Seven ages of a creative: Jade Tomlin

The AKQA group creative director shares her journey into the advertising industry – from hoarding copies of Creative Review to making work for Levi’s, Sony, and Volkswagen

For this special project, we talk to 12 creatives and designers aged 19 to 87 about their experiences in the creative industry, their hopes and dreams, the changes they have witnessed during their career so far, and what further developments they hope may come in the future. Next up is advertising creative director Jade Tomlin, aged 35

Jade Tomlin’s creative ambition started early – and the proof is still stashed in her parents’ garage, which she says is home to the stacks of Creative Review and Grafik mags that she collected as a teen. This is where she got her introduction to graphic design and advertising, and found her fascination with the conceptual side of creativity.

After school, Tomlin went to study at Central Saint Martins in London and at graduation landed her first role at digital startup Work Club. “Me and my creative partner at the time were just buzzing with energy,” she says.

Tomlin remembers her university tutor being “horrified” that she’d picked a relative newcomer to the industry rather than a “more traditional institute”. “What I liked about being at a startup agency was that you got the exposure to different levels quite intimately, because you’re such a small group,” she says. “It was really that first break, and being a sponge in those early years, learning from as many people as possible and trying to enjoy that ride.”

Top: Still from Unbeatably Fast Autofocus ad for Sony, starring German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer; Above: Portrait of Jade Tomlin by Rebecca Rumble