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Stories from Design Bridge: Meet Damo, Visualisation Director

Our “Stories from Design Bridge” blog posts offer a little glimpse into Design Bridge life through interviews with all sorts of people, working in all sorts of roles, across all four of our studios. This time we sat down with Damian Hughes – fondly known as Damo – who heads up the Visualisation Team in the London Studio. Here’s what we learnt…

Hi Damo! So, you are our Visualisation Director in London – tell us a bit more about your role:
Hello Anna! My role is to ensure that my team – the Visualisation Team – delivers consistent quality for DB, championing our creativity. It’s our responsibility to take the vision of our designers and bring it to life through beautiful visuals, helping to sell in our ideas to clients. Consistency, creativity, speed and the ability to quickly understand the designer’s thoughts are key. I’m also responsible for presenting and showcasing the amazing work my team does across the Studio. Not only is this is great for showing people work they may not have seen, it can often lead to new collaborations within DB and new business opportunities. What else? Oh yes, I also run a Photoshop training session most weeks for all the newbies, and those that need a little refresher.

How did you end up at Design Bridge?
I’m actually a Brummie at heart (although I lost that accent years ago when my family moved to Essex), born in a little town called Redditch. Here’s a good fact about Redditch: Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham was also from Redditch, and he was friends with my mum at school!

School was fun but I preferred the school of life and couldn’t wait to start work! I started out as a fresh-faced and very green 16 year old apprentice in a post production print company in Brixton – it was a 4 year apprenticeship in those days. This gave me a great understanding of the production process. I remember my very first day at the office – it was the day of the famous storm that hit the whole of the the South East and it took me four hours to get there, dodging all the fallen trees and roofs on the roads. Actually, this wasn’t my first career path, but I’ll come to that later…

Intriguing. Ok, so what happened next?
I soon realised that I loved working creatively with Photoshop, so I graduated into high-end retouching. I mostly worked in the London advertising industry at places like McCann Erickson, AMV, and Joshua on some amazing accounts including Rolls Royce, John Lewis, Tiffany & Co, Guinness (still working on Guinness!) and L’Oréal – a big cross-section of brands. I was privileged to work with some amazing photographers, too, such as Ian Rankin.

Nearly 10 years ago, however, I thought that it was time for a new adventure so I answered the call from DB who were looking for a Senior Visualiser and I’m still here!

What does an average day look like for you now?
I’m still 100% hands on with visualising, which I love. I will usually start the day by taking a brief from the designers. Throughout the day I will advise on time and resource for upcoming work, and oversee ongoing projects to ensure creative quality and a seamless workflow – that’s very important to keep designers and clients happy!

Communication is a big part of my day, so I’m always liaising with designers, Client Servicing, and the Operations Teams, as well as Charles in the Singapore Studio. This is key to achieving consistency across the group. With access to almost all of the work that we produce, I can also advise on any conflicting styles that may appear across brands. When you have hundreds of people working across 3 different continents, this can be invaluable. And, of course, I always make time in my day to sing as one half of duo, Jamo. That’s myself and Jordan (Film & Animation Director, and my desk buddy).

JAMO

Ah yes, I’ve heard some of Jamo’s recent ‘work’. 
We’ve even written and composed our own songs. “Hannah Carvosso” (named after our Managing Director) is one of our faves!

So, how does your team fit within the wider organisation?
Team Visualisation falls under the Realisation Team umbrella. We are so lucky because we get to work with almost everybody within the London Studio, as well as with our other studios in Amsterdam, Singapore and New York. Working on almost every client account means that we have a deep understanding of the brands we work with and their guidelines, and this gives us a really unique overview of all the work and talent across DB.

The team is currently made up of myself, Mat (Senior Creative Visualiser 3D), Jody (Senior Visualiser), Fahud (Realisation Designer) and maybe one or two regular freelancers thrown in when we are super busy. We are all digital artists, each with a broad range of skills that we can adapt to the variety of work.

Realisation_Visualisation_teamNightOut

Speaking of talent, what do you look for when building your team?
To be a great talent is, of course, very important as the work we do is at such a high level. All of the team are experts in Cinema 4D, Photoshop and digital image manipulation, including animation, which means that we can be very flexible for our clients. However, this has to be matched with a helpful, happy, fun, inquisitive and caring approach to work. It’s so important that we have great working relationships across the group, and we pride ourselves on being an open and friendly team. Good communication skills and a positive, can-do attitude is crucial.

What inspires you in your work life?
I am constantly inspired by my team. They are always pushing the boundaries and I am constantly amazed by how talented they all are. Working at DB is a constant inspiration. From listening to talks from our senior management team – who are all masters of the spoken word! – to our super talented Designers who come up with amazing idea after idea. We also have fantastic support from our Operations and Client Servicing teams, who just seem to soak up all the pressure. They are so organised! Also, the Friday Mingles are often a great source of interesting learnings from external talent – Hannah A does a great job of organising those.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

What’s the best thing about working at Design Bridge?
What I love about my life at DB is the camaraderie and fun working environment. We work hard, but we’re always rewarded for our hard work. It’s a fun place to be, very social, and everyone looks out for each other. Everyone’s ideas and thoughts are always considered and encouraged – the care and attention that’s given to each of us is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Having worked at many other agencies where this is very low on the agenda, I can confidently say that it’s an incredible feeling to know that you are loved and appreciated in your work life.

And the worst?
The worst, for me, is when it’s quiet. I’m not good with quiet. Fortunately I have always sat with Jordan, so it’s rarely an issue!

Any memorable DB moments you’d like to share?
How about when I (fully planned with only a few people in on it) interrupted the now-infamous Dave Annetts Christmas Truce speech in 2014 (I THINK). I stood up, mid-speech, and started singing the opening line of “Feed The World”. There was a look of horror on everyones faces – they all just thought I’d had a few too many!

And finally, tell us something that nobody at DB knows about you…
Something that not many people know about me is that I was once a fully qualified Hair Technician! Well, when I say “fully qualified”, what I mean is that I washed and folded towels, made tea, swept up, and chatted to the clients in a hair salon for 5 weeks. I did win a top-of-the-range pair of scissors in a blow drying competition in my first week of college… but in the end I just couldn’t cut it {sorry}. I had the opportunity to move into this amazing industry, and it was one I’m always grateful I didn’t pass up.

Always the joker. Any last words?
One last thing to add – the photo below captures a very proud moment for me and DB. I was heavily involved with the development of the Tanqueray No. TEN bottle, and this photo was taken at the D&AD Awards 2015 where we won not just a Pencil for Tanqueray No. TEN, but also D&AD’s Most Awarded Agency that year. It was definitely one of the highlights of my career.

D&AD awards w Damo

Thanks Damo!

If Design Bridge sounds like the kind of place you’d love to work, check our Careers page for the latest opportunities to join the family.

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