Thursday, October 19, 2006

Freelance creatives

The Happy Cows are on the look-out for another top freelance writer, art director and web designer. Get in touch through this blog or visit


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The birth of a new creative business

I thought I’d start this blog to share the launch of a new kind of creative company. It will undoubtedly throw out some interesting thoughts and arguments, and maybe we’ll all learn some stuff on the way? So feel free to get involved.

It kind of makes sense to begin with one of my favorite subjects... ideas, as this new agency is one.

I’ve made a living out of having ideas, mostly commissioned by other people. I’ve been doing it for so long now, that it’s part of who I am. I rarely seem to switch off, and I’m now naturally attuned to solving issues and bettering situations and asking questions to satisfy my innate curiosity, and I’m not sure I’d have it any other way.

Often my best ideas have never made it out of the nest... killed by the sharp beaks of those not brave enough to launch something fresh on the world, or left to whither by those not able to make a decision.

Ideas are great though, aren’t they? No matter how good they are. Even the bad ones get evaluated and force us to ask the all important questions that fuel the whole process.

Well, here’s a question I found myself asking many years ago. What is it that makes us have ideas in the first place? What is that force that feeds our creative energy? Well, one thing I know is that it rarely comes from a place of contentment.

Contentment is a pretty dull mistress when it comes to progress. Contentment says “RELAX... park your backside on the sofa... make do with what you have, everything is sorted man, don’t rock the boat”, now that sounds like a comfy pew in God’s waiting room to me. Contentment, as someone worthy once said, is just a slightly more positive word for indolence.

Yet, when you think about it, contentment is the holy grail. It is, after all, the end game, the answer, the distant solution that drives us to solve the discontentment we feel.

Discontentment, conversely, is the interesting mistress. Discontentment says “Hey mate... that’s just not good enough, there must be something better, a different way”.

Even in the most passive expression, discontentment is the feeling that makes the couch potato grope blindly for the remote to switch TV channels. It’s the force that drives us to change things, to create, invent. All progress stems from the discontentment we feel with the way things are.

Oscar Wilde once said, “Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation”.

But as in all things there’s a balance. Too much discontent and life is miserable, full of frustrations and angst, that could well drive some people off the bridge clutching an anvil. Too much contentment and you end up being one of life’s passengers, standing on the side-lines spectating rather than participating, slowly fading with ever shallower breaths.

It was discontentment that gave birth to the idea of The Happy Cows. We were pissed-off with the ways agencies worked, and we knew clients were too. There’s something sole-destroying about working for big ad agency groups. Commuting into the city to be weighed down with management tasks, internal meetings, the constant drive for profits... it really knocks the entrepreneurial spirit out of you.

So whilst working as a freelancer, with an office at home, wi-fied up to quick broadband, the idea of a new agency model was formed. A creative business with no office, where all the staff were top independents... freelancers, working from home or where the hell they liked. A talented bunch who got together and kicked ideas around and had some laughs, like in the old days... or maybe not even ‘got together’ since they could have group jousts on the video-conference Skype thingy.

Well that creative business is now here, and it feels like a good balance between contentment and discontentment. It struck us, that when liberated from the corporate chains, when you are free to work when and where you want, when you can enjoy a much more balance way of life – you are simply happier. When you’re happier you’re less stressed, more able to explore, think and focus. You feel fresher and more energised, and do better, fresher work... so essentially “happy cows make better milk”.

Everything we do for our clients is custom-made. There are no proprietary processes, just smart people, focused on doing the best work. And these clients don’t pay for anything they don’t need either, so there are no junior suits learning their trade, office maintenance costs or specialists not needed on the task built into the fees.

It’s honest and business-like, but it’s also great fun. We also liked the idea that by not commuting and by using technology to share ideas, as opposed to paper, that we were, in some small way, easing our impact on our environment too.

Anyway... I have some work to do... but do let me know what you think of the idea and I’ll try to keep you up-to-date with what’s happening. If you think you are a potential ‘Cow’, then get in touch and tell us what you’re brilliant at. We currently have writers, designers, strategists, researchers, TV producers all currently in the UK, but considering the way we work, there’s no reason why someone sitting in Sydney, NY or Amsterdam couldn’t get involved.

If you’re a potential client and want to know more then visit our temporary website... links on this blog.