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
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

Loot. If it’s scruffy, make it scruffy.

Capture a company’s personality or create one?
When you’re developing a new campaign you’ve got to do one or the other.
It’s not always possible, but I prefer trying to capture what’s there rather than fabricate something.
Your message has more chance of being believed if it ties in with your perceptions of a company.
Conversely, if say, a bank start telling you about interest rates in the manner of an eighteen year old street hustler, it raises suspicions.
It’s like seeing an old uncle you are used to seeing in cords and cardigans suddenly turn up in black leather trousers and mirror shades.
You can’t help think there’s a problem.
Bottling the essence of a company means putting your own pre-conceptions and prejudices aside.
It’s not about turning dull into cool, it’s finding truth and reframing it.

When I was at Simons Palmer the agency won The Sun.
Exhibits A & B:
Ypaddypantsdown freddieate
Traditionally not a magnet for awards.
So I was curious to see how Chris and Mark would represent this sensationalist sensationalist, trashy product with ‘good’ creative work.
At the time ‘good’ creative work all seemed to be intelligent and sophisticated.
They didn’t turn it into something cool like they had with Nike…
nike_billboard_jordan2-600x450 ,
or … hip like Wrangler…

…or stylish like The National Railway Museum…

They made it appear sensationalist, trashy and argumentative, like The Sun.
They celebrated the truth.

When we pitched for Loot at CDD, I did the same.

Initially, we fell in love with the idea of producing contradictory ads next to each other.
The same object, only in one it’s seen through the eyes of the seller, in the other through the eyes of the buyer.
E.g.;Small ad on the left hand page; Picture of an old chair next to the line “it’s junk, sell it in Loot”, small ad on the right hand page; “Antiques. Buy them in Loot.”
Or like this on posters:
Loot- Opposites
The clients loved it.
But good old Captain Integrity, Sean Doyle, found a similar ad in an old copy of the One Show.
So we withdrew it.
We told them it’d ‘been done’ they couldn’t have it.
We’d go again.
It’s a fine line between integrity and stupidity.
(Not sure exactly which side of it we were on in that instance.)

We went again.
New thought: Anti-new.
Why not celebrate the second-hand, the used, the stuff with previous owners?
Loot roughs
It was different and VERY them.
So how do we turn that into a style that best represents Loot?
Loot had terrible printing, dodgy star bursts everywhere and exclamation marks on every square inch, everything was shouty.
Cool, that’s our ingredients then.

Dave Wakefield found this old cut of a font we scanned.

Graphique type sheet-01
Then we used graduated course screens, drop shadows, clashing colours and all the things that we would usually avoid.
(We were generally too cool for school.)
LOOT 'Underpants'-01 LOOT 'Woolies' -01LOOT 'Hate'-01 LOOT '501's-01LOOT 'Picasso-01LOOT 'New Shoes'-01
We recovered from not letting the client, Stephen Miron, have the work he’d wanted from the previous meeting.
But we couldn’t recover from the fact that I was the only person from the agency in the pitch.
It fell on the same day as our agency’s first briefing by our biggest, in fact only account, Mercedes-Benz.
It felt wrong to rearrange them in favour of a pitch.
But, we didn’t look terribly committed to the Loot cause.
A shame, I haven’t had the opportunity to bad printing since.


“We have a bit of an image problem with Merrydown, its main constituency appears to be students and street tramps” Chris Carr, Merrydown Chairman.
These were the only ads of theirs we’d seen, they were written by Chris Wilkins.
wm_nightclub.lg-1    wm_opera.lg
wm_bank.lg     wm_cricket.lg

6 sheets and fly posters were booked, so posh, long copy ads like those were out.
The creative department came up with various routes, some good, some less so.
Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 20.20.35
The thing that worried me was who’d read an ad on a fly poster?
You wouldn’t even notice it, regular ads have too many elements: end lines, headlines, logos, visuals.
I felt we needed something simpler, more like graffiti than advertising.
Like the Milton Glaser ‘I love New York’ logo/poster thing.

I’d doodled something shortly after meeting the client, it wasn’t really an ad or idea, I’d simply split the brand name in two.
“Happy and sad in the same name, how weird?”
I quite liked it, but dismissed it as it didn’t seem to have any meaning.
BUT… it was really simple,  like that Milton Glaser poster,  and branded.
I tried to think about how to  to give it more meaning.
I remembered those Victorian of faces that worked both ways up.
Two faces poster    Woman's head

Maybe if one way up had a full glass of Merrydown and was smiling; Merry, and the other way up was sad; Down, because the glass of cider was empty.
I mocked them up.
Picking very contrasting images, colours and fonts to suggest a variety of styles:

Merrydown were in such dire straits, so the ads weren’t over scrutinised. It was more of a “Yeah…why not?”.
Right! Illustrators…erm?
There are thousands of great illustrators out there, I was finding it difficult to narrow it down to five.
Sod it, instead of getting five illustrators for a £1000 a pop, why not get ten for £500 each? It’s a good brief and I could give them complete freedom to compensate for the little fee, what the hell, they can only say no.

Michael Johnson, the cool, bespectacled designer stopped by to update me on the progress of our agency book he was designing.
I talked to him about the Merrydown idea, trying to pick his brains on illustrators he’d worked with.
Two days later, instead of sending recommendations for illustrators, he sent over ideas:
I bought this one. (I say bought, we didn’t pay him a penny.)
229_merrydown_up_400  229_merrydown_down_400

Next, Martin Haake faxes over a long stream of ideas, all good.
In retrospect, I was a bit too sensible, I loved the cowboy/Indian and cop/robber ideas, but worried their occupations may get in the way of the idea.
Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 11 %22Down%22-01 Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 11, %22Merry%22-01
Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 10 %22Merry%22.jpg-01Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 10 %22Merry%22-01
Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 9 %22Merry%22-01Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 9, %22Down%22-01
Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 8 %22Merry%22-01Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 8 %22Down%22-01
Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 7 %22Merry%22-01Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 7 %22Down%22-01
Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 6 %22Merry%22-01Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 6 %22Down%22-01
Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 5 %22Merry%22-01Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 5 %22Down%22.jpg-01
Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 1 %22Merry%22-01Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 1 %22Down%22.jpg-01
Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 4 %22Merry%22.jpg-01Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 4 %22Down%22.jpg-01
Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 2 %22Merry%22-01Merrydown, Martin Haake Rough 2 %22Down%22-01
Merrydown,Martin Haake Final, %22Merry%22png-01      Merrydown,Martin Haake Final, %22Down%22-01

I picked someone straight out of college; Helen Wakefield.
She had a very idiosyncratic way of thinking and drawing, and produced these.
Merrydown, Helen Wakefield,  Rough 3,-01Merrydown, Helen Wakefield,  Rough, %22Merry%22-01-01
Merrydown, Helen Wakefield,  Rough 2,-01Merrydown, Helen Wakefield, Early Rough,-01 Merrydown, Helen Wakefield Final, %22Merry%22-01Merrydown, Helen Wakefield Final, %22Down%22-01

Olaf Hayek sent in his scribbles.
I couldn’t imagine these  finished:
Merrydown, Olaf Hayek Rough 2, %22Merry%22-01Merrydown, Olaf Hayek Rough 2, %22Down%22-01
Merrydown, Olaf Hayek Rough 1, %22Merry%22-01Merrydown, Olaf Hayek Rough 1, %22Down%22-01

But I could picture this one working…
Merrydown, Olaf Hayek Rough 3, %22Merry%22-01Merrydown, Olaf Hayek Rough 3, %22Down%22-01
Merrydown, Olaf Hajek Final, %22Merry%22-01         Merrydown, Olaf Hajek Final, Down%22-01

Jeff Fisher, always a classy act, sent in this in.
It didn’t look great, but he always does great stuff, so I thought it’ll probably turn out well.
Merrydown, Jeff Fisher Rough %22Merry%22-01 Merrydown, Jeff Fisher Rough, %22Down%22-01
I was right, it did:
Merrydown, Jeff Fisher Final, %22Merry%22-01        Merrydown, Jeff Fisher Final, %22Down%22-01

One of the cleverest illustrators in the world did this one, Brian Cronin.
Merrydown, Brian Cronin Final, Merry%22-01    Merrydown, Brian Cronin Final, Down%22-01

Even a fat wallet illustrator like Gary Baseman agreed to do it for our micro fee.
Top illustrator, top bloke.

Merrydown, Gary Baseman Rough 1, %22Merry%22-01Merrydown, Gary Baseman Rough 1, %22Down%22-01 Merrydown, Gary Baseman Rough 4, %22Merry%22-01Merrydown, Gary Baseman Rough 4, %22Down%22-01Merrydown, Gary Baseman Rough 3, %22Down%22-01Merrydown, Gary Baseman Rough 3, %22Merry%22-01

They all looked great, but this one made me smile widest…
Merrydown, Gary Baseman Rough 2, %22Down%22.jpg-01Merrydown, Gary Baseman Rough 2, %22Merry%22-01

Merrydown, Gary Baseman Final, %22Merry%22 -01Merrydown, Gary Baseman Final, %22Down%22-01

Without thinking it through, I asked my mate and in-house photographer at CDD, Giles Revell, if he could shoot one.
What a ridiculous request, how was that going to work then?
But, Giles being Giles, he said “Yeah…I’ll give it a go.”
Merrydown, Giles Revell Rough 1-01Merrydown, Giles Revell, Rough 1 %22DOWN%22-01

Merrydown, Giles Revell, Rough 2, %22Merry%22-01Merrydown, Giles Revell, Rough 2, %22DOWN%22-01
Merrydown, Giles Revell Final, %22Merry%22-01
Merrydown, Giles Revell Final, %22Down%22-01

Mick Marston, still a college tutor at the time, did this one, which has a younger, funkier vibe:
Merrydown, Mick Marston Final, %22Merry%22-01 Merrydown, Mick Marston Final, %22Down%22-01
Because it was so simple and graphic, we used it on the new packaging we did for Merrydown.
Merrydown -Bottle, Mick Marston

I’d always loved Sara Fanelli’s work, a stylish mixture of collage and inks.
Merrydown, Sara Fanelli, Rough. %22Down%22-01Merrydown, Sara Fanelli, Rough-01
Merrydown, Sara Fanelli Ink Rough, %22Merry%22-01    Merrydown, Sara Fanelli Ink Rough, %22Down%22-01-01
‘Onion Boy’ was different…
Merrydown, Sara Fanelli Ink Rough 3, %22Merry%22-01-01      Merrydown, Sara Fanelli Ink Rough 3, %22Down%22-01-01
…but got pipped by the less oniony ‘Little Hat’…Merrydown, Sara Fanelli Ink Rough 2, %22Merry%22-01-01    Merrydown, Sara Fanelli Ink Rough 2, %22Down%22-01-01Merrydown, Sara Fanelli Final, %22Merry%22-01     Merrydown, Sara Fanelli Final, %22Down%22-01

I thought the illustrations would do well at the awards, but the idea wouldn’t.
What was the idea anyway, a sort of Happy/Sad branding thingy?
I got it completely wrong , the illustrations won nothing, the ads won Best Poster campaign and Best Press campaign pencils at D&AD.


In 2004 Nick Bell became President of D&AD, one of his first duties was to choose the designer for the next annual.
He chose me, or CDD to be more precise.
In 2004, their annual was one of the few places you could get a concentrated hit of good advertising and design, as a result the annuals were revered and collected, so getting the chance to design one was a great honour.

I presented three ideas to Nick.

If an idea is printed in the D&AD Annual it’s out of circulation.
If it gets presented in a Creative Department thereafter, it’s killed with the chant ‘Been done!’
So the idea was to print the annual on overtly recycled, browny papers with a warning sign on the front saying ‘DO NOT RECYCLE’.
I liked the cognitive dissonance this would create, it looks ethical but and it’s anti-recycling?
Screen shot 2013-12-09 at 22.14.21

Spoof the ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’ albums.
Less rational, but I thought it would be fun to be a bit cheesy and kitsch, possibly a reaction to some of the previous annuals that took themselves soooooo seriously.
I thought there’d be a lot of mileage in the music angle, we could parody music ephemera.
Screen shot 2013-12-09 at 22.21.12

A pretty straight forward cover idea based on the thought that winning a pencil makes you and your work immortal.
It’ll live on for generations to admire.
The visual was three D&AD pencils shot against a goldy, dusky sky to look like the Pyramids.
A bit like that old Benson & Hedges poster.
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 16.59.43

No 2 was bought, the music idea.

I thought it’d be cool if all the category dividing pages were designed like albums.
The front cover could feature an image of the jurors looking like a rock group, on the back the jurors names would be arranged like song titles, the numbers worked – albums tend to have about the same amount of tracks as juries had jurors, eight.
I could ask all my favourite Designers and Art Directors from around the world to design one.
I started drawing up a lists, it was a great, I’d just look at my bookshelves and copy the names: Paula Scher, Vaughn Oliver, David Carson, Fabien Baron, etc, etc.
D&AD 2004 3
I tried desperately to twist designer Mark Farrow’s arm to do one, but he held out.
I just couldn’t breach the wall of protectors defending Fabien Baron.
I had a bit of an email dialogue with Lee Clow, but it dried up.
Weiden’s John C. Jay was too busy.
Apart from that, I got my dream team.

I thought I better work out a shot list for the photographer, Paul Tozer, to ensure each shot mimicked clichéd album covers, so he could recreate them with jurors.
This would also avoid the jury photos looking like jury photos, as well as giving each Designer a different steer.
D&AD 2004D&AD 2004 2D&AD 2004 4

I then mocked up the front and back covers.
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 16.57.01  Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 16.57.58

Who goes on the front? Advertising or Design? One will read the same way up as the contents, the other will effectively be upside down.
Factions fought about who should get the premium side.
At one point it looked like this issue was going to kill the idea.
I thought of a solution – Lenticular printing, both could share the front cover and the book might also feel a bit more special and unusual.

I gave the cool design and illustration collective Me Company a very basic mock-up to fancy up. I angled the type to make it look cheesier.

Their first rough looked weird, I couldn’t decide whether it was so cheesy it was funny, or just rubbish.
D&AD 'Rejected Cover' 2004, Me Co.
I went back to the drawing board.
A change of brief: Yes a spoof, but a cool looking one. It’s the D&AD Annual after all.
Also, let’s ditch the red and concentrate on yellow, that’s D&AD’s colour.
New illustration comes in, much better!
D&AD Cover Frame 3

We then had to figure out how the design would break into the eight pieces needed to made up the lenticular.

D&AD Cover Frame 1D&AD Cover Frame 2

NEW PROBLEM: D&AD’s lawyers say we can’t spoof an EMI property without their permission.
We’d ask.
Inevitably, they say no.
After a lot of negotiating, they say they’ll let us spoof their property providing a) we say on page one they gave us permission, and b) we give them a free ad in the annual.
The free ad:
Screen shot 2013-12-12 at 13.56.41
I thought the best way of handling the permission part was to design the end papers, (the first spread you see in a book), like the inner sleeves of albums.
Screen shot 2013-12-12 at 11.50.55
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 16.35.59
I briefed out all the dividing spreads but saved one for myself to to design.
The Nick Bell spread, he’d been responsible for giving me the brief in the first place.
I gave the photographer this reference for Nick’s image:

I got back this shot.
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 16.56.24

I had a go at turning it into an album cover.
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 16.44.48
It looked too cool.
I needed to spoon in some cheese, it looked too serious.
Maybe we could use that olde, Westerny style lettering The Eagles were fond of?
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 17.02.00
Or maybe we should make it look a bit psychedelic, like this?5099747808920

We solarised the image.
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 16.56.02

I tried to make the design look more pretentious.
I reversed some type from the Trajan columns out of the image, which made it look self-important. In a good way.
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 16.38.23

The back. I needed a  record label logo to help it look like an album.
Turning the old record label logo PYE into DYE seemed like a gift.
6a00e00980a6f3883300e5509aa7718834-800wiScreen shot 2013-12-10 at 11.56.43
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 16.37.26

The designs started to come in.
Geoff Halpin’s…
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 16.43.31

Mark Denton’s…
(I was aware of this one way before the deadline, I was one of the idiots he got to dance in front of about a dozen people at the photography shoot. Cheers Mark!)
D&AD 'Art Direction, Back' Mark Denton
Cabell Harris…
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 16.43.03FrontPage9_2 copy

Alan Kitching…
D&AD 'Members' - Alan Kitching
Tom Hingston…
Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 09.51.34
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 16.43.59
Paula Scher’s…
(A copy change came in after she’d completed her artwork, she simply rubbed it out, leaving a massive, weird hole in the text. Shame, it was so perfectly worked out before.)

D&AD 2004,Illustration - Paula Scher

St Lukes…
Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 09.53.08

I waited for Gerald Scarfe’s design way after the deadline.
“Next Wednesday.”
“Monday, definitely monday.”
This went on right up to the day before we went to print.
I hung in there because, well, he’s Gerald Scarfe and I wanted one of his angry looking bits of design amongst the other more considered pieces.
A parcel turned up.
It was a small parcel, I thought he’d work bigger than that?
How exciting.
I wonder how he’s handled the type?
I wonder whether he has satirized the President aspect?
I wonder how aggressive he has painted Anthony Simmonds-Gooding?
I wonder whether it’s really gloomy?

Out pops the artwork.
photo (4)
I peer back into the envelope to look for the other bits.
Er…that’s it? That’s what I’ve waited eight weeks for? Where’s the words, the design the front and back?
And, I now have a blank spread and one cheeky little cartoon that seemed nearer the style of a seaside postcard than the ‘Fear And Loathing In Los Angeles’.
I can’t bin it, he’s done it for free.
I’ll have to build a cover idea around it. In 24 hours.
“Right…er…he looks jolly…er, music hall, show tunes, Hello Dolly, Fiddler on the roof.”
To make it look like those kind of albums I needed lots of slugs of words, any half joke I could think of went in – Side 1 – his face, side 2 – back of his head…er? Sod it done, next.’
It turned out to be quite a pivotal moment for me, because I couldn’t over analyze, or even analyze.
It was almost like a stream of consciousness.
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 16.34.13Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 21.48.14
“Bit of an error, D&AD side I’m afraid… We’ve forgotten the sponsors spread! Just list the names, we don’t have to turn it into an album design, we don’t have time.”

Sod it! let’s just set it in that interesting kid font.
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 16.50.52
No, it’s a cop-out, it’s the only spread in the book that isn’t an album design.
Whoa! Literally hours…what to do? what to do?…What’s that record over there?
Screen shot 2013-12-10 at 22.30.14
That’ll do!
I took the ‘Six-Five Special’ cover as my ‘inspiration’.
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 16.49.10
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 16.50.11
(If you look carefully in the bottom right corner, there’s a code: H&O + R&C + 1. It stands for:  H&O = Harry & Olivia, (my children), Roman & Charlie, (my step-children), +1 = an unnamed baby on the way, (now Louis).
Screen shot 2013-12-12 at 13.26.48
I remembered the book was shrink wrapped, like albums, so thought it would be good to put stickers on that cellophane like albums too.

NTWICA Stickers
Screen shot 2013-12-10 at 20.50.30 Screen shot 2013-12-10 at 20.50.11

D&AD annual

I managed to sneak one of my other annual ideas onto the back cover.
Waste not, want not.
Do Not Recycle

This is the ticket for the launch of the book, you were only let in if you were wearing one of the stickers.
Thinking about it, that was like sending out 23 tickets to every person, gate crashing must’ve been rife.
Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 09.54.35 

Eight months later the book was finished, a lot of hours went into it.
At some point during the process, the print producer mentioned that the annuals cost about £13 an item to make, I asked him if he could get me a batch for us to give to clients, maybe fifty?
He said he’d just have to clear it, but couldn’t see a problem.
I chase him up after the launch night, “The Chairman says erm…” he sounds a bit sweaty “He says we can sell them to you for the wholesale price, £33… which is still £27 less than it should be…so…”
So I have worked for eight months for free and you want to sell them to me at a profit?
I gave the producer a message for the Chairman, a  suggestion on  where he could store his annuals.
Two weeks later fifty annuals turned up. No charge.
We printed up these stickers and sent it out to clients.
Screen shot 2013-12-10 at 20.49.00
NB. Six weeks after the annual was printed, an envelope showed up at the office.
Inside was Lee Clow’s album design for the Packaging jury.
I’d replaced him, I didn’t even know he was producing one.
Annoyingly, I preferred it to the one we’d used, it spoofed The Beatle’s White album.
All white, minimal typewriter type.
No design for packaging design.
Very cool. Very, very late.


Every so often, a newspaper or magazine will call up asking for some ads.
These can be anything from “If drugs were legalised how would they market themselves?” to “How should banks communicate post 2008?”.
Strangely enough, one such brief helped me secure my first job in advertising: “How would Vets advertise if it became legal for them to do so?”.
(The concepts below ran in Marketing Week, probably helped turn my trial into a job.)
Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 12.36.11 Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 12.36.21

(Hang on a minute… “How would vets advertise if it became legal for them to do so?”, was it ever illegal for Vets to advertise? I guess it must’ve been, how weird is that?)
Anyway, back to the point – “What would happen if the Government stopped trying to scare smokers and talked to them like adults?” The Observer asked.
We fully understood the question, we’d tried to scare the shit out of smokers whilst at AMV/BBDO.
The most effective Anti-Smoking campaign produced at the agency focused on how it affected your looks.
Which as a non-smoker seemed insane Death? – ‘Fine’, Lung cancer? – ‘Whatever’, Gangrene? –‘Sure, no biggie’, Dry Skin? – ‘Whoa! Dry Skin? Now that I can do without!’
The point was, smokers aren’t daft, they know the risks, lecture them and they switch off.

So with The Observer brief we thought we’d remind them of the dangers by accentuating the positive, to the point of being downright silly.
Tonally we wanted to be more like a mate down the pub ribbing them than a authoritarian figure talking down to them.

So we created a fake brand ‘NOTHING’ and advised people to smoke it, lampooning kitsch advertising cliches.
The Observer:Advertising: CDD: Smoking
About a week after the magazine came out, someone called from the NHS, the North Birmingham NHS, “We saw your posters in The Observer, can we have ’em?”
They ran in the East Midlands as 6 sheets.
A lot of P.R. was generated  as the approach was seen to be ‘different’, resulting in the chap who’d called us talking about them on a several radio shows.
No money changed hands, but everybody won. It seemed.6 sheet PostersCDD, Anti-smoking 'Whiter Teeth'-01CDD, Anti-smoking 'Earn Money At Home'-01CDD, Anti smoking 'Longer life'-01

CDD, Aniti-Smoking 'Extra Flavour Meal'-01

One year later the C.O.I. came in to check out our creds.
(Every four years or so they’d troop around all the new agencies, generally pick two new, interesting ones, and kick off a couple that weren’t working out.)
CDD were seen as interesting, probably because three out of the three names over the door were creatives, also, we’d all worked with the C.O.I. at previous agencies.
We had a great meeting.
The feedback was that they really liked CDD because we were creative and ‘interesting’, we were down to last three, they were looking to put two on the roster. Good odds.
Another meeting was arranged to meet a larger group of C.O.I. bods.
Another great meeting.
It appeared to be a done deal.
Then we thought we’d share this news with them: “We’ve already worked together.”

“Really? How so?” said the man from the Ministry.

SFX; Drumroll.”We did these.” “For FREE!” I chipped in.

They didn’t seem quite so delighted as we’d imagined; “Oh, and who did you do them for?”

“The NHS. North Birmingham.”

“We can see that, who were the individuals?”

Slightly thrown by the sudden change in room temperature, we offered up a
name, maybe they were chums?
They all scribbled it down.
The meeting ended shortly after.

We didn’t get on the roster.

If you’re not in the creative department you probably understand why, but for those in creative departments, here’s why; Those guys sole job to decide who the C.O.I. does and doesn’t work with.
The last thing they want is some renegade agency busting their system.