5 minutes with… Michaela Webb
The Ramp Festival of Music, Media, Arts and Design (formerly Spark) is in their 21st year. Ahead of the 2019 event we spoke with Creative Director (and Ramp speaker!) Michaela Webb about her career development, taking risks, the importance of collaboration, challenges in creative practice and what we can expect this July 23rd-26th at Ramp.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you first got started in the industry?
It’s the average Jane’s story — I completed a four year degree and took the first job I went for in a marketing company, with no other designers. From there I moved on to a design studio for a year before going back to university to lecture full-time, which felt like completing symbolic masters degree. It cemented all the things that I had learned and enjoyed from the degree.
What were your career millstones prior to founding Studio Round?
Moving to London and working at Wolff Olins, which at the time was 280 people and the biggest branding company in London. Wally Olins, who was still there, was really a major figure in the branding world and an amazing thinker. And from there, working at Spin — who were much more a crafted design studio and on the cusp of doing really interesting, arts-based projects. Combining the use of the strategy knowledge gained at Wolf Ollins and the quality of craft from Spin were the two ingredients we needed to set up Round.
What excites you about what you do at Studio Round?
Number one is probably developing the team. Particularly when someone begins at a junior level and being part of their growth to a seasoned creative or strategist. Secondly, thinking with a long term approach really excites me. Having clients come back to us after 3-5 years and saying, “It still works”, “We still love it” or “At the time I wasn’t sure what you were doing, but now I get it.”
What does your typical working day involve?
Back to back meetings? Ha. Brainstorming with great people and pushing concepts. My ideal day have the clients and our team working together as a group of people finding a solution. My ultimate day is when we take risks and they pay off.
What project, personal or professional, are you most proud of and why?
It’s interesting that the ones I’m most proud of, are the the ones where we feel there is a greater need and can really make a difference. Last year, we worked with the City of Melbourne and Alt Group from Auckland, on a creative strategy to help the homeless population. That was very eye-opening and rewarding.
Collaboration plays a big part in our work. The longevity and relationship with Andrew McConnel is something else I’m most proud of. The fact that everything we’ve done has been completely different to the next.
And I’m most proud of the ones we’re currently working on — in particular, rebranding Koko Black. Maybe not so proud of the amount of chocolate I’ve eaten along the way.
What are the biggest challenges facing your studio right now?
One of our immediate challenges is settling into our new studio space and still representing our culture. Moving outside of the centre of the city but still holding onto the feeling of knowing what Melbourne is, which has been something I’ve been personally concerned about.
One the biggest challenges facing our industry is voice becoming a big part of brand — the way we need to think about the spoken word and having the skillset to understand and implement the technology. A few years ago, motion was an obstacle to a certain degree and we’ve been able to jump onto that bandwagon. But for those new things which aren’t so visual, it’s more challenging to apply it to our work. So it’s interesting to watch this space going forward.
What can Ramp attendees expect from your talk?
My partner Rob and I will discussing the impacts of the digital age, flipping a brand on its head, and experiencing the grand possibilities of collaborating with like-minded creatives. Or even better… mad-minded creatives.
Follow along for updates on Ramp Festival social media pages (the new website and 2019 programme is set to launch soon). And learn more about Michaela Webb in the creative relay podcast here.