Other than my Grandfather, who often asks me if I work for Martin Sorrell (because he saw him on Newsnight once), the question I get most from people who don’t work in our industry is ‘did you do the John Lewis Christmas ad?’.
I’m sure you’ve been asked the question too. And I’m sure you’ve felt more than a tinge of regret when you have to shake your head and respond with a sheepish ‘no’.
Unless you’re Ben Priest, that is. Here’s someone who can not only give a hearty ‘affirmative’ to the question, he can then go on to state that actually, he’s responsible for changing John Lewis’ — and Christmas — advertising forever.
And he did it whilst building the UK’s best advertising agency of the last decade. One of its most successful ever. An agency that consistently produced outstanding work, won accolade after accolade, and sold for a rather decent amount of money just four years after launching (and seeing off a rather nasty legal battle with that Sorrell character along the way).
Priest is a scholar of the industry. A graduate of many a famous agency. An advocate for brilliant creativity and a guardian for brilliant clients.
He doesn’t need much more introduction. Over our hour chatting in the heart of Soho, we discuss those John Lewis ads, what it’s like to run a successful start-up, the merger with DDB and other great Adam & Eve ads that may not have got as much PR as the Christmas spectaculars.
But before that we also talk about starting life as a misguided Account Executive, what Ben looks for in a creative team, and how he handled that transition from creative to Creative Director…
Part one: Starting out in account management, finding an art director and scoring placements…
Do you remember the first time you really fucked up?
Yeah, it was my first job really. I was one of those weird people who always knew they wanted to get into advertising. So I did 3 years at university and then applied to Watford to do the copywriting course. And my Dad, who was a client, said ‘you’ve got to me kidding me?’ You’ve just been at university for three years sitting on your arse doing nothing, you’re not going to do a fourth. Get a job in an agency in account management, and if you don’t like it, I’m sure you can just change departments.
In those days I used to listen very keenly to my Dad. So I got offered a place at Watford, turned it down, went for account management interviews instead. I went to one for the O&M graduate training school, which was as good as it could get. Miraculously I got offered a place, so I went to Next and bought a suit, turned up, and by about day four I realised that it absolutely wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to be in the coalface.
A couple of weeks in I went to see the guy who ran the course and told him I’d made a terrible mistake, that I wanted to be a creative instead. He couldn’t believe it. He said to me: “we’ve just spent hundreds of thousands of pounds recruiting you lot, we’ve developed a nine-month training course where you’ll be working across all different departments and meeting clients. Shut up and get on with it.” So I found myself having to stick it out for about 18 months/two years before resigning.
What made you finally bite the bullet and resign?
I got a pay rise. And I knew I was useless. So it forced me to realise ‘God I’m going to wake up and I’m going to have been here for 30 years, hating myself and drinking a bottle of Scotch a day to numb the pain’. So I quit. But what it did mean was that by then I’d met a lot of clients, I went to a lot of meetings, I got to hang out with the creatives and see how they’d work.
So when I did become a creative, I’d volunteer to go to creative meetings, which definitely wasn’t the norm in those days. But I knew how to talk to the client about my work. I’m not sure how much talent I had but I definitely had a lot of energy and enthusiasm and when you went with your work to meet a client, they could really feel that. I could talk a bit of their language because I’d already sat in a load of Nestlé peanut butter meetings, so in the end it turned out to be a good thing.
And how did you Dad react!?
I remember then showing my Dad the first set of ads I ever wrote. He looked at them and he simply said, “what are you going to do if you don’t become a copywriter?’ And I looked at him and said, “well I don’t want to be an account man so I’m not losing anything.” He accepted that. The whole approach was a mistake, but it was a good thing in the end.
So what was next? What was it a case of finding an art director to work with?
The great mystery was ‘how do you find an art director?’. It’s not like a girlfriend, you can’t just hang out in a pub and hope to bump into one. Not that that’s how you should meet girlfriends…
But because I’d been at Ogilvy, one of the Group Heads rang me and said “I’ve seen this guy David. You’re a public-school boy from West Sussex, he’s a working-class lad from up north. He’s not really interested in advertising, but he’s got a great design book. You’re a sad advertising-loving bespectacled geek…I think the two of you would both be better off with each other. And we went from there.
So where did the two of you get your first gig?
There was an agency in those days called Simons Palmer Clemmow Denton and Johnson, which included Carl Johnson who set up Anomaly, Mark Denton etc, and it was the hottest agency in London by a mile. But it was tiny — the creative department was Chris Palmer, Mark Denton, Andy McKay, and Tim Riley. David showed them his book and they said ‘come in for one week and you can work on Wrangler posters’. So we went in and worked for a week. We papered the walls with our work, then every night Chris and Mark would throw us out at 10pm because they knew we’d nick all the D&AD annuals.
And after that every agency in town wanted us. Not because of our work, but because we’d spent some time there. Before they’d even look at our book, they asked us where else we’d been. We’d say, “we’ve just done a week at Simons Palmer with Chris and Mark”, and they’d say “great, when do you want to come in for a placement with us?”. They were that hot, everyone loved them, and we could go anywhere.
And you went back to Ogilvy?!
Yeah, it was a bit weird. All of the creative department wondered who this wanker was who used to wear the Next suit and go to those peanut butter meetings. So I never completely felt like I fit in there because I thought they were all suspicious of me. But we’d been there a few weeks and Mark Denton rang us up and said ‘We’ve made one of your Wrangler ads. It’s in Campaign tomorrow’. It got an absolute shoeing from one of the Delaneys — Greg Delaney I think — but then we had another phone call from Mark, and it turned out the ad had made it into the D&AD Annual. It was nuts — the first ad we’d ever written had got into the Annual. This was the Holy Grail.
I worked with David for a couple of years but unfortunately he got very ill…and he very sadly passed away far too young. He was a lovely guy. We were very different, but we had a good bond and we worked together so well. As anyone will tell you, it’s much more fun when you’ve got someone else in the room, and if you’re going to spend 12 hours in that room then you better like them.
Part two: The dynamics of a good creative team, obsessing over advertising and being star-struck by creative directors…
When you went on to hiring creative teams, were you very conscious of their dynamic?
They’re all different. Some love the separation. Some can go off and do one thing whilst the other does something else. Some go everywhere together. For me you’re looking for character across the team. I don’t want guys that have been showered with millions of pounds and rose petals at their last agency. I much prefer the ‘let’s all swarm round a problem, roll up our sleeves and get stuck in’ approach. I want people I can go to and say “this is a terrible brief, for a terrible client, on a radio spot, but I need it to be done by six o’clock tonight and I need it to be done well, can you have a look at it?” You need to make sure you’re not in there doing that three times per week, but when you have to then you want people who respond with enthusiasm.
I’d say 50% it’s their book and 50% it’s their characters. Are you going to be able to work with them? Are you going to be able to have difficult conversations with them? Sometimes you’ve only got 30 seconds to chat and you need everyone to be on the same page. So it’s not so much requiring the dynamic of a team but requiring two good characters.
You said you were always an advertising geek. Why was that and is that something that’s ever changed?
It’s never changed. I think I was one because I didn’t go to Watford or have an official advertising qualification. Instead I set myself this challenge that I was going to read the annuals whilst others would go out for lunch or go for a run. That would be my self-education. Everyone moans about D&AD from time to time but I’ve a great deal of affection for it because of what it did for me. It gave me these great big books that meant I could read every press ad that David Abbott had ever written and see how Webster wrote his ads.
Because I’d somehow burgled my way in to the industry, I wanted to be able to be the one who knew everything about it. Until I had a mass of brilliant work, it was the best way that I could show that I loved the business.
The shittest, ill-thought-through words of advice I ever heard anyone give was when I heard a creative director say to not read the Annuals or anything like that. He was trying to be flamboyant and exotic but it just sounded really dumb. You’d never make the Godfather or Apocalypse Now by having ignored all cinema prior to that. It is possible for human beings to watch and digest what went before and then produce something original. People don’t read stuff for a copying exercise, it’s to inform you of what’s gone before. Then of course you can change the world, because you know what’s gone before.
So considering you were such an advertising scholar, can you remember the first time you were star struck by a director or a creative?
Well it was immediately. Chris Palmer and Mark Denton. In that one week we had at Simons Palmer. Chris and Mark had brought modern Nike advertising to England, and it was just nuts how good they were. At the time we worked there Chris was making a Wrangler cinema ad where the police drive across LA chasing down a pirate DJ. And I remember it being the first time that you had a creative team who knew exactly how to portray the characters — they knew what the cops looked like and they knew what gangs looked like. These were people who really knew what they were doing, not some fat 45-year-old bloke at JWT guessing. And still now I’m in awe of them.
You still keep in touch with them?
They came to my leaving do. Chris turned up at the exact time it started and no-one was there yet — he was like “bloody hell if I’d known it was going to be this I wouldn’t have bothered” — and then when Mark turned up, one of the highlights of the whole night for me was seeing them standing together like old times. They’ve obviously both gone on to direct and do other things that people don’t know as much about, but I can’t tell you how exciting for people like us they were at the time.
You started off with Wrangler, which is a pretty amazing account to work on. Were there ever any brands when starting out that you were always desperate to work on?
It was more agencies than brands. When I was there Ogilvy was always what it should be — big, solid, good at linking up international work with a smattering of cracking UK clients. And I’d managed to migrate from there to CDP which was — to put it politely — ‘fading’ at the time. It certainly wasn’t the CDP of before which was possibly the greatest agency we’ve ever had in this country. But it allowed me to do a Hamlet poster that won a couple of awards and got written about, so I got a job at Lowe Howard Spink and worked with a new art director called Brian Campbell. And that’s where I wanted to be.
What I could smell at that week at Simons Palmer was the same thing I could smell at Lowe, but now I was actually employed. They had Stella Artois, Weetabix, Heineken, Vauxhall, Tesco, Olympus Camera, Reebok…the best thing about it was that you had all those great brands, but also really good creatives. It’s like when you get put in a good class at school — you get pulled along. I knew the approach was to keep my gob shut, I was a long way off being the best person there, but that was ok, because it was a good environment to learn.
And what did you learn there?
One thing I did learn there was about working on big famous brands for the public. There was work that the public saw — when a Weetabix singalong ad came out you had people in the street literally whistling it. It was big, real work, created for the people. The agency wanted to win awards, but they weren’t working in a weird vacuum simply to try and impress their mates down the road in Covent Garden. And I loved that. It was a very honest agency.
Part three: Frustrations at TBWA, learning how to be a Creative Director and meeting James Murphy and David Golding…
You went from Lowe to TBWA — how did they differ as places?
I really didn’t enjoy TBWA at all. I’d come from this fantastic place at Lowe with all these great people who gave proper feedback and were always honest with you. TBWA just felt different. I didn’t think it was run particularly well and I didn’t think it was very honest. But there were some good things too — Paul Silburn was there who I knew from Lowe and he came in and did some lovely work…but he’d do some lovely work if you locked him in a phone box. I left thinking ‘God, perhaps I’ve been wrong about this business’. But then of course I went to Rainey Kelly, met James and David, there was a great atmosphere and I was enjoying life again.
You mention meeting James and David. Everyone you’ve spoken about so far in terms of being inspired by were creative figureheads — was this the first time you really struck up close bonds with a suit and a planner too?
Sort of. For a lot of the early parts of my career I think I was much too forceful and passionate and thought I had to be a pain-in-the-arse creative who would bash my way through things. And the nice thing about Rainey Kelly was that it was a finishing school in not doing things that way. You worked with each other to do great things. It was of course great to meet David and James, because there was something between us that meant that when we tended to like something it tended to turn out great, and when we made the right decision it turned out to be the right one. On your own, your hit rate tended to be much lower.
But I also learned a lot of this off Mark Roalfe. Mark was a great creative who liked his clients. He looked forward to seeing them and bringing them something brilliant. When I looked at my time at an agency like TBWA, clients seemed to be seen as provincial fuckwits who were lucky to have us in a room. The creative department thought of themselves as rock stars, when I was pretty sure that we were the people that did that Nivea poster just down the road. To me that didn’t really make us anyone’s Mick Jagger.
Mark’s impact on the industry always seems to me to be a little underrated…
Everyone says that Mark’s the nicest guy in the industry, and he is. But Mark’s also tough. I learned a lot from that. I arrived at Rainey Kelly and here I was on my own. I’d never been out of a creative team before, I didn’t know anybody, and he asked me to prove what I could do. I did three years there and it was good toughening up. I learnt to build a relationship with clients — to learn about their business and then give them great work that would truly make a difference to them, rather than just work that was going to impress your mates at JWT.
So as it was your first solo Creative Director gig, did you ever have an idea of the type of creative leader you wanted to be?
One of the things I found was that it took a massive amount of energy for me to be a good creative. I’m not sure I was ever the most gifted at that sort of thing, I think I just really wanted it. When I started being a Creative Director I actually thought ‘I’ve blundered into a second job here and I’m actually much better at it’. So it was never a case for me that I wanted to carry on doing all the work. As soon as I got to work with other teams I thought ‘yeah, this is what I want to do’.
Did taking on this role change you?
Before it I’d definitely been an aggressive, arguing-the-toss-over-full-stops pain-in-the-arse creative, and then I found this job where you couldn’t do that — all your teams would leave and your clients would say they didn’t want to work with you anymore. And it was a blessed relief to actually have a conversation and be decent. So I thought, ‘that’s what I want to do now’. I wanted to help other people do work. I didn’t necessarily say ‘I wanted to be this type of person’, I nicked other bits from lots of different people and put them all together. I found that I could make decisions really quickly, I could see what we needed to do instantly, and I could be excited by it. Which made other people excited too.
So what’s the secret of the relationship you held with James and David?
I think it’s important to note that with James and David, we don’t spend loads of time together. We now have a proper dinner probably once a year, and David will probably have to miss half of it because he’s on a conference call. But we just had something that works. We would row an awful lot, sometimes really really badly, but never personally.
I could pretend and say “oh yeah I remember the plan we wrote together: ‘must win Cannes Agency of the Year twice, must win Campaign Agency of the Year five times in ten years’ blah blah blah”, but really it was more of a case of us saying to each other “let’s try not to lose our houses and be found out as the massive twats that we are”.
Is that you just being humble?
Well we didn’t quite say that, but there certainly wasn’t any grand plan. And funnily enough the more I look back on it, the more I think the falling out with WPP and the legal tussle was as much the making of us as anything. It’s very frightening that sort of thing. You’re not expecting it, it’s a big aggressive tsunami, and we had to face that and have a little agency to set up. But we came through that, it hadn’t killed us, and then we did our first John Lewis ad. We’d got Ben (Tollett) and Emer (Stamp) in, it was the first really good ad we’d done in our 18 months, and suddenly the three of us could finally say “we just want to do that now”.
Part four: Starting Adam & Eve, embracing a new culture and merging with DDB…
Take me through the mindset change needed going from overseeing a big agency from a big corner office with lots of things sorted for you, to sitting in a room with 5 people in the agency you founded…
It’s a great thing. It’s exciting. It’s good for you as well — you don’t swan about in taxis and go in for all that bollocks. Your future feels limitless. You take yourself off on the train to Burtons biscuits and you’re excited. I remember when we started I had a meeting with a headhunter and we had a terrible little call centre style office. I was wiping the table down as they came in and I caught the two of them giggling about the fact that here I was now wiping the table down, and I remember thinking ‘we’re not working with you again’.
It’s a very good part of the start-up experience — that you pride yourself on your travelcard and rolling up your sleeves. And we remained like that going forward, I think. We never had big, flash buildings, when we went to Cannes we all shared bedrooms in some God-awful apartment in the dodgy part. I think that’s good.
If you’re suddenly all sitting around one table in a small room, did you have to change the way you actually approached coming up with ideas too?
What we tried to do was make it so that we didn’t have a way of coming up with the work. But look, the great thing in a start-up situation is that you’re all sitting around one table. The fucking disaster of being in a start-up situation is that you’re all sitting around one table. We had a designer who used to sit behind the one table, and on the rare occasion that we had an ad to do, he’d start setting the headline — and by that I mean he’d just be typing the words in — and DG would already be going “you can’t use that typeface.” We had to be so careful of that — you’re so on top of each other that no-one has the room to get any momentum going. People need room to go off and have a crazy idea.
So how did the culture change as you grew?
The energy and the speed and the excitement and the sense of a gang we had at the start was great. There was a period where people would come and join us and there was a sense of a family that was magic. But you don’t want it to always be like that. You don’t always want it to be so intense.
We always wanted it to feel like it was a relatively young meritocracy. When we went to DDB, James, DG and I consciously continued that by trying to constantly and very publicly do the shittiest, most difficult and unattractive tasks. ‘There’s an amazing brief come in, but Lipton Iced Tea has gone down the shitter’ — we’ll do Liptons. We wanted to show the people who thought ‘if it’s not VW or Harvey Nichols then I don’t want to work on it’ that that’s not an attitude we want.
And that was more fun, I imagine, as well?
There are two great things about advertising. One is being young and in advertising, and the other is being old but still getting to hang out with loads of young and fabulous creative people. Why would you want to be stuck in a corner office looking at your Berry Brothers wine list when you could be in the guts of the day-to-day, tackling bullets and muck and solving advertising problems?
So let’s fast forward a little bit, you’re over the Sorrell thing and the agency is growing nicely. When was the first time you were able to sit back and think ‘yeah we’ve got something good here’?
We had a year where we did ‘Always a woman’, some really funny Phones4U stuff, we did a great Cadbury Fingers ad, we did a fabulous light installation thing for John Lewis too. I spent literally a year shooting stuff and most things were coming out great. I think we won Campaign Agency of the Year and it was like our third year in existence. Look, we never thought we made it and still to this day you think ‘bloody hell, it doesn’t really feel real’, but that year was the first time we weren’t just fighting for our lives, we were actually doing what we wanted to do.
Which is when DDB started showing interest. What were your initial thoughts when that came about?
We’d always planned that we’d build up an agency, sell it, and then go back to running a big agency. We’d really enjoyed running Rainey Kelly together. It’s just that we thought it would take 10 years, not 3. But it was DDB! I was saying “there’s no way we can turn this down. We’d get Volkswagen and Harvey Nichols. That place is as sleepy as fuck and we can go up there and put a rocket up it.” It felt a bit like you’re managing in the Championship, but you’re offered the Liverpool job. Maybe it will kill you, but you’ve got to take it.
So you started negotiating in 2011, and sold in 2012? Was that a strange year? Did it feel like added pressure maintaining the standards of the agency whilst also negotiating a deal that I assume very few knew was going on?
It helped we had James who is one of those in particular who’s very good at making sure people don’t get their heads turned. He was saying ‘if it happens then great, but there’s an agency to run, we’re cooking on gas and let’s not get distracted’. But it did feel like we’d just gone from evenings and weekends of litigation to evenings and weekends of sales documents and contracts. Couldn’t we just have a year where we didn’t have to spend all our free time with lawyers!?
But it was exciting too. We wanted to do it, but it had to be done right. All the things that you don’t think may be important but were to us — things like calling the agency adam&eveDDB rather than DDB Adam & Eve. You know, there were times when the deal was on, then it was off, then it was on, then it was off…ultimately when it was done it was a great relief, and we just wanted to get on with it.
When it was time to get on with it, how did you handle the merger?
Of course we had a difficult problem in that we had 75 people who’d all signed up to work for a small agency in Covent Garden, and they were now working for a large multinational agency in Paddington. But they were all brilliant people. We didn’t lose anyone, but it was still difficult. It was a very hostile environment. DDB had I think laid off 100 people the year before. They were going into a very different place.
And how did those already at DDB respond?
I’ve said this a few times in interviews and it probably gets slighter glibber and simpler each time, but it was very obvious what needed to be done. We needed to be as confrontational as possible. We knew that the worst thing that could happen for these people was if we knocked all the walls down, took their offices away and put them together in two big open spaces as opposed to 4 or 5 floors. So we did it. Because we knew that those who wanted to go would go and those who wanted to stay would stay. It was very deliberately done to show ‘this is fucking happening, get on board and join us’.
I think for a lot of people there DDB had been great, they were in denial and didn’t want to admit that it wasn’t any more. They were frightened. And a lot of them went off and went to agencies like Ogilvy and Leo Burnett. But we’d made a new agency and it entered a great period. Exactly where DDB should have been. We just worked very hard and tried to carry the same energy and values that we had beforehand forward.
So it was an obvious move, but a hard one to execute still?
Yeah it was difficult. There was a lot of HR meetings and employment issues — all that sort of stuff that again you don’t really expect to do in your career, and still you’ve got to make sure that the work is good and the agency is performing.
A big factor to making it work was that we got Rick (Brim) and Dan (Fisher) in — they were a team we wanted to get in when we first started Adam & Eve. We’d got Ben and Emer in and we wanted them too but couldn’t afford them both, so we kept in touch and finally got them. And that Christmas we did ‘Sorry I spent it on myself’ for Harvey Nichols, the ‘Bear and Hare’ for John Lewis, as well as a couple of other things, and I remember presenting to the agency and it felt like enough time had passed. People who were just going to moan whatever happened had left, and the people who wanted to stay and do something good had stayed. There’d been 18 months that we had to bludgeon our way through, but the outcome was great.
Part five: The secret to a great John Lewis ad, winning Cannes Agency of the Year and the campaigns people may have forgotten about…
Let’s talk about John Lewis then. Do you remember the first time your work for it really exploded — double page spreads in the national newspapers and all that?
Yeah, it was ‘Always a woman’ and it was unbelievable. There was a double page spread in every paper and it was on ‘Thought for a day’. People I hadn’t seen for 20 years were getting in touch on Facebook to talk about it.
In the old days you’d stand around in a pub and just talk to your advertising mates about the work you were doing and say that ‘people really liked it’. But you’d always question if there was any way you could really know if they did or not. With ‘Always a woman’ there was this massive explosion. It was everywhere. People were getting in touch to tell you they really liked it, I was reading stories about John Lewis’ profits being up because of it, and it’s honestly the best feeling you can possibly have.
I remember when Rick and Dan did their first one — Monty the Penguin — I said to them: “honestly you have absolutely no idea what’s coming.” There was even a stage where Dan’s mum was in John Lewis in Newcastle buying a penguin and the local press came down to cover it!
When ‘doing the John Lewis ad’ became as big as it did, did it change the way you briefed the next one?
No, and I think it’s really important that you keep the same approach. Craig (Inglis) was always the client, I was always the creative director and when I went to pass it on to Rick we did it together for a while to handle the transition.
The only two things that really change is that underneath that you need lots of different creative people who don’t know what the rules are and can come in and look at it with fresh eyes. And that you’re going to work out what you’re going to do based on what you’ve done.
No-one has a crystal ball to say ‘this year it’s about inanimate objects’. What you do say is “we’re never going to make another ad based around a little kid as good as ‘The Long Wait’, so that’s why this year it’s two snowmen looking for love. Brilliant.”
What’s the thing most people want to know when they ask you about making the John Lewis ads?
The question I get asked more than anything is ‘is it intimidating’? To which the answer is ‘no’, because what I said previously. You follow the same routine but you’re able to say, “well we’re not doing animation this year because we just did ‘Bear and Hare’,” so that’s one decision made. Then you brief the whole department, anyone can win…and look, it’s very easy to get carried away — it’s an ad.
We all know the impact the John Lewis ads had, but looking back at your time at Adam & Eve, is there one non-John Lewis piece that you always think was more pivotal to the agency’s creative output than people realise?
There’s a lot of great stuff we did that are like really great quick pop singles. People aren’t still talking about them 20 years later but they’re really great at the time. I did a lot of stuff on Phones4U — like the horror work — that I loved. We did a campaign for Genius gluten-free bread with Albert Einstein, where Einstein was working on his physics equations but was constantly thinking about sandwiches. We did some really funny stuff for Cadbury Fingers. You do a lot of things like that, then you drop the big John Lewis campaign.
My old boss Jim Kelly used to say ‘that’s a really high-class problem to have’ — that people only think about John Lewis. We did a lot of silly, funny, dark stuff but people thought of us as this long-winded, weepy, middle class agency. And even when we got to DDB we did a lot of funny stuff, like an AA spot with a kid who takes everything on his way to college.
In 2014 you won Cannes Agency of the Year. Did that really feel like a seminal moment?
Oh yeah. When you do become successful — particularly in London — there’s an amazing amount of voices trying to do you down the whole time. And I actually think it can be quite a mean-spirited business like that. It left us feeling liking outsiders in some respects, so to go over to Cannes and win four Grand Prix and the Agency of the year…to get the recognition was huge.
My favourite bit about that Cannes was that because none of us were delegates or had VIP passes, we were holding the Agency of the Year award, the Film Grand Prix, two poster Golds…and we were turned away from the after party. Instead we ended up in a bar with all the Japanese students who were doing selfies with us, drinking warm rosé out of plastic cups. I just thought ‘that’s how it should be!’. It was much more us, and it was an amazing, amazing night.
Artwork by Guy Sexty