The art of becoming an Art Director

When Rowan Slade started his studies, he was a self-confessed “guy from a beachie town who made cappuccinos”. This might sound familiar – finishing school and moving into a career can often be daunting. After a couple of years of study, Rowan discovered the art of becoming an Art Director. Proof of his artistic talent was evident in his graduating project from Macleay’s Bachelor of Advertising and Media, where Rowan created an art installation that explored the tension between the fantasy and brutality of reality TV. Next station: AdLand.

Rowan describes the humble beginning of his creative career behind the cappuccino machine on his blog: “It was here, meeting and talking to a variety of different people… that I learned the value of the customer experience for a business. I thrived working with others, but decided that I wouldn’t be stuck in the hospitality bubble.”

“My life has been consistently drawn towards the creative arts and I’ve been a performer since my childhood; refer to mum for videos. I moved out on my own to Sydney and continued to study and grow my career. I’ve studied acting, film/media production and travelled aplenty - and it’s all these influences of working within and being around creativity that have driven me to work in the advertising and media industry; in particular, the ability to use my creativity to drive a business."

Rowan has a keen eye and a great sense of style, so even his early college projects stood out. One of my favourites was a brand he developed from scratch (excuse the pun), for a real-world client in Jason Gemenis’ Advanced Digital Design class. Rowan developed the branding for a pet-care pack called ‘RuvBox’, which included the logo, packaging, magazine advertising and merchandising.

Rowan Article-4

Rowan’s branding project for ‘RuvBox’

Once Rowan got a video camera in his hand, he started producing fun and quirky video content, like this engaging digital content piece with Sophie Robertson visualising the word ‘Joy’ in their Art Direction and Design class.


It was of course a highlight of Rowan’s time at the college to see him create a visual installation exploring his ideas around reality TV. It was an ambitious project: to take over a whole room; design and build a floral installation; contrast this with a broken television and image of a bleeding heart; and invite people to sit in the installation and share their selfies on Instagram. 

Both Adam Ross, executive creative director at the projects* and marketing consultant Louise Chamberlain, who sat on the industry marking panel, commended Rowan’s courage and ambition in creating an immersive and interactive installation. The next challenge for Rowan is to make his creative mark on the advertising industry. Stay tuned. 

Rowan Article-2

Rowan presenting his major art directing project to Adam Ross and Louise Chamberlain

Rowan Article-1

Instagram reactions to Rowan’s installation

If you would like to see more of Rowan’s work, you can check out the creative portfolio on his blog.

Featured image of Rowan Slade and fellow Advertising & Media student Grace Cooper by Alana Taylor-Benn.

Macleay College offers Diploma and Bachelor courses in Advertising & Media in both it’s Sydney and Melbourne campuses. Click here for more information.


Latest News And Events