We sat down with the creative duo Simon Aldridge & Pietro Basso to discuss why everyone is going freelance, creative concepts and how they work.
Do you guys get more work as a team than you would individually?
Simon: I think we get more interesting work as a team. Because you get to come in to solve a problem, and it’s more fun working together as a team. Individually, there's lots of bitty things, but not so much you can get your teeth into.
Pietro: As a team, we also get more conceptual work rather than just execution. Execution is always part of it. But if you're a solo, you might end up doing mostly that because the idea is already there. However if they want an art director and a copywriter together, it's usually because they want to polish the ideas or have new concepts.
How do you define yourselves as a creative team?
Simon: We define ourselves as an ideas team — we want the ideas first. And then we work out how to push it forward to all the different channels.
Pietro: Ideas first and also very flexible. Also ready to take on new media and new technology. Not just specific to one particular sector or type of brands, we’re more into experiencing and engaging with all kinds of briefs.
Is it more important to be a generalist or a specialist?
Simon: It's more important to be a generalist, absolutely. The days are gone when you could do one little thing well. Now you have to do everything pretty well. But the good thing is even if you're not familiar with something, you can do some research on it. And the internet's a wonderful resource. You can find out how to do this and you learn new programmes all the time. It's great. It's more interesting.
Pietro: Being a generalist allows you to take on more types of projects and keep growing your skills. Research and an openness to learn new things is key. Variety keeps the work exciting and fresh.
Is it important to always be doing something new?
Simon: For sure, when you get something new, you get all fired up and you're really ready to do interesting stuff. You get to bring a fresh approach to something and that's what this business is all about.
Pietro: Absolutely. Just like no one wants to eat the same meal or wear the same outfit everyday, creatives need variety and new stimuli to stay motivated. New briefs, clients and projects keep your skills sharp.
A lot of people are freelancing today — why do you think this is?
Simon: It really fits in with the new way of working. I mean, since the COVID lockdown, everybody got used to working in a hybrid kind of way. Location and set hours are less important now.
Pietro: Freelancing also gives you more autonomy over your schedule and work. You can avoid office politics as an outside perspective called in to help. The flexibility is a big appeal for many creatives today.
How do you make sure that a concept is understood by the audience? And does it always need to be?
Simon: I think just through experience you know what works. Again, by being part of the team you already learn a bit about how well it will resonate.
Pietro: One of the parts of our job is to put ourselves in the shoes of the audience that we're speaking to. Even though we might not be that audience, that doesn't mean we can't empathise with them. Empathy plays a big part in making sure an idea will work.
Simon: It’s part of the job. One minute you're trying to be a 19 year old and thinking about mobile-first campaign stuff, then later that day you’re in the shoes of someone in their 50s who is thinking about retirement. If you’re creative, normally that means you’re naturally empathetic.
Pietro: You can draw from your experiences, but also from other people's experiences, people you know, in your life — it’s important to use all that.
How do you know when a creative concept works?
Simon: You have to get feedback from the whole team - it's not just what we as creatives think. We show it to art directors, planners, clients and get their take. But when you immerse yourself in the problem and then have a breakthrough idea, you get excited. If your partner also feels it's the one to push forward, that instinct is usually right.
Pietro: Ideas are subjective so it's partly instinctual. But you'll know by the client's response if the concept really met the brief. It's a balance between your own excitement, team input and external feedback.
Are there any rules to conceptual work?
Pietro: There shouldn't be too many rules because it's supposed to be open minded. So the rules are really going to come from the brief early on. It’s also important to remember that every brand is different. There are things you can and cannot do. But conceptually, when it comes to ideas, the more rules, the worse it is.
Simon: The only rule there is does it answer the brief? If it answers the brief then you can make the case for anything else.
Pietro: The client is always going to rein it in and ask you for a little less. So the more you give at the beginning, the bigger you make it creatively, the better it is.
How do you bring people along on the creative journey?
Simon: As creatives, your passion for an idea comes through naturally. When you explain the thinking and benefits behind it, and why it solves the problem, your enthusiasm brings people along.
Pietro: Sharing the inspiration and strategic thinking gets others as excited. If you communicate your vision clearly, the creative usually sells itself.