Dynamic Duos: Edge’s David Arns and James Gillespie

Edge's senior creative duo David Arns and James Gillespie have graced the creative teams of R/GA, The Works and now Edge. The pair spoke to Mumbrella about how their close friendship has managed to survive through many thousands of hours spent working together across a range of exciting and interesting creative campaigns.

In Dynamic Duos, Mumbrella each fortnight asks two members of the same organisation with a professional and personal affiliation, to share with readers the importance of workplace relationships in an increasingly work-from-home world.

David Arns: James and I met at R/GA in Sydney about 6 years ago. My previous Art Director Steve had returned home to Perth and left me to search for another agency and a new creative partner. Steve was a cool dude with a biker-esque beard and we were good mates, so needless to say I felt like it was going to be difficult to find someone else who could live up to his high bearded standards.

James and I weren’t paired up immediately at R/GA though. I actually started working with another art director on our first few projects, but he had an Eastern European background so when we got briefs in for Aussie sports, it was felt that pairing me up with James, another Aussie would be the best fit.

While James’ beard wasn’t quite up to the standard of Steve’s it was still pretty solid. So I thought there was potential, and after working together for a few of these briefs we quickly developed a good rhythm. As a creative team you spend a helluva lot of time together and we quickly became mates, chatting about comedy, beers, music, and lots of weird random stuff James found on reddit.

We’ve been on plenty of shoots together now, had some weird adventures in Melbourne, driven some WRXs, sold some bread, margarine, wine, chicken, pies, cereal and plant-based meals, and after all that still hang out outside of work, mostly at breweries. James has just had a little bub now so he’s busier than ever, but I spend so much time with James I feel like it’s my baby too – except I just get the luxury of putting him on mute on Teams calls when he cries too much.

James Gillespie: When I first met Dave at R/GA I didn’t realise exactly how much we had in common. I mean sure, we were both white males in our late 20’s with 5 letter biblical names but that wasn’t all. From a shared sense of humour, down to falling asleep to old Ricky Gervais Show podcasts, Dave is definitely my brother from another mother.

After partnering up Dave and I quickly became comfortable tearing each other’s ideas apart without anyone taking it personally, which is the most important thing in any good creative partnership. We went on to make a bunch of work we are proud of, and some we are not, but all the while learning and getting ‘better together’.

It was at the Works agency where we really stepped up and got stuck into bigger briefs, albeit slowly losing our minds with some late nights in the office. I think I’ve spent more time with Dave than almost any other human over the last several years, and the fact that we haven’t killed each other is a testament to our relationship.

James (right) and David (left), despite what their shirts say

David on James

Most memorable moment with the colleague (can be at work or social): Going on one of our first shoot together to Melbourne to film the legendary Shane Warne.

After partying hard the night before the shoot (rookie error) we arrived on set to find out Shane hadn’t read the script and refused to say any of the lines. I then had to re-write the script hungover as all hell in 15 min. The shoot ended up going well anyway and Shane was a champ, yet putting a duck suit on was one step too far. James then jumped in and wore it for the photoshoot. He was spec-quack-ular.

Best word to describe the colleague: Enchanting

Most annoying habit or endearing behaviour the colleague has: Scratching his goddamn beard.

James on David

Most memorable moment with the colleague: Shooting Warnie was pretty fun, but also getting our Ash Globe idea for Greenpeace shared by Wolverine (AKA Hugh Jackman) and winning some awards together for doing something good for the world was pretty cool. Other notable memories include shooting a low-budget social video at a friend’s house that definitely looked like we were making a porno to all the neighbours.

Best word to describe the colleague: Breathtaking

Most annoying habit or endearing behaviour the colleague has: He gets real whiny when he’s hungover.


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