The illustrator, craftsman, installation and set designer
Kyle Bean is one of those creatives whose multi-skilled approach to projects has itself become a distinctive calling card. Fusing handcraft and sculpture, with illustration and art direction, he takes on a huge variety of projects, from editorial illustrations to window installations for Selfridges.
He’s always been interested in working with different materials and creating physical models. Indeed, Kyle says that his work today is not “a million miles away from the kind of work I produced towards the end of university,” but adds: “I guess I have simply learnt how to translate my skills into a few different contexts.”
It can be good to have a speciality as people are more likely to recognise your work, but “it’s a very risky strategy to not try and develop your skills into other areas”, warns Kyle. For example, the growing need for magazines to develop iPad editions of their publications has called for a shift in the way illustrators work. “It has become expected for illustrators, set designers and photographers to animate or film their work for iPads,” Kyle explains. “So quite often now, I also have to be thinking how my work can be animated too. I have developed this out of a need, but also because I was interested in seeing my work move.”
Creative individuals and agencies have definitely moved away from being specialist, adds Kyle. The availability of software that allows them to dabble with new disciplines such as photography, animation, 3D graphics and film editing has been an important driver of this move, he believes, while the recession might also have played its part.
“Perhaps the most obvious [reason] is the recession, which is pushing studios to be more inventive about securing new clients,” he explains. “If you can prove that you can work on a number of aspects of a client’s needs, then surely that is a more attractive option for them.”
Five by Five
The integrated agency
Multi-disciplinary agency Five by Five was born from bringing together the previously separate traditional and specialist digital advertising sister agencies in the mid-2000s.
For many years, specialist digital agencies were required to produce digital campaigns for very distinct online platforms, but as digital channels proliferated and became more integrated and integral to all aspects of consumer interaction, so too have agencies needed a more integrated approach. So although digital still plays an important part at Five by Five, it now provides work across many platforms, including print, mobile, poster and video.
As the agency’s creative director, Martin Flavin, explains: “There will always be specialist providers out there, but more and more, especially with medium-sized clients, there needs to be a campaign or brand brain that can bring these things together. There are so many different platforms and ways of interacting with your audiences, that you need to be able to craft your message in a way that can exist in all these places.”
Having breadth of talent within the agency is vital, but getting the most out of that talent is even more important, says Martin. For every project, Five by Five goes through a rigorous process at the concept stage to bring together the best ideas from across the business. So creatives, as well as technical or other talent, might workshop an idea from day one. It’s about “democratising” the different skills, explains Martin, and while many agencies claim to do the same, “it takes a lot of work, because people think in really different ways, and playing to people’s preferences is where the hard work comes in”.
Being a successful integrated agency is all about coming up with channel-agnostic ideas. It’s not about “matching luggage,” as Martin puts it – in other words matching the print ad to the online banner ad and the TV clip. It’s about having deep strategic knowledge.
“We work really hard to come up with ideas that can naturally live on different channels,” he adds.