Leading designers, illustrators, creative directors and VFX supervisors reflect on the creative legacy of the London 2012 Olympics.
NB: Are you proud to be British?
Anthony Gibbs, creative director at Framestore
“I am British, but I am also Scottish, a Londoner and a European, and I reserve national pride for inconsequential issues like sport.” AM
“I am proud to be British. Recently I have travelled around to different countries more and I’m always thankful to come home. Being away makes me appreciate the opportunities we are have in our society – freedom of speech and fairness.” CP
“Although very proud to be Scottish, I would never shy away from the British brand. To disassociate yourself from the decades of amazing talent and ideas that has emerged from this tiny island would be ridiculous.” JBa
“I am proud I suppose – or certainly not ashamed. I’m ashamed with most things about me, but not where I’m from.”
Jon Burgerman, illustrator
“Yes. It means being part of something varied, interesting, intelligent, driven, constantly-changing, fun, inclusive, surprising, innovative and massively creative.” PC
“I’m truly proud to be British and draw from the artistic heritage this country has to offer. I think being British means that we are open-minded, tolerant and willing to look beyond our native country for inspiration.” PF
“Yes. We are a really creative nation and at our best we are strong, inclusive self-deprecating and witty. I don’t know when I’ve felt such a united spirit. People are actually smiling and talking to each other. To me [being British] is about freedom. Freedom to be who you are despite race or gender and freedom of speech.”
“I have moments of pride in my country, but I am also often disappointed by it. Creatively I am always extremely proud to see how we influence the world and I hope this continues. There is a certain sense of irony and self-deprecation in a lot of our work that makes it feel more human and in turn both challenges and comforts people. Just look at some of our television exports.”
Russell Dodgson, VFX supervisor at Framestore
“It’s hard not to feel a sense of pride at times, especially when Wiggo is flying through the streets of London heading towards a gold medal. I’m not sure my nationality affects my way of thinking. It just so happened that my parents came from the UK, so this is where my passport says I’m from.” RL
“How can you not be proud. As a creative working with global brands, being British definitely helps gain trust when working with local markets. There seems to be a perception that we know what we are doing (even if we don’t).”
Steve Bewick, creative director at Purple Creative
“12 years ago we got one gold medal, this time we won 29. Aside from the stats, the Olympics celebrated everything we are great at; from the opening ceremony’s historical heritage, wit and fun, to the facilities, the architecture, the organisation to the rather eclectic closing ceremony. We’re a force to be reckoned with, never to be under-estimated.” SP
“I’m proud to be part of an incredibly diverse culture where creativity and design sits at its heart. It means that our creativity isn’t confined by our borders, for we are truly influenced by global culture.”
BA's Olympics-themed Taxi spot featured VFX by Framestore.
The London 2012 opening ceremony turned the audience into a giant screen by giving each person a 10-inch electronic paddle that broadcast images such as the Queen, a 60s go-go dancer, a train in London’s Underground, and a representation of the birth of the internet. The animations were designed by Crystal CG
NB: How do we maintain the success of the British creative industries in the future?
“Economically we could do well to drop our British aversion to risk, it’s much more difficult to get access to funding here as opposed to Silicon Valley or Hollywood.”
Ian Wharton, creative
“It would be a good idea if we helped incubate our young talented creatives and gave them reasons to stay in the country. Cutting funding to the arts isn’t a good way to go.” JBu
“Taking care of our creative industries is important but we’ve thrived creatively in times of recession and hard times. During the 80s, for example, the DIY culture boomed – as I experienced myself when I formed Slouch comics with two like-minded friends.” PF
“We should learn from the Olympics. It was not mere coincidence that we excelled across so many disciplines – it was because the country invested in training the athletes. We cannot expect to continue to lead the way in creatively if the government continue to withdraw funding for creative arts. Worse than the lack of funding is the low status they put on the arts. Last year, Art A-Level was downgraded so it no longer ranks as highly as other subjects. This means students wanting a place at University no longer bother with any higher level art education unless it is their chosen path.
“I believe this will breed a nation who no longer care or know about creativity.” RA
“[We should be wary of] losing sight of our identity and following a more American style of advertising. Not to say there’s anything wrong with American advertising as it is, it’s the international diversity that we need to maintain as it allows us to influence and appreciate each other.” RD
“It’s all about global competition. India is rocking. China is amazing. Many countries are on the march creatively.
“If all we do is look inwardly we risk missing some incredible opportunities. More collaboration equals more projects, which equals breakthroughs.” SM
“First and foremost it’s about creativity, and not just as a vocational skill at University, but a radical overhaul of the entire western education system where currently anything vocational is often treated patronisingly as a hobby. The sciences and arts needs better investment and encouragement from an earlier age.” SP
“We need to keep attracting the talent both locally and internationally for nurturing talent is at the heart of our future success. We need to embrace emerging markets.” WC