Since taking part in D&AD Shift as part of the 2019/20 cohort, North Londener Seun Areoye has established himself as a writer, working for We Are Social as well as becoming Editor of Gauchoworld. In addition to his day job as a Senior Writer at We Are Social, he write articles, poems and one day would love to write and direct a film.
Here, he talks about his experience on Shift, how it has helped shape his career, and advice he has for up-and-coming writers and emerging talent who want to follow in his footsteps.
What have you been doing since you were on Shift?
I’d done pretty well to line up a few placements off the back of the showcase, but then the pandemic happened and inevitably cancelled every plan I had – both professionally and socially (Afro Nation Festival are still holding my money). There’s light at the end of every tunnel though right? I’d say so. I started to speak to my friend Dean and his aspirations for his platform GAUCHOWORLD. I had already been following then and thought they were super cool so when he put out that he was looking for writers I didn’t hesitate to get in touch. Just under a year later, and with our first print issue entitled ‘New Beginnings’ out in the world, it’s been a blessing I never saw coming. Now in a full time job at an agency who initially offered me a creative placement, I feel like I can say it’s been a good year – even though I’d never imagined it this way.
Is there anything you are working on at the moment that you want to share with us?
We’re currently super close to selling out all copies of our first issue, so it just feels like the final push on that, and then also just going back and making sure we’re constantly shining a light on our community via online articles. The full time job isn’t too shabby either at all, I’m enjoying working with a client that I’m very familiar with while continuously learning and growing.
Describe the four-months of Shift to someone who doesn’t know what it is?
It’s the most immersive experience into the creative industry. It’s real big clients, real difficult briefs and real creative partnerships and connections you can form that’ll set you in good stead when it’s time for you to wow the industry.
“It’s the most immersive experience into the creative industry. It’s real big clients, real difficult briefs and real creative partnerships”
What was the biggest thing you learned on Shift?
The power of a collaborative effort. If you dedicate your time to something and work with somebody who is also willing, it’s amazing the things you can create. You don’t always need help via connections or big dough (they definitely help though) to create things that really make people feel something - the emotion, that’s the most important thing.
How did the programme help you get closer to your career goals?
For a year after the course, I was freelancing and both directly and indirectly got work opportunities from the Shift programme. I can now say Disney was a client of mine, and I never would’ve thought they were within reach, but became so through the amazing Shift programme D&AD run.
Now that you are in a full-time creative role, is there anything you wish you knew when you were trying to get a foot in the door?
I think just figuring out value. When I was just doing things on my own, I felt like they were good, but didn’t realise how valuable they were until I started putting them out there. I’m not talking about an oscar nominated film or anything either, I’m talking about poetry, I’m talking about thinkpieces, I’m talking about the inner workings of my brain that are so valuable to an industry that can be very monotonous – my value lies in my difference. I think recognising your value - which I’m still working on - helps when it comes to things that nobody ever really can teach you about (money related stuff), as setting a day rate is really difficult but equally important, and then knowing when you’re willing to compromise on that when an opportunity presents extra value. It’s all very complex stuff I don’t think I’ll ever be fully clued up on but will try!
“I’m talking about the inner workings of my brain that are so valuable to an industry that can be very monotonous – my value lies in my difference”
As a copywriter, what advice do you have for others wanting to carve a career in this space?
Once you say you’re a copywriter, that’s exactly what you are and nobody can tell you different. At the same time though, you’re going to need some receipts. So work hard, never be afraid to shine and most importantly, be a nice human being. Nobody wants to work with a *insert your offensive word of choice*.
Do you have any advice for this year's Shift applicants?
Just give it your all, because the worst that can happen is you waste four months of your life (not going to happen), and trust me, it’s easy to spend a whole year of your life doing absolutely nothing. Take risks, ask questions, build connections, it’ll do you the world of good!