Anna Lomax

Originally trained as an illustrator, Anna Lomax has blazed a trail over recent years as an art director and set designer. The London-based creative has worked with the likes of Converse, Selfridges and Nike as well as publications like Vogue and Creative Review.

On what might send her running from a job... A lack of direct access. There is nothing worse than a middle man who keeps you away from talking through ideas with the client, and insists on badly relaying second hand info to and from designer and client. I guess alarm bells also ring when somebody approaches you with another designer’s work saying “We want this”. Then you know full well that the designer they really wanted probably said no to the job.

Why time pressure can be productive... My lead times always seem to be really short. This is how I like things, as I feel it prevents massive about-turns on ideas, and it means that there is often a lot of intense conversation and planning right up to the shoot date. If it’s a long lead project then I like to present an idea and then be left to develop it for a while, and then come back to show how it has developed. This is where and when the trust really has to kick in. Trust and mutual appreciation is the most important aspect of the relationship.

On the right kind of arguments... Arguing is a tricky one, as it only serves a purpose if you really feel that the way things are going will be detrimental to the work, for both sides. Essentially the client is paying your way, so you do have to know when to step up and fight and when to back down and let some creative control go a bit. It’s always good to consider which battles are worth fighting.

I think you know deep down when something will be detrimental to the project. I only really wade in if it goes to a point where I think “Oh god! I'm never going to want to show this to anyone!” and also only when my name is attached to it. If it‘s solely a client project with no association then I’m pretty happy to do what the client asks. Obviously I’ll give advice if I feel they are taking a wrong turn, but if they are adamant they want it a certain way then that's cool — it's their money!

On the value of mutual appreciation to a project... I think that when a client approaches you, it should be because they admire what you do and are excited to see what you will bring to the project. And vice-versa. The process works better when you're really excited that particular brand wants to champion your work; that way you know that you are aligned with the right people. It just makes for a better job if the client believes in what you do, as they then tend to trust you rather than try to micro-manage a project.

If you like the client’s ethos or brand aesthetic then it makes it even easier to create good work for them. I think working with Clarks Originals was like that for me. They were so up for everything I suggested and excited as I started to produce things for the project. They accommodated every request, even when underneath they were probably thinking I was crazy. They must have been a little nervous about what I might produce!

On the challenges of first-timers... It can be tricky working with clients who are are doing something creative for the first time. Sometimes it can be great as they hand over the reins and they are up for everything. But on the flip side they might not know what they want, or they can’t narrow down options or they change their minds very late on and you wind up chasing your own tail only to produce something neither of you are sure about. Also sometimes these clients spend so long in the planning stages fine-combing every detail that you get left with little or no time to actually make the project happen; that can be quite frustrating!