The Drum Network is on a mission to share our members’ expertise with the wider world. So, we’re happy to present the latest in a series of our ’10 Questions With...’ series, this time featuring insights from Simon Carrington, the vice-president of design for APAC at Spark – Brighter Thinking.
1. What was your first job?
I began my career as the ‘tea boy’ when I joined Polydor Records in 1984. I worked in the ‘international‘ department, running errands and taking on day-to-day tasks for the international press and production teams. I loved it and quickly learned many facets of the business. It was also totally cool working with many great artists, such as The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Lloyd Cole, The Style Council, Brian Eno, Vangelis... to name a few.
2. What industry buzzword annoys you most?
I try to avoid getting into the buzzword trap. I find most of them quite unnecessary.
3. Who do you find most interesting to follow on social media?
Leo Villareal is a genius in lighting installation design. His work is mesmerizing because the coding he creates makes the installations appear to breathe their own life – nothing is repetitious and it feels totally organic. And Dale Chihuly’s glass art is incredible. His paintings, glass sculptures and his use of color and form are like nobody else’s.
4. What are the highlights of your career so far?
This is a hard to answer question singularly. I would say that working with incredible talent like Lynne Easton, Anton Corbijn, Nick Knight, Kate Garner, Simon Fowler and Andy Earl, and being involved in the creative decision-making process with artists and their management along with the selected photographers and stylists, was awesome – especially at such a young age.
On Friday 5 September 1997, just after midday, I was given clearance to design a sleeve for the Princess Diana tribute single, Candle in The Wind 1997. I had one afternoon and evening to create the concepts to be presented to Sir Elton after Diana’s funeral the following day. There was nothing revolutionary about the design itself, but pulling it all together when we were only given the go-ahead that Friday afternoon was a feat in itself as the approved final art had to go to print the next day.
Being a part of the Spark family for 19 years, I have grown my skills and knowledge dramatically and have worked with so many amazing clients on equally as many amazing projects. I have been instrumental in setting up offices in Los Angeles, Paris and Sydney. The daily challenges I face are what keeps me motivated and excited about my role in the company. Working alongside our Spark Sydney family has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career to date.
5. What piece of tech can you not live without?
My home cinema, my records and my lasers! I love movies and the only way to watch them outside of a cinema is on a big 4K screen with Dolby Atmos and DTS-X sound. I have all my old vinyl – including my parents’ collection that I painstakingly restored after it was shipped over from the UK – and I play my records all the time. Hand in hand with the love of music is designing laser shows and building laser projection systems. This has (unfortunately) been an expensive hobby, but creating abstract imagery in laser light, synchronized to music, is very cathartic.
6. What posters did you have on your bedroom wall as a teenager?
I had a large selection of movie posters – originals that I collected. I loved disaster and horror movies when I was younger. My favorites that I remember included Earthquake, Rollercoaster, The Shining and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I also pinned up pop posters from magazines like Smash Hits and No1. 80s pop bands and artists were plastered wall to wall, including all the bands I was working with at the time. And lastly, with my interest in lasers, posters from the original 1977 planetarium-based laser light show Laserium.
7. In marketing, what needs to change now?
Lose the stereotypical and bring in the diverse. It’s getting there, but there’s a fair way to go.
8. What’s your favorite film, album and book?
Music has played a massive part of my life since childhood. My mum was a semi-professional jazz singer who performed in several jazz clubs in London’s Soho in the 1960s, and my dad loved the sounds of the big band and the likes of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. They both opened my ears to many great artists and styles of music, but it was the electronic sounds of Kraftwerk, Synergy, Walter Carlos, Jean-Michel Jarre that excited me. Because of this, there’s no way I can name one album or movie that I can say is the greatest. It’s too hard to answer as every artist, piece of music or film is prolific in its own right.
9. Which industry event can you not afford to miss?
The Shop Awards are a must-attend event in Australia, especially when you enter POS work and win! There are two industry events that, unfortunately, I have not yet attended – CES in Vegas and Euroshop, the retail trade fair in Germany. In my record company days, you couldn’t miss the Brit Awards.
10. What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
One of my form teachers would recite to me on a regular basis: “With an attitude like yours, Carrington, you’ll never amount to anything.” So I took this as positive advice in order to prove him and many others wrong.
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