We Think You Should Meet: Darren Davison
Building the strongest foundations of our creative team is vital and we were thrilled to welcome our new Creative Director Darren Davison to the ASG lineup earlier this summer. After years of freedom and freelance experience, we finally wore him down and lured him in-house to join us! We chatted to Darren about his life before ASG and what made him decide to pull up a permanent chair here in the office.
We’ve had the pleasure of working with you on a freelance basis over a few years and now you’re officially part of the ASG fabric. We’re delighted! Can you tell us a little about your professional path up until now?
It’s true, I’ve spent a large amount of my professional life as a freelance and have been fortunate enough to have had a really positive experience doing so. Interesting clients, changing scenery and the opportunity to work on projects that might not always be open to larger agencies. On the whole the last 7 or so years have been great. I’ve moved from start-ups to agency consultancy work, rebrands to the slightly surreal project of creating video content for a premier league football club. It’s certainly never been dull! Most of my work came through recommendations which I’ve always appreciated and some of the clients I’ve worked with remain clients now that I’ve moved in-house.
What made you decide to take the leap to a permanent in-house role?
Pre Covid I was in a pattern of taking on temporary in-house roles with agencies every few months which really worked for me. I’d have the experience of working with teams and using that inspiration and collegiality to inspire work and projects. I’d also then have the experience of time spent working remotely with clients as a freelance in between. Covid changed that and after a while I really missed the exposure to colleagues and peers. I also read a book called ‘Work Rules!: In-sights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead’ by Laszlo Bock. Laszlo was SVP of People at Google for 15 years and talks through the failures and wins of building culture at Google. Reading it really sparked an interest in me about how teams were built and how they function. This definitely formed part of my motivation to move back in-house.
Did you feel you needed to do anything to prepare for moving back in-house?
As far as work was concerned I was comfortable with the shift from freelance to in-house. I did decide to pursue a course in management – a SERC Leadership and Management certificate – to give me an up-to-date grounding in team building and administering a department before I made the decision to join an agency. The dynamics of agency life are different and it’s something I did miss being freelance so it was exciting for me to feel up-to-speed and prepared for that move back to agency life.
Do you find that agency work differs from your freelance experience?
Yes, in many instances the work is difference. Often you’d find that prospective clients think working with an agency might represent a higher budget requirement so agency clients tend to be larger and more established. As a freelancer, my clients were varied, from small start ups to private and public sector clients from various industries. I do think there is a gap in education for clients and it’s something I’d like to bring to ASG. Finding a way to communicate that we as an agency do welcome small clients and start ups and there are various ways of working together that can be more accessible.
In your opinion what can an agency offer clients that a freelancer may not be able to?
I really see advantages on both sides. I’ve always appreciated the continuity and commitment that a freelance can offer a client. And on the other side, an agency offers a depth of team and expertise that could never be replicated by one individual. It allows a client to access advice regardless of one person being busy or unavailable. Also the ideas and inspiration that a team can offer are second to none.
So far what have you enjoyed most about taking on your role at ASG?
Without a doubt I’ve appreciated the innovation and creativity that comes with agency life. We have a brilliant team here. Putting together professionals of different ages and experience means we’re always combining a broad range of opinion, learning and ideas which I really love. I’m also looking forward to the mentoring side of my position. To working with the younger members of our team and coaching them through skills and finding their niche. It’s exciting to be able to do that and also benefit from everything they bring to the table.
I’m really happy to be part of the team. I’ve worked with several of the ASG teams in more temporary roles over the years and I know how fortunate we are having such a strong group. Tt feels like a brilliant fit for me to be here, looking forward the projects and the roles ahead.