Mention Will Daulphin
Interview by Lyla Johnston

Will Daulphin’s journey from shoe sales assistant to creating content for Reebok

For Manchester-based Will Daulphin, a blend of imagination and empathy are key to his work as a creative. Currently making content for brands like Reebok at creative agency, Tangent, the journey getting there, however, is one Will remembers as a stressful one. After graduating, Will worked in retail at a shoe shop, all the while piling up hundreds of unsuccessful creative job applications. His perseverance eventually paid off when he caught the eye of another footwear chain, Footasylum, where he spent over a year as a creative. Here, we talk to Will about seeing the potential in all opportunities, building connections online and how Tumblr is still a great source of creative inspiration.

Will Daulphin

Will Daulphin


Job Title

Creative, Tangent Agency (2020–present)

Based

Manchester

Selected Clients

Adidas, Nike, Jordan, Merrell, Reebok

Previous Employment

Creative, Footasylum (2019-2020)

Place of Study

BA Photographic Arts, University of Westminster (2016-2018)

HND Interactive and Visual Design, Birmingham Metropolitan College (2014-2016)

Website

daulphino.co.uk

Social Media

Instagram

What I do

How would you describe what you do? And specifically what you do at Tangent?
At Tangent, we work with mainly fashion and lifestyle brands on some pretty exciting projects, bringing small ideas to life and being the bridge between brands and consumer.

My job is to take briefs from brands and turn them into creative outcomes, whether that be designing a day-long Instagram story series, or crafting the creative direction for a three-month-long, full-circle campaign.

If you could sum up your job in a GIF, what would it be and why?
(Above) Agency life: a beautiful mix of weekly emotional meltdowns and moments of ecstasy.

What recent project at Tangent are you most proud of?

Probably a recent Reebok job we did for the Reserve collection out in the Peak District in rural England. Seeing your work published on HYPEBEAST to a worldwide audience is pretty sweet.

“Seeing your work published on HYPEBEAST to a worldwide audience is pretty sweet.”

What kind of skills are needed to do your role? And would you say you need any specific training to do what you do?

The main skill I would say is imagination, to put it broadly. Being able to splurge out a range of ideas, however ambitious and then reign them in to suit the brief and target audience.

And then knowing who you are making work for, putting yourself in their shoes and questioning, “Would I resonate with this piece of work if I were you?”

Will Daulphin creative creativelivesinprogress 03

Art direction work for Adidas Ozweego X Footasylum

Will Daulphin creative creativelivesinprogress 10

Art direction work for Vans Ultra X Footasylum

Will Daulphin creative creativelivesinprogress 04

Art direction work for Nike React Element 55 X Footasylum

How I got here

How did you land the job?

I reached out to a recruitment agency on Indeed and they placed me after two interviews and a creative brief. It was a smooth experience.


What was your journey like when you were first starting out?
It was stressful, to be honest. I was relentlessly applying to over 200 industry roles and either hearing nothing back, or being unsuccessful – all while working part-time in retail at (footwear store) Size?

Like so many other graduates these days, I ended up doing shop and restaurant work after the high of graduating. I finally got my big break when Footasylum snatched me up to do creative there. Keep persevering, a door will open eventually. That being said, as much as it’s the best course of action, I feel like not all doors are for you to walk through.

I think with Footasylum, at the time, they didn’t just look over my portfolio and think, ‘Ah, cool‘. They had a vision of how my work and their direction could come together in an effective way. At the time, Footasylum was the place for me, the key fitted the lock properly. It can be so tempting to apply to any role in your field but only a select few will really be ‘meant’ for you at a given time along your journey.

“Only a select few [roles] will really be ‘meant’ for you at a given time along your journey.”

How did it feel going from working for a specific brand to working for a more all-round agency?
The transition felt, for the most part, fairly seamless. Footasylum operated like an agency in a sense where we would deal with the creative of multiple different brands anyway, similar to how an agency operates.

The big glaring difference was the creative freedom given at an agency level, where I’d say you’re able to spread your wings more and really get into the granular level of concept ideation and strategy. With an agency, just as much importance is placed on the functionality of a project as well as the aesthetic element.

Art direction work for Jordan X Footasylum
Art direction work for Jordan X Footasylum
Art direction work for Jordan X Footasylum

If you could pick three things that you’ve found useful or inspiring to your work or career, what would they be and why?
1. Tumblr. Yes, that old chestnut. Over the last seven years, I’ve collected a mass of creative reference and material that I refer to often. You can find so many great blogs on there still, and it’s a nice break from Instagram.

2. Any book by Thich Nhat Hanh or the Dalai Lama. I do my best work when my mind is decluttered and I find that Buddhist and spiritual writings keep me grounded and ticking along.

3. Walking through a busy city like London at night, with headphones in, observing everything around you. There is something visceral about having a sensory overload on your own without any distractions.

Art direction work for Converse X Footasylum

What would you say has been your biggest challenge along the way?
Second guessing myself, definitely. It’s good to be flexible in your approach but be confident and articulate with your decision making.

I remember feeling that often times, on my photography course at university, I wanted to spread my creative wings more and go against the grain with the work I produced – whether that be written or visual. Sometimes, lecturers would urge me to do things in a certain way which wasn’t native to me but, looking back, it would have paid off for me to go about it my way. Sometimes my projects would start to become something that were no longer my own, which led to me second guessing myself.

On reflection I think it’s important to take advice and direction, but to also take ownership and stay true to ideas your instincts are telling you to go with. You’ll know you’re in the right place with a project when the people around you aren’t hampering creativity, and are instead being constructive.

Art direction work for Converse X Footasylum ft. Snoochie Shy
Art direction work for Jordan X Footasylum

What have been your greatest learnings with making money and supporting yourself as a creative?
Just because a moment doesn’t directly present a money-making opportunity straight away, doesn’t mean it’s not an opportunity worth taking.


How important would you say social media and self-promotion have been to your work?
My socials have been a mix of my work and a genuine portrayal of my life, so I’ve been able to build genuine connections with some great people in the industry – but also be able to showcase my work at the drop of a hat.

My advice

What’s the best career-related advice you’ve ever received?
Not to let your level of seniority dictate the energy you bring to a project. There is an element of ‘knowing your place’ as a junior but equally, don’t be afraid to shine. The same applies to seniors too, don’t lose that hunger and fire in your stomach to make great work.


What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?
Get savvy on LinkedIn; connect and network with different creative recruiters and professionals. I used to completely sleep on LinkedIn but it is one of the most valuable tools someone in the industry can have. Also The Dots is a platform you have to be on – imagine LinkedIn, but for creatives.

Mention Will Daulphin
Interview by Lyla Johnston