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Life Like This

Creative Christmas - Andy Walmsley, Creative Director at Wash, seaks to find meaning in recent events in Paris and nearer home through art and endeavour for humanity.

"Each year we’re asked to produce a quick visual Christmas message for Creative Lancashire’s Advent email. Being a design studio, obviously we have to do something ‘clever’: one of those very creative and slightly smug expressions of naval-gazing brilliance you come to expect in our game. It’s a tough brief at the best of times – and this year, it doesn’t quite feel like the best of times. There’s a lot for our Season’s Greeting to cut through…

It’s difficult to complain about what (an element of) Christmas has become without sounding like some fuddy duddy harking back to a simpler time. But I’ll try...

I love Christmas, I honestly do. The family, the food, the traditions and all the rest. But the build up is becoming relentless and the pressure has become immense for many. The campaign seems to start earlier and earlier the hard sell gets ever harder. Recently, we’ve even imported Black Friday (Even the term sounds negative!). Yes, this year’s event might have lacked the stampeding retail-riot we witnessed last year, but shoppers gorged nonetheless. (The UK’s first £1 billion day, according to some PR person hooting on my radio.) The scramble it creates is beyond me. Sure, incentify sales. But there has to be a less desparete way.

Maybe it seems more ridiculous than ever because we’re all working to keep the wheels of western commerce turning, while other parts of our world feel like they are falling apart. All year, I’ve been watching people flee their homes in search of safety. But wait! There’s a hundred quid off a big telly!!! The juxtaposition scrambles my head... How did this happen?"

"Then again, I’m a salesman too. The world I work in exists to get something noticed more than the others, out-shining the competition. It’s all about progress and I’m all for progress. But I think you can have progress with scruples. Progress can be ‘inclusive, not exclusive’. It can be for good, not just for profit. Unfortunately, others disagree. For them, it’s about beating the other guy. And it’s a psyche that rules the wider world. To win, you’ve got to hurt the enemy.

Which brings us to Paris.

It was an attack on our culture that rocked many to the core. It’s somehow completely shocking, yet almost expected. I don’t have the words to express how I feel about it, especially now that it’s being answered with more bombs, becoming yet another step toward yet another war. 

All of the above formed the backdrop when it came to creating our little square of Creative Lancashire’s Advent calendar. So only one word sprang to mind: Peace. So I dug out Picasso’s dove sketch – which could hardly be more apt – and added a few words. It may be a parody of a famous charity ad, but it drives the message home all the same: ‘Peace is for life, not just for Christmas’. I’d like to think many others feel the same way."

"So December arrives and slowly we can turn our attention to the festivities. We could put up the tree, decorate the house and get to the shops for pressies. But then Desmond also arrived.

Desmond. Des. Dezza. It hardly sounds threatening. Friendly, almost. But the storm has wreaked havoc across huge parts of the North of England. Including my own home.

Compared to many, I was very lucky. It was merely an inconvenience, not a disaster. But it caused enough damage to make all the challenges of 2015 seem a little more personal: letting a turbulent world of woes into our own lives.

However, from my personal chaos came something wonderful. It’s only a small thing, but amidst the damage I found something I thought was long-gone. It’s a memento from my Granddad, a football annual from the 1946-47 season. On a personal level, it was lovely to be reminded of someone who meant a lot to me. But it’s also a fantastic symbol too – showing that life can ‘get on as 
normal’ even after the horrors of a World War - Inclusive progress!"

Andy Wlmsley is Creative Director at Wash Design