Hi Paul! How’s it going? You having a good week so far? Yeap, its going well mate. We've had a cracking start to the year and I woke up with a rather successful hangover on Tuesday after kicking off plans for more Take Fucking Risks in 2018.
Haha, love it! Ok, so let’s start easy, shall we? For those Gluggers who’ve never heard of you, who are you and what do you do? I'm Paul Mellor, one half of Mellor&Smith. We're a brand and advertising agency based near Borough Market in London. We've always felt like outsiders, there's a lot of people who talk a lot shit in the creative industry - so last year we started a series called Take Fucking Risks. It's grown way beyond anything I could have imagined.
Amazing! So, wow did you end up doing what you’re doing now, then? Have you always dreamt of working in the creative industry, or what’s the back log here
Back in 2004 I graduated from Loughborough University with my best friend James Smith (the Smith of Mellor&Smith). We'd always talked about setting up our own thing but it seemed like a pipe dream. Jim's far more sensible than me, he knew he needed to learn so he got a job in a design firm, pinned his ears back and got really good at what he does. On the other hand I jumped from sketchy job to sketchy job at various agencies, I was a nightmare to employ, always mouthing off and generally being a pain in the arse. I was pretty disillusioned with design and ended up living in the Alps skiing for a while, a few months after returning to London we started the business. From that moment I've been 100% focussed on the agency.
Wow, what a journey! During these years in the industry, have you had any mentors or influencers along the way of your career? Where do I start?! I've never really had a mentor, but there are plenty of people who've influenced my work and beliefs. I've invited some of them to speak at Take Fucking Risks, so I'm very fortunate to have met them and learned from them. A quick list of people who've influenced me are; Cindy Gallop, Dave Trott, Zaha Hadid, Bob Hoffman, Vivienne Westwood, Oliviero Toscani and Charles & Ray Eames.
Now that's a great list, and I can relate to the 'invite your heroes to come and speak' part as well, ha ha! Then... Apart from working, what do you get up to in life? Got any exciting side hustles or passions to tell us about? Take Fucking Risks has blown up into something pretty big. At the latest one we had 350 people there and it was incredible to see so much love for the changes we think the industry should be making. We've got big plans to do more in 2018 and spread the word further afield than just London.
Our industry is pretty terrible at it's job, 89% of advertising is forgotten and just 4% is remembered positively. There are a whole bunch of reasons for this, but at some point they all lead back to the fact people have become risk adverse. So we need to return to taking fucking risks. My mission is to tell everyone I meet.
Take Fucking Risks: https://vimeo.com/254466136
That's a great mission to be on and an important one for people to realise too. On a gloomy, totally uninspiring and day, where everything just feels like an obstacle — what do you usually resort to in order to get your inspiration back on track again? I go for a walk. Hopefully in the cold, wind and rain. And then I sit in front of the fire with a smashing glass of red. That's before my peace is rudely interrupted by my children.
It's so easy to get caught up in the constant treadmill of everyday life. We're bombarded with noise. I've always felt my best ideas come when I'm clear of noise. So there's nowt like a good walk.
Hear, hear! Then, on the opposite end — where do you usually find your inspiration in the work that you do either in your dream job or as a side hustle? It can be anywhere. I love reading books... none of this ebook bollocks, but heavy, dusty books. I love writing letters and postcards to people... you get so many emails, texts, WhatsApps now that we've forgotten the joy of receiving a letter. And as I say I love getting outside.
Books are the best. Ok, so let’s get a bit dreamy, shall we? If you were to swap jobs with someone else in your industry, who would this be and why? If I was to swap jobs with someone it wouldn't be with someone in the creative industry. Where's the fun in that?! Instead I'd swap with a whole bunch of people for a month each time. How about Eskimo's, or the driver of the tug boats pulling big ships, or the pisteurs who operate ski lifts or maybe I could shoot low and swap places with Hemingway... he was a bit of alright wasn't he?
Oooof, like your take on this… Hemingway's a good answer. And, if you were given the opportunity to move anywhere without having to apply for any visa what-so-ever and we’d sort the packing for you — where would you go? Simple, I'd move to Annecy in France. I'm completely in love with that place. But I'd always keep a pied-à-terre in London. Natch.
Nice. Ok, so... If you were to give your younger self any advice on what to go for, or think about when you’re just about to step into the industry, what would that be? Remember it's not a race. You don't have to jump into the first design job you find, infact I suggest you steer clear of our industry for a few years. Fill your boots with experiences from loads of different places and people from around the world. Travel, meet new people (preferably none English speakers), spend time with your grandparents, essentially fill your mind with loads of new things and plenty of history. Then and only then should you look at our industry.
Totally agree to all of what you mentioned. Nice one.
Ok, and last but not least! Please give a link shout-out to 5 pieces of inspirational, or just plainly awesome, work that you’ve stumbled upon recently… Or… just 5 people!
Cindy Gallop — I love Cindy, I love that she says "I blow shit up, I’m the Michael Bay of business". Make Love Not Porn and If We Ran The World are her two big projects at the moment. She launched Make Love Not Porn on that infamous TED talk and Cindy’s even more vital since the news broke about that arsehole Weinstein.
Marina Esmeraldo — Marina is an awesome illustrator, she spoke at Take Fucking Risks a couple of months ago. I love how she's experimenting with shape and making something badass. Marina's work proudly adorns the walls of our studio.
Paul Blundell, ACAC Media — Paul is one of the photographers at ACAC. We work quite a bit with Paul and ACAC’s other photographers Mark Cant and James Goldsmith. Paul has been in the US for the last 3 months experimenting with colour, shape, light - I'm loving what he's shooting at the moment.
GFDA — Brian Buirge and Jason Bacher are the two guys who started Good Fucking Design Advice, I've lost count of the times I've seen their posters on the walls of brands and agencies. Brian and Jason are awesome. Sign up to their Monday weekly briefing – it’s a much needed shot in the arm of real talk.
Abstract Expressionism, Royal Academy — Ever since I saw Rothko and Pollock's work as a teenager I've been in love with it. In London we're very lucky to have such good museums and galleries. I know it was a while ago but the Royal Academy had one of the best exhibitions of Abstract Expressionism I've ever seen. It was brilliantly curated and had a big impact on the kind of work I want to do.
Come and join Paul & the team at their next Take Fucking Risks event on May 9 2018. All deets & tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/take-fucking-risks-meets-cindy-gallop-ellie-flynn-tickets-43933623651
This articles is part of our Glug Profiles series – a series of interviews aiming to highlight journeys and insights from creatives, makers, doers and cool cats from all walks of life in the creative industry, and the world. Get in touch with Malin if you'd like to take part: firstname.lastname@example.org