Alex Donne Johnson
WHAT DO YOU DO?
WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
Before the days of university and college i spent a lot of time in my school years teaching myself web-design/flash animation and 3D. I would create music fan-sites and animations for fun. One of my first jobs was to take my local record shop online and create a shop for them to sell their vinyl. This lead me to a nearby music magazine who had 1 issue of a print magazine around genres such as UK Garage, Hip Hop, Grime and Dubstep. I pitched them the idea of translating this culture to an online presence, leading to co-founding the largest UK music website of its time.
To make this a success it forced me to progress my skills further and learn marketing, viral campaigns, SEO, community building and branding. This led to a number of awards including recognition from Prince Charles and the Princes Trust.
As the website matured, it opened the doors to brands who wanted to be aligned with the culture around the music, which lead to a lot of creative service work for brands such as adidas, Levis and JD.
On top of this I was creating a lot of record label artwork, music videos, flyers and concert visuals and from here Dazzle Ship was born.
We began to use the same thinking of creating cutting edge contemporary visuals and communicating complex topics for a wider selection of clients. It lead to working on 2 triple A James Bond franchise games, and partnering with charities to deliver global campaigns for the likes of Wateraid/NDCS.
Now into it’s 5 year as a company my time is split between servicing clients as a Creative Director and developing my skills via a number of passion projects.
How do you stand out in your field?
My approach has always been to break down complex topics and find simple and accessible communication methods for engagement. Back in 2001 for Grime it was about translating an underground culture to a commercial media platform with a community forum to connect people. Today it's about distilling client briefs to the core elements to find a narrative that works in the micro of a campaign and the macro of the companies goals. This involves having a diverse set of skills to draw from and being able to consult in an agnostic way to find the most effective solution to the problems.
It’s great to have the experience of working with big brands as well as start-ups as it gives you perspectives from both ends of the spectrum. In the same way that in 2001 nobody really knew about or understood Grime music, it’s the same in 2017 with a brand new sport such as Drone Racing, there is a really interesting challenge there to create work that needs to tread a fine line between being informative enough to educate the viewer, but also being visually appealing enough to engage them. Too much of the former and it’s boring, and too much of the latter and it’s confusing. The feeling that you are treading new ground to create your own rules and conventions is the part that I am passionate about.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
A world first based around Artificial Intelligence :)
WHAT'S YOUR STYLE/PERSPECTIVE/TASTE? DO YOU HAVE A PROJECT THAT REPRESENTS THIS?
Sexy, fresh, futuristic visual communications. :) This is my favourite Dazzle Ship motion graphics piece so far.
WE ARE ALL SLASHIES WITH MULTIPLE SKILLS, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD DO MORE OFTEN?
We've managed to focus the skillset much more over the past few years. Originally we were working across live action, UI + UX, print design, branding etc etc. Now we focus purely on design/direction with emphasis on 3D motion graphics video production. Having cut our teeth in a number of different production areas allows us to look at clients goals holistically and offer a better service.
WHAT IS FRUSTRATING YOU RIGHT NOW?
Not enough hours in the day! 3D projects get very demanding and the commitment makes you overly attached to producing something of the highest quality. This leads to a lot of late nights and purely out of love of the craft.
IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?
I'd feel too bad on the low rate, they would have to get a bonus! Right now we are on the lookout for a talented project manager so maybe a junior producer or something along those lines.
LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?
Mistakes are the best thing you can make! There are lessons in everything.
IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
I'm at the stage where I think I could really benefit from a mentor as what I want to do for Dazzle Ship isn't a conventional agency model. I've always benefited from talking to older generations who have trod a similar path, and think it's really important to surround yourself with people that are more experienced than you to help you question your own biases.
WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
If you have a brand or campaign that needs some fresh looking visuals and animation then talk to us!
DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL JOB/CLIENT/COLLABORATION.
We don't believe in the supplier/client model, we believe in collaboration! That’s how you deliver great work, and that is also the common thread between all of our favourite portfolio pieces. As long as the chemistry is there in that relationship and an open/honest dialogue is possible... then you can deliver great work
WHAT IS YOUR HOURLY RATE, RETAINER, OR SALARY RANGE?
This varies depending on the project specifications and the team required to deliver. It's best to put together quote based on a full scope of the project. This is normally broken down into an hourly / daily rate, however this would vary depending on all of the specifications and skills needed.
HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?
Email is good. The more details you have that will help form a brief the better, i.e. budget, deadline, references. If not then happy to offer consultation to get things to that stage.
HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE?
Get Away From The Computer!
This member profile was originally published in January 2019.