Q&A With Bob English, (n+1) designstudio's Senior Creative Director
Real-time data integration is increasingly in demand among everyone from sports networks to film studios seeking to be on the cutting edge for creative, timely displays of new information. Leading the way for addressing this need is Bob English, the new senior creative director for (n+1) designstudio, a full-service creative firm that specializes in serving television broadcasters and related organizations based in Durham, N.C. A subsidiary of SMT (SportsMEDIA Technology), (n+1) designstudio integrates its design work into TV broadcast graphics packages for a wide variety of clients in the sports and entertainment industry.
English has more than 30 years of design and creative expertise experience, including live action, photography, illustration, 3D, 2D, traditional animation, multimedia, interactive, print and web. He joined (n+1) designstudio after serving as a design consultant in media and entertainment through the company he established in 2001, Thebritpack. There, English directed projects from conception to conclusion with his vast experience and unprecedented ingenuity, winning international acclaim along the way. For (n+1) designstudio, he supervises all creative projects and serves as a vital role in production execution and strategic vision, while providing a practical perspective on the search for creative solutions.
Why did you decide to join (n+1) designstudio?
What sold me on working here was primarily the vision of Janet (Arlotta, the studio’s executive director, who joined SMT as vice president of creative services in 2009 prior to (n+1) designstudio’s creation). She contacted me for this job through mutual friends, and we had worked together before I started Thebritpack at Razorfish in Los Angeles. We collaborated successfully on launching many network packages at Razorfish, and I believe we have great potential in creating even more innovative designs for use by the broadcast industry. Secondly, I was impressed by the eclectic design team – I loved meeting them all when I visited in person. They are so friendly and talented. It’s a great working atmosphere here.
What kind of challenges were you hearing that made you say, “I see a need for this kind of creative service?”
Before I came here, I was aware of the power and importance of line graphics in telling stories. I’ve always been familiar with the design process that works with SMT, only I served in a company that did the work and subcontracted elements of it for SMT to handle. I realized that the level of detail needed for the projects we handle for broadcast graphics is intense – you have to get it absolutely right to satisfy our clients. The only way to retain and attract clients is to show you are accountable for your work, and that’s a strong incentive for me. Another challenge is that this is an area of the business which I am relatively unfamiliar. My general background has been involved in design work for news and documentaries, as opposed to the sports and entertainment clients we emphasize at (n+1) designstudio.
Are the questions and requests you are receiving from clients changing in any way?
I’ve noticed in my many years of working in this industry that there are increasing demands on all aspects of the designs we provide. This is due in part to clients having more choices available, and because representatives for our clients are facing more pressure from their own bosses to have top-quality work accomplished in much tighter deadlines. That means executors of designs like our company must adjust our abilities accordingly and respond to these increased needs and demands appropriately if we are to remain competitive with other design firms.
What can we expect soon from (n+1) designstudio? What clients are you working with?
We have a constant flow of work from many major names, with some of our most recent efforts including several summer movies – Warner Brothers’ Man of Steel, The Great Gatsby, among others. For these and other entertainment projects, we have worked from start to finish, including branding and staging designs needed for them. We’re pitching other entertainment producers in Hollywood for future work in this area. Our sports clients have included FNTSY Sports Network, where we are providing its full brand development and on-air packaging for its launch prior to the start of this year’s NFL season, and Crossfit Games, for which we are redesigning its show package this year. And anyone who watches the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon will see a new statistics display with a real-time 3D graphic that we have created.Apart from that, we’re preparing for the NFL season on behalf of NBC and CBS.
What makes (n+1) designstudio different from other creative firms?
One major differentiating element is our ability to blend technology and creativity seamlessly, two areas that some other design firms handle separately or only address one of those categories. Our graphics and data personnel combine with our talent who are more experienced in design to create a unique, appealing final product. The ability to actually execute our plans in-house rather than outsource them to others – and understand what we are doing and why we are doing it – provides us with a huge advantage compared to others.
What is (n+1) designstudio doing at PromaxBDA: The Conference this week?
We are finalizing our stand right now for what we are calling our social media wall. This is going to allow us to let conference attendees share their experiences instantaneously on an oversized video board via their updates on Twitter and Instagram. We have other surprises in store that I don’t want to give away – just come by our booth and be prepared to be amazed. And as always at any conference, we’re looking forward to meeting as many people as possible for networking and making business connections that can generate new relationships and activities for us to pursue.
For more information on (n+1)designstudio, visit http://www.nplus1designstudio.com.