ITIAPTWC Episode 4 – Mark Denton

ITIAPTWC Episode 4 – Mark Denton


This week’s podcast is a chat with my good friend, Mr Mark Denton Esq.

He’s been (or still is) an art director, creative director, designer, director, owner of an agency, owner of a design company, owner of a couple of production companies, wrestling promoter, public speaker, President of the Creative Circle and a whole bunch of other stuff.

But really, he’s a creative – in every sense of the word. He designs his clothes, his home, magazines, books, his moustache and anything else in his life. And so many incredibly talented and successful people owe him their start that his industry footprint is like that of a Giganotosaurus.

So we could only scratch the surface. But at least that meant we could cover…

Art direction vs idea.

The merits of expensive, puerile visuals.

The significance of warm reds and cold blues.

The benefits of seeing a clairvoyant.

Becoming your own personal brand.

Why most people prefer unsubtle to subtle.

Why humour is often the difference between art direction and design.

How being ‘bloody awkward’ can help and hinder your career.

Why older people should surround themselves with younger people.

What creatives want from directors.

The pros and cons of treatments.

Why it’s OK for directors to ignore your ideas (if they’re geniuses).

Why a great account person is essential.

And why now is the best of times and the worst of times.

I hope you enjoy it. We’ll probably go a little deeper in a future chat…

You can subscribe on iTunes (‘If This Is A Blog Then What’s Christmas’), listen on Soundcloud or click on this link:

ITIAPTWC Episode 4 – Mark Denton

Here’s some of the work we discussed, and some other great stuff, including a small plug for the privates (sic) view of his exhibition:












Anyone can fall in love. Over the years it has to keep growing. Sun and rain, joy and pain. There’s highs – there’s lows; we’ve no way of knowing the weekend.

REVOLUTIONARY piece of exercise equipment (thanks, F):

A tour of the same LA streets 70 years ago and now (thanks, T).

Weather map goes crazy (thanks, G):

462 photos of communism (thanks, G).

Funny animal tumblrs (thanks, L).

Disproportionately common American names in certain professions (thanks, K).

Video game characters in traditional Japanese style (thanks, G).

Absorbing animated gifs:


Jolene is better at 33rpm:

ITIAPTWC Episode 3 – Vicki Maguire


Vicki Maguire is the joint ECD of Grey London.

If you listen to our chat you can find out how…

Working on a market stall and plying an older gentleman with alcohol can make you a better writer.

Paul Smith taught her the value of generosity.

Declining a placement can get you a job instead.

You can learn more from arseholes than good people.

Going to D&AD with a less ‘fashionable’ agency can have unexpected benefits.

Working at O&M is different to working at W&K.

The East End needs to stay shitty.

You can open a sweet shop.

Then tension between old clients and new ways of working can be a good thing.

Being a copywriter can literally save lives.

Lifepaint may not be as terrible as I thought.

My Moral Arbitration Ceremony is essential for the good of the industry.

Thanks, Vicki. I really enjoyed our chat, so if you’re ever in LA do pop round for a cup of tea or a kale smoothie.

(If any of you were hoping for Jeff Labbe, a technical hitch means that’ll happen sometime in the future. Next week:  the great Mark Denton.)

Amazingly, you can now just subscribe to this podcast, like proper podcasts, by looking up If This Is A Blog Then What’s Christmas on iTunes. Or, if you prefer, listen to it on Soundcloud.

ITIAPTWC Episode 2 – Vicki Maguire

Here’s some of Vicki’s best work:


We’ve got some half priced cracked ice and miles and miles of carpet tiles. TVs, deep freeze and David Bowie LP’s. Pool games, gold chains, wosnames, and at a push the weekend.

America’s most beautiful libraries.

Excellent writing advice.

And excellent food tips (thanks, T).

Intricate map of alt music history (thanks, G).

Scorsese’s career in movie posters.

Cool Jeff Back and Seal cover of Manic Depression (thanks, G):

Fucking amazing 70s haircuts (thanks, T).

People screwing up in infomercials, soundtracked by The Smiths (thanks, C):

The truth about the importance of an advertising creative (thanks, D).

Timeline of Republicans deserting Trump (thanks, G).

Fantastic psychedelic posters (thanks, T).

Scorsese’s list of essential foreign films (I’ve only seen 11. thanks, G):


Hong Kong in the 1950s, captured by a teenager.

Epic rap battles, Hitchcock vs Spielberg (thanks, G):

Little kid jumps like horse (thanks, G):



As someone with a keen interest in language, I wonder when the world ‘mate’ came to mean ‘arsehole’:


ITIAPTWC 2 – Simon Veksner

The second episode of If This Is A Podcast Then What’s Christmas is an interview with Simon Veksner:


Simon has been a very successful copywriter, winning D&AD pencils and a Cannes Grand Prix (back when there were only about five categories in which you could win one). So we discuss how he got to that position, the brilliant creative direction of Jeremy Craigen and Ewan Patterson, how the keys to success are making friends with the traffic department and reading David Hume’s take on idea generation, and how digital vs TV comes down to advertising creatives being ‘praise whores’.

We also have a good chat about his Scamp Blog. It might seem like a long time ago now, but that blog was essentially the creative mouthpiece for the entire industry (Simon reveals that it used to get hits than Campaign’s website). In fact, it was so big that when Google temporarily shut it down the situation merited coverage in the national press. So we explore its origins and the reasons behind its fame.

We end on a conversation about his move to Australia and his recent venture in setting up a social media company.

I hope you enjoy it. I’ll leave you with an apology for any points where the sound might get too loud or quiet, a downloadable version of the podcast (still trying to work out the iTunes thing) and a few of Simon’s best ads.

Next week: Jeff Labbé, director of the Barnados ad below.


(P.S.: in case you’re wondering if there’s any method to my choice of guests, I’m trying to vary things a little in terms of eras, backgrounds, geography and even – gasp! – gender. I will definitely get round to asking everyone you’re thinking of, but my order may not be quite the same as yours. Schedules are also important as I have to record most people under the cosh of an eight-hour time difference, which is a bit of an arse. As always, please suggest people and I’ll add them to my list.)









Knowing sensing seeing eating sleeping – that’s just being. Touching testing loving wanting and taking the weekend

Jay-Z on the epic fail that is the War on Drugs.

The amazing Playing Lynch site for David Lynch’s meditation foundation (thanks, H).

Making wax food (thanks, T):

Artist makes hi-tech digi versions of his shit childhood pics.

More amusing answers to photoshop requests.

Epic hat trick shots (thanks, F):

Superheroes as 16th Century aristocrats (thanks, T).

My friend’s husband was given a 10-year bullshit prison sentence. Here’s her amazing blog.

The top 50 music videos of the 90s (thanks, J).

Blaine blows Pharrell’s mind:

If This Is a podcast then what’s christmas episode 1 – dave Dye

Today is a momentous day for the blog:

I have ventured into the world of podcasts.

(I’ll wait a second while you catch your breath, call your local newspaper and shout this incredible news from your rooftop.)

As a keen listener of podcasts (favourites include Arseblog, WTF, Answer Me This, RHLSTP, Guardian Football, Tim Ferriss, Nerdist, Football Ramble etc.) I thought it’d be cool if people who enjoy this blog could listen to interviews with the great and the good of advertising. In addition it would give me a chance to freshen up the blog a bit and get out of my comfort zone.

I may not have everything 100% in place just yet (the blog seems unwilling to load the file size up to podcast land (iTunes etc.), but I will make this work ASAP. So I have a Soundcloud file, which is recorded from a Skype interview. It sounds OK, but I think there’s room for improvement.

Anyway, episode 1 is a chat with Dave Dye, one of the best art directors in the history of British advertising.

I intended to spend an hour going through his career. However, I soon discovered that this was a little optimistic – we managed to get through his first 8-9 years, ending just as he joined Leagas Delaney. Then we chatted about the pros and (mainly) cons of digital advertising. I’ll do a part two (and possibly three/four/five) at some point in the future.

Just so you know, I spend a few minutes setting up the intention of the podcast series, then it’s an uninterrupted hour of chat.

There are loads of great stories and lessons, so I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to give me any feedback, such as tips on how to get it properly on iTunes, suggestions for other interviews, ways of improving the sound quality on an intercontinental Skype chat, and anything else that pops into your mind.

Many thanks for taking the time to listen…

Walk away and taste the pain. Come again some other day. Aren’t you glad you weren’t the weekend.

Great designers choose their favourite album covers.

Every Best Picture:

John Coltrane in 20 quotes (thanks, M).

Sort of update of George Michael’s Freedom 90 video (thanks, L).

Insanely good Prince solo:

What’s in a Chicken McNugget? (Do not watch within 1000 years of eating a Chicken McNugget. Thanks, D):

Johnny Depp making weird faces:

A fine, fine commercial

Brilliantly shot, compelling, intriguing, entertaining and (most crucially) with a satisfying payoff.

Well done, all concerned.