The co-founder of Rupert Ray and the former creative director of Airside reveals the five driving forces that get him out of bed in the morning – and has drawn portraits of the people who awoke these passions in him
“Maybe today you’ll author something genuinely original and unique, or maybe you’ll give yourself a personal challenge. With access to instant ‘inspiration from anywhere at the touch of a button’, it’s a talent to leave Google and the world of design blogs.
“Originality is elusive and some might say impossible as there’s nothing new under the sun, but to stop looking is to undermine our purpose. Throw yourself out of your comfort zone whenever possible, shut down your business of 15 years and start again. It keeps you alive, it keeps you terrified.
“I certainly left my comfort zone when I created a sculptural portrait for a recent exhibition designed to launch our agency and called Who is Rupert Ray?”
“Social interaction, the chemistry of combined talents and human contact makes for great projects. Understanding these complex human relationships in the real world is essential to designing great interaction in the digital world.
“In film, it’s the successful combination of cast and crew that can bottle lightning. I had the privilege of working with director Anthony Minghella, who likened the communal effort to an ant colony.
“I would have loved to work with the Akira Kurosawa, and the culture of Japan is still my inspiration through teaching Shotokan Karate, discovering their art and cinema, and setting up Airside Nippon.”
“A great designer will draw strength from their wider culture, whether that’s the arts, politics or the environment. At the heart of any project there should be a defining principle, an inspiration to change something for the better. Whether your motivation is to save the planet or our culture from visual pollution, through argument, research and engagement with the debate you will instill meaning in your work.
“I love Tony Benn – he’s an inspiring, principled individual in the true sense of the word, who is never afraid to shake up preconceptions and the established order.”
“Everybody talks about storytelling these days. Brands have stories and people need to know them, but to what end? Too often the audience is expected to be passive recipients of your latest viral. I’m interested in the lightbulb moment, when something in that narrative clicks. When the audience is inspired or empowered with knowledge or motivation to do something worthwhile. Stories can change behaviour as well as entertain. Alan Moore has been a favourite of mine since I was a teenager, captivated by his visual storytelling.”
Mies van der Rohe
“As a child of nine I visited the Alhambra, a Moorish palace in Spain, which made a huge impression. I decided to study architecture, and started drawing Islamic arches with an expensive Rotring pen. This obsession with designing and building places took me through seven years of architecture school, where I jumped ship into the emerging world of 3D information spaces, VR and online games.
“As creatives (and architects) part of our motivation is to leave a mark for posterity. A building is an expression of ourselves that might outlive us. In creating ‘places’, we hope for a form of immortality. I love this idea of creating worlds and I wish I had the skill of Mies van der Rohe.” rupertray.com