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Brian Fowler

Creative Director

Have you worked with any companies I may know?

Yes, Dulux, Sanderson’s wall coverings, Brabantia, Laura Ashley, Clarkes, Polycell, The Home Office, UMB and I worked on the Buzby concept for BT.

Do you have a favourite project you’ve done? 

Yes, Blas! for the welsh food directorate, promoting quality welsh food. I created the corporate identity and brand promise. I enjoyed this most because of the content and people I met. I found it all really interesting. It was a lovely thing to be involved with. I’m also fond of this because it was my last big client before retiring.

How did you go about starting a new project? Was there something you always did?

I would always start with the same thing, this would apply to a product, service, anything! What is it, why is it, What’s in the market and Where does it need to go.

Does your working life experience affect your life now? And how?

Constantly, I enjoy looking at good creative work. I get great pleasure out of that whether it’s interiors, sculpture, film or new product. I still always ask myself the questions, what is it, why is it and do I need it.

How do you continue your creativity now, post retirement?

I like to be involved in a lot of different things. All influenced by people I meet or exhibitions. I constantly surround myself with other creative individuals whether that’s a guitar maker, painter, designer, ceramicists and art collector.

Can you explain this drawing (card)?

I was known for pushing a project along. If I were looking at some work being done and it didn’t look asthough it would fit the brief, rather than be unkind to the creative. I would make the statement for example, ‘what’s that gunna turn into rob’. I’d say it a lot, so it became one of my catch phrases. So the designers included on a card for my birthday. They made me look aggressive with a gun and thick neck because I did a lot of body building at the time.

How do you think the creative process of advertising has changed since you’ve retired?

Ignoring trends, because trends change things. In principle it hasn’t, in technology it has.

When working in the studio, was there something you did every day, without fail?

To be first in, and on time.

If you could pick a colour to describe yourself, what would it be and why?

Magenta, because it’s warm and punchy. And it reminds me of when I was involved with ICI, developing a Perspex to that colour spec on behalf of a client.

What colour do you think the designers and clients you’ve worked with, would describe you as?

Yellow, because it is a very visible colour and I was very visible within the agency. In other words, my door was always open, and approachable.

Who was your biggest client?

Great Mills DIY, they ended up being our biggest account worth 8 million. I worked with them right from the start in 1972.

I met Tony McGreevy, who only had a builders yard at the time. When he came into what was then Clive Morris Advertising. Due to my experience at UBM, I worked with him to develop the Great Mills brand. My responsibilities were everything. Print, packaging design, branding, store design, corporate identity, brand philosophy, product development, point of sale, signage, all printed matter, staff uniform and store layout.

I was even part of the panel at the potential product pitches, where other companies and suppliers would come to promote their products with the intention being on sell in Great Mills stores. This was my favourite part of working with Great Mills. I knew the complete ins and outs of the Great Mills brand so it was good to have me there. As I was able to determine whether a product would fit the brand philosophy or not. Then they subsequently have been sold out to B&Q and Wickes.

Can you explain these designs, why a scarecrow, what’s it all about?

The scarecrow came from the fact that ONTRAC had just become Apple Mac based, using less hand skills. As well as having built a studio considered as cutting edge in its time, situated out of the centre of Bristol and in the surrounding countryside. It was my idea to promote that by combining farmland heritage with technology.

I came up with the strap line for the promotion, Cutting edge in the country. Out of which came the scarecrow idea. I presented research and the concept to another Bristol based company to get some visuals drawn. What you see here are the visuals, I did want it made in bronze and photographed in the surrounding fields of the studio. Then kept in the reception of the agency. Due to the costings that didn’t happen. Which was a shame.

Before becoming a Creative director, did you attend any colleges?

I did an evening lettering course, but that’s it. Everything else I gained through experience working at different places from the age of 17, or is self-taught.

Interview by Milly Nash

Biography

Brian, a retired Creative Director and Director of the formally named Advertising Agency Clive Morris Advertising Limited, now known as ONTRAC. Has spent his life living and working in Bristol. With over 40years experience, this included working for the first advertising agency in Bristol, called Glovers. Throughout the years, Brian worked for a number of companies learning and gaining an incredible amount of hand skills and experience with fellow creative professionals which inevitably enabled him to build a strong name for himself within the buisness at the time. Creating work for companies such as GreatMills, Laura Ashley, Clarkes, Dulux, Brabantia, Polycell UBM, BT and the governments Home Office. Although, retired, the valuable knowledge and life experience he has, I feel is paramount to young designers trying to become known and knowledgeable within the busy, competitive world of creativity. As Brian has such an interesting story to tell.

www.ontracagency.com