Thanks to the timing of his graduation with a BA in Visual Communication from Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) in 1987, Agnew’s career has been in synch with the development of the digital media industry from its infancy. A veteran creative professional with expertise in both print and motion design, he has over three decades of experience creating brands and campaigns for many of the most reputable and successful ad agencies, broadcasters and corporations on the planet.
Ambitious from the outset, Agnew landed his first design job whilst still in his second year at SCA. It was with the newly formed videographics department at Australia’s Nine Network. His role at TCN9 continued until early 1989, when he moved to London having successfully applied to become a member of the graphics team for the launch of Europe’s first 24 hour rolling news service, Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News. Being part of a team responsible for the continuous production of information graphics to support the ever-evolving reports of this news behemoth, was excellent training both professionally and technically. In terms of the latter, Agnew’s fascination with the state-of-the-art animation and editing equipment on offer at Sky, motivated him to make the bold career move into digital post-production.
Agnew spent the first half of the 1990s at Wiseman; a high-end “facilities” houses located in London’s Soho, which at the time was the European, possibly the global, epicentre of digital media. Whilst at Wiseman he trained as a digital compositor. The pace was hectic – long days, and often all seven of those per week. But the rewards were great, an impressive portfolio of title sequences for cinema and TV as well as corporate communications films commissioned by blue chip clients such as Polygram, Andersen Young and General Motors – not to mention a promotion to head of graphics just two years into his tenure, and amongst a clutch of other gongs, a coveted BAFTA nomination for Best Television Graphics for Channel Four’s Crystal Maze.
Since Wiseman, Agnew has become an entrepreneur and a market innovator founding his first of two businesses in 1995. Gnu (inspired by the fact that he once received a letter for Mr A Gnu), was one of the first independent graphics companies to offer a full service workflow from concept to delivery without the need to go out of house for post production. This revolutionary move was made possible by the adaptation of Adobe software, at the time popular for publishing, for use in broadcast titles and animation – digital graphics moved out of expensive edit suites and onto his desktop.
Gnu caught the eye of broadcast promotions legend Bruce Dunlop and after creating successful rebrands with Dunlop for Middle East Broadcasting in Dubai and Fox8 in The Netherlands, in 2000 Dunlop bought the company. Agnew became head of Design at Bruce Dunlop Associates (BDA), with a remit to expand the company’s channel branding and broadcast graphics offering. Exciting times as Agnew, collaborating with creative director Jens Hertzum, delivered the Ford sponsorship branding for Champions League in 2001, launched the brand for Sky Italia’s 24 hour news service, TG24 in 2003, and was a lead creative on the BDA team responsible for rebranding ITN’s News services for ITV – both nationally and regionally.
Throughout his career Agnew has mentored graphic designers and VFX artists, many of whom he still has the pleasure of collaborating with on a regular basis in his current role as creative director of DADA (Darren Agnew Design & Animation), the company he founded in 2005. DADA is another maverick venture by Agnew as it adopted remote working from day one, sourcing creative specialists from around the globe according to the specific needs of each project. Today, DADA continues to service an impressive roster of clients both domestically and internationally, including Weiden + Kennedy, BBC, Africa MediaWorks, Sky Arts, Channel 4, Transport for London, Toyota, Volvo, Bayer and Harrods.