It’s less than a month until our most popular talk to date — selling out in 20 minutes! Here we ask Annie about her inspiration and influences, and find out which super powers she wishes she had…
1. What was the Eureka moment that made you become a designer?
I remember seeing the poster for the musical Cats when I was a very small girl and thinking that I would love to be able to make something like that one day. I thought it was the cleverest thing! I still love it now.
2. Where was your first creative job? What did you learn?
The first four or five years of my life as a designer were pretty abysmal to be honest. I was working at an ad agency, mostly making product adverts for magazines and newspapers. They were all terrible! At the time I thought that it was me, but I realise now that design is just practise, it takes a while to get good at it. I wish more young people knew that!
2. What was the first thing you ever designed?
See above :)
4. Where did you study?
I studied at Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication in London, and then later at UCD in Dublin for a post-graduate degree in filmmaking.
5. Design heroes? Who influenced you in those early days? And who influences you now?
I love Michael Bierut and Louise Fili. I got to meet them at the AIGA conference in Minnesota last year. That was a career high! It was weird presenting on the same stage as Fili, when so much of my work for film is in reaction to her beautiful books.
— Annie Atkins
I realise now that design is just practise, it takes a while to get good at it. I wish more young people knew that!
6. What’s your favourite piece of work you’ve created? And what’s your favourite piece of work someone else created?
My best pieces of work were the pieces I made off my own back before anyone would hire me. The nights I spent in my bedroom with my laptop perfecting things that nobody had asked me for! I try to get my students to do that too. Once you actually start working everything’s a compromise. The things you make of your own accord are the real treasures. Although, having said that, I also love the Mendl’s box.
7. When you’re stuck in a rut, how to you get creative ideas flowing?
Stop looking at the piece of paper in front of you and go out and look at the world. Easier said then done when you’re a busy project! But one thing we always do in film is look at references, let something from history inform our designs, always. Even if we take that design in to a completely different dimension, it still starts with something real.
— Annie Atkins
Once you actually start working everything’s a compromise. The things you make of your own accord are the real treasures.
8. The worst thing that ever happened to you during one of your talks?
At Adobe Max in Los Angeles last year my videos wouldn’t play. I had the wrong set up, the wrong cable or something, I don’t know, it was a disaster. I was there as an expert in filmmaking and I had no video clips. We figured out a makeshift solution eventually, but I thought it was so funny, somehow it just relaxed me and I didn’t take the talk too seriously after that. Weirdly, I had a great rapport with the crowd and we had a great time. The talk got voted as one of the top ten and they asked me back again this year as a Max Master, so it just goes to show… tech isn’t everything!
9. The best book you’ve read lately?
I’m reading Sinead Gleeson’s Constellations and it’s beautiful.
10. If you could have a super power what would it be?