Mention Callum Ritchie
Interview by Lyla Johnston

Multifaceted creative Callum Ritchie on community, freelancing and making TikToks for MINI

Working on MINI’s account at agency Anomaly, Callum Ritchie’s role as a social community manager involves monitoring social media engagement and collaborating with others. It’s this community-creating spirit that has defined the Norwich-based creative’s career so far – with no signs of stopping anytime soon. Telling us that the key to career success is to “go out, enjoy yourself and make a load of friends”, Callum co-founded community events company, Site Collective, helping other creatives like himself weave webs around the arts world. Here, we talk to Callum about working in as many disciplines as he can and why FKA Twigs’ album Magdalene is the record that inspires him the most.

Callum Ritchie

Callum Ritchie


Job Title

Social Community Manager, Anomaly
Co-Founder, Site Collective

Based

Norwich, Norfolk

Previous Employment

Content Creator Intern, Proctor + Stevenson

Place of Study

MA Communication Design, Norwich University of the Arts (2019–2021)
BA Illustration, Norwich University of the Arts (2016–2019)

Website

callumritchie.com

Social Media

Instagram
LinkedIn

What I do

How would you describe what you do? And specifically what you do at Anomaly?
I’m a social community manager at Anomaly. This means I manage the social channels for the agency’s clients, specifically working on the MINI global account.

My party line is that “I make TikToks for MINI”, but in reality it’s much more than that. We use a content collaboration platform to schedule posts and monitor community sentiment and engagement. It also involves lots of work alongside others working with strategy, creative and data analysis. It is very collaborative and all voices are welcome, which is great.

I also work as a staff writer at hip hop and culture platform, Wordplay Magazine, run press for metal bands and say “Yes” to just about any freelance project I get asked to do.

“My party line is that ‘I make TikToks for MINI’, but in reality [the job is] much more than that.”

You are also a co-founder of creative community events company, Site Collective. Can you tell us more about that?
Me and my co-founder and designer Dom Lovegrove founded Site Collective in 2019 after graduating from our BA in illustration. We were looking for a way to keep our community of graduates socially connected and creatively engaged. Since then, illustrator and printmaker, Julia Triay Sarasa has joined us and we’ve developed the not-for-profit organisation into a community interest company.

We’ve hosted various online and in-person events that have helped young creatives sell their work, learn new skills and form vital networks. We have received funding from the Lloyds Bank via the School of Social Entrepreneurs and the National Lottery Community Fund to continue our work.

What recent project at Anomaly are you most proud of?
At Anomaly, I recently had the pleasure of working with Paul Smith on a campaign which was a huge honour and inspiration. Outside of this, there are two other things that come to mind. The first would be raising £10k to run a week-long programme of workshops, lectures and commissions for young creatives in Norfolk during the pandemic. The second would be co-producing and co-writing a film (below), which was presented to local politicians and councillors as a call to action from young creative people in the region.

What kind of skills are needed to do your role? And would you say you need any specific training to do what you do?
I don’t think anyone needs any specific training prior to most creative industry roles. It benefits the industry to have diverse talent from a variety of backgrounds with alternative skillsets. Having said that, the more training you do have in whatever your background might be, the more benefits you will probably have to your employer. In my role, it is beneficial to have a creative and curious mind as well as having strong copywriting, communication and research skills.

If you could pick one meme to describe what you do, what would it be and why?
The Pepe Silvia scene from [TV show] It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (below). Charlie Day is not only one of the funniest characters to come out of a modern sitcom, but also highly relatable in this scene when I’m working lots of different projects.

How I got here

How did you land the job?
I applied to a lot of jobs – I mean a lot. I was also registered on the Brixton Finishing School’s job mailer which showcased the role. I then did my research on the company extensively. My advice for others would be to take any learning or networking opportunities you can, and be active and engaged on LinkedIn.

What was your journey like when you were first starting out? Did you find your feet quickly?
It really depends how far back we’re talking. I struggled massively at school but once I made my way to university after a couple of years working as a chef, pharmacy dispenser and various other roles, I was mostly fine.

I still get the natural level of imposter syndrome but I’m learning to keep it at bay. I also struggle a lot with what to call myself, because I do a lot of different jobs. For now, I’ve settled on “creative”.

“I struggle a lot with what to call myself, because I do a lot of different jobs. For now, I’ve settled on ‘creative’.”

‘The Thinker’ illustration, completed on Callum’s BA course.

If you could pick three things that you’ve found useful or inspiring to your work or career, what would they be and why?
First, Jon Ronson. He has the flavours of Gonzo journalism but he’s much more attached to the human experience. Ultimately, he’s just a great and hilarious writer. His work has really helped me cut my teeth in terms of getting a point across by minimising on words and maximising on storytelling. This is particularly helpful when copywriting for social in the advertising industry.

Then, Anthony Bourdain, specifically his TV show, Parts Unknown. It is a documentary in which the chef and all-round complex man travels the world and tries to expand his mind while talking in a stream of consciousness about all things food and culture. He reminds me of my grandad who was a massive inspiration to me, even though they are complete opposites – my grandad was a bricklayer turned doctorate of philosophy with communist leanings and pink hair…

Branding spec work for Pink Lady apples. “They replied saying they loved it.”

Finally, FKA Twigs’ album, Magdalene. It allowed me to see the creative strength of empathy and depth of emotion in a new way. I think this was also influenced by the relationships and experiences I had at the time but this album reminds me of then. I now believe the best creative work will always be socially engaged and have a direct and tangible positive benefit to it. Music is a huge inspiration in my life, so it was very hard to choose just one album.

There are also lots more practical, useful resources I’ve used in my career, but these tend to be a lot more dull. I have faith that anyone reading this will also find similar practical means of their own accord. I think that more creative and emotional inspirations are of bigger importance.

“I believe the best creative work will always be socially engaged and have a tangible, positive benefit to it.”

What would you say has been your biggest challenge along the way?
Graduating in a pandemic. The lack of closure coupled with the lack of jobs made it very difficult for new grads to get initial experience. I also think you need to have some in-person interaction in your new role, especially when you’re new to the industry.

What have been your greatest learnings with making money and supporting yourself as a creative? Do you have any advice to share?
Plan your time, then, when you know your capabilities, start looking for work in everything and anything creative. Sound technician? Yes. Illustrator? Yes. Music journalist? Yes. Develop those multiple income streams!

My advice

What’s the best career-related advice you’ve ever received?
Everyone can teach you something so try to remain curious, involved and open-minded.

What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?
The most important thing to do is to set up a network of young creatives, so get involved in the DIY arts and music scene in your local area, go out, enjoy yourself and make a load of friends. Then I’d really recommend getting a mentor in the industry, preferably detached from your work and personal life.

Mention Callum Ritchie
Interview by Lyla Johnston