Australian based creatives, Monica Clapcott (Freelance Producer) and Ed Howley (Co-Creative Director, By All Means) are the heads behind Junior, Life at the Bottom. Life at the Bottom is an incredibly resourceful site full of interviews, tips and advice from industry professionals across advertising, marketing, design, animation and more.
We love the work they are doing and reached out to Monica and Ed to give us insight in why they established Junior and explored what they do day to day.
Describe your paths up to now
ED: I studied Creative Advertising at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) in Melbourne. From there I was lucky enough to land a gig with my creative partner at the time at what was then a younger version of what has become one of Australia's largest independent agencies, AJF Partnership. It was on the job there I really learnt everything you can't at a university. It was a bit of an advertising apprenticeship.
After four or so years I jumped at an opportunity to go and work at a new start-up agency - what is now Cummins & Partners. A couple of years later, my creative partner and I decided to move on. We had a short stint at a big multinational before deciding to try our hand at starting our own agency.
"We both had so many questions to ask... how we fitted in it, and how we could grow our careers."
MONICA: I graduated from Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand with a Bachelor in Communications majoring in Creative Advertising - and decided not to become a creative after relocating to Melbourne. I had always tossed up between becoming a suit or a creative, and eventually ended up somewhere in the middle as a Production Assistant at a commercial photography studio, CI Studios. After I few years I made my way into a Senior Producer role at a different studio, Hell Studios, and have since moved into freelance production and communications management.
You both run Junior, when did the idea come from?
ED: The idea for Junior was born shortly after graduation. It was 2007. Me and Junior co-founder Tait Ischia had both landed jobs. It was a bit like high fives all round. OK now what? It became quickly apparent that no one really had a heap of time to mentor juniors at either workplace, and we both had so many questions to ask of the industry, how we fitted in it, and how we could grow our careers.
There really didn't seem to be anything like it already, so the idea came from a very real, genuine place. A short time later Monica came on board as our web designer, and then eventually stepped up to run Junior with me.
MONICA: When starting out, we set out to work out who were the people we admired most, how could we ask them what we wanted to know, how could we get inside their heads and extract every piece of valuable information, and how could we get this out to an audience.
In short form, we basically met with people, for a beer (or 7), recorded it, then posted it on the site. The events came next. Drinks where we invited the Melbourne (and later on Sydney, Auckland and Brisbane) creative scene to listen to a speaker give ten tips in ten minutes and everyone could stand around and network, without it being cliche or forced, which was something else we really didn’t enjoy about the industry.
ED: It's probably worth mentioning that even though it's not updated as regularly as it should these days, there's still a wealth of great content from some of the smartest people in the biz, globally.
What’s the creative scene like in Melbourne?
ED: I would argue, heavily biased, that Melbourne is one of the great creative cities in the world. I'm not just talking about advertising. Whatever scene you're into, Melbourne's got it covered.
"There’s always something going on and something to be a part of."
MONICA:It’s pretty darn creative. From everything to crazy foods to great design and good ads - there’s always something going on and something to be a part of. Melbourne is a great town for that. I’m sure we’d both love to see the advertising scene / clients get a little less conservative, but you can’t have it all, right?
What’s been the most daring decision you have each made so far in your career?
MONICA: Each milestone has been a daring decision for me - which is how it should be to keep you on your toes!
ED: Just under two years ago my creative partner and I quit our job at a pretty hot multinational agency on a whim. We weren't enjoying it as much as we should have been. And the decision forced us to do what we'd been talking for too long about; starting our own agency.
Work wise, what's been the most exciting brief you've been able to work on?
ED: It's impossible to choose. I think the great thing about my job is every day is different. Each challenge unique. That's why I enjoy it so much. That said, some of the most exciting briefs I've worked on have been the ones with the smallest budgets, believe it or not. It really forces you to be creative not only in conceptualising the idea, but in how your make it as well. And getting your hands dirty always makes for an exciting project.
"Some of the most exciting briefs I've worked on have been the ones with the smallest budgets."
MONICA: Probably the We Are Bonds Birthday campaign in 2012 - for me it was an epic task of casting through Facebook, having nearly 100 unprofessional talent (and their families) turn up from all over Australia (on one very hot 40 degree day) to be narrowed down to 12 people shot over two days.
Then, along with the creatives on the project, convincing the client mid way through the casting to change the idea of the campaign and shoot nearly 70 people in the same time frame. The look the photographer gave me in this moment was not really one I will ever forget - and whilst a very challenging few moments it was a very rewarding sense of achievement once it was finished.
If you could send a message back to your 21 year old self what advice would you send?
ED: Make more daring decisions.
MONICA: Just do what feels right.
If you could share a desk with anyone from the past, present or future, who would it be?
ED: I'd share a desk with a young version of my Grandad. I'm convinced he was born in the wrong end of the 20th Century. At 90-something he's obsessed with tech and gadgets. His enthusiasm is inspiring. Given his time again he'd give Elon Musk a run for his money.
"Just do what feels right."
MONICA: I don’t know if I’d so much as like to share a desk but to have a desk on Madison Avenue back in the times of the advertising greats.
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