Art Versus Science

Finding a workplace that fits isn’t always easy. But when you do, the rewards are extraordinary.

Our designer in London, Bobby Bowyer, tells of his love for art, design, Manchester United and how he found his artistic home at an Australian agency.

It runs in the family

I’m lucky to have grown up in a creative family, with a strong interest in the arts and design. It has always surrounded me and definitely influenced my career choices. My grandfather was an architect, my father Geoff was a performer in music, children’s theatre and a drama teacher, and my mother Geraldine ran local community arts programmes for her whole career.

My older brother Jack however, is a mathematician! He has a PhD and is a pure academic. My parents were like: “Where did he come from?” He was a big influence in my life — incredible at school and an extraordinarily motivated individual.

He did so well, and our school was a very academic place, so I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I was looking at sciences — maths, biology, physics — for my A levels, but I basically flunked all my practice exams. I tried really hard, but I’m just not great at exams. The school was of the opinion I was a blot on its reputation and should probably leave.


From game over to game on

I thought it was game over at the time, but it’s given me an appreciation of how you can turn things around if you apply yourself. Art and design were always a fallback, so my parents encouraged me to pursue that. I’m so glad I did. I’ve never looked back from that moment.

I did a vocational course in art design. One of the specialisms of the course was graphic design. I thought: “I like this. A lot!” So, I went on to study at the Manchester School of Art, which was great. I realised that was how I liked to learn. I loved the people and everything about it.

One of the worst days of my young life — getting asked to leave school was a big deal at the time — turned into a blessing. I’ve now found my calling.

I graduated in 2017 which was great, given how things had gone a few years prior. I also met my partner Florence while we were studying art. We’ve been together ten years now. We graduated at the same time, saved up some money and moved to Milan. We lived and worked in Italy for a year and it was just amazing. Then we came back to the UK and did some placements and freelancing, which was going really well.

Then COVID hit. We scraped by with a variety of agency and freelance experiences, which taught me a lot. Freelancing is hard. I think I’m more naturally a team player. I’d been craving to be part of something meaningful for a while.

Doing meaningful work

For me, meaningful work has a positive impact on people’s lives. That’s what attracted me to The Being Group in the first place. I could see the intention is there and genuine.

When I saw the ad for an experienced designer for The Being Group’s London office, I liked the tone. It wasn’t: “You must have this many years of agency experience.” It was about the variety of things you’d worked on and who you were as a person.

I checked the company out and really liked the website and the work on it. I felt these guys know what they’re doing in design. When I saw the standard, I thought that this was a place where I could learn more about execution and improve my practice.

Looking through the work, I liked the corporate stuff, it’s all really sharp, but it was the public service work that really spoke to me on an ethical level. It felt like a place I could take the next step in my career.

I’m currently the only person in the London office who’s actually a born-and-bred Londoner, so I hope I’m bringing some unique local knowledge to our operation here. I’ve also never been to Sydney, but the culture from “HQ” is really strong and there’s definitely a feeling of being part of something bigger — even though we’re the smaller team.

I think as the London office grows, we’ll develop our own version of The Being Group’s culture, our own unique dynamic as a group of people.

A big fan

Outside work, I have a lot of interests. I suppose you’d call them hobbies.

I’m a huge Manchester United fan and love sport — tennis, cricket, snooker, everything! I played competitive football for years until studies finally got in the way. I swim, and I do Pilates as rehab for an injured back.

I also play Dungeons and Dragons every week. I’m a massive DnD-head. I’m a real nerd and fanboy about fantasy and sci-fi — Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings — that sort of stuff. I’m proper into it.

I’m also obsessed with music. I collect CDs, which is completely ridiculous, because they’re obsolete. I’m so mad about new music I have a system on Spotify, a mechanic, where I listen to something once, buy it, and probably never listen to it again and move onto the next thing. It’s very systematic!

It never crossed my mind I’d end up working with an Australian business out of London, but I’m excited to be contributing to a growing team. It feels like I’ve found my professional home.

That’s a big deal for a young man who once thought life was over because he flunked his science exams.

If Bobby wasn’t a designer, he’d be carefully growing his CD collection which, one day, will be worth absolutely nothing.

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