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Dave Biriss - Gobal Keynote Speaker

What I learnt from Dave Biriss

He didn't really plan on becoming a creative as he started out his career with two degrees: Computer Programming and Advanced Mathematics. The irony was that he didn't really believe in education as you mostly learn by doing and learn on the job as it were. However it didn't stop there as his first paid job was as a session engineer after graduating but quickly learnt that there is no money in it and quit.

His first gig was at a record label, because originally this is what he wanted to do. At uni he was in a band and kind of just enjoyed making music with his guitar.

It wasn't long till he was in a session playing music for a BBC show, (that he went on tour with) was when he had his next break. He toured around the UK as a musician in the band but got drunk one night with the producers of a comedy show and made some jingle style music up was it, they offered him a spot to close the show. But it was not with music it was a comedy slot. He needed to come up with a stand up comedy act for the end of the show within a week but thought they were joking. But did not end well, has he had a 'wasted' scottish heckler (hence his love for hecklers) made the show as painful as him as possible and ended up walking off stage and said if you can do better then you come up and do it. The guy did, he went and got his money and left.

Week later received a message from BBC saying they loved the performance and asked if he would want the same spot on a tv show week after week. The same week he was offered his first advertising job. He declined the tv show offer and started his career in the design industry.

"Instead of being a stand up comedian, I would be a sit down comedian"

He believed that being an art director/ creative meant that you "get paid to piss around and come up with creative ideas". Its the best kind of job in the world, because you get paid to have a creative mind. Was in this job for a year and then made redundant.

But was only out of work for a weekend as he spent his time looking at old ads in magazines and print and looked at what made them work. He got his portfolio together and started sending out applications. The application that got him the next job was made up of playing a song and sending a congratulations card to the Ad agency.

He became an art director and was doing well until his copywriter left him. He struggled to find another copywriter so became one himself and just started looking for an Art director instead.

He found a new partner in crime but things turned sour as any good duo would however Dave's Art director kept on hating his ideas to the point he hated his job. He turned round and said if you begin to feel like this leave as soon as possible as its not worth the mental strain. " those type of people suck your work dry" As a result of the stress and suppression he was fired.

Not for long though as he was fired on the Friday and had a new job by Monday.

Because his creativity had been sucked dry so much in his previous job, when he went for the interview at this new agency his creativity was ready to explode. Completed the interview task within an hour - created the art direction and copy for two concepts and the guy had only asked for him to come up with some ideas. He ended up getting this job that paid double than the last. (just proves that if your working in the wrong environment its time for a change)

Key message:

  • You need to have an opinion as they are valuable, if you don’t say why you are doing something and express your opinion you are not showing your value

  • “Kick the industry in the ass”

  • its understanding how the mind works and how creativity works – neuroscience has evolved – input , process , output. Brainstorm - fewer ideas, less ideas,

  • you focus on the input – curiosity is key You need to have things no-one else is taking or seeing.

How to be a kick ass creative:

  • Never stop feeding your mind – 3 different ways to use your brain (feed it, ocupty it, train it)

  • Occupy – numb your mind, something that just exists. Mind shrinks you have to naturally stretch that boundary. You will be a bigger human being by the end

  • Don’t just think do: doers are better than the thinkers very few people that doers

  • If you don’t enjoy what you create no one will enjoy what you create.

  • Made a fake twitter account for London bridge because he was inspired by the account for tower bridge when it would open and close.

  • Get emotional about stuff

  • Don’t confuse execution with idea

  • Don’t always look at google for inspiration

  • You are being paid to shift shit

  • There are people that will make your idea smaller / others will make your ideas bigger

  • Be bigger than advertising

  • Learn how to sell – learn how to present an idea – go back to the brief – educate the client before you can sell it them.

  • promts to help you get somewhere

  • Fetish eyes to creativity – advertsing

Other Background Information:

  • Moved to London – become a creative director of some of the largest companies in the UK. He had a huge rise because of his opinions. He added value to the companies he worked for and thus worked for multiple agencies in various roles.

  • He did podcast with the top industry professionals

  • Lets see which ones of the advertising people are still alive from the advertising revolution 1950s – Bill BurnBack and interviewed George Lewis

  • When he was 80 – he still played basketball – Greek New Yorker – “Go Fuck yourself” – back then you would get the client – person who owned the company – they give a shit about the company – they cared – go to agency 1950 – mass media end of world war 2 – propaganda started – advertising agencies learned from Hitler – Nazi propaganda – everyone was watching the 2 or 3 tv programmes because there was only a few, same magazines. – meeting with a creative and account person - thought a bout client’s business – would use creativity together to solve this problem

  • Boss – sacked don’t care about the company – share holders who actually own the company – the chairman – director – marketing director etc

  • Come up with an idea to spend $2 million dollars because they needed to think how do I spend that much money – because he could have done the job with only a 50,000

Fun websites:

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Elementrix was created as MY Advertising blog for my Degree course At ravensbourn university.


I hope you will enjoy reading and viewing my work as i take you on my journey of development and design within my digital advertising and design course.


I have always believed that to thrive in todays industry you need to bring your personality, sense of creativity but most importantly to be versatile in an ever changing industry !   

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