Year of the freelancer: Dean Spicer

Year of the freelancer: Dean Spicer

In alignment with The Chinese new year of the rabbit, which represents being quick, skilful, patient and resilient- we know our Allies have the same traits. What more could you need from a freelancer?
We spoke with Allies Art Director, Dean Spicer about what makes him tick!

How varied is the work you do?
Unbelievably so. To the point I think it surprises some clients when they ask. One week I’ll be designing a brand identity, the next I’ll be writing copy and scripts for a paid social campaign. It feels like the same type of job rarely sits back-to-back. I’m constantly jumping between generating big ideas for integrated campaigns and being a hands-on brand designer. But, that’s why I love it. It’s never dull. I’ve worked with so many lovely people over the last year and together we’ve solved many a tricky brief. Design and art direction, big thinking, copy, social, ATL… wherever it sits, I just love the challenge of creating something with real standout. Creative that makes people sit-up and take notice.

Which project stands out in your career?
I’ve worked with so many great clients it’s hard to choose, but one that really stands out would be the Sellotape pitch. A funny choice you might think, as it’s not the biggest or most glamourous of names. But for me, it was as much about what we achieved as the brand itself. At the offset, it was a brief for a simple shopper marketing activation – a one-off instore campaign to celebrate their centenary. But, the client loved the work so much we ended up doing so much more. (With the huge added bonus of landing the entire holding company’s brand portfolio.) What started as a small window of opportunity, became something huge. We ended up working on brands that spanned every sector imaginable and for years after we were supposed to have called it a day. Wins like that are really rewarding. You know you’ve exceeded expectations, the brand’s delighted and so’s the agency. That’s the industry at it’s best for me.

What is your best piece of advice for someone starting out in the industry?
“It seems a long time ago now. But, ultimately… borderline harassment served well for me . Persevering till a 10 min meeting was agreed (usually under the guise of critiquing of my portfolio, but really it was all about getting my foot in the door). Obviously, you need a good book, that’s a given. However, loads of people have good books. How are you going to convince the CD interviewing you that you’re the one worth taking a shot on? Never underestimate the power of building a rapport, being a nice person is vital, but it’s not enough, you also need to get on the same wavelength. Most CDs got where they are under their own steam, consequently they want to see dogged determination in anyone they hire too. So, if you don’t waltz in to your first job, stick at it. It can be a real test of character, but it’s worth it. The good thing is, that by adopting this mindset you’re setting yourself in good stead. There’ll be many a brief that feels like a bridge too far. But, if you have that natural desire to solve problems (your first big one being “getting a job”), then you’ll have a successful career.”

Expect a range of content across the year.
From an insightful video series, extra special freelancer showcases, new Allies,
new territories, tips from freelancers and whatever other exciting opportunities inevitably come our way!
Be sure to follow our Instagram.
Here’s to 2023 and our amazing freelancers!

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