Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Genius of Andy Hammond

"Illustration has been good to me" are the words Andy Hammond uses to describe his amazing career in the industry, spanning 5 decades. Andy has recently retired from the agency, and as a celebration of his friendship, professionalism and creativity, we thought we'd share a snapshot of his experiences from boy to man; from advertising to full-time illustration. This piece written by Andy will hopefully inspire others to 'do what they love'!

"I first started to draw seriously when I went to secondary school. As a kid I drew and painted on everything, best of all was a blank wall, just before it was decorated. I knew what I wanted to do but didn’t know how to go about doing it. It was plain for all to see that my two exam passes, English and Art, were not going to make my fortune, but as I could draw a bit it was decided that I should go to Art School. This was in 1964 and a very good time was being had by all. Once there I took the graphics / advertising route, ( my mother insisted that I should wear a suit on the first day, bless her. There was little hope for me really.) 
After three great years at High Wycombe College of Art, where I met my future wife, Di, I set about trying to find a job. These were times of austerity – so, thirty-five interviews later I was lucky enough to land a position as a trainee art director at the then named, Masius Wynne-Williams Advertising in St.James’s Square.
I worked with a lovely guy who really could draw. He and I would spend hours trying to ‘outdraw’ each other, the challenge was to find something really tricky to recall. To this day, I can draw most things from memory. I stayed there for about ten years, getting married to Di along the way (one of my smarter moves), devising campaigns for household-name accounts such as: Milky Way, Robertson’s, Weetabix, Embassy, McVitie’s, The Co-op and so on. Not an overly creative place, but it had its moments. One such moment was when I was awarded a Bronze Lion at the Cannes Advertising Film Awards for a McVitie’s script that I had written.
By now, the hedonistic days of the advertising business were slipping into the past, things were more serious, and yet I found myself doing more and more cartoon work. I decided it was time to move on.
Two ex-art director friends were running a small general art studio in the West End and they asked me to join them. At first it was quite disastrous, coming from an agency of two or three hundred people, it was quiet, very quiet. It was a busy studio and we soon got used to each other, working on packaging, storyboards, animatics, you name it, we did it. It was great to be cartooning all day long. I had the good fortune to pick up two more awards, a Clio award in New York for a Ski yogurt poster campaign and a D&AD Gold award for a Robertson’s Marmalade poster campaign.

That’s it with the awards!

Soon after joining Mike and John, I was lucky to be given the task of producing pretty well all the static drawings of the Tetley Tea Folk. I drew the Tea Folk for sixteen years, the characters appeared on press ads. posters, mainstream and trade, and all the ones for the Tetley Collectables. Some task!

One aspect of my work that I haven’t mentioned is character design. This is great fun, but also very interesting to watch your character go through the many phases of development. It was always good to work with the Soho animators, but as a full time job, no thanks. Successful characters include: ‘Gus’ the Offgas dog, ‘Thomson’ Cat, Local Directory, ‘Kev’ the Renault Mechanic, two ‘Child’ characters for The Woolwich Kids Club and a German Wine Dealer, whose name escapes me. 

We worked on many accounts, including, Mars, Tate and Lyle, The Lottery, Disney UK, The Woolwich, Nokia, W H Smith and many many more. We were just three art directors who preferred drawing to advertising. I was fortunate to work on some pretty good campaigns.
In May ’89 I moved on again. I had decided that I was going to work from home. An agent was to be found. I did a straw poll of two or three art buyers that I knew and asked them the question: Who’s your favourite agent? The rest is history.
One of the main reasons for going on my own was that I wanted work on children’s books. I had done bits and pieces for publishing but I wanted to tackle some whole books. Also I wanted to return to my old style of illustration which is, dip pen, ink and watercolour, an artwork medium that I really enjoy using and its well received.
It’s gone quite well, a company called Ginn and Co. came up with the goods quite early on, a Julia Jarman book called ‘Fussy Freda’. It remains to this day one of my favourite books. Brilliant Books, sadly no longer with us, commissioned me to do a series of ‘Alfie’ history books, which were terrific fun to do, and a lovely series of stories by Philip Wooderson set in Ancient Egypt, about the travels of a lad and his bonkers father, are all real favourites. Cats and dogs, that have been such fun to draw, I thank you all

Looking back, ‘Illustration’ have put some cracking jobs my way. But things have changed, where we had spirit based felt tips that made your eyes go squiffy, and we also had adhesives that felt like they were sticking your lungs together. When I was first employed some art directors still used pastels on their layouts’ now we’ve all got a shed load of redundant computer hardware.
Then there’s the Mac. Brilliant! But I still don’t like it. I have been experimenting with 3D. I think it may be okay.

One more little bit about me, not only have I reached the ripe old age of sixty four , but I’ve done it despite having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease sixteen years ago… and I’m still drawing.

Illustration has been good to me; ‘Illustration’ have been good to me."

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