Digital Arts talks boom and bust with the co-founder of Attik.

Multidisciplinary studio Attik had a rise to success that any small studio would kill for – but in 2001, it came back to earth with a bump. Founded in 1986 by art school friends and former pavement artists Simon Needham and James Sommerville (and named after their first workspace), the company went through what Sommerville describes as “a slight rampage”.

By 2000, it had grown to 180 staff and launched offices in London, New York, San Francisco and Sydney. By this stage, Attik was also involved in everything from shooting commercials to website design.

“It was all very exciting, like a runaway train,” recalls Sommerville. However, the economic slowdown of 2001 and 2002 – when the dotcom bubble burst and stocks plummeted following 9/11 – hit the studio hard.

Work dried up and Attik was forced to shed over half its staff, closing the London and Sydney offices and reducing staff to 60.

With hindsight, Sommerville says that he welcomes the forced shift from being a sprawling organization to a more focused studio.

“It made us sit down and think about the business and how we could pull through those periods. Today we’re smaller, we’re healthier, we’re fitter, and we’re more profitable than ever before.”

In 2007, sensing that another economic slowdown was coming, Attik started hunting for a larger company to buy it; it was eventually acquired by global agency Dentsu.