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21 August 2017
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Wednesday, 09th February 2011
Gary Cooke
Being a designer isn’t a 9-5 job. it’s hard to switch off. This is my blog where I put all the stuff that was previously in my head or taking up memory on my hard drive.
When I discovered at the age of 15 I could make a living out of what came naturally, I set goals for the next 15 years with the intention of setting up my own business by the time I was 30. 

I left school and went to Bolton Art College, where I did a two year foundation course – two years of life drawing and exploring the different areas of art and design. At eighteen I went to Maidstone College of Art where at first I studied Graphics before graduating with a BA Hons in Illustration. I then won a place at the Royal College of Art in London where I studied Graphics for a further three years with great tutors – Margaret Calvert, Bob Gill and Lou Klein. I stayed for another year as the assistant to Professor Herbert Spencer (Head of the Graphics School), where I also had my own studio, working as an illustrator for many leading magazines and record companies of the day.

In 1979 I headed out into the big wide world. For five years I worked in Covent Garden in London, at Basten Brewer and Andrews (Director) and Brewer Jones (Joint Creative Director) and then a few months before my thirtieth birthday I left! In 1983, with Mike Horseman, I set up Horseman Cooke . We soon established ourselves as a leading design agency specialising in packaging, creating award-winning designs for Marks & Spencer, Sainsburys, Tesco, Woolworths, Boots, Somerfield and Macro.

In 1988 we sold our business to the Lowe Group for £2,000,000. Five years later we bought ourselves back. The 90s saw us build a reputation in the corporate world with design for Royal Bank of Scotland. This was also the decade when we launched ourselves as designers for the world-wide-web. and ten years after selling ourselves to the Lowe Group we sold ourselves again to AMV BBDO and rebranded ourselves Open Agency. AMV are a great agency but it didn’t work out.

Two years later in 2001, we became independent again. The next ten years Open Agency created a diverse portfolio of work that included an award winning website for the London Eye, a global communications campaign for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the largest floating exhibition in the world onboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 and became a leading supplier to Royal Mail and the Post Office. 

In 2011, looking for new challenges I started all over again, a new company – Cooke With An E Ltd. My goal now is simple, to create something special for start-ups, small brands who want to be bigger brands and brands that are not quite sure where they are going but know that they need to change.

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