Team Talk: Nicole Hetherington and Simon Fowler
I’m not a jealous person. Well, at least I wasn’t until about 11 years ago when I met a class of 20 young creatives on my first day of Axis Adschool, an intensive 9 month course that was run like a creative department.
That was the first time I was exposed to the astounding creative capabilities of others. A small group of extremely intelligent people from all over New Zealand who, in my opinion, were all much better writers, illustrators and artists than I was—one of whom turned out to be my creative partner, Nicole Hetherington. Seeing the talent of these people was the first of many humbling moments where I realised exactly what it was going to take if we were to be successful in this industry.
Because, while creative departments are incredible environments, filled with talented, passionate people—they’re also very competitive places.
They’re fueled by jealousy and an inherent need to make something, at the very least, as equally compelling / famous / effective or award-worthy as your last peers.
Jealousy in most circles has a bad rap, with negative connotations of being weak – yet in our industry it reiterates how much we all love what we do, and it can even be one of the key factors for driving personal growth.
Over the years being jealous of Nicole’s strengths has only pushed me work on mine.
Watching friends join new exciting agencies has provoked us to make some of the best moves of our career. Or discovering ‘work I wish I’d made’ makes me think about the way I approach my next brief, or side project, differently. Sometimes Nic and I just straight up work with talent whose skills we’re jealous of purely to learn from them.
And while, over the decade in which Nic and I have worked together we’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced some amazing wins, it’s never enough. Because at the end of the day we’re a selfish bunch of workaholics who always want to get one up on our mates and show off our talents, time after time.
Jealousy. The old green-eyed monster. It’s such a loaded word, especially when you work in the intense world of creativity.
Jealousy can be a bad thing but can also be a very good thing when working with a creative partner that you respect and admire, like Simon. (Although even as I write this I’m thinking about what Simon is writing and how much better it is going to be than mine. His fancy AF copy skills. Ugh.)
Having worked with Si for over 10 years it’s fair to say jealousy is a pretty common theme in our relationship.
I mean when you spend more time with your creative partner then your actual partner, it’s no surprise jealousy can manifest itself in the same way as it does in a romantic relationship.
You see them brainstorming with someone else and a sharp pang hits you. When you’re away and they look to someone else for help (a freelancer), you can’t help but think ‘are they treating your partner right?’. That protective side comes out.
Competition between Si and I is what keeps the ideas coming. Who is going to crack that big idea?
Even though it’s always a partnership, you can’t help but feel jealous if they’re the one that cracked it—because as a partner you don’t want to be the one letting the other down.
Jealousy surrounds us every day, and yes it can be dangerous—but it’s also one of the main fuels to our fire. Seeing creative work out there that makes you jealous is what makes you want to do better, work harder and win more. That’s how Si and I have created the work we have. We didn’t and don’t want to stop till we’ve won all the awards and seen all the results.
We got a taste of that magic with ‘The World’s Most Powerful Arm’ winning a Black Pencil. We got a feel for what it’s like to be on the other side of jealousy, to be envied – and since then it’s been on like Donkey Kong.
Jealousy can be great for our industry and for creative partnerships—as long as it’s fuel for your fire, and doesn’t turn ugly.