VFTL. No4: Bob ‘The Ad Contrarian’ Hoffman

I was just about to write ‘the business I joined 30 years ago is unrecognisable today’.
But then it occurred to me; that’s bullshit.
Take today, either side of writing this I’m working on a global brief.
The brand has an existing line that needs to be given new meaning, its felt to be a little too heavy, and possibly a bit esoteric in certain markets.
We need to make it lighter, more upbeat and positive.
Also, it’d be handy if we could use some kind of visual link to the product, as it’s going to run in a wide range of countries.
Overall, they just need to feel cooler and more relevant to a younger audience.
That was happening thirty years ago.

Sure, the thoughts may end up in some new locations and appear in slightly different shapes and sizes, but the process isn’t that different.
There is one big difference though,  the creative bods were way more cynical back then, for example, every element of a brief would be challenged:
‘Is that REALLY true?’
‘It may be true but people won’t believe it!’.

‘Why should anyone believe that?’
‘Is there really nothing better to say?’
‘That’s two messages, pick one’.

‘Why would that make me buy it?’
‘Posters are the wrong place for that message’
‘That’s way to complicated for TV!’
‘Who would be arsed to read about that?’

‘They haven’t got much money, let’s spend it all on tv… or posters?’

Then digital turned up.
It was a challenge for the creatives of my generation, not understanding the channels or tech but understanding why you weren’t allowed to question it.
Why weren’t we allowed to take that same cynical approach that we’d taken to all information we’d be given, whether propositions or posters, creatives adopted the stance of super cynical member of the public.
We couldn’t do that with digital, 
if you took that position with anything that involved a single pixel you risked being seen as a ‘dinosaur’.
So people adapted, they avoided appearing cynical by using phrases like ‘there’s never been a better time to be in the business’ or ‘I’ve never felt more alive than when I’m being briefed on social media’ or ‘You want to brief me on a digital banner? I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven’.
Questions started being replaced by buzz words, the aim was to get as many into a conversation before it collapsed due to their volume.
It created a kind of MaCarthyite environment where most were too afraid to call it as they saw it.
Bob Hoffman was one of the few who called it as he saw it.
He launched his ‘The Ad Contrarian’ blog back in 2007, t
he biggest compliment I could give him is to say that title no longer makes sense.
We had a great chat, hope you enjoy it.

wavelogo-8-01p.s. If you haven’t visited Bob’s blog, quick!…http://adcontrarian.blogspot.co.uk/

MEN OF LETTERS: Dave Wakefield.

I’ve been sitting on this interview for a while now.
To be precise, it was done at the same time as the Kit Kat poster we did together; ‘Washout’.
That was created for the festival season, so what’s that? S
ix months ago?
I haven’t posted it because Dave has been ill, very ill.
I’ve been waiting to tell I’m posting it, it seems impolite not to.
So I’ve been waiting.
I checked on Dave today, unfortunately, he’s had another set back.

It occurred to me that putting it out this post can only lead to a lot of people thinking good things about Dave, and without sounding like some old hippy; sending out some good vibes can only help, they certainly won’t harm.
So here it is…

Where did you grow up?
I was born in Beckenham Kent, before it became part of the Greater London sprawl.
Hard on the outskirt of Penge where I developed a strong working-class sensibility.

David Bowie Curly
You’re hanging out with a young David Bowie and becoming part of the Beckenham music scene? What made you opt out for pushing letters around?
I was very serious about typography and music at that time – I guess typography won, I’m pleased to say.

How did you get into advertising?
Like many students who had shown an aptitude in art at school, it was inevitable that a career would be sought in that direction.
I had taken an art course in my final year, which on reflection now, did show a strong preference for drawn lettering.
I had considered cartography for a career, but my leaning was in commercial art (as it was called at the time) and I’d heard that to be in an advertising agency was the fulfilment of a commercial artist.
I was to find out just how difficult it was to progress, from the bottom, to the position I aspired to, without a qualification.

What was your first paid job?
I answered an ad in the Evening Standard in 1963 for a messenger in an advertising agency – Ripley Preston in Cheapside – £4.10s per week.
It was here that I acquired an inspirational book ‘Printing Design & Layout’ by Vincent Steer, which became the touchstone for my later developed style of producing finished drawn specifications.
I’d already bought the third edition of the ‘Encyclopaedia of Typefaces’ with a school book token. The die was cast, but the reality was still in tramping the streets of London.

What does the word Gorringes mean?
The design office of a large department store in Victoria. It was my first opportunity to break into typography without any formal qualification.
Brian Grimwood was already there, designing and illustrating, and as we were already musically joined at the hip it seemed the ideal position in which to combine our passions.
It wasn’t to last long – I was fired on Christmas Eve – last in first out, in a cost-cutting exercise – not a lot’s changed over the years.
The room shared with Brian can be seen behind the first-floor window on the end of the  right-hand side before the building follows the aspect of the side street.
We were eager to produce good work but at the same time heavily into music and our band – I can distinctly remember anxiously awaiting the first recording from Cream – their single ‘Wrapping Paper’ which I’d ordered from the music department, it took weeks of delay before it was finally released.

United Kingdom Advertising Co Ltd?
UK was part of the National Advertising Corporation which also had connections with Ripley Preston, so I managed to get back into the business without too much difficulty.
I used it to plan my next move into serious typography.

Then to R F White, the lemonade maker?
Not quite the lemonade maker, but one of the oldest advertising agencies to have ever existed.
I was lucky to secure a position as a typographer in White’s outside studio Art Centre, just off Fleet Street, which handled recruitment advertising.
It was a baptism of fire – all the work was copy driven and produced from metal typesetting.
Fitting all sorts of type into fresh creative solutions, in every conceivable media size – each one trying to be better and more effective than the last.
I was not only trying to master the technical requirements but I was expected to show some creative flair at the same time.

Which typographers did you admire when you first became one?
That’s an interesting question.
Later in my career I became more focussed in who fired my adulation – Tschichold for one.

But from the very start it was American designers who excited me the most, and Robert Brownjohn in particular – I not only visited the cinema to see a film but for the added reward from one of Brownjohn’s Midland Bank commercials.

They struck a chord. I was in awe. I subscribed to the American magazine ‘Art Direction’ and found my early influences in Herb Lubalin,
Aaron Burns,
and Gene Federico.

Naturally, Lubalin’s gradual exposure gained a huge momentum, exploding into a commercial success story within a couple of decades.
It’s only later, after reading Adrian Shaughnessy’s superb book on Lubalin, that I’ve come to realise just how close those influences resonate in my work, influences, to paraphrase Shaughnessy, ‘… expressing an idea, telling a story, amplifying the meaning of a word or a phrase, (and) to elicit an emotional response from the viewer …’.

You ran your own company for a while?
Yes, Mushroom, an advertising service studio in 1973.
It brought together some of the elite personalities from competitor companies like Face and AdMakeup; forming a new collective which captured interest and support from leading art directors and writers at the time.
We offered creative typography, finely-crafted artwork, and introduced many successful typefaces, some of which can still be found today.
Which ones?
Worcester, an old Monotype face, withdrawn by them almost as fast as it was introduced, I’ll never know why? It was our most successful face and it continued through to the digital era.
Before Monotype updated their business, we were supplying some of the best of their founts on headline, and cut variations to the standard weights of Ehrhardt, Baskerville, and Horley – this was 1973, and way in front at the time.
It was impossible even to get the regular cuts through the commercial suppliers, so we put them on. Faces like Grotesque 215 and 216, Sabon, Joanna, and Imprint.
Of course, this all seems rather unexceptional, now that digitisation gives us everything, and more.

But it’s surprising to think how undeveloped the market was some forty or so years ago.

Who else worked with you at Mushroom?
Mushroom was formed by Brian Hall, Alan Barlow, and myself from AdMakeup, and Mick White from Face.
Some of the art directors and writers who supported us in the early days would’ve been Derrick Hass, Alan Brignull, Robin Wight, David Holmes, Alan Midgley, Chris Wilkins, Peter Ward, John Brimacombe, Delwyn Mallet, Chris Hudson, Terry Comer, and others.

We did a lot of promotional material, an A1 poster, a ‘Mushroom’ scarf, machine knitted and  unusual at that early time, ‘Mushroom’ badges too, I remember handing them out from a basket on our table at a D&AD dinner, 1973 I think?

Dave Wakefield 'Mushroom'

Why close Mushroom?
We’d become fairly successful in our first building in Tottenham Court Road which prompted some expansion. Little did we know that the ‘3-day week’ was just around the corner.
In fact, we’d hardly got settled in our new building in St Martin’s Lane when it all kicked off. We were running clandestine generators on the roof on our off days, but inspections were commonplace and it made things very difficult.
Coupled with the fact that our ‘Mr 51%’ partner had joined the fairies and couldn’t be found until he’d swapped his ‘e-type’ for a hospital bed. It finally gave us the reasons to wind things up.
So much for running a business. 

What next?
The antidote – freelance.  In a particularly difficult time.
My champion was a certain John Brimacombe who ran his own successful company, J B Packaging in Maddox Street.
I felt like the artist with a sponsor – he got me to handle the whole typographic aspect of design for Fisons Agrochemical packaging. Some 86 hand-rendered type layouts which I put on the Diatype system and progressed to mechanical artwork.
He paid me upfront a substantial fee to support my new start.
A benevolent action surely unheard of today?
Work piled in – minute typographic design solutions for programme headers in the Radio Times – weekly problems to solve, like town names to highlight where the Radio One Roadshow visited each day of the week . And then, the same problem through Easter. And so on.
I’d moved in to my friend Brian Grimwood’s studio space
Brian Grimwood 'Radio Times' Cover
with illustrator Lynda Gray
Lynda Gray, 'Staring Woman'
in the old soon-to-be-refurbished Covent Garden; then promptly moved into the just-refurbished room that Brian’s CIA still uses today.
They were prolific days, happy and extremely busy – working through the night and weekends on many occasions.
It was during this time that I’d built up a relationship with some major agencies – Saatchi being one.
With Alan Midgley’s dedicated support, and much annoyance to the in-house typographers, I tackled some heavy British Leyland work  for the Triumph Dolomite and Ital models.
Producing completely hand-rendered layouts with the freedom to make my own creative judgements. It was a relatively bold process but it supplied a finished product that could be instantly judged before setting and artwork had even begun.
The level of expectancy to see completely finished traces on commissioned jobs ran high and kept me constantly busy.
Triumph - '19,000,000', Dave Wakefield, Saatchi-01Triumph - '120mph', Dave Wakefield, Saatchi-01
Is that saying the Dolomite goes 120mph? Illegal surely?
That’s correct. One of several ads flaunting its speed capability.

What was Saatchi’s like to an outsider bang in the middle of the seventies?
There was an obvious sense of extreme competition on the creative floor.
Arrogance, perhaps. But with an envious recognition when instinct says ‘that’ll get in the book’.
It’s what drove the power at the time.
There were extremes. I remember one instance, when Midgley threatened to throw a suit out of the window.
And times of utmost silliness – Mike Shafron roller-skating round the building all day in sunglasses. Midgley asking for, and wearing, everybody’s coat, when the heating broke down.
I just observed that world amid the serious responsibility I was called in for.  HEA 'Run', Dave Wakefield:Saatci01

Every advance in technology leads to people being desperate to use it quickly, to make themselves look modern and cool.
I presume that’s what happened with all this squashed together type in the seventies?
The squashing together was the style of the day. Some squashed it together very badly, but we thought we squashed it together with a great deal of craft?
It was the direct result of two major factors.
One. The unbridled freedom of the new technology –
photosetting. Where type could be set with minus spacing, overlapped, distorted, and so on – releasing (on reflection, sacred) constrictions of the built-in visual boundaries inherent in metal type founding.
And two. Everyone’s super hero, Herb Lubalin. The absolute master of tailored typography – what he didn’t overlap wasn’t worth overlapping.
It can’t be stated more succinctly, that the influences imparted on us at that time did result in a whole mess of work, some of which can
 be seen in these immediate examples.
The saddest outcome to me is the way in which these influences shaped the type design standard that followed.
Specifically, the stubbornness to perpetuate the absurd notion that the market wouldn’t accept any new typeface unless it was drawn to a particular ratio of reduced proportion (the x-height drawn ever more closer to the cap-height).
The ITC has a lot to answer for. Today, new type is released on a daily basis which, despite its overall appeal, doesn’t deviate from that entrenched standard driven in the beginning by market forces, but sadly has now become the accepted norm.
Very o
ccasionally, a new face of rare beauty unveils itself which proudly resists this bastardisation but stands perilously naked in the new world.

What was your first award?
D&AD first credited the typographer to a piece of work in 1977.
A breakthrough at the time.Jeremy Sinclair -  hhh-01
I remember being a part in the award-winning ad for Hayfield Superblend wool which received a silver in 1978, along with four ‘in book’ contributions.Hayfield 'Red Tube', Dave Wakefield, Saatchi's-01

Why the hell do these Typhoo ads look so good; The deep red? The wavy lines? The lack of fiddley small print and logos in the corners?
I guess it’s just the simplicity of the execution. The brand was so strong that even separating the elements did no harm at all.
We now live in a world where everything is over branded; colours are almost mandatory, and dare anyone use the corporate stamp in any way other than how the design manual says it should.
The black type appeared straight on the roughs.
I drew up the lettering on curves to mimic the namestyle and commissioned Dave Lodwick to cut the finished type and namestyle elements in ulano film.
Illustrator would’ve been a blessing then.Typhoo - 'Oo' 48 sheet, Dave Wakefield, Saatchi-01Typhoo 'Oo', 6 Sheet, Dave Wakefield, Saatchi-01
IBM - 'Golfball', Dave Wakefield, Saatchi-01This IBM ad shows the extremes of Lubalin-influenced tailoring to the headline – overlapped slab serifs, touching ascender/descender relationships, and cropped characters (lowercase p and t), all done by hand – which extended to completely cutting closer every character in the original monospaced golf ball setting of the text.
Today, we’d show the honesty of the product regardless of its ugliness.
Always rather liked that split headline in its negative/positive positioning – visually draws the reader to the white and pays off with an answer in the later-seen black.

Why switch to agency life at Boase Massimi Pollitt?
I’d survived the fall of Mushroom through national industrial action and an irresponsible partner who’d held all the power.
Now, freelance was progressively spiralling out of control,  forcing the formation of a new company with staff, just to cope with the production.
It reminded me of Dr Feelgood’s Wilko Johnson, who said, ‘I slept for 2 days in the 70s’.
With mechanical artwork, photographic requirements, and retouching needed, again it seemed that everything was essential in maintaining control of the highest standards. 90% of our work was now coming from one agency as the first very serious recession began to bite.
For a second time, outside influences were at work.
Saatchi wanted discounts, held up payment (for six months at a time), and squeezed the life out of us until it wasn’t worth carrying on.

After the very day I left, I walked into BMP with a vow never to be involved in running another business again.          

Who interviewed you?
John Webster. He was in control of the creative department, and my remit through David Batterbee, the MD who saw me afterwards, was to be the new Head of Typography and Manager of FGDS, their in-house studio.

FGDS: Fucking Good Design Studio?
Yes, the name penned, I think, by Ed Church during his tour of duty previous to mine. It became slightly awkward when clients asked what the letters stood for.

Can you remember the first ad you put together at BMP?
The first few months were troublesome. I’d inherited a difficult culture with a two-man studio who were clearly there for a cushy ride.
One work shy with a drink problem, the other accommodating but some years behind in terms of the standard I was used to.
I was immediately thrown into a pitch situation for Paper-Mate, some 12 boards wanted overnight, with marker visuals coming at me non-stop.
I made a decision to style them with Times Semi-Bold headlines constructed with overdrawn lines as 
if they were wristed with a pen. The text drawn in a script. All in blue. It was hand-rendered typography again, but as visuals this time.
I worked over a light box at break-neck speed  from the afternoon until around 10.00 the following morning when the boards were hastily made up. It was my first encounter with Chris Powell who was presenting the work.
And my first win for the agency.

You struck up a good partnership with Paul Leeves, what was he like to work with?
As the months progressed I realised that press was not achieving the status it had previously enjoyed through the likes of Dave Christiensen, Gordon Smith, and others, who had all left before I’d got there. It was like treading treacle, trying to rebuild that standard alongside the successful, and more favoured TV culture championed by Webster.
There was now a definite need to redress the balance.
A need for a talented senior creative to make the change, who not only believed in press, but who also had the clout to effect that change.
I remember the apprehension when Paul first walked in to the studio – straight faced, with a loud interjection ‘who’s the typographer around here?’.
I knew he was going to be hard to impress, but something also told me that perhaps we were now on the verge of that change.
It was one of the busiest, most fertile, periods of my career.
He knew how to get the best from people. Mainly through fear. But I never really experienced that fear once we’d found common ground through working together on countless pitches and on the need to produce the best looking press work possible.
There could be up to 2 pitches and several styling exercises in a single week.
It was relentless and full on. So full on, that at one point of sheer exhaustion he sent me and my family on a fortnight’s fully-paid holiday to Kefalonia.
It was there that I received his telegram (and champagne) that Hellmann’s had received a silver for ‘best typography’.
He finally reached his peak after five years of facing difficult clients and a difficult management structure, but his achievement, partnered with Alan Tilby, was possibly one of the finest in the agency’s chequered history.

Le Creuset 'Ouefs', Dave Wakefield, Adrian Flowers-01

War On Want - 'Swarm', Dave Wakefield, Tony Davidson, BMP:DDBWar On Want - 'Chair', Dave Wakefield, Tony Davidson, BMP:DDBWar On Want - 'Faces', Dave Wakefield, Tony Davidson, BMP:DDBWar On Want - 'Baby', Dave Wakefield, Tony Davidson, BMP:DDBWar On Want - 'Creosote', Dave Wakefield, Tony Davidson, BMP:DDBWar On Want - '1972', Dave Wakefield, Tony Davidson, BMP:DDB

Here’s a step by step guide to creating the Hellmann’s look.

1. The art director’s roughs, (Paul Leeves.)Hellmann's. Paul Leeves Layout 2Hellmann's Paul Leeves Layout

2. Dave chooses a font.
Hellmann's Alphabet

3. Dave carefully traces out how he wants the text to be set.
Hellmann's, Dave Wakefield Trace

4. The setting comes back.Hellmann's Galley Settting

5. Dave traces out how the ad.
He uses a grant projector, (Google it kids), to trace everything out; text, photos, proportions, etc.Hellmann's Type Trace:Dave Wakefield:BMP:DDB5T.82-01

6. The finished article.Hellmann's 'Tecknology', Dave Wakefield:BMP:DDB*

7. Style set, it can be rolled out across the campaign.Hellmann's 'Paris', Dave Wakefiels: BMP:DDBHellmann's - 'Oat', Dave Wakefield, BMPHellman's 'GasStove', Dave Wakefield', BMP-01Hellmann's 'Hoo, Hoo', Dave Wakefield, BMP:DDB

The Knorr ads are amongst the best looking ads ever, yet didn’t win a sausage?
But they did win a weenie – a Pegasus award for typography.
You’re right though, it’s difficult to understand why they weren’t ever considered eligible for mention during the major awards at the time.
I can only suspect political intervention here.
The disciplines that came together were explosive, but on judgement day turned out a dud.Knorr 'Just The Cube'-01Knorr 'Smother Nature' -01Knorr 'Ox'-01

Clarks Dessert Boots 'Sofa', Dave Wakefield:BMPClarks Dessert Boots 'JCB', Dave Wakefield:BMPClarks Dessert Boots 'Boat', Dave Wakefield:BMP

The Guardian, 'Trunk', Dave Wakefield, BMPThe Guardian 'Frank Budgen', Dave Wakefield, BMP-01The Guardian 'Short List', Dave Wakefield, BMP-01Aberlour. 'Angel', Dave Wakefield:Mak Reddy: DDB:BMPAberlour - Kick, Dave Wakefield, Mark Reddy:BMP:DDB.png
Aberlour - Hogshead, Dave Wakefield, Mark Reddy:BMP:DDB.png

Aberlour - Environmental, Dave Wakefield, Mark Reddy:BMP:DDB.png
Aberlour - Yob, Dave Wakefield, Mark Reddy:BMP:DDB.png
Aberlour - House, Dave Wakefield, Mark Reddy:BMP:DDB.png
Aberlour - Campus, Dave Wakefield, Mark Reddy:BMP:DDB.png

Paul Belford phoned me last year to ask if I had copies of the Marc O’Polo ads from 25 years ago for his Creative Review column. I hadn’t seen them at the time, but I can see why they made an impression on him.
Why does the type keep changing shape?
It was to echo the shapes in each of the plants we shot.Marco Polo, 1, Dave Wakefield: Tony Davidson: BMP:DDB,Marco Polo, 3, Dave Wakefield: Tony Davidson: BMP:DDB,Marco Polo, 2, Dave Wakefield: Tony Davidson: BMP:DDB,Marco Polo,4, Dave Wakefield: Tony Davidson: BMP:DDB,

Why did you resist Macs for such a long time?
This has root in the previous question on the difference of disciplines.
I’ll explain. Technology has now completely transformed our industry and its working methods.
In my career I had embraced all the earlier technological changes, from the constraints of metal through to the freedoms of photosetting’s relatively short life.
I was probably one of the very first typographers to work with the Diatronic system when it was introduced. A clear understanding of its capability but not an operator of the machine.
It superseded the Diatype machine, and I remember then feeling slightly compromised by the inferiority of this successor.
But all these changes occurred in the hands of the specialist typesetter, who got the very best product from a highly-trained workforce.
Within my own working environments I built teams of specialists picked from some of the best in the industry – typographers and artworkers – who knew their craft and who were expected to maintain the highest standard.
There was considerable resistance from agency typographers during the early introduction of the Mac and it was some time before it could produce the quality and level of expectation provided by the outside typesetter.
I somewhat misread the direction it was taking.
Regardless of the failings in its earlier output, the notion of in-house typesetting as an immediate profit centre for the agency came at the very time that accountability became entangled with creative freedoms.
The freedom and luxury to buy outside (overnight) typesetting was now no longer an option. Requiring the typographer to create and produce the complete job that previously had been handled by two separate specialists.
It was stealing a great deal of time better spent (to me) on the creative thinking I was then expected to deliver.

HEA:AIDS 'How Far?', Dave Wakefield:BMP
Clarks, 'Little Ones', Dave Wakefield:Pete Gatley: BMP:DDB.jpgClarks, 'One Step', Dave Wakefield:Pete Gatley: BMP:DDBClarks, 'Bones', Dave Wakefield:Pete Gatley: BMP:DDB.jpgClarks 'Advent', Dave Wakefield:Pete Gatley, BMP:DDB1

Do you think computers have helped or hindered typography?
The computer is a tool. It is in the hands of the operator. Whether or not that operator is qualified will determine the professionalism of its output.
Because the computer is in the hands of everyone there is far more ill-conceived typography than ever before.

Which ad has given you most pleasure?
A lot of work has given me a buzz over the years. I guess the more involved I get producing a solution to reinforce an idea, on brief, is central to my satisfaction.
The English Heritage campaign gave me a great challenge and immense pleasure.
I seem to equate satisfaction with the sheer weight of hours put in.
Great choice!When You build a castle_English HeritageHadrians Wall is much more pleasant_English Heritage

When we did the English Heritage ads Mark Reddy saw one of those ads and phoned me to find out if you’d done the type.
I asked him why he thought it was you, he replied ‘the letter spacing.’
How can someone spot your work by the space between the letters?
Well, we’re not just talking about anyone spotting micro-typographic niceties here.
Mark fully understands what it is that gives a piece of work individuality.
Of course, the spacing could be the giveaway, but more than likely there were several reasons in making that assumption.Whilst Winston Churchill was involved_English Heritage

At BMP, you were more of an art director than a typographer weren’t you?
I’ve always been a typographer who analyses content and uses that content in finding the appropriate solution. It is a responsible reaction.
At BMP, historically a TV agency, press art direction fell low in priority.
Art directors would rely on my input to get their press work on an equal with the best of their TV.
A fair proportion admitted that press was their weaker skill and left me to take a lead.

Do you prefer Art Directors to give you a tight or open brief?
I would say it didn’t matter. As long as the brief felt right I could perform either by originating or embellishing. It’s more about getting the best and appropriate result.

Why go through the hell of hot metal setting when you could knock it out on a Mac in seconds?
It’s not about ease of operation. The choice should be a question of suitability.
But today, it’s all down to cost and a loss of understanding of any difference between either. And it will probably continue that way until the option is no longer an option at all.
It was part of my concern when the Mac was introduced – the loss of any considered choice through cost and profit implications, target figures, and industry requirement.
We were more concerned once, with the look and feel of our work through the choice of different mediums, but now, the accepted industry standard is worked in an environment that isn’t particularly interested in delivering any difference at all.

You’re probably the only typographer I’ve ever worked with who I could give a verbal brief then print the results, like American Airlines? AA Angles 01 LRAA Angles 05 LRAA Angles 04 LRAA Angles 02 LRAA Angles 06 LRAA Angles 03 LR
AA personifies the brief that arrives time on time again – beautiful photography, a line, some peripherals, and no clear direction of how it is to be put together.
My approach is with the same guarded commitment each time.
Respect the photography, integrate the type without suffocation, and above all strengthen the core idea.
At the eleventh hour a small plane had to be included on each execution, which hauntingly
preceded 911.
The Mac was the obvious, and only choice this time round.
Hang on…I just said you’re the only typographer in the world I’d trust with this brief, and you say ‘yeah, it’s the sort of crap brief I’d get all the time? 
I was trying to say that that specific open brief formula – main shot/headline/logo – is not unique and is probably the most difficult one to answer and to serve with something different and pertinent both at the same time.
It was a commonplace situation.
The verbal brief is usually ‘here’s the bits, do something with them’.

At AMV/BBDO with me, you changed the setting on the Economist posters?
For most creative teams, to work on the Economist posters at AMV was perhaps their reason to be there.
I’d always thought that if they fell under my responsibility as a typographer, I would update that appalling and tired 70s inter-character spacing in their special Baskerville – a difficult typeface to kern correctly – which years back was known as ‘close-not-touching’ where every character sat very close to its neighbour regardless of the overall visual appearance of the word unit.
Serifs had never been seen so intimately close (well, not since the 70s).
I undertook the task by setting up a kerning table of character pairs within the software of the Mac.
I can recall the aggravation it caused in the studio where they weren’t used to such disruption.
By the time I’d left, the type was looking the best I’d ever seen it.
My successor either wanted to put his marker down or preferred the way it looked before? Anyway, there was a brief airing of posters wearing a more classically spaced Baskerville. The Economist, Colour 48, %22Wednesday%22-01The Economist, Colour 48, %22Ultra Violet%22-01Economist Colour Blocks

RSPCARAA, %22Wet Paint%22-01LOOT 'Woolies' -01LOOT 'Hate'-01LOOT 'Underpants'-01LOOT 'Picasso-01LOOT 'New Shoes'-01
Fentiman's - 'Press', Dave Wakefield-01Fentiman's - 'Murkier', Dave Wakefield-01Fentiman's - 'De-Tox', Dave Wakefield-01Fentiman's - 'De-Tox', Dave Wakefield-01-01

How do you pick a font?
There are as many typefaces as there are reasons for choosing them.
Question everything before making the choice.
What am I saying?
How am I saying it?
What am I saying it about?
Will I be saying different things?
What do I represent?
Are there any historical affiliations?
And so on.
The practical issues of size, reproduction, need for colour, readability, etc.
Then draw on a reservoir of knowledge on what is available and how it performs to what is required.

A font isn’t a font, is it? (Ie; the way you space it, the size, colour etc can make it feel very different.)
A font is a font.
All the rest is typography.
Admittedly, the nuances in typography can enhance a particular typeface.
Weaken or strengthen it, render it more readable, or make it say something.

What’s the difference between;
1. An artworker,
2. A typographer
3. A designer?
(They seem to have got a bit jumbled up at the moment.)
Before digital, not so long ago, there were specialists.
A specialist designer, a specialist typographer, a specialist typesetter, and a specialist artworker.
Each one trained in their specialism. Trained in many cases to be the best. Continually learning and perfecting their skill.

In the case of the graphic designer, he/she would embrace the other skills to a greater or lesser extent, but not necessarily to perform or to excel in all disciplines.
The origination, thought process, and the directing of others to complete a piece of work, was the criteria of a practising designer.
The typographer was the specialist in handling the choice, detail, and placement of typesetting within a piece of design.
The outsourced typesetting house produced the setting and supplied it back to the typographer as reproduction proofs or photographic prints for pasted artwork origination. And the artworker was the specialist mechanic who constructed the final physical piece fit for print.
They were separate disciplines worked in isolation and brought together for the completed job.
It is because the computer has incorporated all the disciplines into one operating arena, worked in the main by one operator, not necessarily an expert in each discipline, that has eradicated the specialist position.
The designer has highjacked the typographer’s contribution and in many cases has not attained an ability to do so.
Only the artworker has maintained a position in some areas, but merely through expedience and perhaps laziness on the part of the higher-rated designer.

What is it?
Why is it worth doing?
Why have people stopped doing it?
Kerning is a digital misnomer.
Derived from ‘kern’ which means the part of a metal type projecting beyond the body or shank, as the curled head of f and tail of j.
A projection that would enable it to fit closer by overhanging into the space above or below the following character.
Kerning in digital parlance means the lateral movement of space between letters, better described as lateral spatial adjustment.
As skills of any craft are learnt and acted upon to produce an end result of the highest quality, so the correct spatial adjustment of letters into the formation of readable words is a learnt skill, which requires a discerning eye and some degree of costed time.
But as technology improves, fonts and spacing presets also improve, allowing for a relatively even and better basic set, which for the standard operated today now seem (to the lesser discerning) adequate enough to disregard kerning as a manual skill altogether.

Typographic Vision Ad, Dave Wakefield-01

What’s the difference between a typeface and a font?
A typeface is a drawn alphabet of sympathetically-styled letterforms.
It takes that name from the printing ‘face’ of a cast-metal ‘type’.
A fount – the correct spelling (from ‘fund’) – represents the complete collection of characters making up a particular typeface.
The misnomer ‘font’ is the optionally spelt, now commonplace substitution, for typeface.

What’s your top five fonts?
I’m not sure my selection could be reduced to an exact number.
To me, there is merit and mileage in a great deal of typefaces, from the metal cuts of
Akzidenz-Grotesk Medium 58 (Standard Medium),
Grotesque No 6,
Gill Sans (Regular),unnamed
and Romanee,
(my particular favourites), to filmset Neuzeit Buch S Bold (not the Grotesk) an obsession of mine at the time, to the newer digital manifestations from Fred Smeijers, namely Quadraat Regular and Renard, to Matthew Carter’s Miller.

Which ads do you wish you’d done?
None really.
My wish list strays firmly into reasoned typographic design.
It doesn’t get much purer than Lubalin’s ‘Mother & Child’ creation..
Herb Lubalin - Mother & Child
And more beautifully enigmatic than Karel Martens’ standard telephone cards for PTT Telecom.
Thanks for your time Dave, great to catch up.

'Washout' KitKat, Dave Dye, Dave Wakefield, JWT.jpg
Nb. I found a couple of bits of ephemera that show just how good Dave is.

1: A rough of a letterhead/ identity I was doing for my new agency.Dave Wakefield-DHM-01

I pinged it to Dave to see if he had any advice.
He was busy, but sent back this.
Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 3.00.35 PM
After Dave’s suggestions, we had this.
Compare the figures  and ‘@’ sign from the alternative fonts Dave suggested, not only do they look better, they blend right in.Dye Holloway Murray Business card scan.jpg

2: Dave’s feedback on a poster we were about to produce for The History of Advertising Trust.Dave Wakefield letter-01

Further Wakefield reading…
Creativity (Cover), - 'Dave Wakefield.2-01Creativity (Pages 1 7 2), Dave Wakefield-01Creativity (Page 3) - Dave Wakefield-01Creativity (Pages 4 & 5), Dave Wakefield








VFTL. Episode 3: Peter Souter.

Peter Souter:Showaddywaddy.jpgMy 7th boss.
Former hitch-hiker,
Frankenstien re-animator,
David Abbott replacement,
D&AD President,
ITV sitcom creator,
Radio 4 drama writer and
cousin of Showaddywaddy
lead singer Dave Bartram.

wavelogo 7-01.jpg

DELANEY FLETCHER DELANEY.'Some Women Are' Cancer, Peter Souter, DFD*.jpg

WOOLAMS MOIRA GASKIN O’MALLEY.'Escape' Eurax, Peter Souter, WMG)-01.jpg'Scratch' Eurax, Peter Souter, WMGO-01.jpg'Boy' Tri-Ac, Peter Souter, WMGO-01.jpg'Girl' Tri-Ac, Peter Souter, WMGO-01.jpg'Twins' Tri-Ac, Peter Souter, WMGO-01.jpg


ABBOTT MEAD VICKERS.Peter Souter:Paul Brazier.jpg
'This Whippet' RSPCA, Peter Souter, AMV*.jpg'During The Recession' RSPCA, Peter Souter, AMV-01.jpg'Bill' RSPCA, Peter Souter, AMV-01.jpg'Before They're' RSPCA, Peter Souter, AMV**.jpg'Injection:Radio' RSPCA, Peter Souter, AMV.jpg

'Industrial Secrets' The Economist, Peter Souter, AMV*.jpg

'Envelope 2' D&AD, Peter Souter, AMV-01.jpg'Dead' D&AD, Peter Souter, AMV-01.jpg

'This Ad Has' Queen Elizabeth's, Peter Souter, AMV*-01.jpg'Radio' RSPCA, Peter Souter, AMV-01.jpgPetr Souter:AMV:BBDO.jpg

'Jordan' The Economist, AMV:BBDO.jpg'Ever Go Blank' The Economist, AMV:BBDO.jpg

'Lolly' Guinness, AMV:BBDO.jpg'Iceberg' Guinness, AMV:BBDO.jpg'Fan' Guinness, AMV:BBDO.jpg




WRITER.'Goldfish Girl' Peter Souter.jpg'Hello:Goodbye 2' Peter Souter.jpg'Married. Single. Other 2' Peter Souter.jpg'Married. Single. Other 3' Peter Souter.jpg'Married. Single. Other' Peter Souter.jpg

VFTL. Episode 2: Chris Palmer, Part 1 – Advertising.


Simons-Palmer-press-clippings3-1024x748-01.jpgChris Palmer.
My 5th boss.
His 1st job was as John Hegarty’s writer.
He won 5 D&AD silvers in his first in his first year.
Set up and agency in his 4th year.
Become one the most in demand directors of the last 25 years.
Launched, arguably, London’s No 1 production company over over the last two decades; Gorgeous.
Also, Mark Denton says Chris can draw better than him.
Annoying isn’t it?
We had a great chat, hope you enjoy it.


BBH with John Hegarty.dr-whites-baby-bbh-chris-palmer-01

BBH with Mark Denton.ART_DIRECTION_Campaign_Bow_Ties_01ART_DIRECTION_Campaign_Bow_Ties_02

Asda %22Snowman%22-01Asda %22Stork%22-01Asda %22hicken%22-01ASDA_FishFingersASDA_Super_CowST_IVEL_SHAPE_KidsST_IVEL_SHAPE_PloughmanST_IVEL_SHAPE_FamilyST_IVEL_SHAPE_Fromage_FraisNEWS_ON_SUNDAY_ToiletpaperLEVIS_New_Patch



'Simons Palmer Start Up' - Campaign.pngLUNCHEON_VOUCHER_Skinny_PigLUNCHEON_VOUCHERS_FiverLUNCHEON_VOUCHERS_CrocodileLUNCHEON_VOUCHERS_Ketchup_BanditBOTTOMS_UP_Prostsante-bottoms-up-chris-palmer-mark-denton-spdcjuppyajumpa-bottoms-up-chris-palmer-mark-denton-spdcjBOTTOMS_UP_ChinChinBOTTOMS_UP_Salud


ART_DIRECTION_Slumberdown'Dog, Cat and Mouse' Slumberdown, SPDC&J-01.jpg'Teddy' Slumberdown, SPDC&J-01.jpg



BHF_CigaretteBHF_SpellingItBHF_ExerciseNike.Hell.1aNIKE 'Jordan', Mark DentonNIKE_PRESS_Giving_UpNIKE_PRESS_BabyNIKE_PRESS_Shape_You're_InNike.Photofit.1a_webNIKE 'It's Not The Winning' Mark DentonNIKE_BenettonNIKE_POSTERS_A_Want_The_BallNike.Cant.96.1a_webNike.Sampras.1a_webNIKE 'U Turn' Mark Denton

NIKE 'Traffic_Control' Mark DentonNIKE 'Algerian' Mark DentonNIKE 'Johnson' Mark DetonNIKE_POSTERS_A_Behind_Every_GreatNIKE_PRESS_Put_Foot_In_It



VFTL. Episode 1: Tom McElligott

After years of being amazed at what was on the net, I’m now increasingly surprised at what’s not.
Three years ago I was trawling for a particular ad of Tom’s, not only couldn’t I find it I could barely find any of his work.
Outraged, I gathered together as much of his work as I could lay my hands on and put out a post called ‘Hands Up Who’s Heard Of Tom McElligott’.
I was trying to be snarky and ironic, like you may write ‘Hands Up Who’s Heard Of John Lennon?’.

Two things happened:

1. An enormous amount of people checked it out, 65k.
Most had never heard of him, he was being shared and referred to on Twitter and Facebook a ‘really cool pre-internet guy’.

2. A few members of his department got in touch to point out that some of the ads featured were not under Tom’s watch, they were overseen by Pat Burnham.
Then Pat Burnham emailed me; I opened it cautiously.
‘Just wanted to get in touch to say thank you, I really enjoyed your blog post, best, Pat.’

It made me feel bad.
What can I do to make amends? Interview him, I’d never done it before but it seemed like a good thing to do.

I’ve now posted about 50 interviews.

So it feels appropriate that Tom is my first podcast interview. 
He hasn’t given an interview for 25 years and said he doesn’t plan on giving one on the next 25.
I Hope you enjoy listening to him as much as I did.
(VFTL? It stands for ‘Voices From The Loft’, it’s a podcast.)

Fallon McElligott, House ad-01-01.jpg

wavelogo-7-01PRE-FALLON McELLIGOTT:fishing-is-like-elmers-minnows-tom-mcelligottron-andersonmy-minnows-will-catch-elmers-minnows-tom-mcelligottron-andersonmy-minnows-are-elmers-minnows-tom-mcelligottron-andersongulp-omaha-tom-mcelligott-ron-anderson-bozell-01zzz-omaha-tom-mcelligott-ron-anderson-bozell-01gulp-omaha-tom-mcelligott-ron-anderson-bozell-01yum-omaha-tom-mcelligott-ron-anderson-bozell-01ho-hum-omaha-tom-mcelligott-ron-anderson-bozell-01'Do You Live' Omaha, Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpgspoiler-alert-the-episcopal-church-tom-mcelligotthe-didnt-die-the-episcopal-church-tom-mcelligottron-andersonwhich-one-rose-the-episcopal-church-tom-mcelligott-bozell


LUNCH HOUR Ltd.pontillos-pizzeria-is-pontillos-tom-mcelligott-lunch-hour-ltdsims-explains-the-sims-tom-mcelligott-bozellit-may-be-sims-ltd-tom-mcelligott-bozell-01wendell-anderson-says-rudy-boschwitz-tom-mcelligott-ron-andersonbefore-you-try-ki-clayton-tom-mcelligott-lunch-hour-ltdgood-executive-material-ki-clayton-tom-mcelligott-lunch-hour-ltdmo-lebowitz-1-tom-mcelligott-ron-anderson-bozell-01'Mo Lebowitz 2' Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpg'Come See 40'  Clio, Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpgwe-survived-our-mpls-magazine-tom-mcelligott-bozell-01our-food-critics-mpls-magazine-tom-mcelligott-bozell-01golf-cover-mpls-magazine-tom-mcelligott-bozell-01fridge-cover-mpls-magazine-tom-mcelligott-bozell-01'My Boss Cover' MPLS Magazine, Tom McElligott, Bozell-01.jpg


in-1941-you-waited-northwestern-bell-tom-mcelligott-ron-anderson-bozell-01'Unfortunately If You' Northwestern Bell, Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpg'If Your Child' Northwestern Bell, Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpg'It Takes Two*' Northwestern Bell, Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpg

'It's Halftime At' Mini Mart, Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpg'Standing In Line' Mini Mart, Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpg'This Ad Is' Carousel, Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpg'Up Until Now' Carousel, Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpg

FALLON McELLLIGOTT:Fallon McElligott, House ad-01Fallon McElligott, 7th South 'Nixon'-01Fallon McElligott, 7th South 'Medussa'-01Fallon McElligott 'Einstein'-01Fallon McElligott 'Coin'-01Fallon McElligott 'Bride Of Frankenstein' -01Fallon McElligott '£ Stooges'-01Fallon McElligott, Episcopalian 'Son of'-01Fallon McElligott, Episcopalian 'TV'-01Fallon McElligott, Episcopal 'Carson'-01Fallon McElligott, Episcopal, 'Taped'-01Fallon McElligott, Episcopalian 'Lions'-01Fallon McElligott, Episcopalian 'Bomb' -01Fallon McElligott, Episcopelian 'Cake'-01Fallon McElligott, Episcopelian, 'Strong Men'-01if-you-want-successful-farming-tom-mcelligott-fallon-mcelligott-01only-two-things-successful-farming-tom-mcelligott-fallon-mcelligott-01Come The End' Successful Farming, Tom McElligott, Fallon McElligott-01.jpgeven-the-pigs-successful-farming-tom-mcelligott-fallon-mcelligott-01Fallon McElligott, AMF 'add 2lbs'-01Fallon McElligott, AMF 'Handles'-01

There is more of Tom’s Fallon McElligott and post-Fallon McElligott at a previous post here: https://davedye.com/tag/tom-mcelligott/


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.

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?
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.
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.
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.

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.
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.
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

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.
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.
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.
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. 

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?
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 '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.
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.
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

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

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
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.



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

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



Joe Sedelmaier.

Joe Sedelmaier & Crew*-01Of all the reels I’ve been shown over the years, I can think of only two that made such an impression I can still remember where I was shown them.
The first was in Director Nick Lewin’s office, that was Howard Zieff’s reel.
The second was in the boardroom of a small agency I used to work for called Edwards Martin Thornton, that was yours.
Howard Zieff was terrific.
When I was starting out he was already doing great work, it was some ritzy stuff, all about the execution of the idea.
He did a print ad for Utica Club beer, terrific ad!
Utica Beer '50 Years', Sid Myers, DDB NY-01

You were born on the same day as me, but a bit before, two days into the Chicago World’s Fair, what was Chicago like in those days?Chicago World's Fair 1933 2
May 31st?
Wow! That’s my birthday too.
You’re a Gemini like me.
Well you know we’re both two-faced?
It’s true, I was born at the start of the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, but I’m not a Chicagoan, I was born in Ohio.
Orville Ohio.
Sounds like something out of a Sinclair Lewis novel.
My father died when I was eight years old, heart attack.
My mother was a very strong woman, thank God.
I was very fortunate, she was very strong-willed, she said ‘Now you’re not going to go to a trade school, you’re going to get your degree’.
So I went to the Chicago Art Institute.
She was absolutely right but for all the wrong reasons, she said that’s the way you get a job, but when I got there it opened up a whole new world. You look back at these things that happen to you and think; “Boy, how lucky I was to have met those people.
If I’d had my own way, I’d have gone to that fucking trade school.”

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A cartoonist, doing comic strips like Chester Gould, this was the forties, a high time for comics.
In the thirties and forties he did some terrific work, but then, I don’t know whether he got bored or what? But all of a sudden Dick Tracey was going to the moon, it just went down hill from there.Chester Gould 'Dick Tracy' 2
Chester Gould 'Dick Tracy' 3I’m lucky I didn’t do it, I’d be stuck with one character.
What I loved about commercials was that each one was different.
I wasn’t stuck with one character, people would say “Didn’t you put actress Clara Peller under contract?” And I’d say “Absolutely not, if I did I’d have to use her and she may not be right.’”

Who were your early influences?
When I was fifteen years old I got a book ‘The New Yorker Magazine 25th Anniversary Annual’, all their stuff from the very beginning. Oh my God!The New Yorker 25th Anniversary Annual, 1950
I think I wore that book out, those cartoons were so great, all those characters were straight, underplayed.
You take from this,  you take from that, I was influenced by so many people, and so many things, I think that’s true of everybody, but then you make it your own.

How did you end up in an ad agency?
At art school you didn’t think about getting a job, you thought about being in some garret or whatever.
But in my final year I took an advertising course and started thinking about getting a job.
When I graduated I went to someone who placed Art Directors, or potential Art Directors, called Doug Smith.  Later that same day he called up to say he already had a job for me  in a studio.
About two weeks later he called again saying a guy from Y&R would like to talk to me.
I didn’t know what a Y&R was, it meant nothing to me, so I said ‘Thanks a lot, but I’ve already got a job’.
Talk about early stupidity.
Another week later, Doug calls again and says “This guy would really like to see you.”
So I went to see him.
Not because I was interested in that job, but I felt a responsibility to Doug who had done all the work.
Well, I got hired, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

What was Y&R Chicago like in 1956?
It was small, but my Creative Director Sam was from New York (I don’t think they knew what to do with him in New York).
He was a great guy.
In those days Art Directors worked in chalk, I hated chalk, but Sam let us work in pencil, Indian Ink, wash or whatever.
Once you did something you’d have to defend your work, ‘what are you trying to say?’, etc, I learnt so much.
But in the area of film, the producer had complete control.
They’d take my storyboard and go to the West Coast and use some schlock outfit, turn it into crap.
I wanted to be involved in the whole damned thing, and people would say, even back then, ‘you’re not a collaborator Joe’.
But I loved it because you had our day in court, you can see the whole thing through, when you got done you could say ‘Yeah, I did this’.

Sounds great, why leave?
Well, Clinton Frank did schlock work, but a new Creative Director had taken over, he called and said ‘come over, we could do some good stuff’.
It was true, I was able to do good stuff.
Joe Sedelmaier & Son 'Northern Trust
How were you learning at this time?
I used to go to these Advertising Age seminars and what these guys were saying was just fantastic, they’d talk about integrity, ethics, y’know, they’d sound like Bill Bernbach, who was the shining light back then, Doyle Dane’s stuff was fantastic, still is, still works.
But I found out these seminars were like church on a Sunday.
At the seminars all us Art Directors would be really excited, inspired and talking about what we’d heard.
Then we’d get back to work and they’d be saying ‘yeah, that stuff’s good to talk about, but let’s get back to reality’.
Everyone talked a good game but when it came down to doing something, it was like ‘Whoa…they’ll never buy this!’.
The trick was finding people on your level.
In the beginning it was difficult.

Another call, this time Leo Burnett?
They said ‘you gotta come over to Leo Burnett Joe’.
So I did.
Worst decision I ever made.
You were an art director and that was it.
I had this little cubicle, I mean when I was at Y&R I had an office with a window looking down Michigan Avenue, and I was just an assistant Art Director there.
Also, I really wanted to get into the films and commercials, I’d tell people and they’d say ‘you gotta go down and talk to the guy running commercials’.
I’d go down and talk the Head Producer and he’d say ‘We’re the ones doing all the creative work anyhow, if you wanna do TV it has to be through us’.
I kept being told ‘You know Joe, it’s not a revolution, it’s an evolution, and you gotta be part of the group, the team, it’s collaborative’ and all that bullshit.
That division of labour, or whatever you wanna call it, was bullshit.
Although in those days most art directors weren’t really interested in film, they wanted to do their print, which was fine, but I wanted to do film.

Do you remember the first time you encountered the creative revolution?
There was no creative revolution!
It was a small group of DDB off shoots, like Mary Wells, who did some interesting work.
No one else was doing that, mainly it was Ogilvy and Leo Burnett and all this boring stuff.
But I can remember seeing VW and the Ohrbachs ‘You don’t have to be Jewish’ ad; terrific!

So how long did you hit that wall at Leo Burnett’s?
Nine months.
Luckily I got a call from Bill Johnson, the Creative Director at JWT, they were cleaning the slate, getting rid of all these old people who’d been there forever, retiring them.
One of the best decisions I ever made.

Did JWT allow you to get more involved in film?
Much more.
I worked on Chung King, they’d been using comedian Stan Freberg to write their ads, he’d been making a name for himself doing funny ads.

They called him in and asked him what ideas he had for the coming year, well, Stan said he’d need paying before he told them his ideas.
The thing went back and forth until eventually the meeting ended and one of the guys said to Stan ‘Keep in touch’, or something.
After he’d gone the Creative Director said ‘how would you and Dave like to have a crack at those spots?’
So we worked on the egg roll brief, we thought what is an egg roll? So we had this idea about ‘How do you eat an Egg Roll?’, set in a cocktail party.
I did the print too, and at the time you didn’t shoot food against a black background, it was about 1964, so we did the presentation and the client liked all the work, they wanted to run the test film we’d made, but that wasn’t possible because of the Unions.
They said there’s just one problem; the food should never be against a black background.
He’d hardly got done with that sentence when the account guy said ‘Oh no, no, no, we can change that to any color you want’.
He looked like a complete asshole.
It’s these things you come up against.
I couldn’t re-shoot the spot myself, I had to shoot it in Chicago with this real schlock studio, they had some kind of deal with the agency.
But I got everything lined up the way I wanted.
I then talked to the cinematographer who’d put a credenza in the background that was lit, and I said ‘No, that drops off, we light the people, we’re not selling the credenza here’.
Nice guy, but his lighting was terrible.
We were shooting a cocktail party and I wanted to shoot someone talking to someone else off camera.
So I cropped it tight, to leave it to people’s imagination.
We got the film back, he’d shot it wide.
So it was obvious they were talking to no-one, he was talking to himself!
He said ‘I just wanted to cover it for you’, I thought Jesus Christ!
We went in and blew it up, it ended up ok, but the color was shit, real schlock guys.
I guess it was my first foray into film.Chun King 'Egg Rolls', Joe Sedelmaier, JWT copy
Joe Sedelmeier 'Chun King',Joe Sedelmeier

Did you do any good TV at JWT?
No, no, no, oh my God!
I mean, you pay your dues.
I remember I did a lot of the Jello commercials, Jello is a pretty boring product, so the original idea was to go across the country and find real people who would recommend certain things to put in Jello that would make it more interesting.
I thought what I couldn’t do with that! It could be very funny.
Well, it ended up that what they really wanted was real people who looked like they’d stepped out of the pages of Cosmopolitan magazine.
You’d end up with a commercial where the kids come home from school and say ‘Hey mom what’re we having for dinner?’ and the mom would say ‘We’re having Jello Brand Beef Mold’.
Then you’d have the end shot; everyone is sitting down, all dressed up, and the husband will say something like ‘Honey, you’re a GREAT cook.’, the Mom will then look at the camera, wink, then say ‘I have a little help’.
That’s terrible.
I did a few of those in the beginning, but you keep pushing.

How did you make the break to being a director?
One day the rep of a stills guy got in touch saying ‘We’ll sponsor you if you help this stills guy get into film’,
I said OK, but I never want to be on his set, they said fine.
But it didn’t work.
The stills photographer had no idea of motion.
I built this one set in his studio, like a witches den, it was a real mess, he came back, saw it and said he felt I didn’t fit in.
I didn’t.
Well, the rep, Marty, went with me, not the stills guy.
Marty was a good guy, an honest guy, but we disagreed fundamentally on one thing.  He was interested in all the top creative directors, but I didn’t care about them, I was interested in the grunts, the art directors and writers, those are the people I wanted to work with.
I knew that if I was an Art Director and the Creative Director came in and said ‘Hey Joe, I want you to use this guy’, I’d say ‘Go fuck yourself!’.
He just didn’t get that.
So I bought him out three years later.
I didn’t have a pot to piss in.
He was saying to people ‘I give it a year’.
But I found a manager, someone I loved, who took care of the money and I went on from there.
Things worked out.

Joe Sedelmaier & Son

TV ads in those days featured square-jawed men holding up products to the camera didn’t they? What were you shooting?
Well, not quite, it’s true most of them were like that, but then you had Doyle Dane.
They were doing terrific stuff back then.
The one guy in the business I looked up to then was Bill Bernbach, it was Bill Bernbach, Bill Bernbach, Bill Bernbach.
Not just because he was successful, but because he didn’t insult your intelligence.
That was before Doyle Dane became big.
There were other people, like David Ogilvy, but I never liked his work, it appealed to snobs, the ‘Man in the Hathaway Shirt’, and all that bullshit.
Hathaway 'Ivory', Ogilvy & Mather
Or Leo Burnett…with so called mid-western advertising, whatever that is? Down-home? It was very successful.
Kellog's 'Don't Forgetters', Leo Burnett
But I didn’t want to do that kind of thing.
So you move forward.
You win some, you lose a lot.

Which ad put you on the map?
Southern Airways.
The minute I saw the script I thought what I couldn’t do with that!  Fantastic.

Because he was just starting the agency, he had no-one there yet, so I went ahead and later he sent up.
Then an Art Director who’d just been hired was sent to have a look at the set.
He said ‘OH MY GOD! They’ll never buy this!’.
But by this time I was like ‘Screw it, were going with it’.
He was like a dark cloud all over that shoot, ‘They’ll never buy this’, ‘They’ll never buy that’.
Then the clients came in, two Southern guys, and Southern Airlines had never made a commercial before, this was their first one.
They said ‘Well let’s have a look at what we got?’.
We showed them.
They said ‘Looks fun, let’s go with it.’
But it could’ve gone the other way.
If that Art Director had had power we could never have done that spot.
After that I decided ‘No more serious commercials, we’re doing strictly comedy’.
So I put just comedy on the reel, it was difficult in the beginning, people say ’Sure everyone laughs but no-one will remember the name of the product’, well that’s bullshit.
These things are seen over and over, so you make them so that you can watch them over and over.
Nine tenths of the ads that are supposedly humourous have a joke at the end, but once you’ve heard the joke that’s it.
To me it’s the telling of the joke.
I could never tell a joke.
I had a friend who was great at telling jokes, I used to get him to tell me the same jokes over and over, because what was funny was his execution of the joke.

The proof of that is the film ‘The Aristocrats’?
Oh my God!
Oh yes!
It’s absolutely fantastic!
My wife and I went to an afternoon showing of that film, and we were sitting there and there were these people sitting in front of us saying ‘This is absurd, that’s really uncalled for, I mean if you can’t say something funny without resorting to that kind of language’.
Well, they became as funny as the film.
That film’s a classic.

So Joe, here’s my three funniest films; W. C. Fields ‘It’s A Gift’, Pre…
Oh I love it!
I love Fields.
‘It’s A Gift’ is brilliant!

It’s interesting, Fields always repeated himself, but he’d tweak things each time.
The perfect Fields film is ‘The Bank Dick’, also ‘The Man On The Flying Trapeze’.
I got ‘em all.
I mean, Fields was brilliant.
Chaplin is considered brilliant, and boy he was.
I’d put him at the top…what I should say is that there’s no-one above him.
I love Keaton, The Marx Brothers, but when I look at Chaplin he did more.
With Keaton there’s ‘The General’, which is brilliant, the same with ’Sherlock Jnr’, after that there were moments.
Same with The Marx Brothers, ‘Duck Soup’ is brilliant.

But with Chaplin, his Mutual comedies, well, I laughed my ass off at them, then I look at his films in the twenties, brilliant!
And of course the highlight is ‘City Lights’, but after that there are only moments.
‘Modern Times’ had it’s moments, ‘The Great Dictator’ had it’s moments too, but he never really understood sound, he also talked too much in the later films.
The best moment in the ‘Great Dictator’ is silent, the bit where he’s dancing with the globe, brilliant stuff, but it’s silent.

A lot of my stuff is silent, like the Independent Life ads, but with a very straight voiceover.
All my voiceovers were straight.

Ok, next would be Preston Sturges and ‘The Lady Eve…
Oh yes!
Isn’t it wonderful we can see those films?
I got all of Sturges’s films on Blu-Ray.
What’s interesting about Sturges is that his film ’Sullivan’s Travels’ is all about comedy, how important comedy is integral to our lives, but there wasn’t a funny thing in the film!
But ‘The Lady Eve’ is brilliant.

He had his little stable of actors and it was wonderful.
He also did a film with a silent comedian I left out earlier; Harold Lloyd, called ‘The Sin Of Harold Diddlebock’.
It’s about what happens to Lloyd’s character in ‘The Freshman’, (which is a brilliant film, really great).
But ‘Harold Diddlebock’ really isn’t that good.

He’d been great as the young go-getter in ‘The Freshman’.

But in ‘Diddlebock’ he was in his forties, late forties, that character just didn’t work, the character becomes pathetic.
The same with Buster Keaton, originally he worked for Joe Schenk, who was like a father to him, he left him alone and Keaton did some great work.

When Schenk left, Keaton was approached by Irving Thalberg from MGM, who said ‘You’ve gotta come over here we’ve got everything, all this great lighting equipment and everything’.
Keaton went.
All of a sudden he had to present a script on what he was going to do.
Well, the funny stuff Keaton did had nothing to do with a script.
He could fall off a rock and it’d be funny.
But it’s not funny if you write it down.
He didn’t do much after that.Joe Sedelaier091-01
But Chaplin always owned his own studio.
I learned from that.
When I became successful a lot of the big studios on the West Coast, Fox and MGM thought ‘Hey, there’s a lot of money to be made in commercials, this guys doing fine’, so they came to me to buy the studio.
I felt like I was ready to be raped.
The money was terrific and everything, but I never wanted to be an employee again.
You wouldn’t be talking to me today if it’d happened.
I got to where I got because I had control.
It doesn’t matter how talented you are, if you’re not in the right set up you won’t do a thing.

 Third would have to be a Woody Allen film, there’s so many, it’d be between ‘Annie Hall’, ‘The Puple Rose Of Cairo’, Manhattan’, ‘Love & Death’, ‘Hannah And Her Sisters’, ‘Play It Again Sam’ and ‘Midnight In Paris’.
He’s done some terrific work, there’s no doubt about it.

How about you Joe, what are your top three?
I can’t do that I’m afraid, there are too many.
I’ve been taking Sight & Sound Film Magazine since 1956, it was the first serious film magazine.
When I came to Chicago in 1955 there were no books out on film.
You gotta realize when I was a young man in my twenties the only way you saw classic films was through Film Societies, I belonged to a small one in Chicago, we got our films from the Museum of Modern Art, who were the first people to recognize film as a modern art.
We’d get these 16mm films and I’d take two record players and I’d score these films with my record collection, thirty-three and a third records.
I learnt a lot about music that way.
When you think today, young people have access to every film ever made, my God.
That’s fantastic.
But I’ll talk to some of the students in film class, I’ll say ‘Ever seen Chaplin?’ and this young guy studying film will say ‘Yeah, I thought Downey was ok’,
I never understand that, I mean you’ve got everything available today.

How did you direct?
All my characters play it straight.
In an audition someone would come in and say ‘How do you want me to play it; straight or for humour?’, and I’d think right away that they didn’t really understand, you play EVERYTHING straight.
Watch ‘Being There’.
Oh my God!
What a classic.
Peter Sellars always played everything straight, one of the funniest guys ever.
The sad thing was, Sellars never realized just how good he was.
My God, he was brilliant.

Did you welcome clients on shoots?
Well yeah, it has to start at the top, I used to like the clients being at the shoot, I didn’t like functionaries being there who didn’t have any power, who had to report back to someone, things change on shoots, you want someone who has the power to go with it.
When I think of John Kelly from Alaska Airlines, he was on every shoot, he was wonderful, he was there about seven years, then he was made President of Alaska Airlines and some other guy came in.
It was OK at first because the shadow of John was there, but a couple of years in it started to level off.
Seven years is a lifetime in this business……

You have a very idiosyncratic taste in music.
Did Larry David steal your iPod?
I’ve read interviews with David where he admitted that the music from ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ was taken from a bank ad.
I’ve watched bits of it, it’s funny, but I haven’t watched a lot of it.
Larry David for me always seemed like an old Woody Allen.
They made a film together…Oh my God! It was so bad, oh my God!
Music is so important in film but you never hear it talked about that much, you see a critique of a film and they never mention music.
Imagine ‘The Third Man’ without that music?
Or ‘Lawrence of Arabia’?

Joe Sedelmaier Following Bike
Joe Sedelmaier Fed Ex Stand In

‘He’s more like Jacques Tati than anyone I can think of, I can’t wait to see his feature films’ – Steven Spielberg.
I met him, he’s one of the few guys out there who’s not full of bullshit, he’s a very straight guy, a very good guy, I’m not what you’d call a big Steven Speilberg aficionado or whatever, but he’s a very honest guy.
Talking about films today, the guys I really like are the Coen Brothers, I love the Coen Brothers, They’ve stayed by themselves too, ‘The Serious Man’, Oh my God it was so beautifully done, there’s still great stuff being done……

Joe Sedelmaier, Esquire Cover, 1983
Why no feature films?
Once I’d done ‘Where’s The Beef’, and ‘Fast Talking Man’ and all that, the William Morris Agency got in touch.
They wined and dined me and they said ‘Joe, you gotta be making features!’
They sent me all these scripts; ‘Hey, this is a fun script, real fun’.
That’s not what I did, I wanted a synopsis of the story and I’d take it from there.
They never got that.

I remember first discovering how Directors worked in the States, just handing over a big pile of film, rather than an edit.
You didn’t work that way?
No, when I came over to London to do my first job it blew my mind, they wanted my input, the input of the director.
They’d be ‘Well you’re the Director, how do you want to do it?’, it was fantastic, guys like Tim Delaney, who was just a terrific guy to work with…oh my God.

‘Velly Nice’ and the manic fiddle player are great, I love the Wendy’s ‘Russian’ ad.

Well I was presented with this thing ‘at Wendy’s you have a choice’,
Well first of all casting, now I didn’t want this thing, a Russian fashion Show to feature a lot of guys who looked Anglo-Saxon, so I had the casting director go to the Polish Consulate.  I wanted that Slavic look, (A Woman commissar called Romania Anna Parker), so we got Poles, boy they looked like they’d lived, one was part of a Romanian Nightclub we had here.
So I got this big guy and dressed him up like a woman.
On the shoot we had this woman going back and forth on this catwalk wearing exactly the same thing, and we were doing the bit where it says ‘evening wear’, but then I thought ‘Hey, wait a minute, I’m gonna give her a flashlight’.
I hadn’t even thought of that before the shoot.
We shot it in a Country Club and I noticed on the ceiling were all these little stars, so I had someone get up there and paint them red.
So we really got the feeling.
It only played twice, everyone got upset because Gorbachev was coming over, so they felt he was being insulted or some bullshit.

‘Where’s the beef?’ really blew up….
Joe Sedelmaier 'Where's The Beef' 3Joe Sedelmaier 'Where's The Beef' 13Joe Sedelmaier 'Where's The Beef' 20Joe Sedelmaier 'Where's The Beef' 4Joe Sedelmaier 'Where's The Beef' 6Joe Sedelmaier 'Where's The Beef'  14Joe Sedelmaier 'Where's The Beef' 7Joe Sedelmaier 'Where's The Beef' 17