We don't often feature voice artists around these parts – but when we do, we make sure they are among the most inspiring creatives out there.
There are a lot of misconceptions about performing arts, and freelance voice artist Clare Reeves knows them very well. But there is a lot more to voice acting than just 'talking' and few are aware of all the beauties of the craft as Clare herself.
Born in radio and TV, grown with her own studio, Clare would not be shackled by a daily routine and chose to become a freelancer instead. And though she has worked for high-profile brands and companies, her heart still lies with the smaller returning clients she loves so much. For this Member Spotlight, we are getting to know a talented voice-over artist, a free spirit with a true passion for her job.
How did you get into the industry?
I’ve been working in radio and television since I was at University in the early 90s. I was hugely ambitious and went to answer the phones on the local BBC radio station’s Sunday morning programme. As a student, people were surprised that I was there at 6am every Sunday morning, for 3 years!
Eventually I was producing and presenting on that radio station (BBC Three Counties) before going to London as a sound engineer (aka Studio Manager) for the World Service and as a Network Director of the BBC’s TV channels. When the opportunity to take redundancy came up, I took it and built my own studio at home and got to work as a Voiceover Artist, learning the industry, training and marketing to build my own business up.
Where are you based now and who do you work for?
I am based in my own broadcast quality studio in my house in Folkestone, Kent. I do also work from studios in London.
My clients can be smaller local businesses who might just need a professional sounding phone message – right through to global brands including Colgate, Clearblue, Facebook, Hyundai, Booking.com, Mitchum, National Geographic, GSK, ASDA, BP, Carlsberg, Nescafe and many more.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
Realistically, I’d possibly be back on the radio as a presenter or working in marketing and advertising. I’m quite obsessed by Brands!
If life had gone differently, I think I would have liked to have been a Architect, performer on the West End stage or a designer of perfume brands!
Can you explain your creative process?
What’s interesting about creating Voiceovers for clients is that the creativity I have is to interpret their script, talk to their target audience by being authentically myself.
A great deal of it is knowing how to dissect a script and lift it off the page. It’s very much “not just reading”. So I usually ask questions about what the end production is there to do, who it is for, the feel they are after and then use the techniques I have trained in, to deliver something that is right for them.
It’s a subtle art. If they are directing me live in a session, they can direct me to try different things. If I am self directing, it’s up to me to work with the brief and bring it all together in my performance. I then edit if required and send the audio file. I love seeing the finished results – especially on TV!
How has technology affected the way you work (if at all)?
I’ve been using digital audio equipment for most of my career (although I did train in radio with reel to reel and razor blades for editing!), the equipment has become more widely available and the editing system I use is Adobe Audition - which hasn’t changed very much over the years.
The biggest change in recent years has been the technology that allows me to connect with other studios around the world in full quality. I still have my ISDN line but increasingly now studios want to work with IP based systems such as Source Connect and Cleanfeed. So it’s my job to make sure I have all these technologies to make sure I’m available to the client.
Also, it’s not just Agent-based any more. So many jobs find me online.
What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?
I genuinely LOVE doing Voiceovers, using all my skills to create the best result for the client. When I hear them say “oh wow” to me in a session I am delighted. I also feel that in this industry, the world is your oyster... you have to spend a great deal of time marketing and connecting but you can take your career as a Voiceover in so many potential directions. I happen to specialise in Commercials and Corporates with some Documentary Narration. Other VOs work solely in gaming or in audiobooks.
I make sure I walk by the sea a lot and try to shake up my routine to keep my brain inspired.
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
That I have so many repeat clients. Yes, it’s great doing some high profile work but the fact that people like my work and come back to me for projects again and again makes me feel very proud of what I do and what I have achieved.
How do you recharge away from the office?
My office is also my sanctuary so I don’t really get away from it as such, it is where I keep my saxophones! I play alto saxophone in a swing band and love playing gigs as often as possible. I’ve also recently got a Baritone saxophone, which is a massive beast!
This is for the new all female saxophone quartet we have just started, which is more of a commercial venture in its own right and very exciting. I’m also a fan of black and white films, gardening and planning travels.
What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?
In whatever area of creative industries you work in, be yourself. Don’t try to imitate others... the world already has one of them. Be the most true to yourself you can be. It’s often a bold step but the moment you bring your authentic self to your work that’s when great things start to happen.
What’s your one big hope for the future of the creative industries?
That the creative industries will be more respected as a serious career option for people coming in and valued as truly nourishing for everyone.
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
That people recognise that there is a great deal more to Voiceover work than talking! That anyone coming in does so with their eyes open and gets trained properly, builds a high quality studio and doesn’t undercut the agreed rates in the profession. It’s a wonderful industry, full of very talented and brilliant people and I love being part of it.