20th October 2017 | London
Futureheads: GLUG X CA WRITE UP

Originally posted on the Futureheads blog.

As you may already know (on account of us telling anyone who’ll listen), we’re now Glug’s official recruitment partner!

If you haven’t come across Glug before, they are an international movement working to champion creative communities around the world with talks and informal networking. And they are awesome.

Our first event was an absolute cracker, featuring talks from the top five risers in the annual Computer Arts UK Studio Rankings. They talked about their journey as agencies, the secrets to their success, and gave us an in-depth look at some of the work they are most proud of.


So, what are the secrets to their success?

  • Hiring great people that push you to be better
  • Building a family of freelancers that add diversity and expertise to your team
  • Being truly collaborative, both internally and externally
  • Feeling the joy!

The evening started off with Max Ottignon from Ragged Edge. They have been lauded for their recent work, but this success has come from a decade of ‘flying under the radar’ – learning on the job and figuring out what they stood for. One of the most important things they learned was the need to find the right people – they've focused on consistently bringing on people better than them to add new ideas and expertise and push their work forward.

Next up was Bob Young and Tommy Taylor from Alphabetical, and it was inspiring to see how much they valued diversity and variety in their approach to their work. By way of demonstration, Bob and Tommy talked about some of their exciting work with the Fashion Business School, where they drew diverse inspiration from pattern making paper and teamed up with a composer to create audio from the sound of sewing machines at work. This variety is fed by what Bob referred to their ‘extended family of freelancers’ – a family that has enabled them to bring fresh approaches and skill sets to their work.


Spencer Buck decided to ask his clients why they like working with Taxi. Their answer – they enjoy talking to them. Taxi’s success at building relationships has come from focusing on collaboration, believing that by working in true partnership, you can get the best out of each other and create amazing things. This is just as important for internal relationships -  it brought a smile to the room to see Spencer say that, other than the work they’ve done, he is most proud of the fact that the three founders are still best friends, even after fifteen years working together!

The team at Koto talked about the challenges of scaling up, and how they’ve navigated the changing roles of responsibility and ownership as they’ve grown from three to 26 people. Echoing Alphabetical’s point on freelancers ‘feeling like a family’, Design Director Wallace Henning talked about the importance of freelancers to this growth – and revealed that he actually started his career with Koto as a freelancer. Freelancers aren’t only resources for specific projects and deadlines, they can add value at a strategic level, and shape a studio for the better.

Last, but certainly not least, the inspiring Jim Sutherland of Studio Sutherl& took to the stage. Jim walked us through some of his work, including his design of special edition Agatha Christie stamps, which are packed with hidden messages to be explored (I have been hunting for a print of these ever since if anyone can help!).


The secret to his success was clear in the passion he had for his work, and the process of creating and designing – the more joy you put into a project, the more joy will come out.

Thanks to the Glug team, Computer Arts, the amazing speakers, and to everyone who came along.

Make sure you don’t miss the next Glug event on the 9th November!

It’s shaping up to be another amazing night of talks on the theme of 'Disrupted. What now?'. You’ll have the chance to look under the hood of companies who have disrupted their industries, and what that post-disruption world looks like. 

Words by Liz Elder at Futureheads. Photos by Jocelyn Nguyen.

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