Finding themselves with a spare skateboard deck leftover from a shoot, our design department saw a creative opportunity. Rather than letting it go to waste, why not make something that the whole agency could enjoy?
Over the years, the agency has acquired a collection of sayings lovingly called "Wiedenisms" by its employees, phrases that capture W+K's philosophy; some Wiedenisms have become such a big part of everyday agency life, they can even be found emblazoned on our office walls.
W+K designers Michael Bow and Guy Featherstone wanted to create a permanent piece from a phrase that hadn't yet featured in the office but was close to the agency's heart: "Difficult is worth doing." Born from the early days of the our partnership with Honda, we've adopted this creative mantra and approach ever since.
Michael and Guy saw a similarity in the attitude also shared by skaters and skateboarding culture – that relentless persistence is what it takes in order to progress. In addition, the double stroke to the typography was inspired by the fluid lines of skating. The design neatly incorporates the existing truck holes of the board.
Michael says of the project, "Despite our limited experience with the process, we chose to laser etch the design on the board. We felt this would be a good opportunity to push our boundaries and learn new skills. There were a few issues that we encountered during production, especially with regards to etching on the curved ends of the board. After a number of failures we managed to make something we were proud of - and something that truly embodies the philosophy of 'difficult is worth doing'."
We've been fortunate to work with some incredible directors over the years, and we always love seeing what they create outside of adland.
Take Daniel Wolfe, the super talented director of the interactive film we made for Honda, The Other Side. He's been getting a lot of buzz for his debut feature film Catch Me Daddy, a suspenseful thriller about a girl on the run from her family. It was a massive hit at the Cannes Film Festival last summer and has critics fired up about new British talent. It's even managed to reach a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a pretty amazing feat in itself.
Catch Me Daddy is out in cinemas across the UK today, so you can finally see it for yourselves. In the meantime, read an interview with Daniel on Film4's site and check out the trailer:
We've got three new faces joining the W+K London family this month. Here's a little introduction.
This is the lovely Holly Baker-Cliff. She has joined us as an AE on Finish and UKTV. Holly was previously working with the Nike Foundation in London before moving to the more exotic climate of Rwanda, where she became involved in amazing work with the local community.
She also revealed a little secret at our agency meeting; she auditioned for S Club Juniors. We're looking forward to hearing that next time the karaoke machine gets rolled out.
George Lisanti is a fresh face in the finance department, stepping into an accounts payable role. He joins us from a WPP shared services finance department. George is a massive football fan. We hope to get him on our agency football team shortly!
Finally, we welcome Sanket Avlani as a permanent member of the design department. He freelanced with us for a couple of weeks at the end of last year - doing great work on Nike and crafting the Book Of The Year's cover to within an inch of it's life.
Sanket joins us after moving to London from Mumbai where he was working as a Designer/Art Director, was the winner of Cannes Young Lions Design in 2012 for his logo for an NGO ‘Laadii’ and created album artwork for the guitarist of one of the biggest metal bands in India.
Yesterday our Director of Communications and Behaviour Planning, Danni Mohammed, visited the School of Communication Arts to mentor some of its students.
Here, she shares what the students taught her:
Inspiration point 1. The building
The school occupies St Matthews Church on Brixton Hill, a fully functioning church used by the local community for worship and as a place for gathering. SCA found its residence up wide spiralling church stairs to the 4th floor. (Thinking of setting up a school? What better place than a Grade II listed church in the heart of Brixton?)
Inspiration point 2. The classroom
Unlike a typical lecture hall or tutorial classroom, the SCA has pulled together a ramshackle of tables, chairs, sofas, together with a mini stage for talks and what looked like some makeshift awnings to create its home high up in the church.
The philosophy of the SCA is to learn through collaboration and mentoring from within the industry. Each day, students attend 'school' and actively work on live briefs, from D&AD New Blood to industry briefs from the likes of Metro. The diverse range of the tasks set help students decide where they want to focus.
Some examples of the D&AD New Blood live briefs they’re currently working on include:
Pantone - Reimagine your hometown through the language of colour
WPP 'Their World' – brand a global movement to change girls’ lives through technology
Monotype – Use the power of type to create a new visual language for film advertising
Nationwide - Position Nationwide as a future-facing brand.
Inspiration point 3. The students
I managed to get around three teams in the three hours as well as a chat with an ex-D&AD student of year who came back to do a talk about how to approach the D&AD awards. What was inherent in the students' need to create was their underlying ambition to solve real problems in a purposeful way. The approaches they took all varied and showed glimpses of their future professional selves. Ideas were insightful, fresh and relevant.
What most impressed me was one student who decided on his briefs because of his passion for the topic, and even when advised against them by the Dean. You couldn't help but get carried along with his logic (because he knows what he's talking about) and most importantly the broad and insightful ways he came to his ideas.
It was a wonderful opportunity to meet a group of polite, ambitious students with no shortage of ideas. If you get the chance to be a student, go for it, and if you get the chance to be a mentor, go for it. You’ll come out of that church more inspired than when you first stepped upon it.
Finally inspiration point 4. The Dean
Is it just me, me or does he look like Alan Rickman?
Seeking a spot of inspiration for a rainy Thursday afternoon? D&AD's latest Member Spotlight feature sees Creative Director, Freddie Powell spilling the beans on the perks of independence, the work of which he's most proud, and the best career advice he's ever been given.
On Thursday we held the final of our first live placement brief in partnership with the Young Creative Council, and what an epic night it was. After a chaotic start, the top nine laid out their books and took it in turns to pitch their ideas to our creative department. Just like their entries, their presentations were awesome. Nobody showed a single shred of nerves, despite standing up in front of 50-odd strangers. One team even marched around the crowd handing out homemade signs like a punk band. Pretty rad.
Next, everyone mingled for a few minutes while the votes were cast and the Creatives pored over portfolios, umming and awwing. The conversation died out. Tension filled the air. Someone spilled some wine. The crisp bowl emptied. And we finally announced the winners. It was very X-factor.
In the end, The Howling Desmond won the placement by a single vote for their virtual bath, which had the room in stitches. In fact it was so close that we gave a second placement to team NoOne, for their very clever ‘Index of Good’. We’re looking forward to both of them coming to hang out with us on Hanbury Street.
To be honest, all the entries were so strong that we’ll definitely stay in touch with those that came by. Even the ballsy team from Lincoln uni who crept in and put their book amongst the winners, getting a lot of feedback and a few free drinks for their bravery*.
After the back-patting and high-fives we all moved on The Golden Heart for a few well earned drinks and some City High on the jukebox. Despite next morning’s creative department hangover, everybody is excited for the second one.
For those that are interested in references for what we were looking for, here are the entries:
You've seen the TV spot and tested the limits of your speed reading. Now you can delve deeper into the creative insight behind Honda's new Keep Up campaign.
In this Little Black 'Your Shot' feature, Addison Capper picked the brains of the manifesto spot's creative trio, Bertie Scrase, Christen Brestrup and Cal Al-Jorani, to find out how they brought the ad to life.
We are very pleased to say that Forever Curious is back for its second year!
Forever Curious is an agency initiative, where we work with young people in our local community to nurture their creativity. To us, it is just as important to learn from others during the activities as sharing our skills.
Last year, we focused on a project called My Creative Spark. Our creative spark cards helped capture and share the moment when people feel most creative and when inspiration strikes.
This year, we’ve evolved the idea with our new project, My Creative Story. Stories are at the heart of creativity. By reading stories aloud or bringing them to life, we can create images and ideas in the minds of the listeners too. Stories allow us to be seen and heard creatively. Stories encourage people to unite and share. Stories are universal. Stories transcend age, race, religion and position.
So last Friday, volunteers from the agency were reunited with the schoolchildren from Milllfields Community School and Newport Primary School they worked with last year. We also welcomed some new helpers from W+K.
First, we warmed up our brains with some unusual and exciting icebreaker games. We played quick-fire story telling rounds and had a great time pretending to be characters from our favourite stories.
Once our brains were feeling pumped and ready for some creativity we were each given a specially designed creative story card, pre-loaded with prompts and space to get creative. We all had a great time filling in the boxes with writing, pictures and doodles as we built our stories. It was inspiring to hear everyone’s creative stories and the titles they chose, as both children and adults read aloud to the whole group.
We have a lot more planned for My Creative Story, with two more interactive workshops coming up, and an exhibition filled with all the wonderful work that builds up from My Creative Story.
On the side, after hours, when his two adorable kids are asleep, W+K designer Greg art directs, designs, art works and pretty much completely produces an art culture magazine called VNA (Very Nearly Almost).
[Greg with Shepard Fairey, Cleon Peterson and VNA's Roly]
Last Saturday, Greg and another member of the VNA team hopped over to sunny LA to launch the latest issue at Subliminal Projects on Sunset Boulevard, the gallery owned by artist Shepard Fairey.
The cover artist for the new issue is Cleon Peterson, the lead designer for Shepard/Obey, who is blowing up in his own right these days with art fans and collectors alike. Cleon, Shepard and a handful of LA artists made the trip to the launch and helped make it a memorable event.
Sound like fun? You’re in luck – the VNA team will be launching the issue in London at Number Six Dray Walk (in our 'hood, just off Brick Lane) next Thursday evening, 26th February. All are welcome... come on down!