Creative Director Shane Griffin on Finding Big Success Through Design Competitions

Above: SneakerBall sculpture for Nike.

Shane Griffin was an ‘ADC Young Guns 10’ winner in 2012 and also returned as a judge for the following three years after.

As someone who has sat on both sides of the panel, we thought it’d be great hear his thoughts on how to get your work seen by the right people.


Above: SneakerBall sculpture for Nike.

As well as giving some advice on self promotion and telling us what he thinks about competitions like ADC Young Guns, Shane talks us through some of his projects and how the ideas came about.

Regularly creating motion graphics for companies such as Ford and Toyota, Shane is well-versed in handling 3D imagery. But as one of his projects with Nike developed, he found himself designing a large, free-standing sculpture. He talks to us about this, his work as a Creative Director, and his thoughts on agency representation.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and the kind of work you do as a designer.

I’m an Irish-born designer & live action director, working in all fields of visual arts.

I’ve been designing for TV and Film for about ten years now, and have recently relocated to NYC. My work tends to have a very abstracted and tactile aesthetic, all grounded in the real world.

Above: Part of a series of commercials designed and directed for Ford. (Working with Jon Noorlander.)

You are also Creative Director over at Method Studios. Can you tell us about the kind of work you do there and how you got involved?

Method recruited me to set up their East coast creative offering along with my creative partner Jon Noorlander.

Together we do a broad range of work, from live action, to design-driven visual effects, and motion graphics. Jon and I knew each other from years back, so it was a very collaborative and fun partnership from the get-go.


Above: Still from a series of commercials designed and directed for Ford. (Working with Jon Noorlander.)

How much does your role differ at Method Studios to your own?

My role at the company is more of a creative overseer, that includes pitching, conceiving, directing, and liaising.

My own work is usually more brand-focused design work, on the box making images. I have a real passion for designing still, I never want to lose that.

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Above: Still from a series of commercials designed and directed for Ford. (Working with Jon Noorlander.)

You’ve worked with many global brands on exciting, not to mention award-winning, campaigns. The Nike SneakerBall Sculpture project is particularly interesting. Can you walk us through that, and/or any of your other projects you’ve found particularly rewarding?

The Sneakerball was a fantastic project to be a part of. Nike contacted me to originally just design and execute high res print imagery for the event.

Nike have always worked very collaboratively with me, and have always brought great creative ideas to the table, so it was a dream job.


Above: SneakerBall sculpture for Nike.

The piece was always going to be a sculpture in the digital realm, but half way through the project they decided to build it for real, so I created accurate size models and architectural schematics for the fabrication process.

It was great to see people interacting with the piece, taking photos with it etc. Just last week I went for a drink with a friend, turns out he was at the event and had taken a photo with it before we even met! That was a cool feeling.


Above: SneakerBall sculpture for Nike.

You’ve been on both sides of the judging panel, having won many notable awards and taken the position of judge yourself.

How important do you think it is that people actively pursue competitions like those as a way to better their career?

Everybody has a different experience with these things. When I won ADC Young Guns a few years back, I flew over for the ceremony and met a bunch of great people.

I subsequently moved to NYC two years later, and some of my closest friends I’ve met through the ADC community.

The award was also instrumental in acquiring a visa to work in the US. I would strongly advise any artist who wants to further their career to pursue compeitions like these, if for nothing more than personal development. You never know what might happen!


Above: Featured as one of Print’s ’15 Under 30′ new visual artists and magazine cover design.

Now that you have that kind of recognition and have those kinds of big names in your portfolio, how do you approach self promotion as opposed to how you did before?

I’m more selective about the work I show now, that would be the main difference. I’m creating images everyday, sometimes 20 or 30 a day, and no one but the client may ever see them! One day I’ll do an entire retrospective, haha!


Above: Magazine cover design for Print.

You are represented by Antidote for directing. Can you talk to us about that relationship and your thoughts on creative representation in that way?

Antidote have been fantastic, I’m close friends with the owner, and he is one of the most resourceful producers I’ve ever worked with. They represent me for live action commercials in Europe.

I think it’s good to have a rep, with how busy things can get in our field, it’s difficult to be out there constantly peddling your own work.

You can spend a lot of time being on calls, in production meetings, chasing cheques, it’s great to have another person to help take the burden off and let you focus on the creative aspects of the job. I hope to do another couple of spots with them next year.


Above: Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ (book) design.

Working with companies that operate on such a large scale, do you find that restrictive in terms of time and inspiration? And can you give any advice for managing your productivity and maintaining your passion?

Yes, the more people the more time becomes diluted. Usually, the more opinions the less creative the end result. Productivity can be your best friend, and worst enemy.

My advice is to not work too hard, don’t burn yourself out. If things aren’t going right, take a break, walk away from your work for a half hour. Time management is essential, unfortunately it’s the hardest nut to crack.


Above: Nike Air Yeezy II campaign.

In terms of seeing yourself as a working business as much as a creative individual, how much do you consider that and are there any strategies that have helped you along the way?

I am a business for sure, and I do actively approach things that way. I just happen to make cool looking shit, and that’s my product! My only strategy is to always have a goal in mind, the next achievement, the next gig, the next big thing.


Above: Nike X Kobe campaign.

What advice would you give to someone who would like to increase the scale of the kind of projects they get commissioned for?

There is no secret sauce to this, sometimes it’s presenting your work confidently, sometimes it’s a personal project that takes off, sometimes it’s luck.

My only advice regarding how to attract work is just to keep doing good work! Even if the client is a lame coporate bank, do a good job! No one says “no” to a good idea!


Above: Personal project subsequently used by WeTransfer.

Where do you see yourself taking your creative business in the new year and beyond?

Watch this space! 🙂


All videos and images © Shane Griffin

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