Adam Thomas

Graduated – 1994


After graduating Adam spent the next 16 years working in London at several studios including ICO Design, where he was Senior Designer and Art Director. He moved on to become Art Director of Wordsearch where he was responsible for branding and marketing some of the worlds most iconic architectural developments, including Taipei 101, The Shard and One World Trade Centre.

Adam has recently moved back north and is setting up his own business
as a property marketing specialist.

The Disciples of Design Q&A

How and where did you secure your first job?
How? To use The Preston network in its full capacity one must be in the right place (generally a pub) at the right time between 6pm and 11pm). This exhausting technique got me most of my placements and my first job. Where? Placements – The Chase, Horseman Cooke, Tin Drum, Dorling Kindersley, Lewis Moberley. First job – Bull Rodger. *NB. This is not a joke, going out is good for your career.

Did anyone ever ask what degree grade you got?

Who’s work has inspired or influenced you the most?
Within the Graphic Design world only: new(ish) school – Cahan & Associates, old school – Brownjohn, always – Pentagram.

Has the industry changed since you graduated? If so, how?
It feels that there is a bit more knowledge on behalf of the clients (they think they can do your job) which can be tricky to manage sometimes, but not much really. Technology is the biggest physical change. This is mirrored in the aesthetic of our work but underneath it is basically the same. Time makes you think things are different but actually you just understand and experience more stuff.

Where do you get your ideas from? Do you prefer collaboration or thinking alone?
It’s a cliche, but anywhere and everywhere. You’ll only get a solution if you know properly what the problem is though, and this helps you to know where to look for inspiration. In fact I don’t look for inspiration but just hang around in the same place and hope something shows up. Collaboration is the way for me. Work out the brief on my own, then I’m in the best position to work with others to figure out the answer.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently at University?
Veterinary Studies.

What’s the best thing about your job? 

Specifically, working on a very wide selection of projects from marketing some of the tallest buildings in the world (Taipei 101, ICC, Shanghai Tower) and the world’s first carbon neutral city (Masdar City, Abu Dhabi) to small identity projects for up-and-coming architects. Publishing books about iconic buildings (Sydney Opera House, The Commonwealth Building, Broadcasting House) to incredible engineering projects with some of the world’s greatest architects; Shard, (Renzo Piano), Russia Tower (Norman Foster), Cannon Street London (Foggo Associates), 55 Baker Street (Ken Shuttleworth).

Generally, as a Creative Director it’s watching a design and the designers develop as a project reaches completion. Watching your teams and your clients get excited as their work starts to emerge is great. Also, I never, ever, ever make tea anymore.

What is the most unusual thing you have done in your career?
I’ve just returned from Warsaw where I was driven at high speed down pavements and across a lawn to reach the airport in time, shitting yourself in Poland is quite unusual. On a calmer note, I’ve photographed some Giant African Land Snails (that we’d painted on) and filmed four grown men in suits race pink girls bikes around an empty office. This job is weird/great.

What do you look for in graduates and their portfolios?
A beautiful and simple CV, no bullshit and a short, to the point folio that’s not A2. Personality and wit. Good intelligent ideas.

Any advice for students entering the industry?
Stand out.


Art Direction & Brochure - The Shard