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Creative Is Native: Laura Rice on Finding Ways to Make Audiences Feel


In the Company of Huskies’ art director tells LBB what she’s learned about creative effectiveness since joining the company and how self-doubt is a creative killer

Creative Is Native: Laura Rice on Finding Ways to Make Audiences Feel

Laura Rice’s creative childhood set her on the path to a creative career. It wasn’t until her master’s degree, however, that she realised the pull of the visual, and art direction was the ideal outlet. At the start of her career, Laura won a Cannes Young Lions award, which she says had a “huge impact” on her, adding that awards drive agencies to push creative boundaries and ask of clients too. 

To date, Laura has worked on some really impactful campaigns that combine creativity with effectiveness - something she says she’s learned more about as her career progressed. Attracted to work with a purpose, Laura is particularly proud of what was achieved for Women’s Aid, which resulted in more women accessing the charity’s services. 

Charley Stoney, CEO of IAPI, says: “Laura is a creative force at Huskies, and it’s been exciting to watch her grow from strength to strength, collecting international awards along the way. Not only is she an advocate for female creatives, she’s very passionate about pulling young talent up the ladder behind her, and often mentors creatives Irish training and education programmes.”

Today, LBB speaks to Laura about why she thinks awards are good for creativity, making work that impacts lives, and what distinguishes a good art director from a great one. 

LBB> How did you first get interested in art direction - was this always your career plan?

Laura> Whether it was writing songs or plays, knitting or pritt-sticking, I was always a creative child, so choosing a creative career was a no-brainer. I then realised during my master’s that I was more drawn to the visual side of things – what an idea would look like, and how images could help solve problems - so art direction just felt like a really good fit. The fact that I now get paid for imagining things is incredible.

LBB> You’re a former winner of the Irish Cannes Young Lions competition as well a recipient of many other awards. What’s your view on awards and what did winning at Cannes Lions mean to you?

Laura> I won Cannes Young Lions during a very green part of my career. Being at Cannes was genuinely a dream come true and it had a huge impact on me. I was very lucky to go back again, glass of rosé in hand, last year too, and it was amazing to feel that personal growth in the eight years since. 

I personally love the idea of a shared agency ambition to win awards. I think it drives work to be better, it pushes us to ask bravery of our clients, and it recognises all the hard work we do. It’s not for everyone, but I like the hustle of it all, it’s exciting and I am not ashamed to say I will never not be happy to win awards.

LBB> You’ve been with In the Company of Huskies for five years now. What do you like most about working here and how has your role evolved from when you first started to now?

Laura> I adore Huskies for its growth ambition and insanely cool people. The first years of your career can feel a bit tricky: I had constant imposter syndrome and felt like I wasn’t really getting anywhere. Then when I landed at Huskies for an interview with Damian Hanley (creative director at Huskies), he told me he saw something in me, and I felt like I’d found a spot where I could grow. Two years later, he set me up on a blind date with my now creative partner Aoife McCleary and after a few cheeky pints, a great work-ship was born. 

As time has gone on, I feel like I’ve really developed as a creative, but more importantly as an advertiser. I’ve always had the ideas, but I’ve learned a lot about creative effectiveness. And also how to present ideas well, how to genuinely sell to clients (and excite them) and how to push when needed. I love my job and I think Huskies has a lot to do with that. 

LBB> What does creativity mean to you? How do you nurture yours?

Laura> Funnily enough, because art direction is my 9-5, I associate creativity with working. In my regular life, I like to be outside and get away from screens, and that’s where most of my good ideas start to marinate. Once I’m chilled out, my brain does a lot of passive thinking for me.

In work, when it’s just my copywriter and I bartering stuff around, it’s best when it’s relaxed and fun. We laugh constantly and great stuff comes from us being super comfortable with our styles and each other. I nurture my creativity by listening, telling stories, and sharing the craziest of thoughts. 

LBB> How does Irish creativity compare to other places in your view; what makes it different?

Laura> I’ve spent my whole career in this country, and I know no different. I love Ireland and I think we have so much to offer. I always think of us as the underdog, and I think that we can surprise and delight in ways people wouldn’t expect of us. It’s special when people are pleasantly surprised by what you do. 

LBB> What kind of work do you find yourself most drawn to or seek out deliberately?

Laura> Without meaning to, I find myself always being drawn to purpose-driven work. In a way though, everything we do should have purpose and create value for our clients. A lot of the time I’m searching for a feeling over a specific theme. I personally want to feel something, but I want the audience to feel something, which is incredibly hard when we talk about advertising. But most of all, trying to not get ignored is my number one goal. 

LBB> What are some of the pieces of work that you’re most proud of? What makes them stand out?

Laura> I’m most proud of my work for Allianz and Women’s Aid. We started by flipping the narrative on domestic abuse by transforming survivors into ‘The World’s Strongest Women’. Following on from that, we created a campaign for International Women’s Day where we built a live data tracker that showed how frequent domestic abuse is in Ireland. Both campaigns have resulted in a sharp increase in women calling Women’s Aid for help, which is both heart-breaking and inspiring at the same time. Seeing how creativity can actually help women in need is definitely my career highlight.

Recently, we were shortlisted in The One Show for a campaign we ran over Christmas for our client SVP. The high-end shop, where basics were sold as luxury items, was part of the annual appeal and highlights how rampant poverty is in Ireland. Despite having a tiny budget, we got some great results, and it was exciting to make a reality. The digital store is still live at

I think these ideas work and have stood out because each has a strong, clear thought, which was crucial in landing us some pretty good results. The teamwork involved in everything also can’t be underestimated. I could never have done any of these alone and thinking that you can is always going to be a mistake.  

LBB> In your opinion, what differentiates a great art director from a good one?

Laura> A great art director has brave ideas. A great art director can sell. They are good with clients, and they know how to inspire people with their vision. They know when to push and when to let things slide. They know how to work with the talent in their agency to make their ideas better. I constantly strive for all these things. 

LBB> You’re a member of a female creative collective, Concepts & Cailíní - tell us a little bit about it and what the membership entails. 

Laura> Concepts & Cailíní is a collective of female advertising creatives in Ireland. A few years back, we realised that there was a need for a space for us to get together and celebrate each other’s achievements and feel supported by our peers. Self-doubt can be a creative killer, so we encourage open chats, where experiences can be shared and advice can be given. When I started my career, it was always hard to find women above me who I could talk to. I either felt intimidated or felt like I was asking silly questions. This group breaks down these walls so that senior people can candidly chat with people starting out. We also enjoy group meetups together where we end up inevitably talking about advertising all night. Email if you want to join.  

LBB> What kind of advice can you share with anyone looking to get into art direction?

Laura> Start growing your love of advertising. Save ideas from everywhere. I have constant lists and Pinterest boards that are always being filled with stuff I admire and like. Keep playlists of songs that spark your interest. Watch all the shows. Walk through all the museums. Always be curious about what you see and how it inspires you, or focus on why you don’t like it and what you would do differently, 

Next step is to start building your book. Write down ideas, trial and error. Ask someone with more experience than you to give you advice. Grow your network of suppliers (photographers, illustrators, directors). Have fun! You are about to start down a pretty cool career path.

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The Institute Of Advertising Practitioners In Ireland, Mon, 08 May 2023 06:53:00 GMT