Studio Spotlight: Greg Bunbury


Posted by Trigger

Studio member Greg Bunbury is a multi-talented Graphic & Digital Designer, Creative Director and Illustrator. Greg makes content that helps tell stories about brands, products and people. He works in branding, print, and digital design across many sectors, including music, film, radio and sport and his clients include Sony Music, Warner Music, Ministry of Sound, Universal Music and Polydor Records. We caught up with him to find out a little more.
Hi Greg! Can you tell us a little bit about you and your background?

Hi! I’m a freelance/independent multidisciplinary creative, working as Bunbury Creative. I was a former agency Head of Creative, and have worked both agency-side and in-house for many different organisations. As it took me a while to find my feet as a designer, I first worked in marketing – which in the long run actually gave me a better perspective on client services and the business side of how agencies are run. My previous design roles included a lot of work for sectors including b2b, technology, social and telecoms, but now I tend to specialise in clients in the entertainment industry – from major and independent record labels, to feature film agencies.

How did you get in to Graphic and Digital Design? And when did you realise you could make a career out of design?

I studied design all the way from school to university, but essentially I was always a designer – in my teens I made animations on my computer, designed characters, did artwork for a band… This was before I knew people actually did this sort of thing for a living. After university, Graphic Design still didn’t seem like a viable career – I knew more designers out of work than creatives actually employed!

The first time I thought differently, was while working at a PR/marketing agency. I got to attend a meeting with Neville Brody, at this then-studio in Islington. I was aware of Brody’s work of course, but I had never seen a design studio like it – a dozen creatives over two floors, all created from the work of one person. Then I got to hear him talk about these incredible projects he was working on… I was amazed at the scale of the projects. That was the point where I thought ‘well, I might not be Brody, but I can see this is definitely do-able’.

It’s very important to model your aspirations on someone who’s essentially doing what you want to do, but you have to engage them to get the full benefit I think. Not long after that I went into design full-time.

Image for Heart Radio created by Greg Bunbury
What challenges have you faced in your career so far?
New technologies and platforms are both a challenge and a pathway to progression. The challenge is to keep up with advances in software and methodologies, which can be costly and time-intensive, but in doing so it can also open all sorts of doors. For example when Flash was the in-thing (Flash is a a deprecated multimedia software platform), I took a part-time course to learn it, and then spent the next few years getting competent with it.
Eventually I became very proficient with Flash, and it became the focal point of the business for awhile. Then in a matter of months, Flash disappeared (after Adobe announced it would no longer support the platform). This was a major blow, as my Flash banner work was a good 80% of my workload at the time. But because of what I learned doing those digital campaigns, I’ve been able to transition that methodology into HTML5, motion graphics, animation and DOOH. What I had learned from the principles of keyframing and scripting, I was able to apply to video production in After Effects and Premiere Pro. Now it’s a core part of my business. And from here the next thing I’ll be looking at, are augmented reality formats. Without having invested so much time and resource initially, even though it I wouldn’t be doing the kind of exciting, dynamic work I get to do now.
Do you enjoy being your own boss? What would you say to a creative who is thinking of leaving the agency they work for to go freelance?
I love what I do, and most importantly how I do it. But it’s a not a job per se – it’s more like a lifestyle – a very unpredictable, stressful yet potentially rewarding lifestyle – and therefore not for everyone! So I would advise creatives to think long and hard before making such a leap. Essentially you have to understand yourself, your strengths and limitations. Be honest about what you want for your career, and why you want it. Do you ultimately want creative freedom, flexible working, or a managerial role? Those are all very different pathways, so be clear on what you want for an ideal outcome.
Bear in mind though, as a freelancer being your own boss doesn’t mean you get to do what you want – we still serve the client and the client’s needs, and sometimes those needs might not align with our own creative aspirations. And as a freelancer since you’re often the account director, client services manage, accountant and designer, so you may find you have even less room and creative freedom then you did at an agency! But if you’re personable, disciplined and can sell your ideas – so much of being a freelancer hinges on your ability to sell – you may relish such a challenge.
Where do you find your inspiration?
When I first started as a creative, I thought inspiration meant lengthy sessions of mood boards, art books and walking around museums. But the reality was last-minute briefs, short turnarounds, and unrealistic deadlines. There was very little time for being inspired, so I had to figure out a way to make it work in that context. What I started doing was using my commute as my thinking time, so London itself has always been a constant source of inspiration.
Sometimes this would involve just looking around – I once created a colour scheme for a brand from a street in Hackney (Amhurst Road). It could be the typography of a sign, some street-art, or a design on someone’s t-shirt as they walk by. So I always made sure I had a pencil and a notebook on my way to work, and it’s a method that’s served me well over the years. Though I don’t commute as much now, I always make sure to have some time away from the screen – just wandering around.
At Trigger, we love matching freelancers with projects and we feel that businesses benefit when they open themselves up to new people and new ideas. What do you think are the key benefits to businesses of working with freelancers?
I believe diversity is the key to creativity in business, and a freelance model supports that. The economy over the past couple of decades has meant businesses are less willing to take risks with their marketing and advertising. With so many companies ‘playing it safe’, this has resulted in stale, uninspiring outreach – and a lot of it. So much so, that brands are finding it very difficult to achieve any cut-through. Yet as the quote goes, many are still “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Yet creativity in business is largely accepted as a boom to the bottom line. A study by Adobe & Forrester Consulting some years ago revealed “more companies that foster creativity achieve exceptional revenue growth than peers”. Therefore businesses who want to be productive and profitable must embrace new ways of thinking. A freelance model is a cost-effective methodology to utilise diversity, fresh thinking, and an outside perspective.
Can you show and talk us through one of your favourite projects you’ve done for a client?
Of course! Since it’s Trigger, here’s a project I worked on for yourselves, and client Heart Radio. This was for Heart’s “Happy Summer Days” campaign, a summer-themed promotion that culminated in a prize draw. I worked on the branding, the campaign concept, and the roll-out of the campaign itself across digital/social media. At the inception of the project, due to time constraints we were light on assets that could be used for a summer campaign. That meant no photography and no time to shoot anything. Once I had completed the logo, I proposed that the campaign be copy-driven – in this way we could be responsive and flexible, and yet still create impact.
I came up with a round of slogans, written around connotations of summer, and the prize draw itself. With a bank of slogans, it would mean there were enough executions to serve each phase of the campaign. The general campaign idea was solidified by this point, and I was asked to extend the concept into animation. To fit the typographical style and the juxtaposition between the summer/money themes, I came up with a series of flat-styled graphics and animations. From a sun with pound-sign rays, to a piggy bank with shades on, it provided a fun, engaging visual dimension to the campaign, resulting in short, animated ads that ran over YouTube and other socials.
I think the strength of this campaign is that there’s a solid idea at the heart of it (no pun intended), and it’s rooted in some truth – it feels authentic to the brand. I believe the closer you get to that – a simple, engaging idea encapsulated in a short phrase – the closer you get to a great campaign.
Do you have any advice of words of wisdom for aspiring Graphic Designers out there?

The quote I always like to give aspiring creatives, is the advice William Burroughs (famed Beat Generation writer) gave to Patti Smith:

“Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises, don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful — be concerned with doing good work and make the right choices and protect your work. And if you build a good name, eventually, that name will be its own currency.”

The Trigger Studio is our curated community of over 3500 hand-picked content creation professionals. To find out more about how Trigger can help you find the right creative freelancer(s) for your project, call us on 0203 865 2176 or email hello@thisistrigger.co.uk