Interview: Iain Nevill

We’re totally inspired by creative mastermind and Station contributor, Iain Nevill, check out our quick Q&A here and find out why…


What is your job title and what does your role entail?

I’m an Associate Creative Director at NY advertising agency Johannes Leonardo. I spend most of my day thinking of ideas. Ideas for ads, for campaigns, for things that haven’t been done before to ignite a passion for a brand and get a message through.


What is your professional/education history?

I don’t think I did things the traditional way. I got a degree in Marketing as it was the closest thing they had to advertising in Scotland at the time. I got my first job in a tiny Scottish agency which was, in some ways, the best thing that could have happened as it drummed home the importance of creativity – you have to be creative when the client has zero budget. But I soon moved to SCPF in Barcelona: a creative agency always looking to try new things and mix disciplines. Upon returning to Scotland, I thought it’d be cool to start an independent culture and fashion magazine. And so ‘Borne Magazine’ was born. It was crazy, fun, cool, stressful, mad, and both the best and worst of ideas. Don’t let anyone tell you running a magazine is easy. Unfortunately, the recession put an end to that and so I made the move to New York.

What have been the most inspirational projects you have worked on?
Probably the magazine. The fact that we started it from scratch was pretty cool. That we were able to produce a platform for so many amazing creative talents who would have gone under the radar still makes me feel good. As does the fact that we got so many supporters in such a short period of time. Oh, and that we were making it all up as we went along. I think someone once said “If you want to be a singer, sing. Sing in the shower. In the street. In the subway. Just sing. Maybe you’ll get noticed. Maybe you’ll discover you’ve got a crap voice. But at least you’ll be doing it.” And that’s what we did; we didn’t talk it to death.


Do you have any advice for others starting out in the field?

Well, I guess it’s obvious from my checkered past that there’s no right way. Today, I think agencies are (or should be) looking for people with different, interesting pasts. Creative people with more to bring to the table. Today, more than ever before, we’ve all got the tools at our disposal to do stuff. To make stuff. I could start a new blog right now. I could shoot a viral this afternoon. I could make myself heard and talk to a global audience from my sofa. While that does mean there’s a lot of crap out there, it also means there’s no excuse for someone truly creative not to get out there and express themselves. Don’t wait for someone to tell you it’s right or wrong or for a creative director to change your idea. If you believe in something then push it as far as you can take it. Don’t second-guess yourself. Don’t dilute yourself. The best way to prove an idea is good is to prove it’s good. Showing something that you went out there and made happen is far more impressive than talking about it.


And finally do you have any projects in the pipeline you can tell us about…
Since moving to New York, I’ve pretty much lived in the agency, but a friend invited me to contribute to a book she’s publishing exploring her relationship with her hometown of Manila. It should be an amazing project. I’m also collaborating with a friend in Barcelona on an idea creating short looped stories – a little like poetry for the blog age. Oh, and I’m thinking of starting another little magazine project in NYC… I’ll keep you posted.
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