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16 July 2013

Pete Hopper, designer

Pete Hopper, designer

Pete Hopper has been a graphic designer and art director in the advertising industry for six years. He has worked for McCann Erickson and now works for Connect Group in Wolverhampton. He has a passion for all things creative, is a musician and church leader on a Dudley housing estate, loves his wife, daughter and Earl Grey tea. In his spare time he writes songs, personalises trainers and T-shirts and fits out his VW T4 camper van.

Did you ever imagine yourself in advertising?
In my head I was always going to be a performer, an actor or singer. I ended up as a youth and community worker, and quickly realised that the sector is generally terrible at marketing itself, or has no budget to do it properly. So I began learning the art of design and communication arts.

Do you have any particular CV highlights?
I've had the privilege of working for some great clients – blue chip companies – and see my thoughts published in all sorts of places globally. The first time I saw one of my designs on a billboard outside a major supermarket I stood there taking photos of it for ages (including selfies), much to the bewilderment of the trolley guy.

What part of your job brings you the most satisfaction?
I love the challenge. Every day I embark on a journey of fresh thinking and generate new ideas. Clients ask us to give different answers to the same questions daily. Good design, especially for advertising, always has a good idea or thought at its source. The idea is key and the bit I love most.

How does your faith influence your work?
In our industry we have a choice to approach each job in a way that reflects our own moral framework. To stay competitive clients can resort to dirty tactics or smear campaigns but I maintain that the most effective campaigns shine a light on their own qualities rather than on a rival's failings.

Alas, the end goal in the advertising industry is not the betterment of mankind, but the satisfaction of clients. So, working in the dark world of advertising means that you have to carry a light with you at all times. I carry Christ in me, in the hope that he will shine out from me.

My colleagues know about my faith. But the real challenge is how to live life daily when it gets real. How do I react to a terrible brief from a client, or if and when, shock horror, my ideas are rejected, or if I'm facing a 2am finish to hit a deadline? You can't rehearse or fake the way you deal with those challenges. Jesus has to work in me and I have to be a signpost toward him.

Who or what influences your creativity?
Inspiration comes from all sorts. Sometimes it's an artist, a song, the smile my baby girl gives me in the morning, a feather lying on the pavement, or a shadow cast across an old building. One designer I really respect is Adam Humphries (adhumph.co.uk). He continuously managed to create beauty from even the dullest of briefs. He looks at the world differently; he's radical and probably a little bit nuts. If I ever get close to what he does, I'll be very happy.

Do we listen enough to the dreamers and creatives?
I think we actually listen to the voice of creatives all the time, even if we don't realise it. Every word on TV, every song lyric comes from, or is filtered through, the mind of a creative. And all the time these words are shaping our worldview and influencing our own thoughts.

How can the Church improve its image yet remain distinctive?
I think we should spend less time worrying about being distinctive, and devote more time to being authentic. If the Church tries to distinguish itself from the rest then it often ends up being fake. We need to remember it's not about us – it's about Jesus. It's a simple idea, but conveying it properly will bring walls crashing down.

Most inspiring biblical character?
Bezalel. Chronologically, he is the first guy documented in scripture on whom God placed his Spirit. He was a craftsman. He took human thought about God; his might, power and majesty and visualised it in the Temple. God whispered in his ear and he developed processes for crafting metals ,woods and cloth that no-one had ever seen. He allowed the Spirit of God to rest on him and he was inspired to do great things. I want some of that.

Bezalel Creative blog