It has been just two years since its inception, but Proud Creative has already injected some bright sparks into the world of telly. The brainchild of Dan Witchell, previously a creative director at Kemistry, the consultancy is already proving its strength against larger groups, winning a couple of big contracts that have seen it punch well above the weight of its lean, three-strong team.
Witchell remains loyal to his former bosses, whom he says, ‘have been really good to me. Kemistry employed me on day one out of college to design an identity. Later on the consultancy offered me a job, and I stayed there for three years, two of those as a creative director. But I always wanted to set up on my own at some point.’
For now, Witchell and his two full-time colleagues, Roger Whittlesea and Jon Rowlandson, form a dedicated trio, with animator Richard Acton a frequent collaborator. They are still in the early days of sharing a multi-occupied office in London’s Clerkenwell, but the group is now ready to move into its own place.
An easygoing character who sports a breezy demeanour, Witchell is happy to be running his own show. This month, he won Proud’s second big pitch, a branding project for Promax, the TV promo industry awards body’s annual event. Like D&AD, it rewards creative projects and is attended by the industry’s major clients and creatives. This follows hot on the heels of their first big job, a rebrand for Welsh bilingual TV channel S4C, which went live in January.
It wasn’t Witchell’s intention to remain working in the same arena of graphics and branding for television as his former employer, but ‘we like to think of ourselves as multidisciplinary, in the true sense of doing design for anything, and this sector provides that opportunity’, he explains.
His enthusiasm for multidisciplinary work shows clearly through the Promax pitch. Briefed with a concept for this year’s event of Beyond The Box, Proud immediately shortened the theme to the snappier, more abstract Beyond. A simple, blocky logotype, injected with fresh colours, removes it from the scratchy, screen-inspired look of many TV industry identities. ‘It’s our style to do something pared back and simple,’ he says.
The designs play on this crossover between traditional and new media forms. ‘Our interpretation of the brief was that people in this industry are now having to think outside their comfort zone, as the boundaries between media are shifting,’ Witchell explains. Hence, the call for entries brochure has been restyled as a traditional newspaper format with clean graphics, to provide a stylistic jarring with the moving image subject matter.
Similarly, the printed conference guide has been renamed Browser, and they plan to use credited imagery from Flickr, in a nod to the rise of user-generated content. Thoughtful details, like a set of viral stings to be bluetoothed to delegates’ mobiles, add to the mix and show off the group’s motion graphics expertise.
‘All the branding and naming is meant to be a bit of fun – light-hearted and chatty,’ he says. The Promax delegates are seemingly in for a bit of fresh air.
Collaboration with other creatives and designers is central to the group’s philosophy. The consultancy is working on a series of idents for S4C for which it has brought in Minivegas, a collective renowned for edgy, experimental promos and shorts. On the first set of idents for S4C, it worked with director Simon Ratigan.
For Promax, Witchell hopes to be given the green light to curate a series of installations by artists whose work continues the ‘beyond the box’ concept, including United Visual Artists and Swiss partnership Jürg Lehni and Uli Franke. He also remains involved in running the Kemistry Gallery, down the road at his old office.
There’s more to the consultancy’s output than telly. For Lebanese cookery writer and teacher Anissa Helou, it designed a versatile identity for her business ventures, including takeaway food packaging. The group’s portfolio also includes a youth project for Save the Children and an identity for Blokk Architects.
‘Having clients as diverse as car manufacturers, fashion labels and television companies keeps you on your toes, but that’s how we like it – on shuffle,’ says Witchell. Having breezed through those difficult first two years, Proud seems to be tipped for success – both on and off the box.