My Creative Hero: Jamie Hewlett
Mike White is CEO and co-founder of Lively agency. Lively has always championed Live Marketing, the sweet spot between physical and digital where engaging campaigns are created for brands. Lively develop immersive, interactive and entertaining experiences for clients including Spotify, Ericsson, Twitter, Virgin and Mazda. Mike is a hybrid and virtual strategist, speaker and influencer.
Who would you say is your creative hero?
How long has he been important to you and what are your first memories of meeting him or coming across his work?
My first awareness of the British illustrator, designer and animator Jamie Hewlett came from the comic strip anti-hero Tank Girl (but definitely NOT from the movie). Jamie’s Tank Girl character was an anarchic punk who drove a tank and had a kangaroo for a boyfriend. Comic art caught my attention from an early age, as it does for most kids of my generation. However, the progression of this type of art into street art and music is the reason I continue to be a fan - and see Jamie as my hero.
Why is he such an inspiration to you?
The real inspiration came when he partnered with Damon Albarn and created Gorillaz in 1998. Damon did the music, Jamie came up with the characters. The whole concept turned the music and art world upside down. They’re still totally reinventing what music is, and what a band is. They present themselves live in so many different ways – projecting animated band members, a web series, now they’re doing NFTs.
If it’s someone you personally know, how did you get to know him and how has your relationship evolved over the years? If you don’t know him, how did you go about finding to learn more about him and his work?
Over the years I’ve started to collect art myself, that was prompted by Jamie. The first piece of art I bought for my very first flat was called a piece called ‘Kid’ by Jamie.
Kid by Jamie Hewlett
I don’t know him personally, but I’ve always had an eye on what he’s been up to, either through Instagram, his gallery website or on SUPERPLASTIC. I also love going to see Gorillaz perform both physically and virtually.
How does he influence you in your approach to your creative work?
I wouldn’t describe myself as a true creative, but I do work in the creative industry and I like to challenge the normal. Who wants to be normal, after all? I like to look at things differently. From getting into marketing and choosing to focus on events rather than advertising or PR, to working in festivals and wanting to challenge how to create an experience in a field that doesn't use traditional structures. I’m always pushing to deliver creative solutions for brands by encouraging collaboration, be that audio and visual artists or using NFTs to create content for brands.
What piece or pieces of his work do you keep coming back to and why?
My favourite piece of Jamie’s work has got to be the creation of Gorillaz. They are the epitome of what I’ve always believed in. This is the first mainstream band created with the future in mind, merging physical and digital to create an experience that is more than just a band. They perform, create magazines, books and digital characters that engage with all ages. When they perform, powerful technology is used to create truly immersive experiences for fans. For example, at their last virtual gig, a holographic character was introduced, collaborating with the other artists and characters on stage.
I’ve got a number of Hewlett pieces in my home today… in fact I’ve just bought the new SUPERPLASTIC set of Gorillaz. Art collecting is more than my hobby, it’s my obsession and it’s the one thing that keeps me excited about the marketing industry.