We wouldn't expect a PR agency called Alpaca Communications to be boring, nor devoid of countless stories to tell. The team led by Peter Elms in East London is one that doesn't enjoy being stiff and serious all the time, and their admirable sense of humour shines through the very work that they do.
Though Peter himself is convinced the team does not follow a creative process, we believe that their creative process is in the lack thereof; freedom, fun, and highly professional work whenever needed.
And Peter certainly believes in hard work, as the Company Spotlight below so perfectly demonstrates. Keep reading to learn more about his team's ambitions!
Peter Elms, Co-Founder of Alpaca Communications
How was your company born and where are you based?
We’re based in East London, just by Spitalfields Market, but at the moment we’re all sat in our homes in kitchens, lofts and lounges across the country.
This all began because I wanted to do the work I wanted to do, on my own terms and it’s hard doing that if you’re working for somebody else. I got lucky in that I was working on a project with my now co-founder Nick, who gave me the confidence and space to make the jump and create an agency.
There was no moment of inspiration, no mission, simply a feeling that I needed to do my own thing.
Can you explain your team’s creative process?
I’m confident we don’t have one. That said, we’d all probably agree that any form of creative problem solving typically starts with a hard look at the problem we’re trying to solve. This involves hard work. How much hard work depends on the problem, but your work will always be better the more you understand the client and what they’re trying to achieve, in addition to having an appreciation of how others have tried to solve the problem you’re dealing with before you.
Sometimes you can get the right idea straight away, but that's probably because you've actually spent years ready for that brief
The most creative people I’ve met have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the great work in their field, so they can steal it. Sometimes you can get the right idea straight away, but that’s probably because you’ve actually spent years ready for that brief. You’ll get so bored looking at a problem that you’ll have a drink or go for a walk and then as if by magic you’ll have the idea. You’ll think it was doing those things that helped you, but it was probably the work.
What’s your team’s secret to staying inspired and motivated?
Real gratitude that every now and again we get to be paid quite well to create work that normal people see and enjoy. And a sense of humour for the other 99% of the time.
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
The boring truth is that it’s probably keeping a business running year after year, hiring people and seeing them get better than you. There are a couple of pieces of work that have made a positive difference in the world, notably an annual campaign called Manarma for Vanarama and Prostate Cancer UK, in addition to considerable amount of work we’re doing in renewable energy. There’s a lot more I want to achieve.
How do you recharge away from the office?
I have kids, so I don’t. When they’re asleep and it’s sunny, I like to drink double IPA in a broken chair in my garden. But then they wake up. I run, but I don’t find it restorative. Sleep helps.
What’s your one big hope for the future of the creative industries?
I’m not too worried about the future of the industry. We’re all in competition with each other, and I’ve got enough problems of my own that need solving before I take on anyone else’s. If I had one big hope, it would be to see demand dramatically outstrip supply.
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
Apart from its collapse? Timesheets. I don’t believe people that say you don’t need them, and I don’t trust people that are good at them.