Suraj Chauhan is a suave creative. Currently working in a Full Service Marketing agency called Three Thinking Co, he is moving towards finishing his degree studying creative advertising at Leeds College of Art and finding his role in the creative industry. In September he will be starting a placement in an advertising and marketing agency, Banana Kick where he will build upon his knowledge of the industry and skills.
WHAT DROVE YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES, IN PARTICULAR BECOMING AN ART DIRECTOR?
The cliché answer is the fact that I have always been creative, having been able to draw from a young age; I was always attracted to the more creative outlook and career path. I studied fine art during college and kind of despised the idea of just sitting drawing and painting from real life. But when I did my foundation I did visual communications and I started to learn more creative and visual ways of delivering an idea. However, I was not a fan of the way I was taught about artists spending ridiculous amounts of money and time doing a piece for no real purpose. Then I started searching for degrees in creativity with a purpose and found advertising really appealed to me.
"Becoming an Art Director stems from my view of advertising being art with a purpose.”
Becoming an Art Director stems from my view of Advertising being art with a purpose. As an Art Director, the “dream” is to see something I have done, or a friend text me saying I’ve just seen your work whether it’s on T.V, in print or on anything else, and having the overwhelming satisfaction of something I have created being out there in the world for people to see.
WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT STUDYING AT LEEDS COLLEGE OF ART?
The best thing about studying at the Leeds College of Art is the closeness of the university. And when I say that I don’t necessarily mean you’re friends with everyone, but you recognise everyone and you have a good relationship with your teachers, as most courses are of a small number. For instance I regularly will sit with my teacher and just have a general chat about life, work and other things, which I believe is something very unique to Leeds College of Art. I would also have to say one of the best things about Leeds College of Art is its status as an Art College, as it’s a very respected institution, with amazing connections which give you enough peace of mind to grab some experience.
Furthermore, the teachers have to be the one of the best reasons and compared to other universities I have visited, I am always impressed by how actively the teachers still pursue their careers (most are from the industry and still work in it), meaning they can give first hand knowledge and insights about the industry.
YOU WORK WITH THREE THINKING CO. HOW DID YOU LAND THAT?
I got a job with Three Thinking Co, due to persistence and patience, alongside great timing.
"It first began with a phone call to the agency and luckily having a director being on the receiving end of that call…”
It first began with a phone call to the agency and luckily having a director being on the receiving end of that call and giving me his email. Next it was getting an email back, and staying on top of it by following up on the email and continually emailing back to see if there was any experience available for me there. Although I was emailed saying the agency was not offering work experience, I was fortunate that they were so busy that they were looking for a junior instead.
So I confirmed that I wanted the role and went for a coffee with the director, taking my portfolio along with me, which is a very personal selection of work representing brands and styles I am proud to showcase. From this he offered me the chance to work there and I took it. I have learnt an incredible amount, from how to present websites to clients, internal systems, WordPress and other software programs. Alongside learning how an agency works and working closely with one of the account managers I have learnt a huge amount about the role.
Which company would you love to work for after graduating and why?
The company I would love to work for after graduating would be a toss up between Wieden+Kennedy and BBH. Both are incredible and I would love to work in either. With BBH I love their spirit and values, something that I think correlates well with my own. Not only is the work amazing, but so are the clients. I once saw that in an hour lunch break, they recorded a grime video with an artist I am a fan of in London, which is crazy, but that whole vibe and work ethic is something that I personally resonate with. With Wieden+Kennedy the same could be said, but I have genuinely been amazed by some of their campaigns, when I saw the Nike anniversary advert, I was amazed. But both have a closeness yet big network style of agencies that I prefer, as your not just another face at these agencies.
Who would you love to share a desk with?
I would love to share a desk with Kanye West, even with all his arrogance and controversy. I picture it being something out of the ordinary, we would be sitting “creating” and just plain old “chilling” but it is something I would love, being my favourite artist I feel I would just be enjoying it too much.
"I would also love to share a desk with George Lois, my idol in the advertising world. He is the one who I believe would show me the world in which I want to be part of.”
I would also love to share a desk with George Lois, my idol in the advertising world. He is the one who I believe would show me the world in which I want to be part of. I would love to hear his stories and learn all that I can from him.
What do you do in your spare time?
In my spare time I tend to go to the gym, not that I am one of those guys whose only interest is the gym, but I do spend most of my time outside of work and university there. I find it relieves stress and helps me to keep focused - a good thing to be into, as a healthy body helps keep your mind in check. I also like to hang out with my friends in “hip” bars, the kind that feature old furniture and local art. I tend to be mingling with different instruments, love playing the drums, and always have time to play some guitar. And the child that still actively lives in me, loves to watch cartoons and eat cereal on a Saturday.
What's the biggest challenge you have faced so far?
The biggest challenge I have faced so far is simply getting into an agency. It is difficult and requires patience and sheer determination.
"I found that I could handle the challenge due to my own personal strive.”
I must have phoned thirty agencies, and met with at least a dozen people, but was still finding it a challenge. However, with my portfolio and positive attitude I felt I could overcome the challenge and did. I will say that it is stressful and puts your work, your patience and your perseverance to the test.
It was a real challenge, and still is, as there are so many agencies, and regardless of who you know, your work timing is something which can cause issues. In the real world, student timing is far different to that of an agency, and applying when it suits you is never the way. I left the city of my University the week of finishing and started working as soon as I was back in my home town, but that’s how it is, and in all honesty, I like it like that. The constant flow of work excites me and is why I like this industry regardless of the ever-looming challenges.
Sell yourself. Why should someone hire you after graduating?
The lucky someone that hires me should do so because of my creative genius, my wonderment of a child and swagger.
"Now I know that sounds a little arrogant, but it’s not, there’s the drivel that everyone says about being the most passionate and so on, but I am more those mere “slogans” (and yes that was an advertising pun).”
Now I know that sounds a little arrogant, but it’s not, there’s the drivel that everyone says about being the most passionate and so on, but I am more than those mere “slogans” (and yes that was an advertising pun). I only speak the truth when I say I deserve to be hired. The idea of being hired always creates fear in people, but I find once you are lucky enough to meet for an interview and go through your portfolio that the conversation is where I will be hired. My work speaks for itself and I am proud of that, but it’s more the conversation shared with someone from the agency that raises my hopes to be hired.
Whoever hires me will hire me because we share values and I have a rapport with the agency, but also offer my own unique and creative skills that the agency will want or don’t already have. Someone should hire me because they want me, not because I am the same as the others hoping to be hired, and that I don’t just fit the role to be hired. I want to create the role to be something more, something where I am offering more than what’s on paper. I am offering my own take which will help in achieving not only their goals, but those of the clients and something for the public. The reason for me to be hired in a cheesy way is, I am that one applicant that will impress you and give you something you didn’t have in the agency, and who you will realise you needed all along.
Truth be told, if we never really “got along” (not that it’s necessarily the most important thing) or I didn’t find something in the agency that made me a key player in the team, then it is probably best I never got hired. I am always gracious and happy to be allowed into an agency, even if I don’t fit, as the experience will teach me something about the industry and about myself, and for that I will be thankful.
"So to sum up why I should by hired after graduating, is simply I am a creative genius…”
So to sum up why I should by hired after graduating, is simply I am a creative genius looking to find a place where I can grow, learn and have my ideas welcomed as well as criticised by people I respect in an agency I can believe in.
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