leaf-giles-revell-01leaf-2-giles-revell-01flower-giles-revell-01Giles Revell - Pink Squiggle, Dave Dye

Are these photographs or illustrations?
One is photography, the other motion capture.
They’re both about an image developing over time.
100 frames is a collaboration with Ben Koppel to create form from movement.
All the red images are made from the body movement of a dancer, the black version from the movement of a British gymnast training on his floor exercise routine.
The idea was developed for a 2012 Olympic Park proposal, the idea was to create life-size sculptures tracking body movements that would be fabricated in resin.

Giles Revell - Red Squirly Thing, Dave Dye'Blue Car Shape' Giles Revell-01.jpgGiles Revell - Red, Curly, Spiky Thing, Dave Dye
They were printed as 3d sculpture moquettes.
The big red shiny thing, studded with relief, was a commission I made with Matt Painter.
I was asked to make a sculpture of the Manchester United v Barcelona European Cup Final.
I’m not sure I’d choose the aesthetic of this now, but the idea was interesting at the time.
We were given all the data captured as the game unfolded to analyse.
These statistics are used by managers and trainers to assess the performance and tactics of the players,individually and as a team.
Every event, such as a pass, corner, header, shot or goal is logged on a time line, as well as spacially on the pitch.
I decided upon two evolving hoop shapes, representing each 90 minutes that grew over the course of the game.
Each stipple marks an event on the pitch, the largest peaks are the goals. car-bar-giles-revell'Green Car Shaft' Giles Revell-01.jpg
Experimenting is easier today, but I seem to see less of it?
Yes, it’s disappointing and surprising.
Especially in an era where there’s so many opportunities to collaborate using different source material, homogenised though digital formats.
Science / medicine / engineering use incredible methods the gather imagery.
CGI is used widely and is a very powerful tool, but tends to be used in a bland way, as a replication tool mimicking photography and film rather than expressing ideas within its own medium.
Commissioners seem uncomfortable to make imagery from the data and information available to them.
The Man Utd vs Barcelona data sculpture is a good example.
Replication seems dull and needless when there are ways of achieving the real thing through another viewpoint.
Which goes back to my point about style over content.

Giles Revell - Red Stripe 1, Dave DyeGiles Revell - Oil People 2, Dave DyeThey say copying is the highest form of flattery, you must feel great, you’re flattered on a regular basis? 
I used to feel that way in the early days.
Plagiarism is the one aspect of the business that’s made me think seriously about a different career.

There is a  lack of integrity in the business.
Ideas and methods of working are my professional identity and security.
I can spend months developing a project or idea, to then discover it’s been infused into the work flow of others can be demoralising.
Not to say financially bruising.
Agencies, magazines and photographers are all guilty, it’s a symptom of the speed with which we all have to deliver.
Images are now referenced rather than conceived.
Consequently, new projects need to be kept under wraps until a suitably scaled, appropriate project surfaces, or better still, released as an exhibition, which would mark the date and occasion to the work.
Without such launches images are copied wherever they are seen and the origin is lost or hijacked. It’d be very easy to slip into a rant at this point, it may sound like sour grapes, but I crave a  workplace surrounded by genuinely talented people.

What makes up a good picture?
I read an article a decade or so ago that crudely broke it down into four ingredients;

1.   Image needs to be flawlessly beautiful, regardless of message.

2.  Image should be shocking, controversial or taboo.

3.  Image should be either informative, telling us something we don’t know or show us something we thought we knew, but with a new perspective.

4. Image should have an extraordinary narrative or back story. 
In 20 years I‘ve come close on a couple of occasions where I’ve made something that I’m still happy to look at ten years later.
But it’s rare that you achieve more than one of these in any image, when you do, interesting work is made.
 

What image are you most proud of?
I guess my finest moments would be 
The Insect Techtonic Project, also known as the ‘Fabulous Beasts Show’.
It was the summer show at the Natural History Museum and is now in their and the V&A’s permanent collections. 
Giles Revell - Insect, Dave Dye'Bug 4' Giles Revell-01.jpgGiles Revell - Fish, Dave Dye
Giles Revell - Fly, Dave Dye

Also, the recent Battlefield Poppies stamp.
It was part of the Royal Mail  Ww1 Centenary series, it’s out now. 
stamp-giles-revell


ww1-1916-battlefield-poppy-stamp-giles-revellww1-1916-battlefield-poppy-stamp-giles-revell
What the hell are these stripes things?
It’s a bouquet that’s broken down into petals, then distributed over time.
Oh yeah!Giles Revell - Colour Bars, Dave DyeGiles Revell - Colour Bars 2, Dave Dye'Stripey 4' Giles Revell-01.jpg

How did you start your collaborations with Matt Willey?
We met when he was running the Frost London office, he was designing the magazine Zembla with Vince Frost and Dan Crowe.
Dan and Matt went on to set up Port magazine, followed a couple of years ago by Avaunt.
We used to The Kings Head in Clerkenwell regularly, a special pub, for our enthusiastic conversations about topics we wanted to explore, ‘At This Rate’ was the first project we did together, it came out of those conversations.breathe-giles-revellGiles Revell - Leaf 2060, Dave Dye

The idea was to produce a booklet and poster illustrating the rapid destruction of the rainforests.
It was a simple set of timings from every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every month, every year with corresponding area of loss in that time.
They are an alarming set of statistics; every year we lose an area three times the size of Sri Lanka. We produced and sold them to raise funds for the Rainforest Action Network Organisation.
Giles Revell - Leaf 2, Dave Dye
The Photofit project was was another that came from those King’s Head conversations, very rewarding.
It was about identity and how you see yourself, most of us observe ourselves everyday for at least two minutes.
We were curious about how people would make an image of themselves from memory, without using a mirror.Giles Revell - Photofit 4, Dave Dye
Making drawings of oneself alienates those that are not artistic, so we decided to democratise the process by using a police photofit kit.
These were used in the 1970s in criminal cases to build a picture of a suspect for posters and news papers.

Each kit is extremely tactile, made up of 100 or so printed strips of images of eye, mouth, nose, hair and face shapes to select from.
That finally came together as a photographic montage in a perspex frame. Giles Revell - Photofit 1, Dave Dye
A broad demographic were gathered with each participant taking around 45 mins to make their portrait, accompanied by an interview.
The results were fascinating.
The physiological comparison was immediate, yet some of the participants revealed a more emotional response than they’d revealed in their interview.
Some picked a more youthful version of themselves, when they were at their physical peak.
Some had suffered trauma and were dealing with their new lives, others had clearly spent a lot more than two minutes in front of the mirror every day, marking every mole or line with pin point accuracy.
Giles Revell - Photofit 2, Dave DyeI think t
he project was successful because we had designed a democratic framework for the participants to express their own vision of themselves, without any intervention or bias.
It was published in the Guardian, we also repeated the project in Canada for the Walrus magazine.
Giles Revell - Photofit 3, Dave Dye
Matt’s a great talent, he’s in America now, designing the New York Times Magazine.
Giles Revell - New York Times Cover, Dave Dyechanel-giles-revell-01avant-falling-man-giles-revell
What photographers do you admire today?
I don’t tend to follow photography closely.
Having said that, I was blown away by the William Klein show at the Tate last year.
Photography meeting design and film and social documentary.red-x-william-kleinyellow-william-kleinboy-with-gun-william-klein-1955
Also, Tim Hethrington, who lost his life in Libya in 2011.
He was an special man, regardless of the photographs that he took.

He left an incredible body work from conflict zones, not only the wars, but the aftermath, which few photographers would cover, most would move on to the next conflict.
A couple of years ago I watched an astonishing BBC4 documentary about his life and achievements, it reduced me to tears. mid-battle-tim-heatheringtonsoldier-at-war-tim-heatheringtonburning-tank-tim-heatheringtonI love your new Shots front cover, any retouching involved?
shots-cover-giles-revell-01
This image is part of a large body of work that is about breaking down form and concentrating on colour alone.
How it’s made isn’t important as long as it’s engaging.
Each block of colour is accurate, sample by hand and accurate to the original flower.
The leaves are similar in that they attempt to look at the 
palette of a specific Acer tree in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
The black and white  accompanying image of a Lily and Helibora were made with the opposite intension; to look at form alone.
flower-giles-revell-01flower-2-giles-revell-01Giles Revell - Flowers:Black, Dave Dye
Thanks Giles, by the way, love the new tests.
Thanks, the work is becoming more minimal over the years often, crossing over into graphics.
Giles Revell-07.jpgGiles Revell-03.jpgGiles Revell-02.jpgGiles Revell-01.jpg

DAVID HOLMES.

David Holmes 'Radio Times.jpgWhere did you grow up?.
I was actually born in Chelsea, I was then was taken to live in Ealing West London.
But from 1940 for four years, thanks to Adolf Hitler and his bombs and rockets, I was sent rather disruptively all over the place.
Long Crendon, Denbighshire and Farnborough.
But mainly I lived in Ealing, Harrow and Rayners Lane until permanently settling in Ealing.
But now that I’m really grown up I also have a studio in Primrose Hill.

Did you do National Service?
I did , I found myself in The ROAC, The Royal Army Ordnance Corps, from 1952 for two years and stationed in Loton Park Sub Depot; that’s near Shrewsbury.

I was put in charge of the ration stores and driven around Shropshire collecting the base’s meat, veg. and cream cakes.
Not particularly exciting, I think the expression is/was a cushy number. Unlike other squaddies posted there who found themselves lugging chemical canisters about from one Nissen hut to another all day. Something to do with the Americans.
Even now I can’t find out what exactly went on at Loton Park.
I know I ate well.

 

Where did you go to Art College?
Ealing Technical College & School of Art, it’s now The University of West London.
Basically it was a foundation course, I was there for two years from 1947/8.
 

What were you hoping to be at this point?
I had no idea.
There was no guidance or even suggestions.
It was a general course; technical drawing, lettering, photography, still life drawing, wood work and so on.

So how did you end up in advertising?
After being interviewed by a disinterested print company and talking to The Daily Mirror having been introduced by my Dad, I aimlessly pounded the streets of London Town.
Strolling down Grosvenor Street I saw a brass sign: Colman Prentis & Varley Advertising.
I just walked in and eventually found myself in front of one Jack Beddington.
jack-beddington
He took me on at £5 a week.

 

At the time, advertising was a bit of a crass business peopled by Martini drinking Army types wasn’t it?
Yes to a degree on the account handling side anyway but the creative staff had to be first and foremost artistic.
The writers were all well educated, well spoken and from Oxbridge. That tended to rub off.
The creatives tended to look upon the account men – they were all men at that time – as toffs who were little more than privileged gentry.
I remember Lord Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu of Beaulieu was an account man, a pleasant fellow, but he came a cropper with something to do with Boy Scouts at his castle.
I also met 
Sir Sacheverell Reresby Sitwell there, another account man at CPV .
Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu of Beaulieu?
Sir Sacheverell Reresby Sitwell?
They don’t sound like the type of kids I grew up with.What was your first role?
I worked in the library with Miss Davis, lettering magazine and newspaper titles.
In the bowels of the agency.
You couldn’t get lower than that.

CPV’s creative guru was Arpad Elfer.'Girls' D. H. Evans, Arpad Elfer, CPV.jpg'Penguins' D. H. Evans, Arpad Elfer, CPV.jpg'Rain' D. H. Evans, Arpad Elfer, CPV.jpg
What was like to work for?
I never actually worked with him.
I was just a junior at that time.
I was aware of his grouchy and somewhat belligerent nature.
In the lift, for example, he would make everyone go to the top, where he was going, even if they only wanted the 2nd floor.
That might be apocryphal but we all liked the idea.

Who was influencing your work at the time?
No one on my first stint there.
Even on my return from the army I had only the others in the CPV art department to look to.
I worked in Lyndsay Gutteridge’s group, who’d had worked for F H K Henrion.
f-h-k-henrionPeter Stillwell and Stan Coats also helped and were inspirational tome in different ways.
Stan was an aesthete and explained a lot about girls to me.

Was the great, notoriously grouchy Colin Millward there at the same time?
He was, but all I can remember was his good looking, baby face and his fresh and unusual creative work.
A quiet broody man I recall, admired by the other group heads and the senior writers.

Why leave for W.S. Crawfords?
It was the going belief that five years was enough time to spend in one place.
I’d heard of Crawfords and knew some of their work.
Like CPV it was a designee outfit, strong on visual solutions, Arty I suppose.
At the time I didn’t realise that Varley had previously worked at Crawfords and had left under a bit of a cloud.

What was the difference between the two agencies?
There wasn’t a great difference between the two agencies come to think of it, but there was one important similarity.
CPV had been dominated by Arpad Elfer, Crawfords had Ashley Havinden, tucked up in his garret.ashley-havinden
I never ever saw him around the studio floor.
He was busy drawing his Ashley script for the Jaeger business and working directly with a few clients.
ashley-script-regular
There were good people there and the work being produced was visually “attractive”.
That’s where I met Michael Manton, later to start KMP and Nick Salaman, later to work at Holmes Knight Ritchie.
It wasn’t yet the great sixties, at that point we hadn’t been exposed to the brilliance being done by Madison Ave, that was all about new, bold, brilliant writing, creativity, fun, marvelous art direction and ideas.

Where next?
I left Crawfords for Mather & Crowther, mainly because Peter Stillwell now worked there, we were all still rather introverted.
Some good work was being done; The ‘Go to work on an egg’ campaign and the like.
It was a lively agency.
A lot of experimentation took place and I learnt a lot there from some heavyweight writers: Fay Weldon, Mary Gowing, Maurice Smelt and the pipe smoking Julian Orde.
John Webster and I first met there and became mates, whilst there we made some experimental 8mm movies, few people have ever seen.
Neither he nor I, or anyone for that matter, were aware of anything happening in the States we were having fun and testing our own abilities against each other.
Stanhope Shelton was the creative head.
None of us thought much of him, he was invariably negative and never as far as we could see, did anything good himself.

Little TV was being produced at the time so we didn’t get to see the American commercials starting to be produced, it was still the early 60’s.
I never met David Ogilvy, the time it was just ‘Mather’s.’

Back to Grosvenor Street?
Yes, CPV wanted me back.
At the same time I got offered a job by Colin Millward , who had recently joined CDP.

I chose CPV, partly because the job description was ‘art director’.
John Webster left too, he went off to Pritchard Wood.

This was my third time at CPV.
I was art group head this time. 
Arpad had gone.
Colin Millward had gone.
Ron Collins was there.
I first met the writers Tony Chapman and Jeremy ‘The Best Of The’ Best there.
Freddie Ball joined from Mather’s and he made me Head of At.

What accounts were you working on?The Gas Council.British Gas 'Make The Most*', David Holmes, Colman Prentis Varley-01British Gas 'Flame', David Holmes, KMP
Shell Petrol.
Central Office Of Information.
Army Officers Recruitment.
Macdonald’s Biscuits.
The Conservative Central Office, I did two campaigns for them, not that I’m particularly right-wing, but they helped win one election and lose the other.
All press, print and poster work, no telly.1960s-uk-the-conservative-party-poster-exrrrw
Why join start up Kingsley Manton Palmer?
It was the ‘five year rule’ again, time to move.
I didn’t see it at all as a risk, I knew Rosie Oxley from Mather’s who knew Brian Palmer and she suggested I go and see them.
It was the first English open plan agency, it looked fresh and new.
David Kingsley was unlike any agency owner I had ever met.
Intelligent, serious, 
friendly, charming, workmanlike and sensitive to creativity. 
I liked him at once.
Michael I knew from Crawfords, he was always polite, supportive and friendly to me, but could be extremely grouchy to others.
Brian was and is the epitome of all that is polite, well-meaning and steadfast.
Brian Palmer does not have the ability to become upset, let alone lose his temper.
He produced the first TV commercial in the UK at Y&R.David Holmes at KMP 3-01

They aren’t really known today, but KMP were pretty revolutionary in the sixties?
KMP were alive and kicking in London at the same time the Mad Men were showing everyone how it should be done in New York. (By this time, we knew what was happening in America.)
They hired some good people and gave them their head.
It was the sixties and they ran with it.
That’s were I met Roy Carruthers and gave Terry Gilliam his first illustrating job.
Mad marvelous times.

I love the White Horse campaign, so simple, so branded.
Brian Palmer wrote the line ‘You Can Take A White Horse Anywhere’, then got three art directors to visualise the line for posters and press.white-horse-perspective-room-mike-kidd-kmp-01White Horse 'Balloon', KMP-01
That was a nice job to do, just thinking of locations and choosing a photographer.
It was all about photography.
I mainly liked to work with Peter Webb who is still taking pictures.white-horse-outtake-2-peter-webb-david-holmes-kmp-01white-horse-outtake-white-cliffs-kmp-01White Horse 'Bar*', David Holmes, KMP-01

White Horse 'Late Night', KMP-01How was life in a swinging sixties start-up?
Kaftans? Marijuana? Wall to wall mini skirts?
They were the most wonderful years.
They were fun, experimental, optimistic, selfish, indulgent, irresponsibly wonderful and climatic years.
There was an atmosphere that made doing ads a joyous thing.
I can’t recall using the term ‘hard sell’ ever and yet what we did sold.
There was nothing hard about it.
The best of all was that our clients wanted to join in and play too.
It seemed that everything we presented to them was not only approved, but approved with glee.
Yes, there were very, very long lunches.
There are wonderful stories from this time, too many and some too sensitive to reveal here. Everything seemed to smell so lovely too for some reason.
‘Sex and Drugs and Rock an’ Roll’ yes, and love too.
Well, I never tried drugs and was more into Tamla Motown and Procol Harum.
It was 1967. A very special time.

I love your Salvation Army work, it could run untouched tomorrow.
I read that the idea of a charity going to grubby world of ad agencies to help raise money was a controversial idea at the time?Salvation Army 'Pound', David Holmes, KMP-01
It was David Kingsley who found the Sally Ann business.
They needed £3m.
They had already raised a million themselves, the Government said it would cough up a million if the Army could raise one more million.
That’s where KMP came in.
The Army were impressed with David K. and invited the agency to create a fund-raising campaign.
David K came up with the idea to sell Salvation Bonds for a pound.
Terence Griffin wrote ‘For God’s Sake Give Us A Pound’ .
The Army thought Terence’s line was a bit ungracious and heavy. It was changed to ‘For God’s Sake Care. Give Us a Pound’.
I lined up a group of photographers who worked for expenses only to cover the Sally Ann’s UK work.

That group was phenomenal; Richard Avedon, David Bailey, Duffy, Terence Donovan, Eve Arnold, etc.
Did anyone say no?
Once Donovan and Avedon had said yes, whoever else I phoned just said OK.
I even had photographers ringing saying “Why haven’t you asked me?”
Actually, Art Kane said no.
I sent him a layout, the one that Ray Rathborne ended up shooting, the dead child, he took ages to get back to me with an answer, then I finally got one: ‘Dave…It’s just not my day for dead kids’.Salvation Army 'Now Will You*', David Holmes, KMP-01Salvation Army 'Long Copy', David Holmes, KMP-01Salvation Army Creative Review,* David Holmes, KMP-01Salvation Army 'Blanket*', David Holmes, KMP-01Salvation Army 'Cardiff', David Holmes, KMP
The Terrence Donovan one is my favourite, nice simple shot?
It was the only frame of film that worked, for some reason Terence shot every thing else from above, it looked good but you couldn’t see that the young girl was pregnant.
I pleaded with him to take one side on, which he did, just the one, knocked it off really quickly.Salvation Army 'Pregnant Girl', David Holmes, KMPsomeone-caught-salvation-army-48-sheet-kmp-01

Salvation Army 'Raymond*', David Holmes, KMP-01Salvation Army 'Table*', David Holmes, KMP-01-01
What was Richard Avedon like to shoot with?
Quick, when we were shooting one of the ladies turned away from the camera, people were desperately trying to get her to turn to camera.
Avedon said, ‘leave her, it’s ok’, o
f course, that what makes the shot.
Salvation Army 'War Cry*', David Holmes, KMP-01Salvation Army 'War Cry 2*', David Holmes, KMP-01Salvation Army 'War Cry 3*', David Holmes, KMP-01More O'Ferrall 'Ad Of The Month - Salvation Army', David Holmes-01Using such terrible type must’ve been so unusual at the time?
I just wanted it to look as if The Salvation Army had ‘made’ the ads themselves.
Not a posh London agency.
I used a rubber printing outfit for the typography.
It was the first time that had been done, that’s what we seek, isn’t it?
At the end of the campaign we had raised their million.

Cushionair 'Bubbles', David Holmes, KMP-01Formica 'Messy*', David Holmes, KMP-01
Formica 'For Men', David Holmes, KMP-01Formica 'Good Loo*', David Holmes, KMP-01Formica 'Forgers*', David Holmes, KMP-01Formica '6 Ways*', David Holmes, KMP-01Formica 'Reprieve', KMP, David Holmes-01
Formica 'Germ*', David Holmes, KMP-01.JPGIllustration was thrown out in favour of squared up photographs in the sixties, to emulate the classic New York ads of the period, ‘drawings’ were too reminiscent of the previous decade’s ads, but you were commissioning lots?
I’ve always liked illustration in ads.
There are some brilliant illustrators out there.
So often an illustrator can give you more that you expect.
I think most art directors and editors these days are unaware of who is out there and available. There is a wealth of untapped talent not being used.
I think a lot of people are scared or are utterly clueless about how to use and work with illustrators. The greatest pity is that no one but no in fashion uses illustration which is more stylish and far more stylish. Look at the thirties Vogue covers.
Today it is ” Who shall we get to take the picture ?’

Formica 'Skin', David Holmes, HKR-01

Formica 'Shakespear', David Holmes, KMP
What’s your favourite piece of illustration you’ve commissioned??

I’ve commissioned so much but I think it has to be Jean-Michel Folon and Milton Glaser and their illustrations for the Polydor salute the BeeGees issue of Billboard magazine in 1978. These drawings are in my ‘David’s Book’ to be published in 2016.

Whose work did you admire at the time?
Milton Glaser and The Push Pin designers.milton-glaser-big-nudesJean Michel Folon of course.belgique_folon_oeuvre_toscane_36bafc8572c64f9f8690b5599ff8ad53Then nearer home there was Edward Ardizzone.
Jillian Richards,
Graham Scarfe,
James Lloyd,
Roy Carruthers.

Old Holborn 'Men', David Holmes, KMP-01

Old Holborn 'Join The Men', David Holmes, KMP**
1971 you join The Television Department. What’s that?

It was set up by Adrian Rowbotham ex head of TV at JWT, Tim Emanuel and Nick Salaman. They acted as the TV dept. to agencies that had no TV set-up like Saatchi at the time.
I joined to partner Nick Salaman.
They were increasingly getting press and print work with no one to do it and I wanted to be proprietorial, although I had been made a partner a
t the then KMP Partnership.
It just seemed as though it would, could, become big.
Adrian should write about it, it’s a good story full of memorable anecdotes.
That was were I first met Peter Shiach the owner of The Macallan in 1973 I think it was.

In 1975 you set up your own business, David Holmes & Partners. Why?
Again, sovereignty. I had the confidence to have a go.

Which clients did you work for during this period?
Various. I was asked to design an award for The London Television Advertising Awards. I gave them a gold silver and bronze arrow. It’s now called The Arrow Awards.
I worked for The Macallan Malt Whisky and various agency’s, JWT and Greys for example.
Oh yes, I did some more fund-raising for the Salvation Army.

How did that evolve into Holmes Knight Ritchie?
I was approached by a previous work colleague who said that Dick Knight was looking for a creative partner to join him at his fairly new agency.
I wasn’t sure it was for me, the office looked crap and one of the clients was Dyno-Rod.
Dick though was persistent and said he would give me 50% of the agency even though I could only bring in The Macallan, The Salvation Army and bits and pieces.
Dick Knight is the most persuasive man I have ever met.
I joined.
After a few months the agency name was changed to Holmes Knight Ritchie once Alistair joined from Greys.

In the seventies advertising seemed to look down on design, but HKR did both, possibly a 360 communication before the term was invented?
Design is important everywhere and on everything. Advertising design has been my job.

David Holmes - Advent-01David Holmes726-01David Holmes 'Dynorod - Ticket', Holmes Knight Ritchie-01Dynarod 'Pig', David Holmes, HKR-01Dynarod 'Liquid', David Holmes, HKR-01The Macallan was one of the early accounts my agency won, so holds a place in my heart, but they wouldn’t shut up about you, Nick Salaman and the campaign you created.The Macallan 'Crossword', David Holmes, HKR-01The Macalla 'Nectar', (blue), David Holmes, HKR-01.jpg
They were worried the illustration didn’t feel ‘whisky’ enough, so we did a brown version.
That was the one that ran.The Macallan, 'Nectar', David Holmes, HKR-01
The *Macallan 'The Complaint' HKR,-01-01 The Macallan 'Blind Tasting'-01 The Macallan 'It Sleeps Alone'-01 The Macallan 'Boffins'-01
It’s a longish story. In 1973 Peter Shiach the then chairman of Macallan came to see Nick Salaman and me at The Television Dept. in Wardour St.
He said he wanted a brochure to announce to the world that The Macallan was now ready, having stocked enough, to sell worldwide. They needed to appoint distributors. Hence the “brochure” to send to probables.
I gave them the artist’s portfolio style folder with loose pages. I sent Sara Midda to the distillery for a week and record everything as an artist’s journal. (The people who make whisky are artists in their way.) That worked, they got their distributors.
It was Sara’s first job from college at St. Martins. I don’t think we ever used photography for Macallan it would have burst the magical promise of the brand. They have stuck with me like glue ever since.
I’m still helping them today.

David Holmes & Peter Blake
How did you manage to persuade Peter Blake to work with you on The Macallan?

It was Allan Shiach the Macallan Chairman who had the idea of Peter making a label for a 60 year-old Macallan.
There was only enough whisky left in the cask for 10 bottles. I helped Peter finish the label graphics.The Macallan:Peter BlakeThe Macallan Ad Bottle:David Holmes
You hired and trained a young spoon whittler called Mark Reddy?
Not only a spoon whittler, a flint tapper and saxophonist.
He was already good but he got even better with us. He left once and returned because he loved our artistic sensitivity towards the ads we put together, he was protected and encouraged.
Mark and I think alike. I would trust him with anything.Glenmorangie '7. Tom Anderson' HKR:ReddyMark Reddy, Nikon 'Snap', HKR-01Mark Reddy, Grolsch 'George Hardie, HKR-01
You hired and trained a young cigar muncher called Neil French?
French, yes he was a great find for us.
He reckons he wasn’t much good before he joined us. That’s a lie. He was always good at what he was doing. He is a natural ideas machine. Quick. Decisive. Bold.
Too damn bold on one occasion while with us. Meticulous and Assured. Neil is a one man orchestra; better than that because he will write the score and the libretto too.
I didn’t actually train him I just hovered around while he gradually caught on, and caught up and took off.
Like unchaining a Bull Dog in one respect and releasing a caged bird in another. Neil was like having a Victoria Wood on the payroll.
If it wasn’t for Mr French I would never have spent a happy eighteen months in Singapore and still have connections there.

When I got into the business in 1985, HKR seemed like it didn’t follow the D&AD obsessed pack, it just did its own, idiosyncratic, stylish thing?
We could have put more work in but quite frankly we were too busy. We were really, really busy and I had got my stuff in so many books in the past anyway.The Macallan 'Lie', David Holmes-01Grolsch 'Bottle Opener',David Holmes-01Janneau 'Long Weekend',David Holmes, HKR-01Down's Syndrome 'Mongol', David Holmes-01Sophie’s Choice time: Who’s the most creative person you’ve ever worked with?
John, John Webster.
As far as TV is concerned that is, I don’t think he did much print although we both won a poster award together once.

It takes a lot of confidence as an art director, when needing an illustrator for your work to shun the world’s illustrators and choose…yourself.
Sometimes I can’t afford others. Just have to get out the paints and do it.
There are some jobs I would never attempt, I would put on my art directors hat and know exactly who I would use.
Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 13.25.46

You worked with the typographer Pete Woods?
Pete is special. Very special. He opened my eyes. I miss working with him but he went off to the States I think.

Barney Edwards, David Holmes:Direction Magazine

What did you see in the 12 year old Trevor Beattie to make him the youngest creative director in London?
We liked his risky ballsy nerve.
At HKR the creatives were given freedom. I very seldom interfered and certainly never played the interfering busybody.
Come to think of it now, I was a sort of Arpad or Ashley, tucked away doing my things and only being there if the creatives needed help or my opinion.
Trevor was ambitious and you have to encourage that.
He didn’t intimidate me, on the contrary I had had my turn and was happy to move along the bench and give him space.
It has gone full circle for me, like a wheel within a wheel. It’s what has to happen to all of us if we are artistic, we move along. Move round. Make room.
I’m not sure if it will happen exactly that way to young Beattie.Common Ground 'Tree',  Holmes, HKR-01
Off to Singapore and life as an ex-pat?
I wasn’t sure if it was the thing to do. Frenchy’s idea.
The plan was to step into his shoes for two weeks while he was on holiday. When I got there and phoned the agency – Bateys, they told me he had gone, left, resigned. It was sorted out.
They approved of me and I did two weeks.
Nice people.
I enjoyed it.
A complete change and it was always delightfully warm.
I was invited to stay for longer and after some umming and ahhing I did go and stayed for eighteen months working on The Singapore Tourist Promotion Board, Singapore Airlines and the relaunch of the refurbished Raffles Hotel which opened its doors again in 1991.
Mark Reddy-DDB Final Day-01Why switch to illustration?
You can’t linger in advertising at my age it would be unseemly. I was invited by Brian’s Central Illustration Agency to join their listing so I did. Once a dauber always a dauber and illustration is only a brush stroke away from painting which I did from an early age. Even now I get work in The RA Summer Show but I may not bother any more now that paintings are judged by computer. A bad process unless you have RA after your name which I do not.
My working life story is far too complex to detail here so I am putting a book together which will be published later this year. That’s 2016. It’s simply “David’s Book”.David Holmes516

SorryLuv_IPA
What can you tell me about Brian Grimwood?poster-david-holmes-and-brian-grimwood.jpg

Who?
Oh you mean Bertie, my agent with the ‘thirty-for-Bertie’ arrangement.
Brian started The CIA, now managed by Benjamin Cox.
Yes we’ve been chums for ages.
We found ourselves in Singapore judging the Singapore Gong Show Advertising Awards in 1984 with Ron Mather, Jack Vaughan and Jeff Stark.
That was an adventure.
Since then we have been invited back to The Far East and beyond to give talks.
We have also been asked to design and draw Raffles Hotel posters and other material so we find ourselves back and forth to the hotel to work.
Brian has been so successful and sought after because he is so versatile. He can draw quickly, and have ideas quickly.
We did a stand up at a college once and blithely said to the assembled class we will solve your project here, now, on the blackboard. We did and Brian drew an illustration in seconds to illustrate it to an audience of stunned students. It was a good idea.
We seem to encourage each other. Brian has an excellent built in shit detector, excuse the language. In Singapore we are known as Cecil & Bertie when we are called to do stand-up presentations.

Who’s the best person you’ve ever hired?
Difficult to say, but I suppose the best person I never hired was 
John Hegarty.
He came in and showed me his work, but 
I had to turn him away, we didn’t need anyone.

Lastly, how did you come to start designing stamps?badminton_1468271i.jpg4-1002x1194.jpg
3-1002x1194.jpg
That was thanks to David Hillman.
He was approached by The Royal Mail to design the stamps and had commissioned me previously to draw one of the Olympic stamps back in 2012 so he knew I could cut the mustard I think.
The Royal Mail was asked the same question ‘why David Holmes ? They said ‘partly because of his advertising background and the disciplines involved’. It took two years to complete.
Several committees and quite a few alterations.
I could not have done it without Toby my son.
I drew all the figures an artwork as water-colour illustrations.
Toby as a digital artist moved things about from time to time to make them work to the small size.
The backgrounds in some cases are computerised to get the bright colour.
There were too many adjustments being made for me to redraw each time so Toby played an important part in the finished image.

 

 

GOOD NEWS FOR GEEKS:
David launches a book and exhibition next week.David Holmes Exhibition Front-01.jpg
5th – 9th December
La Galleria Pall Mall
5b Pall Mall
30 Royal Opera Arcade
London SW1Y 4UY
Tel 0207 930 8069
http://www.lagalleria.org

Nb. More Holmes…David Holmes, Design & Art Direction, 'Posters In The Dark'*
David Holmes 'The Gentleman Perfectionist', Campaign-01
David Holmes, 'Poster Gloom' , Campaign-01