Spending ten years in the wrong place can truly wear you down. But it can also help you understand what you really want, and who you really aspire to be. That was the case for Garrick Hamm, Creative Partner at Williams Murray Hamm.
Though he claims to be a terrible writer, Garrick is obviously a talented storyteller and one we wouldn't struggle to imagine as a role model for his whole creative team. As his career developed more on the side of helping other designers, rather than creating work for himself, over time Garrick was able to personify exactly the kind of leader he would have loved to have in his first 10 years in the industry: caring, creative, successful and kind.
It is not surprising he is one of our Top 100 Influencers of 2020, after all.
Today we are Getting to Know one of the most influential leaders and creative professionals in the entire industry. Someone who, no matter what he believes, will always come across as a leader with a big, strong heart.
Tell us about your current role!
I’m Creative Director at WMH. I gave up designing many years ago. To be a top/decent designer you need hours and hours on a project, it's a labour intensive job. I couldn't do the work at the level I wanted to do it at, spending most of the day helping the other creatives. So now I design through them.
I oversee pretty much every project at WMH, which means i spend 75% of my time reviewing creative work, depending on where we are in the project. That can be editing down the creative routes, pushing an idea, wondering if it is the best it can be, how do you bring it to life across lots of different applications, how does it move, what does it sound like, where’s the poster, or if I can simply be looking at crafting a logo right down to the letterspacing.
The rest of my time is on the management of the company, or new business calls and meetings with my name on the door. People like to have me in the meeting. I love stepping into another brand's shoes. But on a really good day, I could be storyboarding a brand film. I storyboard all my own films, as you really need to get your head inside the camera. It's a physical, head, eye, drawing ‘thing’; it's the only way. On a bad day, I’m filling in questionnaires about myself.
How did you get to your current position? What was the biggest challenge?
I met my business partners at a wedding reception. I was leaving my job as a senior designer to hopefully go on to direct TV commercials, but I liked what they had to say, and I’ve been there ever since. My biggest challenge was doing great, award-winning work. Fight to stay on a project, fight to get put on a project, constantly pushing yourself, asking "is it good enough? Is it different?" I didn’t need to show them my work, they knew who I was and what I had done, but it took ten years to get to that point.
What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?
I’m dyslexic, so I’m a picture person. Visual storytelling was my first Love and still is. I liked school, not that I was much good academically, but I found I got on with people, whether it was other kids or the teachers or headmasters, and that was my real gift. Yes I can draw and I knew an idea when I came up with one, but that's what’s got me to where I am to day. Collaborating and working with people, making them make me look better.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
An engineer. My father was an helicopter engineer and his father before him, I bucked the trend. Thank god for that, you wouldn’t want to go up in a helicopter I built.
What’s your secret to keeping the team inspired and motivated?
You’d have to ask them that.
Joking aside. You have to ask them what do they want to do, what sort of projects would they like, what new area do they want to move in, and it’s my job to give them that. My old boss never asked me that, and so after 10 years I left him.
How has COVID-19 affected you as a leader?
As an antisocial being, I realised how much I need to talk to people. So much of the creative process is not written down, it happens at odd times, walking past a piece of work on a screen, seeing a rough on a board making a cup of coffee and it triggers a spark, a new thought. You don’t get that on your Zoom call. I miss the banter too, the silliness, the laughter.
What is your one advice to aspiring creatives looking to be successful?
Do good things, be good to people, and good things will happen. Write a list of 12 things you want to achieve that year, refer to it, keep focused, and cross them off.
How do you recharge away from the office?
I run, cycle, garden, cinema/exhibition, pub, dinner. In that order.
What’s your one big dream for the future of the industry?
That the industry can get through this tough time and I hope clients/brand want to be creatively brave again. It’s the one thing the UK is better than most at, it's our creativity. It’s our strength and it’s a brand's strength if used in the right manner.