Featured Creative Director

40/40 Creative

August 2019

We caught up with Brandon Els, Creative Director at Gold Coast studio 40/40 Creative, who shared some advice for design graduates, and what they're looking for in a team applicant. Plus we also chat about their studio culture, passion projects, and the importance of staying inspired.

Where exactly did the name of your practice come from?

The agency name was derived from the idea that it takes 40 days and 40 nights to truly get to know someone. Understanding and developing a strong relationship with your client is the best way forward for both parties.

Talk us through a typical working day for you right now.

On most days, we’re all usually in by around 9:00am (except Darron, whose alarm only seems to go off around then!). I’ll try to get any briefing out of the way by 9:45am. From there, everyone gets their coffee orders in, and the work day is officially started. Lunch usually kicks in around 12:30, but most of us just keep working while we eat - we all know it’s not a good routine, but it’s just the way it is. Majority of the work we do throughout the day is branding related, so often or not, we have all 3 of our designers working on a branding concept of some sort. It’s a relatively casual environment in the office. Everyone cracks jokes, and there’s a tonne of enjoyable banter. We all like to pick on each other - no one can really take any of it seriously, as we all dish it out as well as cop it. It’s just part of the in-house culture.

On Thursdays, we have a bit of a ritual where Nic, myself and a few of the team usually hang back until around midnight to finish off personal work for 40/40, or spend some time on little creative side projects. It’s also a good excuse for everyone to head out to grab dinner and drinks together. During the week, everything is quite fast paced and sometime we all just have our headphones on, trying to finish our projects - so it’s not always fun and games. Thursdays give everyone a chance to regroup and enjoy each other's company, as well as finish up any last minute work before the weekend.

What qualities and skills do you look for in a graduate?

For us, there’s a multitude of qualities that we look for in potential applicants, graduates or otherwise. First up, we need applicants to be easy-going and motivated. We’re not looking for slackers, but we’re not looking for robots either. Second, you need to just ‘get it', which is a little hard to explain, but it’s pretty easy to usually tell when a creative just gets it. It’s a mix of design skills and creativity, infused with style and personality. When you join the 40/40 team, you join a family - so we need to make sure you’re here for a good time and a long time.

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Remember, everyone has to start somewhere, and 99% of us had no clue what we were doing when we started. We all just practiced and practiced, until we made something of ourselves.

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Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

We’re actually working on a couple of fun passion projects at the moment!

We’ve got a really usable space downstairs in our new studio that we’re looking to activate into a gallery space and concept store. Our goal is to host a range of events such as art shows, pop-up stores, and even a workshop or two - and get a chance to interact with the public a little more. We currently also have our resident artist, John Kaye, working in the back area of the space. We’re in renovation stage at the moment, so looking forward to cleaning it all up, and getting the space ready to shine.

I’m also working on a little side project myself called the Forty Collectors Club, which is still in the early stages of development, but will essentially be a documentation of mine and some close friends' art, music and toy collections. There will be a secondary element to the project that involves some clothing and fun merch, but it’s all very WIP at the moment. Just trying to have a lot of fun with this one!

Who’s on the team, what are their roles and why do you love them?

We’ve had some recent additions to the team which has been great - but due to some very unfortunate circumstances, we also lost one of our best, due to a motorcycle crash at the end of the last year. Timo was one of the very first to join the team, and has been a part of the family since pretty much day one. If you’ve seen any videos that we’ve released since we’ve been around, it was almost always a Timo production. Much love going out to him up there. Our current team consists of 10 staff: an agency director, creative director, project manager, web developer, motion designer, content strategist, studio manager and three graphic designers. So we’ve got most areas covered which is epic. Everyone plays their own unique part in the company, each with their own unique set of skills. Everyone at the agency complements each other in some shape or form, and I think that’s a big reason why 40/40 is the way it is.

What advice would you give students graduating in 2019?

Be unique and confident, understand the trends, experiment and practice, and set some goals. Remember, everyone has to start somewhere, and 99% of us had no clue what we were doing when we started. We all just practiced and practiced, until we made something of ourselves. We’re creatives, and creatives were born to enjoy the small things in life. We can see the beauty in anything. You’ll be surprised how many uninspiring ‘design agencies’ there are around, who just do design because it pays the bills. If you work hard, keep inspired, and stay passionate, you’re bound to get noticed.

Website: 4040creative.agency

Instagram: @4040creative

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