Art director Samuel Dunn sits down with Alice Blackwood to discuss the process of establishing his own studio after his experiences abroad.
July 18th, 2012
Tell us a bit about your exchanges in America and the Netherlands?
The most interesting thing I found about both exchanges was the different ways in which students were taught, and in particular the importance of ’concept’ behind their designs. In general I found that the American students work, while technically fulfilling the brief, lacked a unifying concept. Dutch designers were a lot more hands-on and the exact opposite of their American counterparts; at times getting too caught up in ’meaning’ and ’context’ but more often resulting in interesting, thought-provoking work. Both experiences left me feeling confident in my abilities as well as the College of Fine Arts’ approach to design.
Coming back to Australia to start your own studio, what did you feel really set your apart from other graphic design and art direction agencies?
I find the thing that sets young designers and art directors apart is their sheer hunger. What they may lack in experience, is more then made up for by their willingness to learn and better themselves both stylistically and technically. After university I entered a design field that was technically very different to what I had studied, so my learning curve was very steep. Motion design is a continually evolving field, and it’s for that reason I believe young designers and art directors- those more willing to adapt and learn- are at the forefront of the discipline.
Can you highlight a few key projects that you consider to be your most successful/challenging/enjoyable.
The most immediate project that comes to mind is naturally the one I am currently working on: the LifeStyle FOOD rebrand for FOXTEL. The enormity of a channel rebrand is challenging to say the least, but working closely with the LifeStyle Group Creative Director, Jens Hertzum, has made it a truly inspiring and creatively fulfilling journey. Our aim has been to fuse the aspirational aesthetic of modern recipe books with the approachable nature the LifeStyle FOOD Channel is known for. I am really excited about the new direction of the channel.
The project that still fills me with the most pride was also for the LifeStyle Group: the 2012 I Love FOOD Awards. Teaming up with once again with Jens and LifeStyle Senior Producer, Ben Jones, we created a beautiful campaign which featured a series of vignettes of people showing their love for their favourite restaurants in increasingly elaborate ways, culimating in the tag line “there’s a better way to show your love; vote now in the 2012 I Love FOOD Awards”. The work gained international buzz and along with a massive marketing effort made it the most successful awards in its history.
Tell us about the possibilities of applying graphics to interiors and space – have you explored this area through your work or projects?
Combining graphic design with environmental design dominated my final year of study, but has yet to be an area explored through my work. It was, however, a topic i explored in a 2008 sculpture collaboration with John Sheehy called “Faith-by-Numbers” for the Jesus Walks exhibition apart of the World Youth Day celebrations.
Tell us about the importance of branding for businesses (and your unique approach to rebranding and redesigning identities)?
Firstly i think it is important to distinguish between branding and rebranding for businesses. The majority of my work has involved the latter: working within a brand- updating, refreshing or completely redesigning their identities. It sounds cliché but the single most important aspect of rebranding is understanding. Understanding what the brand is, what their product is, who their consumers are, and why they no longer feel properly represented by their graphic identity. In my opinion a rebrand should always be more then just a superficial facelift, however in my experience people are reluctant to change (even those who are seemingly seeking it). It’s my role to prove why change is good and will ultimately prove beneficial for their brand.
In recent months Samuel and team were awarded both Gold and Silver at the World Promax Awards in Los Angeles, California for their promotional work for Planet Cake.
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