Q&A With Christopher Haddon

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Christopher is a highly capable and experienced creative communications agency executive with extensive experience in brand and communications strategy, project management and implementation for global entities, government agencies, not-for-profits and community groups. Christopher has lived and worked in the UK and Australia with a career spanning the educational publishing, graphic design, brand consultancy and marketing services sectors.

Who (or what) inspires you?

Often it is the unexpected that can inspire. The extraordinary scale created by visionary artists such as Bill Henson. The virtuosity of musicians previously unfamiliar to me like Snarky Puppy. A spontaneous visit to the White Rabbit gallery in Sydney. An absorbing lecture by the philosopher and humanist A.C. Grayling or a witty and erudite conversation with the author William Boyd. It can be the brilliance of the free flow of ideas with friends over dinner. Or even the stillness of the moment when one is alone gazing across a stunning panorama. The list goes on. In essence, I am inspired by anything that keeps the creative spark alive.

How did you get your first break?

I have been fortunate enough to have had a few breaks in my professional life. The first was in my early 20s when, on returning from pack-packing across the globe, I was commissioned to draw a series of cartoons in support of Scotland’s ill-fated tilt at the World Cup. That rapidly led to more and better paid commissions. I moved to Melbourne and earned a modest living as an illustrator. My lucky break in Melbourne came when I was asked to fill-in for a designer at Brian Sadgrove’s design studio. I had no idea at the time that Brian was numero uno in the design world. Anyway, he offered me a job and I flourished. My regret is that I left after a few years, lured by the promise of more money. A shallow aspiration and fateful decision at the time. But then again, life is never in a straight line.

How has the design industry changed for better or for worse in the time you have been working in it?

The design industry is not alone in having to face up to the inevitable challenges of adapting to change. Perhaps the most significant in my opinion is that there has been some erosion of the respect for the skills and expertise of the artisan designer. Much in the same way that smart phones have turned everyone into a photographer, Adobe CS has turned everyone into a designer. The status of designer has shifted from being one of a skills based artisan to being a compromised professional who is part of an industry. Design has become a commodity, purchasable online at the lowest price. In an effort to hold on to the high ground designers have had to develop a range of quasi-sciences. The intent of these quasi-sciences has been to make the intangible tangible – an oxymoron really. The most prominent of these is around ‘brand’. For many designers this has meant applying a quasi-science to develop a brand-story in order to justify the creative response.

Tell us what you are currently working on...

I am currently illustrating again. Cartooning more specifically. But this time, applying the quasi science!

Ricky Mutsaers