Back in November 2023, the Wondermake Creative Studio launched Concept Capers, a card game that poked fun at the silly nuances of the agency world.
Incredibly, Wondermake decided that 10% of the Concept Capers proceeds are going to The Ideas Foundation! We just had to speak to the team and find out more.
Be as naturally curious as possible, ask as many questions as you can about everything.
The Ideas Foundation: Hello Johnny and Josh! Who are Wondermake and what was your creative journey there?
Jonny: I’m Jonny. I’m a creative person. One half of Wondermake, currently residing in Norfolk, but I’ve kind of been around various parts of the south of the country. We’ve both been doing this and working in the industry for well over a decade across a variety of different practices. Wondermake, really, for us, I think, was a way of channelling all of that into our actual practice in a place that we can kind of own the things we work on. We’ve been doing it a while. It seemed like the right step to do it ourselves now.
Josh: I am Josh. I am the other half of Wondermake, currently live up near Newcastle from the northeast. Been a designer creative for about twelve years… You do solve the same problems for different companies with the same restrictions… and it all just becomes very formulaic. Working for bigger clients means less risk and less opportunity for creative, crazy, and fun work… we ended up pursuing, as a career, what we liked doing in our spare time. We liked to make crazy, weird stuff. Because that was where the fun was… there’s less commercial need for that stuff.
Ideas Foundation: Are you more confident in your own ideas? Is that what you’re trying to inspire?
Josh: I think so. As you grow as a designer and begin to do more of these formulaic things, two things happen; one, that you start to fall back on what has worked before. Simultaneously, you become more confident in being able to sell the [riskier] designs [to clients].
Jonny: I’m a serial ‘Side Hustler’, and have been my entire career… I like to do different things. It has sharpened my day job by doing those things. I’ve learnt a skill, or I’ve learnt a rule or a lesson off the back of that. That makes what I do for my day job better. Part of the issue for us is [learning those skills has] always had to be a ‘Side Hustle’. Not everybody is in the position to be able to do, with time constraints, financial constraints… but it is helpful in making you a better designer… and creative. We can’t ignore that by experimenting and playing with things, you develop as a person.
Ideas Foundation: What is Concept Capers?
Jonny: So really, it’s at face value, a card game, but behind that is a conversation that we kind of want to have with the industry at large around space for play.
Josh: Going back to the idea of play, having the freedom… we could make a pretend agency based on all the things that we know… and it can be silly. Having the freedom to do that is the best example of play that we have. Complete freedom and no restraints. The restraints that we didn’t put on [the project] were potentially naïve… we didn’t think of timescales or budgets, but… no constraint is always quite nice.
Jonny: We’ve learnt a lot from that process.
The idea is that you can probably have happier creatives within an agency if you give them space to play.
Ideas Foundation: How did it work practically?
Josh: 95% remotely. Remote work is great. Creativity is easier in person, to some extent, if you don’t know the people [that you’re working with] that well.
Jonny: You got to have some ideas that are at least interesting enough for you to pursue them. If you don’t then that is a lot harder to do.
Josh: The best way to learn is by doing and make [bad] work so that you can make good work.
Ideas Foundation: Do you think a lot about what good and bad work is, what does that look like in your head?
Josh: It is ever present. You learn it early on… You have to work out why what you have done isn’t right… it comes from mirroring other people’s work… applying [what you’ve learnt] to something new is what is difficult. As you try more things and fail more often, and succeed in some cases, you start to get a sense of why something works or why it doesn’t work… There’s no real shortcut to doing it. The fear of failure is very real, but having the space and time to do it outside of client constraints will help.
Ideas Foundation: Have you had to rely on others to tell you to take a step away from a project?
Josh: Deep down, it doesn’t matter that much… the world doesn’t end everything is fine… I should be allowed to fail…. I think the realisation that you are not your work, and you have a life outside of that. Objectively in your life, [work] is not the most important thing. Your family, and friends, and life outside of you work is more important, and you such cultivate that as much as possible.
Jonny: The tombstone principle… what do you want to be on your tombstone… chances are it’s not “Winner of a Yellow Pencil” … when you’re younger everything is now and it’s immediate and you’ve got all this window of opportunity, and you want to do it all today. Year on year you realise, life is really long, you’ve got loads of time to do stuff.
See what fails and what doesn’t
You’ve got to be passionate, and you’ve got to be motivated – but not to the point that it’s the only thing that consumes your mind
Ideas foundation: How have you gotten over pressure and stress?
Jonny: I’m energised by other people… remembering that you are never totally alone… it’s okay to not know all the answers.
Josh: It’s daunting going into a creative career, the pressure to not do it is quite high. The way that manifests is that you start to feel like you don’t belong in the creative industry… big ad agencies can be quite daunting if you’re 19 years old and you are there on an internship. As long as you don’t let [the fear] stop you from doing things… Creativity at its centre should be democratic.
Remember, the concept is more than a card game, it’s a vehicle to start conversations around experimentation and play in the creative industry! Go and buy a pack and you’ll be supporting us too, with 10% of the proceeds donated to The Ideas Foundation. You can have fun, make change to the conversations based around agency work, and support the cause to nurture a New Creative Class!
- If you love reading, click here to read the Campaign article, and find out why staying playful matters