How did you meet and how long have you worked together?
Tarik: I was freelancing as a solo creative at the time, my creative partner Claire Asker had taken time off to finish creating our best project yet, our little boy. She’s now happily the head of our family as well as her team at pastures new.
During this time, Gav and I were teamed up to take on a one-day pitch. That’s not a typo, it really was a one-day pitch for a global client. We had been assembled as an inter-agency team of multiple creatives and accounts people to show the client exactly what we could offer them.
We seamlessly gelled together in the way we work and think and needless to say, we won the pitch. We’ve now been working together for around 18 months.
Gav: We both met at MullenLowe. We had other creative partners before we joined forces, so we’ve only been working together for about 18 months, it’s a relatively young partnership considering most of it has been spent collaborating during lockdown!
How would you describe the relationship between you two? In what ways has the dynamic changed since you first began working together?
Gav: We’re mates. Before we ever started working together, we would talk about football, films, culture, and other random stuff. We’re of a similar age, have similar tastes, and even the same twisted sense of humor. We’re also both children of immigrants, something we can openly discuss when it comes to talking about our past experiences. Maybe that’s part of the reason we’ve been drawn to each other. Empathy in a relationship goes a long way when it comes to filling in the gaps.
The only reason the dynamic has changed since we’ve been working together is due to the pandemic. We’ve spent more time working together on Teams than we ever spent working together in the office.
Tarik: Gav and I had already met each other while I was freelancing. We shared the same working space, so we had plenty of time to develop a relationship that wasn’t work related before we started taking briefs together. Even though he’s a Liverpool fan I managed to put that to one side, and it turns out he’s not a bad chap at all.
I wouldn’t say our dynamic has changed much in the time we’ve worked together. We’ve always understood each other and how best we can perform together. If anything, we’re more confidant as a team than we were before, but that’s a natural development as you get to know each other better.
Tell us about the first campaign that you worked on as a duo.
Tarik: When we first started out as a team, we were picking up a few projects that were already in the production stages. This worked out well for us because we already knew what each other could do when it came to creative thinking, but we hadn’t experienced working together in production.
I believe idea generation is the easy part of the job, it’s the crafting of those ideas that sets you apart. So, working on these jobs, that were in the early stages of production, really tested us as a pair. I’m happy to say that we work as well in production, as we do in idea generation.
Gav: The first campaign was Knorr’s new BCI Eat for Good, which was only launched in February of this year. It started in a hothouse last January and a furious 14 months later, culminated in a suite of assets across TV, digital, social and activation. As it was an open architecture project, which meant working alongside some of IPGs other agencies, we had to be across everything, including the different time zones and the many different streams of work all happening at the same time.
Do you have a favorite campaign that you’ve worked on together? What makes it special?
Gav: I would have to give the same answer as above, as we’ve only been working together for the past 18 months, Knorr is where we’ve spent most of our time. It’s a special one for us as it required an intense amount of dedication but also, it’s the first thing we’ve put out together as a newly formed team.
Tarik: Launching Knorr’s new global BCI, Eat for Good, was our first campaign as a creative team and has to be our favorite. We took this from brief to completion in a monster 14 months. It was a really challenging brief and a true test of our partnership.
We’ve only just launched it and the results have been amazing for us. But what’s really important to us is the work and it’s exactly what we set out to create. It’s rare that an idea can be executed in the way it was originally intended, but with a strong team and trust from the client we were able to achieve that.
What has been the hardest part of working together? How do you resolve creative conflicts?
Tarik: The hardest part has been spending most of our time together, either on Teams or WhatsApp rather than face-to-face in person.
Yes, it’s easy to just call when you have a something you want to bounce off each other, but it’s not the same as being sat at the desk together. Especially when we’re idea generating. I like to get things down on paper and stuck up on the walls around us. You can take it all in with a bit more clarity when you can tangibly see it in front of you. We’re both digitally savvy, so we’ve adapted and made it work for us in a digital way.
I honestly don’t think we’ve had any creative conflicts; we might not always agree on an idea or execution, but we’ll always be open with each other and we’ll always back each other. If we’re ever in doubt we’ll work up both solutions and then openly critique it together. There certainly isn’t a “yours” or “mine” when it comes to our work. We’re in this together.
Gav: For me it has been the lockdown. I’m much more of a face-to-face person and enjoy the studio life. I have my little routines and like to discuss ideas on the spot, in the moment, and get the opinion of others as we’re working. Whereas before I would just turn to Tarik and say, “what about this”. However, that’s now more likely to be delivered over WhatsApp than in real life these days.
As for conflicts, there’s not many of them. We work things out by going through the deck together and critiquing the work. By doing it together we come to our conclusions on what works and what doesn’t, and if we’re not sure we work up options.
Is there any advice you’d give to young creatives looking for a partner, or a duo just getting their start?
Gav: Find somebody that makes you laugh. No matter what your differences, if you can have a good laugh together, it will make things much easier when it comes to the grind.
Tarik: I think one of the most important aspects of being a good team is trust. You must have 100% trust in each other, or you will find yourselves in too many conflicting situations.
Get to know your partner and how they like to work, find out their strengths and weakness and use that knowledge to your advantage as a team.
Be critical of the work you produce together and don’t settle for average. Push each other if you think one could get more out of their writing or art direction.
In our case Gav’s the writer and I’m the art director, that’s each of our specialisms but above that we’re both creatives. We will both input on each other’s work and it’s that collaboration that elevates the work we produce.
And just as importantly, you have to be friends. You have to enjoy each other’s company, believe me that shows in the work you produce.
Do you have a dream account that you haven’t had the opportunity to work on?
Tarik: I’ve worked for so many different clients, honestly each brief no matter the brand is an opportunity to create something fresh and exciting.
But if I were to choose one dream client to work for it would have to be Marvel. I’m such a geek, I’d love to work on a campaign for them. They are a brilliant marketing machine that truly understand their fans/ clients and how to deliver work for them. I have ideas, give me a call ;)
Gav: Lynx has just come into the agency so I wouldn’t mind having a crack at that. Some of the work has been quite impressive already. It’s a global brand with a great following and it’s always fun to work on a product you’ve bought yourself. I remember going through all the different deodorants when I was in my teens. It was a guaranteed gift every Christmas too, which means it’s literally been on the bathroom shelf for a third of my life.
How has the pandemic impacted working with your partner? Do you have any creative tips on how to collaborate when you’re working from home?
Gav: Obviously, we haven’t physically seen each other for over a year, which is a bit weird when you come to think about it. But we check in every morning, create a schedule for the rest of the day, and talk about what we need to accomplish. This is probably the most important part of the day as it means we both start on the same page and set ourselves goals. I would recommend a morning check-in to any creative team working together during the pandemic.
Tarik: It’s a really tricky one to answer because every team works in different ways. I think the most important thing is to be able to adapt your tools to work for you, rather than you adapting to your tools.
Nothing is a barrier unless you let it be. We managed to shoot a TVC in two different countries, across multiple locations, during lockdown while sat at my dinner table with my 12-month-old climbing all over me.