Case study

Creative director — Mark Fensom

Mark graduated from the University of Central England, Birmingham with a degree in visual communications. Discover how he launched his own creative agency, Warbox

How do I get into the creative industry?

  • Put together a great portfolio that shows off your personality and unique eye.
  • Research each company and know exactly why you want to be a part of it.
  • Understand how things work in the real world by gaining first-hand experience, even for a week or two.

How did you get your job?

When I was young, I knew I was really good at two things - sports and creativity - anything science-related was a loss for me, but I shone in art and creative writing. Since I enjoyed art so much, I decided to follow it up at university, choosing to go for a visual communications course because it encompassed everything - photography, illustration, graphic design, advertising, and 3D animation.

I developed my love for the client-side of the industry, becoming the associate director of a communications agency. It was there that I first discussed the idea of creating a collaborative agency with my colleague, who now runs digital PR agency Tank in Nottingham. We always talked about the idea, but I was never in the right mindset. It wasn't until I took a tour of the Tank office that I knew it was the right time. I enjoy being around creative people, and knew I could get to where I wanted to be here. That's when the idea for Warbox started.

What's a typical day like as a creative director?

At the moment, my role is more hands-on than it should be, but that's because we are still in the initial 'start-up' stage of the business. My day-to-day consists of quality control - ensuring anything that leaves the agency meets the standard I want the business to set, as well as the client's brief.

We are trying to set up Warbox as an agency that is commercially viable, so rather than creating something just because the client asked for it, we challenge it if we believe it won't help achieve their goals.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Taking the weight off of our clients' shoulders is the most satisfying aspect of this job. Over the years, I have learned that while you can moan for hours that you haven't been given all the information, you're not always the client's biggest priority.

Most of the time, we create things based on assumptions and our knowledge of what will work commercially. What I enjoy the most is seeing how much we have helped the client, and knowing that we have given them more time to focus on their own work.

What are the challenges?

With many projects you don't always get the brief you're hoping for, so you have to dedicate time to work things out by yourself, using your knowledge and research. A lot of the time you have to work out how you can put all the pieces together before you even get started.

Budget is another challenge that faces a lot of agencies. Often, you'll come up with a great idea for a client that is guaranteed to achieve success, but the budget just won't stretch that far. From that point, our job is to work out how we can scale that down without watering down the big creative idea.

How was your role developed?

At university, I believed I would go on to become a graphic designer, but once I realised how much I loved discussing and developing the creative direction of the campaign, I made this my career focus. My first project was to help create a new theme for a Formula 1 car, and it was then that I decided I was better suited to building relationships, meeting clients and working on their ideas than focusing on the graphics myself.

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