Who was your mentor?


Art director, designer, copywriter, illustrator, artworker, creative director - I have a question for you. When you first started in the business, were you lucky enough to sit at the feet of an expert? Did someone give you a helping hand and teach you the ropes? Well how about you tell us about that person and give them a well-deserved pat on the back.

For me it was Terry Lovelock. The guy who penned Heineken Refreshes The Parts Other Beers Cannot Reach employed me as a junior copywriter way back in 1980.

I was just 20 years of age and he chucked me into the deep end. It wasn't your typical junior copywriter role - in fact Terry called it 'an experiment'.

His idea was to take four very young creative people from the opposite ends of the spectrum, chuck them into soundproofed, windowless meeting room and watch what happens. Every now and then someone would walk into our room with something called 'a brief' and we'd try and crack it. Two or three times a week, the door would be flung open and Terry would enter with the words, 'Anything award winning happening in here today?' and then stroll around, raise his eyebrows at the mess and check to see if we'd stolen anything from the boardroom.

He'd cast his eyes over some ideas lying about, 'Who did this one'  he'd say, 'Is this you Fountain?' and I'd hide under the desk as he started tutting and screwing up his face. 'Long way to go,' he'd mutter.

Sometimes he'd just sit in the room with us and start reading a magazine. He'd listen to our conversation, join in, tell a few anecdotes, or simply take the piss out of people in the agency. He'd always get us laughing and we four juniors always enjoyed his wit and his company.

Did Terry' mentorship work? Well Graham Fink was one of the junior creatives in the room with me and he did ok. In fact all four of us managed to build successful careers thanks to the confidence we gained through Terry's experiment.

Mentoring is important for any person wishing to find the best and fastest way to develop their skills and some creatives have a natural ability to be great mentors. The trouble is when you're young, finding a good mentor isn't always easy and in most cases can be simply down to luck.

Anyway, would love to hear who pointed you in the right direction and helped you get where you are today. Just put the names of those that helped you in your career in the comment box and tell us how they helped. Thanks.

John Fountain is a freelance copywriter.

follow @fountainjohn



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