Name: Mike Cuthell
Year of graduation: 2008
Company: Anomaly, New York. / Young Creative Council
Job Title: Senior Creative (Art Director & Copywriter) / Director of YCC
I’m sure there are people with shorter stories, but I’ll try to make it as brief as possible. I’d encourage you take a deep breath or pee before you start reading thing… Our class was relatively small, around 20 or so, the course was new-ish and still finding its feet. Lincoln was known more for ‘Trebles for Singles’ that it was known for its Ad course. I actually stumbled onto the course through a passion for Graphic Design and Photography off the back of a Foundation Art & Design course in Norfolk.
Lincoln looked nice, it wasn’t an urban hole, and the lecturers felt like they had something to say, something to prove – and I guess I went all in. The three years are a bit of a blur and it wasn’t a course you could just ‘coast’ through… so, we ended up in the studio Monday to Friday which pretty much set me up for the way I work now.
Fast-track through to my final year (so you can get back to your lunch), I hit the ground running; graduating in a financial depression was fun, but I was cheap labour. My creative partner at the time, Phil Monks and I, strung together a handful of placements, used what we learnt from our course as a base and began building. We got a lucky break in 2010 and our first taste of what famous work might look like… essentially, having no idea what we were doing and kind of winging it.
Finding how heavily the industry relied on ‘Creative teams’ at the time, I founded singlecreatives.com. A website that helps solo creatives team up regardless of where they lived or studied. It’s still going strong some 7 years later with almost half a million unique visitors.
I was brought onboard to the Young Creative Council – a group of like-minded creatives, to be a change agent at the bottom end of the industry. We put on every kind of event we thought was fun, answered to nobody and tried to make life easier for anyone wanting to get into the industry. The group is now a globally recognized brand in the creative community and is all run in our spare time spanning three continents.
Fine tuning my craft, I went through a few different ‘Ad Agencies’ figuring out what kind of work I wanted to create, big agencies, small agencies, start-ups, fat, thin, agencies of all shapes and sizes working mainly as a hybrid creative straddling Art Director & Copywriting roles. Our work compromised of everything from booze brands to global sports companies, even the odd yoghurt. I met a new creative partner along the way, Paul Mann. We freelanced for the best part of 3 years at some of London’s top agencies, take a few gambles and finding our voice. From Anomaly London to Leo Burnett and then AKQA before being poached to work for Anomaly’s mothership in New York… and here I am 18 months later swapping crisps for chips and chips for fries.
There’s no such thing as an average day in the office. I’ve just got back from shooting in Toronto for a Canadian whisky brand that’s been in the pipeline for a few months and I’m currently working on four huge global campaign briefs, a music project featuring an A-list artist and another project about a man who would make Forrest Gump’s accomplishments look really rather normal.
Anomaly works on multitude of projects, sure there’s a fair few ‘ads’ in there, but they do a lot of things differently too.
A day can include anything from concepting, writing film scripts, designing with Adobe, running meetings, trying to figure out what the brief wants me to ‘really’ do, designing, art directing, writing headlines or posters, sitting down with my creative partner trying our best to make each other laugh. If we’re in production you’re either with illustrators, designers, directors, in sound studios or edit suites, genuinely eating nicer, more expensive food and working with people way more talented than myself. There’s usually lots of tea… and emails, way, way too many emails.
Frankly, the ambition is always to try and make something that makes my friends laugh, or cry, or both – at the very least something my Mum might stick in her scrapbook.
The U.S. is a different market and I’ve not come across anyone who was in the exact same situation as me, so you work with what you know and who you know and then make up the rest. As for money, it’s better than working in a bar but not quite as good as being Richard Branson. The U.S. pays more, if that’s what you’re into. The budgets are also bigger. To be honest, there’s great work coming from everywhere nowadays, so… I guess the real question is… do you want to make Christmas ads for John Lewis or Super Bowl ads for Budweiser, or be bigger than Zuckerberg?
Using University of Lincoln's Career Services
Services Used: CV writing seminars, Mock interviews, Lincoln award, Meetings with a career advisor (on multiple occasions), SU Job page
Whilst studying at Lincoln in my second and third year I started to make the most of all of the Careers services opportunities. I regularly visited a career advisor like Helen McCarron to get various opinions on the content and style of my CV as well as introductions to where I could be looking for work. Their advice helped me to hone in on areas and job environments which I found really engaging and put my first foot forward to start my career path.
In addition to the initial stage of understanding how to practically apply, I completed the Lincoln Award which included a choice of workshops and mock interview. Again this was invaluable information which I wasn’t receiving from any other areas of life and was completely catered by the careers team.
Best Career Advice
- As my buddy used to say: ‘Get Naked, Get Involved’. If you are taking your clothes off… you definitely have the wrong idea.
- As the YCC says: ‘People who do change the world, everyone else is just living here’.
- Email people whose work you admire.
- If it doesn’t exist, it doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t.
- Nobody knows what they are doing when they are starting out, so ASK stupid questions, otherwise you’ll look stupid.
- Don’t work for free.
- Don’t wait to graduate.
- Don’t wait ‘til September.
- Don’t give up.
- Give back when you make it.
- BE NICE.