In conversation with alumni Akindele Akinsiku, BAFTA award-winning Creative Director

In conversation with alumni Akindele Akinsiku, BAFTA award-winning Creative Director

Akin Akinsiku is a BAFTA award-winning director and creative executive graduating from Norwich University of the Arts with a BA (Hons) Animation degree. With over fifteen years of working with broadcasting giants and brands such as Disney, Nickelodeon, Microsoft and currently as a Creative Director at Sky, Akin dives into his career journey and gives his tips for aspiring graduates.

2) Describe the role of a creative director: what does a day in the life look like for you? 

Creative direction can cover everything from a creative leadership position involving brand, marketing, editorial and production work on a brand; to hands-on, day-to-day, non-managerial creative work. It’s all pretty broad, and because of this diversity, no two CD roles are the same. 

A typical day for me at work involves a mix of meetings, briefings with clients, pitches, brainstorming/ ideation sessions and signing off creative work. I also get to work closely with copywriters, producers, animators, motion graphic designers…basically some of the most talented creatives in broadcast. 

3) What got you interested in studying Animation? 

My long road to ‘creative directordom’ started from my childhood years watching a near-unhealthy amount of television as a kid in Nigeria. 

A consummate fan of everything science fiction and fantasy, I drowned myself in everything from Japanese Manga to Saturday morning American cartoons and more. I also consumed copious amounts of superhero and fantasy comics. It is no surprise that years later, my passion drove me to the other side of the world to scratch my itch and study Animation at Norwich University of the Arts.

“A consummate fan of everything science fiction and fantasy, I drowned myself in everything from Japanese Manga to Saturday morning American cartoons and more. It is no surprise that years later, my passion drove me to the other side of the world to scratch my itch and study animation at Norwich University of the Arts.”

Akin Akinsiku

After graduating, I swiftly found employment at MTV Europe as a creative producer and then later at Nickelodeon as an Art Director, working across brand, promos, and campaigns.

4) What do you love about working on campaigns for children-centred brands like Nickelodeon? 

My time at Nickelodeon was during the heyday of children’s broadcast, when Nickelodeon emerged as a disruptive up starter that prided itself as the kid’s channel with ‘swag’. 

What I loved about working on campaigns in this period was the unrestrained, raw creative energy and love of experimentation unhindered by ‘grown up’ corporate restrictions. Work was like an extension of university, only this time, you were getting paid for having fun. 

“Work was like an extension of university, only this time, you were getting paid for having fun. “

Akin Akinsiku

5) What’s been your favourite project of your career so far and why? 

On leaving Nickelodeon I would take a leap and go to work on possibly my favourite and most challenging project of my career so far – the award-winning Apple Tree House TV series. Up till that point I had worked on creative campaigns and branded content that mixed Animation and live action, but I always felt limited to a maximum duration of three minutes.

Apple Tree House was a pre-school drama series consisting of 30 episodes of 15-minute animation/live-action created with two friends (Maria Timotheou and Will Venders), and produced by or production company Five Apples. The series gave me the opportunity to explore storytelling in long form. It also allowed us to explore ideas around diversity in pre-school television at a time when the word ‘diversity’ was pretty much unknown. With a cast and crew of hundreds, I loved being able to scale up ideas and work on the story and production to create something that was truly ground-breaking. 

For me, the legacy of Apple Tree House is something to be proud of.

6) Do you have a dream project you would love to work on?

How do you follow up on a project like Apple Tree House? What’s my next dream project? Well, every project I work on is like my next dream project. I am a restless soul…so for me, every day is a new day. And every day brings new ideas and future possibilities.

7) If you could step back in time and give yourself one piece of advice about preparing for a career after graduation, what would it be? 

I often get asked how studying BA (Hons) Animation helped in my career. My response has always been the same: the course taught me how to think.

It’s that simple…but at the same time it isn’t.

Before studying Animation, I was all about the craft, the story and the drawing skills.

The thinking and concept is the foundation of all creativity, and I learnt how to think with clarity and put that distilled thinking on screen. This served me well at my first job at MTV as I was able to translate my animation skills into the field of promo making- and the rest is history!

You can see more of Akin’s work on his website.

person holding a framed animation and vfx poster 2021

Tanje Kelesh

"I am so grateful that I had tutors that believed in me and my work when I did not have the strength to. I would also like to thank them for pushing me to my limits and guiding me to achieve my best."

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