One Under 30: Young Creative Spotlight – David John Pilkington

Highlighting young talent in the ad world – one person at a time.

Image via NiCE Ltd

As part of an ongoing series highlighting young talent in the industry, Branding in Asia presents “One Under 30” – a special feature that focuses on up-and-coming talent in the ad world, one person at a time.

This time we talk with David John Pilkington, Senior Art Director at NiCE Ltd in Singapore.

Over the course of our conversation, he talks about how he got his first break in the industry, what he loves about the work, what he’s not so crazy about, some of his favorite campaign work, and more.


The Basics

Name: David John Pilkington
Age: 30
Company: NiCE Ltd
Position: Senior Art Director
Hometown: Shrewsbury, UK
Current Location:
Education: Falmouth University, Graphic Design, 2015

Seven Questions

How did you get your first break in the industry?

I was fortunate to finish my degree with an internship waiting for me at a British agency called Blue Marlin BD. After a summer of work at the head office, the Co-founder, Dave Hodgson, put me forward to join the Singapore team for a 2-3 month project. I had always dreamed of a career that would enable travel, so this unexpected opportunity was perfect, and within two weeks I found myself on a flight around the world.

It was an incredible first year to my career: I was 22, suddenly living amongst this tropical city, flying to India, Vietnam, and Australia to see clients as a trusted member of a great team. It was completely different path than I had ever planned for, and worlds apart from battling it out in London internships. Since then I’ve never looked back.

What is your personal mantra?

Listen more than you say.


I feel I can be fairly quiet in general, but that comes from an enjoyment to listen and absorb what’s around me.

With work, that means lots of listening and deducting of the brief from all points of view, and letting the room talk before adding ideas.

I feel this may be grounded in an approach of empathy within design thinking, where great solutions come from a deep listening.

From what person, place or thing have you drawn your greatest creative inspiration? (If a person, not someone you work with)

For a place, it has to be South East Asia. The last 7 years here have flown by, full of discovery into so many different cultures, of all which hold such incredible music, design, fashion, and people that continue to inspire. Plus beyond that, there’s a great community of people from all around the world who live here with similar values of curiosity and creativity.

What do you love about the job?

I love working to find the seed that connects all the dots – the foundational creative idea. sometimes it’s personified in language and story, or in graphic expressions, photography styles, or simply smart application. Then, I especially love the momentum that follows that moment, once that spark ignites, the passion takes over, and you can effortlessly flow with a great idea.

What about your job are you not so crazy about?

Missing links, late changes, and of course the spinning wheel.

Beyond those inevitable frustrations, I’m still learning to live with how many great ideas get left on the table during a project, or the heartache when the brave options get pushed back.

What is some work you’ve done that you’re most proud of?

The projects I’m most proud of consists a lot of off-market projects, working with big brands internally to distill existing challenges and provide an inspiring vision and guideline for the upcoming future. Giving the brand a beacon and structure to anchor towards.

This usually involves a mix of different workshops to understand the existing challenges and distilling back to the core principles, then a lot of fun exploration to amplify this thinking with artistry and structure.

An example of this in the market recently would be with Lazada. Partnering with them to develop their ‘Add to Cart, Add to Life.’ campaign. This was grounded in understanding their key brand experience, and creating the language and visual storytelling from it, helping to shift the brand from price-driven transactions towards a lifestyle partner, celebrating the moments created from their assorted products.

If you had to choose another career what would it be?

Definitely some form of photojournalism and storytelling the world around us.

I love nature and travel documentaries, and dream of being involved behind the lens or production of one of those one day.

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Bobby McGill

Bobby is the founder and publisher of Branding in Asia.

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