Yahoo! Big Idea Chair: True Tiger

M&C Saatchi's admired head of art takes Yahoo!'s Big Idea Chair to share her views on the Savage story - yesterday, today and tomorrow.

On beginnings

I was born in Manchester, and moved to London aged 17. I trained at the School of Communication Arts, and soon made a lot of money as an illustrator. My first break came at Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow and Johnson, where I worked on Nike, Virgin, BT, etc. Then at BBH I worked on Levi's, Polaroid, Coca-Cola, etc. I came up with the original idea of "the Lynx effect" with Paul Silburn, then worked with Tim Delaney at Leagas Delaney as head of art. Presently I am deputy creative director/head of art at M&C Saatchi.

On my name

This is boring. What are the names of your children's schoolfriends? Betcha' there's a "Tiger" among the "Fifi"s, "Paris"s and "Peaches"s? A Tiger who in 20 years' time will probably be working in advertising. I guess I'm just way ahead of my time. Nuff said ...

On my creative influences

My influences come from many worlds. From fashion and contemporary art to movies, past and present, music, photography, books, websites, friends and family. But mainly just from observing and listening to what's around me every day.

On fashion

Fashion has always played a great part in my life, probably more so now than I ever imagined. Over the years, what I wear certainly seems to have inspired some column inches. But I think fashion houses function in a similar way to advertising agencies in as much as they both have to think ahead (while drawing influences from the past) and make their product a "must-have". But I also think that there's a huge divide. It seems that unintentionally I've carved a niche in "luxury goods" advertising, which I'm more than happy about as, historically, "fashion" brands seem to think that advertising folk don't understand their "world" and are neither cool nor sexy enough. I can certainly see their point. I think being around and having friends in fashion really helps me understand the language and where the differences lie. Maybe it's time for advertising "boutique"?

On my creative heroes

Coco Chanel, Vivienne Westwood, Alfred Hitchcock, Saul Bass, Picasso, Walt Disney, Baz Luhrmann, Marilyn Monroe, Tom Ford, Laura Gregory, Grace Kelly, John Hegarty, Jeff Koons, Chaka Sobhani, Tim Delaney, Mark Goodwin, Paul Arden, Graham Fink ... the list would go on, but I suppose anybody who's prepared to stand up for their beliefs gets in my book.

On the creative function

Is creating advertising like writing novels or screenplays? I'll let you know when I've written one.

On the biggest creative challenge of my career to date

Every day there's always a challenge or I wouldn't bother getting up. I think that's why I enjoy what I do so much; you just never know what's around the corner (hopefully the Bentley account).

On my digital life

The internet is an absolute godsend for keeping up with all the photographers'/artists'/directors' portfolios all over the world 24/7 (which is the worst thing for an insomniac like me). How else could I get the limited-edition Nick Knight Pirelli calendar from eBay, jump on to YouTube or tank.tv for some inspiration, get the latest YSL platforms from vogue.com and even, like today as I'm moving, log on to The Big Yellow Self Storage Company, all at 2.30 in the morning? I'm also very excited about a soon-to- be-launched site called thelifeguru.com, which is run by friends. I'll be collaborating as a guest contributor, giving my opinion of the coolest hotels around the world, favourite shops, fantastic jewellery, shoes, waxers, etc.

On creativity in digital media

I think the fact that people like Simon Waterfall have been recognised for his creativity in digital communications by being elected president of D&AD will only serve to raise the standards of digital marketing. No doubt, there's been a radical improvement in art direction over the past couple of years. I remember some early fashion sites were reminiscent of my mum's old Kay's catalogue, but with companies like Poke raising the game, things will only get better.

On the future of ad agencies

I think most agencies have been forced to adapt to how the digital world has changed us as a service. The best are those who embrace the chance to expand ideas into media across the line. I also think that even the big agencies are starting to recognise the need for specialisation. I believe that, in the future, we'll see this trend continue, but not just segmented by media - such as digital specialists - but by types of client. For example, financial and medical companies often have their own specialist agencies; so will fashion houses and other luxury clients.

On the big idea

A big idea would be one that scares the hell out of me. My definition would be one that captures people's imagination or challenges conventions.

On being a woman in a male-dominated industry

I wouldn't say it's easy being a woman in a male-dominated industry. Though, fortunately for me, the arseholes have been few and far between. Can you ask me that question again when I'm pregnant with my first child?

On a big idea in advertising

One of the biggest ideas to come out of advertising in the past couple of years has to be the Honda campaign from Wieden & Kennedy, "The power of dreams"; what hugely inspiring words, executed and driven by emotion, that worked in every media brilliantly ... bastards!

On a big idea for the future in any field

I'm a huge product-design fan, so my big idea would be something more revolutionary than an Apple Mac, as successful as the iPod and smaller than a Nano. Anyway, I'm going to think smaller.

- The Yahoo! Big Idea Chair shines a spotlight on people and companies whose creative work is truly remarkable. See yahoo.co.uk/media for more details.

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