Creative Sparks

Emin, Landy, Burton and Zimmer: Adam&EveDDB creatives share their inspiration roster

The 'creative activists' behind 'Hand Sinitiser' share what sparks their creativity

By Avnie Bansal

Having studied in Birmingham and Edinburgh, Jane Barker and Gaby Grant came together in 2020 at the School of Communication Arts 2.0. During their time at SCA 2.0, the duo went on to win a D&AD New Blood Graphite pencil for their campaign Where The Sun Don’t Shine for Black and Brown Skin x 21GRAMS. They acted on the insight that people of colour develop skin cancer in areas that are least exposed to the sun and created a Tiktok song and dance to create awareness.

After spending three months at House337, they started on the First Bite scheme (adam&eveDDB’s placement scheme for entry-level talent). In answer to the First Bite brief, ‘How to get hardcore carnivores to consider eating less meat’, Jane and Gaby launched the 'Hand Sinitiser' stunt.

To make passersby stop and rethink their meat eating habits and catch people 'Red Handed' they planted fake blood in sanitizer stations outside popular food joints in South London. This stunt thoroughly impressed A&E DDB’s ECDs Ant and Mike, but also the world as it amassed over 80 pieces of coverage, 498M online readers, and 11K shares on social media. 

Jane and Gaby continue to be at Adam&EveDDB where they work across all accounts, including Lionsgate+. So we chatted to them about what inspired them into a career in creativity.

Gaby Grant: Young British Artists - influential and controversial

My creative heroes have always been The Young British Artists from the 1980s. Their daring and provocative approach to making art has always been a source of inspiration. From Tracey Emin’s Bed, displaying her intimate belongings for everyone to see, causing decades-long debates on what constitutes art. To Michael Landy destroying everything he’s ever owned, leaving people angry and hurt. It never ceases to amaze me the drive these artists have to make work that leaves society truly questioning the border between art and life.

Their work is built from personal experiences, putting their vulnerabilities into their artwork. 

This led me to using my own experiences as inspiration. I created a dildo cast from my own body as an act of sexual empowerment and self-love. The goal was to encourage viewers to examine and question themselves in new ways by exposing their own sexuality and vulnerabilities. The YBA showed me that it's key to put a little bit of yourself into your work, to tap into relatable, truthful human insights that resonate with audiences. For example, in our latest campaign for Lionsgate+, we chose moments that felt authentic to ourselves and others. I believe finding these genuine insights lead to the most impactful work and often the most humorous, as people can relate to it more.

Another reason I found the YBAs so inspiring was their willingness to take risks and be controversial. For example, Marcus Harvey's painting of Myra Hindley, a child killer, made with children's handprints, caused a lot of controversy but it also stirred up important conversations. As creatives, we often underestimate our power to shape how people see the world. While some say we've become "too woke," I believe it's our duty to push boundaries and change mindsets. Jane and I embodied this with our "Hand Sinitizer" stunt, in answer to First Bite’s (adam&eveDDB’s  placement scheme for entry level talent) brief, ‘How to get hardcore carnivores to consider eating less meat’. We hijacked sanitizer stations outside fast food joints and filled them with fake blood to catch people "red-handed" and rethink meat consumption. While provocative, it also sparked conversation. 

We shouldn't shy away from bold and truthful ideas, that get people talking, even if they ruffle a few feathers.

Jane Barker: Room 6B, a Dolby digital DVD player… Burton and Zimmer

Creative heroes weren’t exactly on my radar as a kid, but deep down I knew imagination was my secret guiding force. Whether in people or environments, I was consistently attracted to anything infused with imagination; it was always crucial to me, though I didn’t realise it then. 

My first secret creative hero wasn’t a person, but a place. Room 6B on the ground floor - my English classroom. It wasn’t just a room, but also a space where the possibilities of storytelling were endless. No limits, no right or wrong answers; just infinite characters and stories waiting to be explored. I was gripped. Then came my chunky old Dolby Digital DVD player, an odd hero, but it linked me to imaginative thinkers. When you’re young you don’t care to look at the composer or director of a film, you just know what you like and why you like it and to the annoyance of your household return to it again and again… (sorry Mum). Now I can see that it wasn’t a coincidence that Tim Burton was no stranger to my Dolby player. 

Burton's gloomy, moody and let's be honest weird worlds captivated me. I loved the fact that I’d never seen a man with scissors for hands before. Creepy? No, that would have been too easy. Instead Burton uses Edward’s dangerous hands to craft beautiful things. Edward isn’t scary, the society who judges him is. Burton didn’t just teach me about juxtaposition; he threw open the doors to the thing that excites me the most… originality.  

Originality is a hard rule to hold yourself to. But as creatives, I think it's an imperative one. When I went to Ad school, one tutor put it plainly. “Are you going to be in a cover band or are you going to make music?” As you’d expect, cover songs suddenly lost their charm. I knew that I wanted to create music, not cover it. And that will always be the case. 

If Burton showed me things I’d never seen, Hans Zimmer made me feel things I’d never felt. He masters how to make people truly feel something. It’s more than music, it's moving and if I could sprinkle a teenie tiny, miniscule of that magic in the work my partner and I create, I’d be happy. So here I am at adam&eveddb, 12 Bishops Bridge, feeling like I’ve teleported back to my English classroom. We’re called creatives, but sometimes I think we should be called ‘imaginatives’. Not sure what LinkedIn would have to say about that? But after all, imagination is the limit.

Jane Barker is a copywriter and Gaby Grant is an Art Director at Adam&EveDDB


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