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Kyoorius Designyatra 2016: Five things Handsome Frank looks from illustrators It’s about fitting the right piece of work in the brief, Handsome Frank’s Jon Cockley

The Founders of Handsome Frank, Jon Cockley and Tom Robinson, say what they see in artists and how illustrations are related to advertising

Archit Ambekar | Jaipur | October 3, 2016


The second day at the Kyoorius Designyatra started with a session by the Founders of Handsome Frank, Jon Cockley and Tom Robinson.

Cockley and Robinson both were working professionals in the creative field. Cockley has spent about a decade working in publishing for Creative Review. Robinson too has been an art director with various ad agencies, including Ogilvy, Publicis and LBi before co-founding Handsome Frank with Cockley.

While advertising was about ads, Robinson and Cockley were keen on illustrations. This is why they decided to quit their jobs and start the organisation. In a chat with them, tried to find out the connection between illustrations and advertising, while asking about five key important aspects they see from an artist.

Cockley said they don’t really think geographically when it comes to artists and work. One of the first aspects they look at is a strong signature style. One needs to have an understanding of how a particular piece of work will look before it is ready. The second aspect is writing of subject matter. Cockley said it is very important to do that.

Robinson added, “The other one is the hard one and that is the wow factor. How do you teach someone that? Some people just get it straight, some people learn over time. But it’s just the need and whether that person is in England or anywhere in the world it doesn’t matter.”

Cockley added two more points. He said, “It is about the person. Once we see someone’s work, we want to speak to them and find out about them, because relationships make this work. It is eventually a personal process. Lastly, what I’ve learnt is sometimes the work that I like personally, which is hung up in my home, isn’t always work that works commercially. You have to set aside your taste a little bit on the commercial aspect as well.”

When asked about how is advertising and illustrations related, Robinson said, “For me, I think if you look now, a lot of advertising campaigns use illustrations. A couple of years ago we only had photography and it’s the ad space where the client has confidence that illustrations will work better. I think the recession that took place a couple of years ago has made advertisers realise that they can use illustrations instead of photos, which are eventually expensive.”

Cockley added, “We love photography. I don’t think you get a client who says I’m never going to use photography or I’m never going to use illustrations. It’s about fitting the right piece of work in the brief.”

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