Despite an ‘interesting’ (to put it mildly!) start to 2020 for us all, we’re proud to have continued to grow as an agency, securing a whole range of new clients across the UK. As such, we’ve got some really exciting projects and campaigns in the pipeline.

As a result of our hard work, our diverse team is growing once more and we’re on the lookout for another Agent to join our work family. We’re looking for a new graphic designer to join our innovative creative team, working under our creative director, Ben Spencer, to deliver stand-out work for our clients.

We are looking for a seasoned, accomplished, and ambitious individual with a natural flair for design who has at least four years’ experience of working in a fast-paced and energetic agency (or similar) environment, managing multiple creative projects at any one time from inception to delivery.

We want somebody with a strong and varied design portfolio that demonstrates a whole range of pieces of work including brand projects from initiation to launching campaigns.

In a world where trends are constantly changing, we need someone who is always a step ahead of the curve. It is important for us to be anticipating the next trends, in order to benefit our clients.

The new member of the creative team will be someone who constantly challenges themselves, and who is open to critique in order to produce the best possible work.

At Agent, we are all about collaboration – with our colleagues and our clients. We want somebody who thrives on being part of a team and who cares about maintaining positive relationships both internally and externally.

Our team is extremely important to us, especially as we grow. We encourage growth and development; we would want you to have big ambitions and want to grow and thrive alongside us all.

We’re looking for somebody senior who can hit the ground running immediately to deliver exceptional work, strengthening Agent’s portfolio, reputation and client base.

If this sounds like you and you’d love to join an exceptional close-knit team, read on!

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WHAT YOU’LL BE DOING IN THIS ROLE…

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You’ll need to…

The technical part.

The salary for this role is competitive and is dependent on experience and technical ability.

A full benefits package will be made available including flexible working hours, meditation and monthly massages* as part of our Agent Wellbeing programme.

We don’t want to receive just the ‘usual’ CV’s and covering letters. Tell us why this role is for you, what you done before and what makes you tick! We’d love to see the design work you have created before, too.

Submissions can be emailed to George Barnes, EA to the Chief Executive at george@agentmarketing.co.uk or mailed to Agent Marketing, 43 Jordan Street, Liverpool, L1 0BW. Please quote:

‘Graphic Designer – Agent’

The deadline for applications is Friday 7th August, 2020 at midday. Interviews will take place during week commencing 10th August.

Agent truly celebrates equality, diversity and inclusion. We welcome applications from all members of our diverse communities!

*social distancing permitting

Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation is an independent charity that works towards peace, both nationally and internationally. They aim to prevent serious violent conflicts such as terrorism, political violence or war. 

Working primarily with young people, Peace Foundation deliver successful programmes to build peace and develop conflict resolution skills. They also spend time engaging with communities across Britain, such as developing women’s skills in influencing their families and communities, or supporting those most at risk from violence and extremism. Other work includes helping British and British-based citizens who are victims or survivors of terrorism in this country or overseas.

The steps towards our mission…

Small Steps for Peace was an important programme being launched with KS2 pupils. Peace Foundation would begin the course then handover to teachers to continue the 6-week programme. Together they had an important mission – to help young learners understand the causes and impact of conflict, build listening skills and emotional intelligence, and work collaboratively towards problem solving. It was crucial for children to feel engaged throughout but also recognised and rewarded for their achievements. The programme could also make a significant contribution to a school’s national curriculum learning outcomes for SMSC (spiritual, moral, social and cultural) education.

Working closely with their team, we turned their amazing work into an engaging toolkit that simplified the delivery of the programme for teachers. A clear pathway meant schools were keen to continue the exercises – whilst children were engaged and empowered. Our work amplified the power of the programme.

The impact so far has been outstanding. Over 30 schools in the North of England and more than 900 school children have started on their journey of learning to handle conflict, which will surely develop well into their future lives. Graduation ceremonies are ongoing and Small Steps has even been mentioned in OFSTED reports as a strong contribution towards SMSC goals.

What are the next steps for Small Steps? Think smaller… yes, Tiny Steps. We are currently collaborating with Peace Foundation to develop a KS1 version of the programme. Watch this space…

To find out more about Peace Foundation you can follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also visit their website.

We all have that one thing we have always wanted to do. Whether it’s to fly a plane, learn a new language or in my case – create a game. The thing about doing something new is that you never really know where to start and that was the first problem I encountered.

Starting Agent in September 2016, I never expected to be doing what I do today. I expected to be a developer working on websites and applications with the odd bit of design work now and again, but then I was give my dream opportunity of creating a game.

This was just three months into my role at Agent. With limited experience in creating games, but with a whole lot of coding knowledge, I was asked to get the ball rolling and begin to think about building an app for our Better by Bus campaign. 

Being who I am, I always like to impress and put 110% into everything I do. So, when I was just asked to download and explore a new software called Unity, I was keen to get going. Before I hit download, I asked what it was going to be used for, what type of game they had in mind and from that I decided to start developing the game.

Though I had not been tasked with making the game and the fact I was just meant to be looking at the software, I couldn’t help but dive straight in and start to create it. I began looking up blogs and pages of documents on how to start of building a game and then realised I would need a to build a list of everything I wanted the game to do.

So, I took a few ideas from colleagues and inspiration from games I had played in the past and noted down a list of functions I wanted the game to be able to do. From there I worked out what would be easiest to complete first.

Starting with the most basic functions, I read up documentation on functions which allowed for objects to move, after some research I could get an object moving in one direction at a set speed. Working off that I managed to manipulate users input to change the course of direction of the object, so if I pushed the right arrow the object would slide right.

Thinking in a linear way, I thought about what would come next. I figured now I had a moving player that I would need a scene or road for the player to follow. Might sound as simple as adding in a plane panel that’s X amount of metres long, but after some time the player would hit the end.

So, I had to figure out a way of cloning a road after each other so the road would be endless. I had done some research into cloning algorithms but I’ll admit I had never created one as complex as this would be. First, I needed to make a prefabricated road/scene, then take that prefab and make a list of clones, separating them by how long they are and generating them in front of each other to make an endless roadway.

Once the player object has passed a road completely, the algorithm would call a function which then deletes the last road in the list to save on performance. Not really thinking about it, the script I had written can work across the board for various aspects within the game. I figured this out later in the development when implementing obstacles.

Now I had a player moving forward and sliding side to side on player request with an endless road/scene, I needed to add in some sort of difficulty that wasn’t an object. I decided to increase the speed of the object over a period of time with the intention that in the future it would make it harder to dodge on coming objects.

The previous script I had written with the algorithm in would save me a lot of time for three major steps in the game. I now decided to make up some obstacles that would go in the opposite direction to the player; I figured it would need to be randomly generated, and a constant flow of objects generated in front of the player. From there, I edited the algorithmI I had created then used that same script for Fuel and Boost pickup objects I would add in later.

The core game was working, with only squares and rectangles I had created an endless runner styled game, from no experience and no former knowledge of making games. It wasn’t as visually appealing though because it just didn’t have that feel that it was a working game.

This is where Unity was helpful as it has an asset store with hundreds upon hundreds of free and paid for assets that anyone can use for their projects, so after a brief time searching I found a basic looking bus, some houses and trees and some roads, lamps and park assets. I replaced my existing objects with these new assets I had downloaded and that’s when I could really tell the game was coming together.

Now it was time to work on the user interaction into the game. This was vital and would allow the user to have a home screen, buy playable characters, upgrade them and have an area to play the game from. Using Unity’s easy to use UI system I planned out how I wanted the game GUI to look.

I then started using Unity’s basic images that come with the software and named my elements. Once I was happy with that I then passed over the layout to Jon from our creative team who worked his magic in making it come to life. Slowly but surely the game was really coming together and looking like a rather professional game – especially for someone who has never developed a game before.

After some finishing touches like adding in a soundtrack and some minor bug fixes the first release of the game was ready. It was a fully functional game that a user can interact with, buy buses and upgrade them as well as play as those buses they just bought.

Still to this day I wouldn’t ever think I could create a game, but I now can’t wait to make more.

Fancy playing Ollie’s Fare? You can download it for free on iOS and Android. Don’t forget to give Better by Bus a follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date with the campaign and any Ollie’s Fare updates. If that wasn’t enough, check out the Better by Bus website

 Ollie’s Fare in action at The Big Bang North West!

My daughter Taylor loves to give her opinion and organise things. She spends her weekends drawing and colouring and comes home from school asking me to design her more homework. One slightly unusual hobby is designing class registers and drawing all the lines out then ticking them off, or putting sad faces for the misbehaving kids. I guess all of this stems from the of influence of having a designer as a parent!

After a few weeks in reception, having just turned four in the school holidays, Taylor came home and said she was going to be the lead role in the Christmas play. Nothing like me then… I had one line in a play year six, ran onto the stage and forgot what I was there for… nothing came out. I’m a bit of an introvert but somehow had created a kid who could act! This has turned into more plays and holiday drama clubs, she’s not shy of a camera either.

After a few weeks at Agent I got the chance to work on the Better by Bus campaign, I knew one little helper who would love to get involved!

Luckily it was the school holidays so I brought Taylor in to meet the Agents. She chose her outfit carefully the night before and was super excited.  Working with the Better by Bus project team she brainstormed and co-created the Better by Bus characters, their personalities and their interests. We gave her blank pieces of paper and asked her to create characters, draw where they live and what they would eat for dinner. She listed their favourite activities and this is when Ollie and his gang were born!

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Once the characters had been brought to life by our creative team, the next challenge was to create an activity book to be used in schools engagement assemblies run by our very talented team, Laura and Sarah. Taylor was involved in ideas and the very important stage of testing the content to make sure it was age appropriate. When the books came off the press she had to be the first to have a go!

When I was tasked with writing the Better by Bus Club song I went home to Taylor and told her I needed her help! I went to make dinner and came back to find she’d created me a mind map. Great stuff! It’s always inspirational getting a child’s insight. I found a tune, worked in the campaign’s key messages and worked and reworked the lyrics. Once I was happy with it I had to perform it to the Agents, there was no other way to get it from humming in my head to reality. You can imagine what that was like given my problems in year 6! I just had to say to myself ‘Taylor could do this when she was four’.

Since this initial taster, Taylor has been part of a festival themed photoshoot with our photographer James. We had a fun morning out on location at Sefton Park. She created her costume and visited Laura’s glitter make up studio. She had the chance to use a sulky face expression, she is well practiced in this!

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After the shoot she sat in the head of creative seat to have a stab at Photoshop and a Wacom. She was amazed at how you could draw on the screen. She even changed the height of his chair (shhh!)

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Taylor frequently asks me ‘how the campaign is going’ and comments on billboards and ads she sees because now she knows how it is all put together.

I’m really pleased she’s had a taste of work and professional life. It has shown her what is possible and the variety and opportunity out there. Thank you to Agent for giving a little eight year old an incredible experience, and thank you to Taylor for her creativity and ideas that contributed to such a great campaign!

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As I progressed through my final year at University in West London, the ever-looming task of successfully finding a graduate job dawned upon myself and fellow graduates across the nation.  Naturally, being based at a London(ish) University, I had tunnel-vision by only focussing on one move for my career, towards zone 1. Like many graduating students, the concept of ‘making-it’ was only ever conceived in the same sentence as the capital.

Job hunting began by scrolling through the various job websites and countless hours spent talking to over-promising recruiters with the keywords ‘design’, ‘graduate’, ‘London’. Being told to ‘apply for anything that could be right’, ‘just get on the career ladder’. Momentum was building and building on various job leads with little time to stop and think about what I wanted.

Numerous applications sent daily, a dozen interviews completed, three successful job offers. And one day, I just froze. It sank into me that London was not at all what I wanted. And I will try and explain why…

My parents have always been fantastic at helping and offering career support and when this day came, I had an honest and open discussion with them both. As a three, we tried to break down the attractiveness of a job role. This involved conceptualising what ‘a job has to offer’ as a series of three values. The values we came up with to rate each job on were; standard of living, location and opportunity.

I’ll talk through some examples that lead to my decision.

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London – Job X

My opinion on London has always been mixed. The city has an incredible buzz about it but even though the salaries on offer were up there with the best in the country for first jobs, the cost of living is significantly higher. Hence why the category was named standard of living instead of salary. The thought of paying £800 p/m for what could be seen as a ‘student house’ was not what I wanted. I therefore rated this a 4/10 on standard of living.

Next was location. Now, is that location of residence or location of the job? Exactly. Surely, they should be of close proximity? I knew starting out in London involved living in zone 4/5 at best and commuting for up to an hour. Hardly what I thought ‘making-it’ involved. The contradiction of the amazing companies to work at in London, but not actually living in ‘London’. I rated this a 6/10, with the possibility of attending events across London, saving this by a few marks.

As for opportunity, I tried to rate this while considering a variety of things. Opportunity to work with high profile clients, opportunity to progress and finally opportunity in life. Bit serious, I know. But what I mean by that is, could I see myself staying in that location for the foreseeable future? I have never imagined myself being one to relocate across the country continuously, I aimed to feel established wherever I ended up. The opportunity to work at incredible companies in London was clear. But I always posed the question, if I worked there, how involved would I be as the junior? The uncertainty in this answer prevented top marks, 7/10.

This process posed the question, why is it only London being looked at? I then opened to thought that I could head north. Growing up, I have visited Liverpool often so this naturally was the first location to consider outside of London.

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Liverpool – Job Y

The figure for salaries in the north is less than in London, yes. However, I was a firm believer that living in Liverpool would offer a lot more for my money. An important thing to consider when starting at the bottom of the pay scale. For example, renting a room in a two-bed city centre duplex flat for under £400 p/m and the opportunity to walk to work rather than commuting, is considerably better than what the big smoke has to offer. Standard of Living: 8/10.

The city has quite a lot going for it in my opinion, and more research only cemented this. The success of the Albert Dock redevelopment and Liverpool One. Along with the very exciting news of the Ten Streets project and Liverpool Waters development. Liverpool is an ambitious city. A trait that was exciting to potentially be a part of. With the knowledge that the city is ever improving and striving to become nationally a northern powerhouse, but also a gateway to Europe with its established shipping port and the airport only 20 mins drive from the city centre. Location 8/10, bit rough around the edges but is continuously improving.

Many jobs on offer in the creative industry in the north are with SME’s. I have never seen this as a negative. This to me, means potential to be heavily involved in all projects and dealing with clients first hand, which would be good for personal development. The opportunity to work with ‘high profile clients’ and to work for a FTSE 100 company had the potential to take a hit however. Opportunity 7/10.

In summary…

As you could probably guess, I took the jump, ringing back the employers who I had gratefully received job offers from and informing them of my decision to move north. Since doing so I have not looked back, nor will I.

The career expert and author of ‘How To Get A Job You Love’ John Lees tells us “Jobs increasingly exist outside of London, and often cost a great deal less in terms of housing, travel and the wear and tear of commuting.”

Further to that statement, I believe more opportunity is available, when starting a career, outside of London. Opportunity in terms of progression and development, personally and the city you reside in.

I hadn’t considered living in the north while everyone around me was focusing in on the capital. Now, I am very grateful that I eventually did.

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We began working with The Knowledge Quarter team because we shared their vision of Liverpool’s future, and we wanted to play our part in taking the city forward.

Working closely with the team, we developed an original animation that articulated some of the fundamental building blocks that make up the area: health, education, creativity, culture and research, with collaboration and community underpinning and uniting all of them.

We wanted to show how all of the various strands could be woven together to create a place of true excellence, a guiding light in our ongoing endeavor to understand and embrace the world around us.

We were proud to unveil the animation at MIPIM London with The Knowledge Quarter team, and we’re looking forward to working together more to make our shared vision a reality that all of humanity can benefit from.

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I’d like to take a moment to talk to you about creative thinking, it’s commercial relevance, and why sticking pine needles to the bottom of a shoe is so vitally important.

Before we jump right in, I’d like you take a few moments to watch this.

 

 

All done? …Good. With everyone up to speed. I’d like to reflect a little on that video and talk about what spoke to me most.

That video reaffirms my love for design, for innovative thinking, and for the creative process. The first thing that struck me on reflection was the clarity of thought from where they started, the unpretentious simplicity of their objective: “Let the foot be the foot”.

“Allow it [the shoe] to behave more like the foot” and “Mirror natural movement”. Now, for me, when we consider their product, such objectives make a mockery of anyone who had previously sat down to make a running shoe with any other intention.

The ’start with why’ mantra is a well-trodden path these days, but for good reason: if you’re about to sit down and start making something, before you get anywhere near what needs to be made or how you’re going to make it, you’d better have asked yourself what you’re trying to achieve in first place. Without this purity of thought at the nucleus of your direction, you are aiming at inferiority.

 

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The next taste this video left in my mouth was very much in the creative area of the palate, the cogs that start turning when you actually start trying to execute the objective…  Enter pine needles.

The bottom line is that a bunch of people at Nike were asked to design a pair of trainers, and we ended up witnessing a menagerie of materials masquerading as soles of shoes, pine needles et al. What I guess I feel like reiterating is the freedom of creative expression represented here, and how important that is, not in self-congratulatory adulation for an industry I admire, but in the name of genuine innovation, true creative progress.

I know some will write the whole project off as a merely a bunch of overpaid hipsters who made a wobbly shoe, but that’s not the point here. I mean, what a shoe. Just imagine a world where we applied that same creative freedom and experimentation to other endeavours, products or services.

 

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That team were faced (in the broadest sense) with the same task most ‘creatives’ are, to design a solution to a problem. But look at the lengths they went to, or, moreover, the tangents they took. Their expression of a concept within that phase of their process is truly inspirational, liberating, and a stark reminder to all creatives that to make something of real merit you need to dare to try something different and take things into uncharted territory once in a while.

This will mean different things to different people obviously, but be reminded how essential this is to arriving at a solution that not only works, but is new, daring, and most importantly, will by any measure perform better.

Now, previous incarnations of this blog went on to describe a contradiction within commerce whereby creativity was both undervalued and yet invaluable. How the business world’s inherent and completely understandable adversity to risk was at odds with an often Darwinian creative process which requires incorporating failure in order to evolve and succeed. Ultimately, those Nike designers were fortunate to be in the position where creative ideas can be expressed and experimented with without the worry of something not sticking – as they said in the video, “Nike are always playing around with ideas that don’t necessarily have a home”

 

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But after reading through the blog again, I realise that my words were a cop-out. An ode to my frustrations. ‘Poor me’, I declared (internally, I should probably stipulate), ‘how unfair of life to not appoint me creative director of an innovative thinktank funded by a multi-billion dollar retail giant’. The truth of the matter is, it is up to every creative worth their salt to justify creativity.

I know that time is the most scarce of resources, and that all design processes take a lot of time to be completed, let alone going the necessary extra mile to really stand out. But whatever your role, whatever your discipline, some part of that video must have woken up the part of you that yearns to justify what some would call the ‘fluffy’ parts of your process.

You need to experiment, you won’t get anywhere worth going if you never do, so figure out how and where you can carve out moments for that freedom. It’s your responsibility. David Bowie said he was never happy creating something unless he felt his feet were just tip toeing out of depth with his head above water. That uncertainty breeds progression. Now, I don’t care that the website you’re designing has perhaps slightly less cultural impact than ‘Let’s Dance’ – a creative thinker is a creative thinker, regardless of their project. The same principles apply: believe in yourself to find that inspiration and to do what it takes to deliver.

 

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It’s not just the things we make that need this treatment, but also the way we define companies and ask them to behave. The market today is more responsive and more interactive to their consumers than it has ever been. You can no longer just define a message and broadcast one way, you can merely hope to instigate or engage in a two-way conversation. And as we all know, conversation requires having something interesting and relevant to say.

The company who does not adopt more creative ways of; thinking, making and/ or communicating are most likely to fall by the wayside. Becoming increasingly mundane at accelerated rates as we are offered ever increasing ways and platforms upon which to affect how a consumer sees and experiences a product, service or brand.

So, I have made a choice to remember this video, their process, that shoe, and ask myself, throughout everything I’m working on;

‘what are the pine needles for this project?’

 

One key aspect in videography, or any art form for that matter, is inspiration. Art plays a pivotal role in inspiring others into pursuing a career down a similar path, providing the inspiration to produce their own awe-inspiring work. Rembrandt’s paintings for example, have been influential on lighting designs in the film and photography industries over the last century.

 

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Ever since the invention of the World Wide Web, accessing and sharing work has grown exponentially through online communities. Many of whom openly share their experiences and tips on how to attain their level of expertise.

I for one constantly refer back to a number of individuals, most notable of who is Philip Bloom, a British filmmaker whose career spans 25-years working for a range of major brands throughout the world. What makes Philip Bloom influential for myself is that he openly shares his knowledge and experiences online through his blog, creating a wealth of content at the fingertips of those willing to learn.

Over the past couple of years, I have referred back to his site religiously to develop a stronger understanding of various techniques I could then begin practicing myself. Of which, I have a special fondness for his camera reviews! Having recently watched one earlier in the week from 2013 on the Canon 1DC where he braves the freezing weather to test out the camera.

What I am getting at is the importance of using those influences to further improve upon your own work. An open community is important in facilitating this and having an influence over others.

Another influential figure I use as a source for learning is a Canadian filmmaker named Preston Kanak, whom I have used extensively for learning how to produce amazing time-lapse results. He provides great insight, not only in how to produce in camera results, but also the thought processes to consider when shooting a time-lapse and other production features.

 

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Would you believe me if I told you that a video was filmed within five seconds? No, I didn’t think so. But a music video, “Unconditional Rebel”, by French filmmaker Guillaume Panariello for musician Siska, did in fact only take five-whole-seconds filming to create a three-minute music video. The meticulous planning involved to ensure this video went off without a hitch must have taken a few weeks to work out.

I can see this being a backboard for other filmmakers aspiring to create their own slow-motion video in an innovative manner, potentially leading to some equally great footage.

But that’s the importance influence plays over others. For me, I don’t think I’d be doing what I do if it wasn’t for the influence films had on me as a kid.

We’ve all spent countless hours browsing the labyrinth of bizarre, amusing and sometimes hilarious archives YouTube has to offer, now there’s a (not so) new suite of videos congesting the optic nerves of millions…

Cue the #360Video.

It’s an incredible concept and one that has raised the brows of everyone I’ve shown! Instead of talking about how great it is, I’d like to show you a few of my favourites…

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Just because I’ve always been a fan of Dali…

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See any you like? send me the URL…!

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