Alan Aboud admits he ‘fell into advertising almost by default. It
certainly wasn’t what I intended to do when I was at college.’ College
was Central St Martin’s where the 30-year-old Dubliner studied graphic
design. His 1989 degree show was striking enough to persuade the fashion
guru, Paul Smith, to hand Aboud one of his first freelance commissions.
It is a relationship that has blossomed. Aboud now designs and art
directs press ads and promotional material for around seven different
Paul Smith lines, including the successful R. Newbold workwear range.
‘When I started working for Paul, it was quite small scale,’ Aboud
recalls. ‘Now it’s huge, particularly in Japan, where there are more
than 60 outlets. I owe a lot to Paul but I think I have repaid his
Though the Paul Smith workload is perennially demanding, Aboud has
remained fiercely freelance over the years, producing work for a range
of clients, including Sony Music, Thames and Hudson, Channel 4 Learning,
New York’s Whitney Museum and the LA-based sunglasses manufacturer,
Oliver Peoples. Last year he helped out Lowe Howard-Spink on a press
campaign for Vauxhall.
Working from his London office, Aboud’s creative output tends to be
coolly understated, though his hard-hitting series of postcards for the
Terrence Higgins Trust, with their uncompromising juxtaposition of words
and images, generated a suitable amount of controversy. ‘I tend to strip
things down to the fundamentals,’ he says, ‘so we’ve never been flavour
of the month - but we don’t go in and out of fashion either.’
The next step for Aboud is moving images; he already has a series of
treatments at test stage for MTV Asia and he plans to pursue this avenue
seriously in the new year.
In the meantime, he will continue to push forward the boundaries with
Paul Smith’s press ads, which are currently illustration-based. ‘The
trouble with fashion advertising is that if you take the logos off, you
don’t know who the client is. I want people to recognise a Paul Smith ad
at 50 paces.’