PODCAST: Adrian Holmes.

One of the nice things about doing these interviews is getting to know people who you’ve only previously knew though their work.
So, when I write one of these intros I try to reflect on what I’ve learnt about the interviewee, to capture the characteristics that have helped them create such great work and succeed in such a competitive business.
But as different as they all are, they all share the same characteristic; They care.
When they commit, they’re all in.
Whether making an ad or a cup of tea they want it to be as good as possible. 

They keep pushing when others decide ‘that’ll do’.
A few years back, a friend of mine wandered into Adrian’s office to leave a message, he found that the desk was filled with random sets of letters and numbers. 
Some were ticked, some crossed and one had a question mark. 
He stood there looking at them trying to figure out what fiendish creativity was going on.
Until, a few weeks later, when he bumped into Adrian, who’d just taken delivery of his new BMW, it turned out that Adrian had been trying to pick the most visually pleasing arrangement of letters and numbers before committing to a number plate.
Then there was the time that Adrian, irritated at having to fold his copy of Campaign to fit into his briefcase, found someone to make him a new, bespoke briefcase, unfolded Campaign size.
Also, you’ll notice something different when you look through Adrian’s work, along with the names of the agencies and clients, you’ll also see the year it ran, the art director, director, illustrator, photographer and typographer. 
You’ll see subheads.
You won’t hear the sound of my phone beeping or Adrian not being able to recall a Creative Directors name. (It was edited, re-recorded and fixed.)
And at the end of this post you’ll see an article titled ‘My Portfolio’, look closely at the first line and you’ll notice that the word firing’ is fractionally bolder than the rest, that’s because underneath is the word ‘giving’, Campaign had misquoted him, Adrian and his scalpel fixed it.

I’m not sure you can learn to care passionately about the details, but if you do, your work be better for it.
We had a great chat, hope you enjoy it.

Written in 1944 by my mother, a gifted amateur poet. Her first child (my half sister) was born around the same time her husband was killed in North Africa.
Father and daughter never met, except in this amazingly touching short poem.

My first award-winning work was actually a photo, taken on holiday in 1969 when I was 16.
The newspaper article sadly notes ‘photography is Adrian’s only hobby…

Avon Guard:Adrian Holmes:.jpgWritten in my Central London Poly days for the student magazine ‘McGarel’ around 1974, spoofing one of those Sunday Times magazine direct mail ads.
The chair was well known and much derided fixture in the student common room.
Letraset and layout by Adrian Holmes – yes, I know, if only I had become an art director …

Interview lists…

The rejections…

ARRID EXTRA DRY. (1976. Art director Richard Tennant.) 
The first time someone said ‘that’s nice’ about one of my headlines – thanks, Dolly Beashel!


COI, 1978. (Art director Steve Hopper, director Bob Bierman.)
Weren’t we lucky to get Roy Kinnear?


Oxfam. (1980. Art director David Owen.)

Winners Matches. (1981. Art director David Owen.)
Never made. (Can you imagine commissioning a TV commercial for a box of matches today?)

Citroen. (1980. Art director David Owen.)

(1980. Art director David Owen, director Mike Seresin.)
My first bit of work in the D&AD annual.


(1980. Art director David Owen, director Mike Seresin.)
We desperately wanted a bright red car, but this ‘meh’ metallic green was all the client could come up with.


Tampax. (1980-81. Art director David Owen.)
Originally we wanted these to be like ‘Home Sweet Home’-style tapestry samplers, but for some reason the client said no.

This was Tampax having a pop at Lil-Lets, who used this glass of water demo in their ads.

Tequin. (1981. Art director David Owen.)
Either spec work for our book, or a pitch.

Wella Pitch.
As above.


British Airports. (1983. Art director Dave Christensen)

Albany Life. (1983. Art directors Andy Lawson, Dave Christensen.)

Vauxhall. (1985. Art director Alan Waldie, director Peter Levelle.)

(1984. Art director Alan Waldie.)

Plymouth Gin. (1984. Art director Alan Waldie, illustrator Roy Knipe.)

Parker. (1982. Art director Dave Christensen.)

Heineken. (1985. Art director Alan Waldie, director Paul Weiland.)

(1984. Art director Alan Waldie.)

(1982. Art director Tony Kaye.)


Tinitus Association. (1986. Art directors Paul Arden and Roger Pearce.)

Campbell’s. (1986. Art director Paul Arden.)

Anchor Butter. (1987. Art director Paul Arden, director Mike Seresin.)

(1986. Art director Paul Arden, director Terry Lovelock.)

(1986. Art director Paul Arden.)


Hamlet. (1987. Art director John Foster, produced overnight by director Bernard Lodge.)

Army. (1988. Art director John Foster.)

BET. (1988. Art director John Foster, director John S. Clarke.)

Hamlet. (Art director John Foster, director David Garfath.)

Eurotunnel. (1988. Art director John Foster.)

McDougall’s. (1987. Art director John Foster.)

Condor. (1988. Art director John Foster, director Simon Delaney.)


Canon. (1991. Art director Rod Waskett.)
Melody. (1990. Art director John Foster, director Barry Myers.)

EveningStandard. (1991. Art director Rod Waskett.)

Scottish Amicable. (1995. Art director Steve Dunn.)

London Zoo. (1991. Art director Rod Waskett.)

OMO. ‘Dirt Is Good’. (2003. Art director Dave Christensen, director Gregor Nicholas.)



D&AD Copy Book.

D&AD Annual, 1994.

Poem I wrote in response to a brief set at one of Tony Brignull’s copywriting seminars, held at Lowe Howard-Spink in Nov 1994.

Unilever Interview.

Control Magazine.

Speech To Conference.

9 responses to PODCAST: Adrian Holmes.

  1. Stafford Gage says:

    What a great read – it brought back some memories. I was at Greys at the same time as Adrian.

  2. sebastian wilhelm says:

    Great post and podcast. I met Adrian when LHS acquired Agulla&Baccetti. The looks of an accountant, the wits of a comedian. Lovely chap.

    • dave dye says:

      Hey Seba, 100% agreed.
      I’ll pass on your ‘looks of an accountant’, Adrian will be thrilled.

  3. Dave Waters says:

    Charming. What an absolute gentleman. I asked Adrian to accept the Presidents award at Creative Circle and he refused it out of modesty.

    • dave dye says:

      Absolutely Dave, I’ve never interviewed anyone who was so keen to credit others. Dx

  4. Keith Bickel says:

    Adrian Holmes opened the multi-locked door to Paul Arden for me. Adrian, if you’re reading this “Thank You”.

  5. Jaosn Hunt says:

    I’ve known Adrian for a long time and studied on the same course has him (several years later). A gentlemen, and a very clever one at that, he has always been supportive, encouraging and funny in equal measure. Thanks Adrian!

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