How I Became A Creative Director And Went Slightly Mad

There are few more rewarding careers than Creative Director. Thinking up a crazy idea, then watching it grow into a successful campaign is like giving birth to a genius child who achieves everything you had ever hoped for and more.

Of course, sometimes that child hangs around with the wrong crowd (read: difficult client) and your lofty plans are watered down or even rejected.

But most of the time it’s a great job.

Getting here has been quite a journey. A journey involving a series of hilarious adventures and misadventures, underscored by a steely determination to create new things that make the world a better place.

Or at least a more interesting place.

In the past, I’ve worked across print, digital, radio and video channels, turning acorns into oak trees for clients so diverse they could be mistaken for the cast of a Benetton TVC.

I’ve made content and sold sponsorships. I’ve written news columns, entertainment reviews, radio commercials and direct mail sales copy.

I’ve lived in London, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. For five years I owned a bar. I spent a summer illustrating horses for money.

I’ve also played in bands, painted exhibitions and produced an illustrated children’s book about a half-owl-half-koala trying to understand the world around him.

And along the way I’ve been employed, self-employed and unemployed (intentionally and by accident).

The examples I mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t get me started on the time a friend and I walked into a patent lawyer’s office thinking we’d invented Facebook (this was pre-MySpace BTW). Or the time I began work on a prototype chillable pillow.

Have I said too much?

The point is, I’ve become a sort of trans-hemispheric ideas factory, never sitting still for five minutes. My mind is so full of adventure, it’s like there’s a Pixar movie being filmed in there.

And here’s another confession.

On the rare occasion that I suffer from writer’s block, I’ll wake up in the morning having dreamt that I watched myself developing a concept then steal my own ideas.


But it’s also how I know I’m in the right job. I can’t imagine being a dentist, a quantity surveyor, a plumber or an academic. No one would ever employ me as a surgeon, a tennis player or the in-house IT guy.

And nor should they.

What I CAN do is imagine other people working in those roles. When I spend a bit of time immersing myself in a client’s world I’m able to adopt a language that resonates with potential customers and makes them want to spend money. It’s a bit like talking in tongues, but more lucrative.

And I love it, even though I didn’t expect to end up here. I had a vague idea that I’d spend my life locked in a studio with no windows, painting giant canvasses and never combing my hair.

But I’m really glad I chose this path. It’s a much more acceptable way to be a little bit cray-cray.

Stevie Smiles, Creative Director

fmadmin, 2017 Focused Marketing