Product Design
  • Interview Excerpt: Scott Nowell, Co-Founder & Executive Creative Director, The Monkeys, Sydney

    Check out the work of Scott Nowell.

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    So once you’re looking at the work, what impresses you?

    For a junior book you just want to see some interesting and fresh thought. I think a lot of students’ books have what that person thinks you need to see. But really you want to see what kind of thinker they are. We hire people who have hardly any ads in their book but they’ve done an amazing blog and we know they can write, or they’ve got a clever business idea or solution. You just want to see a fresh take on the world, whether that’s in advertising or in another pursuit that could be applicable to what we do here.

    It’s got to stop you. Like a consumer [seeing an ad]. If you can engage a jaded creative director then you’re most of the way there.

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    Can you think of any examples of when it’s worked well?

    One girl here came from AWARD School and had a lot of design work, having previously worked as a designer. And she had a few design and business projects that we just loved, and then she had her ad school stuff which demonstrated that she could think in that concise advertising way. But in combination it was a much stronger package than if it was just the ad work.

    You just want to see a fresh take on the world. And that’s what advertising is. You’ve got to have a fresh take on a car or chocolate milk. It’s always good to see people who are obviously into what they are doing. We had another talented girl who came in with ads, but she also had a website where she was selling products, and some of those products had gone into the Museum of Modern Art. We were sold on that website.

    One of our other guys started here after working as a designer for a company called Mambo, which is an Australian surf label. He’d worked on ads for Mambo but never for an ad agency. We liked the way he thought and the design skills he brought and hired him.

    It is a wide-open thing; you could do anything. But it makes a person more interesting. If someone comes in with a bunch of ads and says, “And here are some bike designs; I’m building a bike.” If it’s presented well, that’s great. I don’t know how I’m going to apply it now, but we might be able to apply that kind of thinking.

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    Do you have tips about getting in touch with creative directors?

    Don’t do creepy things. Don’t stalk them. No Photoshopped pictures with the creative director’s head on it. I just wouldn’t do that sort of stuff; you’ll be seen straightaway as a freak. Just do good ideas and be open to what people have to say about them. It can be confusing when you first start out because you’ll go to one person and they’ll say, “That’s great; you’ll get a job soon,” and then you’ll go to someone else and they’ll say, “This is rubbish; you’re nowhere.”

    The best thing to do is keep working. Get briefs and keep working on them. If you can go and meet a creative director and you seem to be getting on, just ask them for a brief. If it’s alive or dead it doesn’t matter. If you come back with work it shows a bit of initiative. Attitude is so much of it. If you’ve got people who are sitting there with decent ideas and you can tell they’ve got a bit of talent and they’ve really got drive and a good attitude, you know they’ll make it. But if you have talented people and their attitude isn’t good, they’ll either have a reality check and do well, or they’ll just fade away.

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    I’m out of questions. Is there anything else you want to say?

    Just on the attitude thing: we’ve met quite a few people who come in and say, “We’ve been at this place and it’s terrible…they kill good ideas and we want to work somewhere cool like your place.” The reality is it’s hard everywhere. And you never want people who slag off where they have been. It is acknowledged that it’s difficult to get work through at certain places, but there’s no point in bad-mouthing anyone or anything. And it’s always good to see people with a positive attitude, even if they’re working at the worst place and they say, “We keep trying; it’s pretty hard, but every day we try to come up with new things.” So attitude is a major factor. Good ideas and attitude. And don’t be afraid to put stuff in that you think is good that is not advertising at all.

    Scott Nowell

    Scott Nowell

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