Futures: Where are we now?

Friday 1 November 2019

With the launch of two new Futures plus a Young Guns winner, we interview Nicki Field on all things Futures.

What is Futures?

Futures is a selection of fresh talent on our Roster who – generally –  are just starting out in the industry. We offer them a route to a commercial art career with the reassurance of management by our trusted experience.

How do you feel about Alva Skog winning The One Club’s Young Guns?

It’s unreal. Alva is such a talent – so driven, ambitious and creative – it’s a wonderful moment of recognition for all Alva has achieved in the first year since graduation.

And Alva was part of Futures?

Yes! Alva had entered D&AD New Blood only in the second year of studying at Central Saint Martins and won a pencil. I remember seeing Alva’s work at the time, now two years ago. By the time Alva was due to graduate the portfolio had expanded so much and the basis of Alva’s style was already so strong – Alva came in to see us and we just knew we wanted to work together.

Why is Futures important?

There’s so much talk about supporting young talent and diversifying pathways into the industry. A lot of the artists we tend to work with are already established but need help with their project management or paperwork as well as us hustling to find them new work. With Futures, it’s nice to break the cycle of expecting an artist to have done most of the groundwork themselves before they are in a position to find an agent. We can work alongside them from the start and help be the catalyst to a regular or higher-profile client base earlier on in their career.

Earmarking them separately to the rest of our Roster can take the pressure off the Artist to have a fully formed folio with big brand association. As Futures, we’re putting the spotlight on them saying we think what they are doing is really interesting, and we think they’re going to be ones to watch.

How did it start?

We’ve always cared a lot about supporting new talent and the education side of the Arts. There’s so much talent out there, whether it be from graduates or Artists from other backgrounds coming into the industry and it’s really tough to get a break. We’ve always been really active with associations such as D&AD and YCC and we try to give as much of our time as possible to support on the educational side of the creative industry. Seeing superb work from Artists who are just starting out is so inspiring – I used to say go out there and try it on your own for a year or so, at least to see how you get on and learn the ropes – learn how an agent can help you by trying it all out yourself. But it can be really hard.

It was a bit of a risky experiment to start with but we really cared a lot about trying to do it, so we did it anyway – we originally launched in 2014 with 3 very recent graduates. Part of me thought it would be too early for them to work alongside an agent but it was actually pretty successful.

Are clients interested in Futures?

Totally. It’s an attractive proposition – it offers up a route to working with new artists but alongside our production know how. There is always a hunger to see new talent and be aware of it but sometimes actually using new talent takes a brave client. We can help by minimising any of the perceived risk involved as we can help fill in the gaps in experience by adding a production layer.

Can you name a few of your favourite Futures projects, and why?

Freya Bett’s just recently returned from a trip to New York with a project for Apple Original – she held a talk in the Apple shop plus an appearance at Comic Con. It was just such a perfect fit for Freya. Our first project with Tishk Barzanji was for Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, from the client to the style to the venue it was just a great fit. Chervelle Fryer’s Fortnum & Mason campaign with Otherway was a total dream. The art director Thomas saw Chervelle’s talent for character in one of her pieces – sometimes just once piece is a catalyst – and we worked closely to create a huge Xmas frieze which was Fortnum & Mason’s brochure and Xmas window display. The storytelling and the layers of narrative was just perfect for Chervelle’s character style. The Bombay Sapphire ‘Gin of Ten Journeys’ campaign with AMV BBDO was exactly the right kind of brief for Mariana Rodrigues and was her first big ad job. Alex Tait did a totally bonkers but brilliant project with the Hyundai department store in Seoul which resulted in 40ft high inflatable Alice in Wonderland character.

Truthfully there are lots and they don’t all have to be the big ones. Tom Guilmard just did something small but wonderfully conceptual for BBH. Sometimes it’s the budget that makes you feel great for the artist and sometimes it’s the output – but when it’s both and you know you’ve both worked together to make it happen, then that’s the dream. The bit about my job that I love the most is working closely with an artist to strategize with them, support them, unearth what it is they are about and guide their career in that direction and when it comes together in what comes back, it’s truly wonderful. Alva has garnered a brilliant client base over the months including Droga5, Pentagram, The New York Times, Apple – all clients of a great creative calibre.

And what’s next?

We’re just about to launch Eva Cremers and Leanne Rule which we’re super excited about. Futures now spans both our rosters with us now earmarking Futures Animation Directors. Eva is more illustration-led, though as with most artists these days she’s experimenting with animation and how it can breathe even more life into her characters, whereas Leanne’s ambitions lie more in becoming a fully fledged animation director.

Eva has been featured by It’s Nice That plus and completed internships at shops such as SNASK and ManvsMachine. She comes from a design background but her drive and self-taught CGI ability along with her charm and execution is just fantastic.

Leanne has worked with the likes of Giphy and Lazy Oafs and our Animation EPs Eri & Sue fell in love with her unique comedic voice and knack for storytelling in both long and short format. This, combined with her distinct and charmingly lo fi execution, had them wiping tears of laughter from their eyes when we first saw her body of work, and the Jelly team is keen to work with her to develop her directorial vision even more in the coming year.

So do Futures artists always sign on as fully-fledged Jelly artists?

We’ve had artists who we’ve enjoyed working with but they have developed in a different direction – and that’s okay too. The aim is obviously a long partnership together but Futures also allows us a place to take risks ourselves on what will work commercially – sometimes we can learn what doesn’t but mostly it’s been hugely rewarding and largely successful. The important thing is that it’s not a competition between the Artists or with any given time-frame – we work closely with each and commit as much as we do to any of our other artists.

And lastly – how do you go about finding Futures talent?

We’re always looking, in particular I remember seeing one of Alex Tait’s screen prints at his D&AD New Blood show back in 2014 and it stuck with me. We invited him in to the studio to talk to us and from his attitude and personality, you could tell how driven and switched on he was. And we went from there. Charlie came across Chervelle’s work at New Designers and after speaking with Chervelle, we knew we wanted to work with her – there was just something so unique and fresh about her character work. Mariana came to talk to us after working a few years as a graphic designer and with a developing body of illustration work and ambition of doing that full time – we worked a lot behind the scenes together and harder still in the first 18 months to really get things heading in a successful direction.

Each year we try to cover as much ground as we can with graduate shows and we’re always burrowing into instagram wormholes. There’s some extraordinary talent out there – but maybe it’s not quite fully visible in a whole folio of work or perhaps its only at the start of where we can envisage it going. That’s really what we try to look for. That and the feeling in our gut that something / someone has the potential to be really exciting.