Meet the MD
Name: Neil Clark
Company: EYELEVEL Creative Limited
Job Title: Managing Director
What is the best thing about your job?
Design visualisation combines my enjoyment of architecture, art, photography and technology. The process involved in producing our imagery is creative, fast, challenging, rewarding and fun (honestly). We work with similarly minded creatively demanding people so no two projects are the same. I qualified as an architect in the 90’s and soon realised that the timescales involved in creating and constructing a building was too long for my attention span - I have the utmost respect for architects producing great architecture. The fast pace of creating computer generated ‘virtual’ architecture in the form of our imagery suits me, and even though the fast pace is often challenging, it is stimulating – no standing still.
What is your proudest achievement?
Our company EYELEVEL has been in business for 10 years this year. We set up business 6 months before the crash in 2008, so to still be producing high quality imagery throughout this ongoing challenging economic climate, while maintaining our creative integrity, is a great achievement. This is testimony to the talent of Armele who helped to set up the business so well at the start and to the dedication of our most recent 3D artists Adam and Fryia. Over the past 10 years we have helped many projects grow from design ideas to successfully completed buildings to be enjoyed by their occupants – that is a rewarding achievement.
What advice would you give to someone starting in your career?
Passion, perseverance and integrity. If you want to produce great architectural imagery I would suggest gaining art or design qualifications and experience. Understand how designers think and talk and how the creative design process works in real life. When you understand this you will know if you want to spend your career working within a design environment. Then focus on artistry, attention to detail and aspire for high quality. Teach yourself all of the things you don’t know – don’t wait for others to help you – be proactive, show initiative, learn - for your own sake. Work out your ethics, keep your integrity, be considerate, honest, reliable, and be easy to work with. Don’t stop until your imagery is right, and if you are good, all of this will come naturally…
Which individual has inspired you most and why?
Professionally, Alan Davidson, founder of Hayes Davidson visualisation studio in London. I joined Hayes Davidson at an informative stage of my career during the build up to the New Millennium. We experienced the boom in the design and construction of the associated millennium projects including the Millennium Dome. I was fortunate enough to work within the team producing many of the Millennium Dome marketing images. I quickly understood the uncompromising aim of the studio was to produce the highest quality artwork within the pressures of the London commercial world. Alan helped me understand that the process of creating great computer generated imagery is not about the software or latest technology – it is about artistic talent, enthusiasm and dedication.
Personally, our children. Their enthusiasm and cheek never ceases to amaze, inspire and keep me smiling. Let’s not mess up this world for their sake.
What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
Liverpool John Moores University School of Architecture. During a final year crit I proudly presented the tutors with a wall of my computer generated images and a fly-around animation. This was in the early 90’s when computer generated imagery was in its infancy. One tutor’s response was slow and deliberate. He said, “The video is interesting, but there are times when I want to sit down and read a book”. This comment could sound outdated these days but I think the points are still relevant – understand your audience - slow down – use the best medium for the situation – we often need time to take stock and consider. He also said, “If you don’t produce some drawings you will fail”. So it was literally back to the drawing board and more hard work drawing (by hand).
What was the biggest challenge you've faced in your career so far?
Moving our family from London to live and work back in my native North East in 2003. The North East was a different world in comparison to London – a culture shock after 15 years away - it was small and seemed to have lagged behind in design, aspiration and technology terms. I discovered that the type of company I wanted to work for did not exist in the region so I created EYELEVEL to achieve my ambition to produce artistic digital imagery of the highest quality. More advice… Don’t sit still complaining – get on with creating the career you want. EYELEVEL is working hard as part of the regions fast growing and successful creative digital sector to offer creative opportunities in the North East.
How is your business going to change in the next 10 years?
Who knows! Not the most insightful business owner response, but I think it’s currently impossible to look 10 years ahead. Saying that, our business hasn’t fundamentally changed during the last 10 years, other than benefitting from technology speed increases which have enabled us to do more complex imagery, faster. VR and AR are in their infancy and will surely have a profound, if yet unknown, impact on how we live and work in the future. Looking at current technological advancements and big business aspirations, I suspect a lot of jobs will eventually be replaced by superfast computers and AI. I think we will either be working in a yet undiscovered and exciting way or we will have been superseded by technology. It may be a move back to using paper, pencil, pen and paint producing ‘vintage’ hand-made ‘analogue’ imagery.
What do you like to do out of work?
Photographing concrete car parks threatened with demolition... Since Gateshead’s ‘Get Carter’ Car Park closed for demolition in 2008, I have spent the subsequent years photographing brutalist car parks which have been under threat from demolition. The first photograph of Gateshead Car Park was shortlisted in the Architect’s Eye 2011 Photography Competition which inspired me to continue the collection. The latest photograph is of Welbeck Street Car Park in London which is currently threatened with demolition. I am slowly creating an ongoing series of black and white concrete car park art photographs, the first few of which can to be viewed on our website.
What do you always carry with you?
Scepticism – which is no doubt tiresome to the people closest to me, although the current fake news furore highlights my doubts. Architects are taught to question and respond with ideas – we never stop. For someone who now creates virtual architectural imagery which is intended to effectively trick the viewer into believing something unbuilt is real, scepticism is something everyone else should have when viewing our imagery – it might look real and believable, but it is an artist’s impression. It is a figment of our imagination!
What would you do if you had to change career?
Embrace the change – it is coming. See above – draw.