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Opinion and Insight

Day in the Life of... Clive Biley

Next up in a new series from the Creative Circle, Clive Biley gives us a glimpse into his role as Creative Director of Curious Productions

Day in the Life of... Clive Biley

Day in the Life of… is a new series from the Creative Circle, celebrating and championing the diversity of talent across Britain’s creative community. Encompassing creatives from all areas of the advertising and creative spectrum, each edition will focus on an individual and their role within our exciting community.   

Next up is Clive Biley, who gives us a glimpse into his role as Creative Director of Curious Productions...

My role...

I’m the Creative Director of Curious Productions so I oversee all the CGI, retouching and creative output of the studio.  My job is problem solving, exploring new techniques and running a team which includes a level of educating.  It’s very much my responsibility to maintain creative momentum and inspire our young talent, a role which I take very seriously.  I’m also very client facing and deal with clients directly, particularly agency Creative Directors.  

How I got here...

It’s really been a journey.  

Initially I wanted to be an illustrator, and spent most of my spare time being a street artist, with an emphasis on the ‘artist’.  My first job was a runner at illustration company Drawers, which was one of the most creative of its time.   Being a runner meant delivering parcels around London and I was cheeky enough to be moonlighting as a street artist at the same time.  Record shops and record companies paid me to do it when out and about, although I didn’t mention it to my employers at Drawers of course!  Drawers were bought out by Wace – a highly innovative design company.  This was THE pivotal moment in my career, as it was my introduction to technology.  A really exciting time.  

The introduction of computers and design packages changed everything, a real defining moment being the introduction of CGI to the stills industry, not to replace photography but to sit alongside it and find the right creative solution and visual balance.  There were of course a million challenges – high speed – or rather low speed - computer power being one of them, nothing like it is now and the minefield of attempting to network computers together really felt like a mountain to climb!

I was one of the founding partners of Nucleus, a boutique Creative Services company, working with the very best photographers in London.  I’m so very fortunate to have worked closely with Tim Flach, Nick Knight, Nadav Kander, Jim Fiscus, Alex Telfer, Vincent Dixon, John Parker and Giles Revell.  All hugely talented professionals.

Nucleus started in one room in Wells Street and we progressed from working on computers the size of small rooms to much smaller and compact desktop machines.  The desktop era had landed.  Nucleus grew from 3 to 40 people very quickly working with Advertising Glitterati such as Bates, JWT, TBWA, Simons Palmer and BMP.  Nucleus was then bought by TAG where we created the Smoke & Mirrors hub and now as Creative Director and founding partner, I’m building Curious Productions. 

My typical day...

First thing I do is walk the dog which is actually an intrinsic to the start of my day as it helps me focus on what’s ahead, as well as helps solve any issues from the day before.  Then I get into the studio, get a coffee, and normally catch up with James Gardner, my talented CGI artist and we check the renders from the night before.   We are a small collective here at Curious.  There no hierarchical layers meaning we can make decisions quickly and work side by side in a collaborative manner.

Up until midday, I’m actually creating work which is what I do best and what makes me happy.  We’re currently working with some American clients, so the afternoons are taken up with conference calls and revisions.  A lot goes into creating CGI Unicorns.

Naturally, no day is without it’s challenges, and they tend to come in the form of revisions…and negotiation.   Sometimes, a project is difficult to shoot in keeping with the budget, but it’s our job to find a way to fulfil the agency’s creative ambition to budget and timescale, as the creative idea still remains the same.

I leave studio at around 6.30 feeling challenged, fulfilled, and mostly happy.
Hardest part of my job...

Mostly, it’s handing the work over because it’s only the deadline that determines if it’s finished.  I will always analyse, compare and scrutinise my work and see how it can be changed, and evolve. It’s never completely finished in my mind.

Pretty sure I’m not the first to say it, but not being given enough time is a grumble. I often feel that there isn’t enough understanding of the creative process and of how everything works as full comprehension of the time needed would yield the best creative work.  That’s why it’s important to me to quote the right amount of time I think is needed to answer the brief.

What I enjoy the most about my work...

I’m an artist, so I like creating.  I like to lead the process and be trusted to do what’s right, watching the creative process unfold and create a piece of work that is truly beautiful reminds me why I’m here. 

Then, after all that, you can’t beat actually seeing your work when it’s out there in the world on tube posters, bus sides, a wrap-around in the Metro or a DPS in a Broadsheet.  It makes me feel fulfilled, like I’ve achieved something.  Euphoric even.