Designer James Sommerville Shares His Journey To Working With The World’s Biggest Brands 


James Sommerville is one of the most successful designers in the world. He shares vast expertise in the design world with over 35 years of experience in the field. Throughout his career, James has worked with some of the world’s most iconic brands and personalities. He has served hundreds of clients and brands, of which many fall on the global stage, with some in small, medium, and start-ups. His experiences cut across the different business levels of the entrepreneur, corporate, and tech start-up fields. 

James has achieved a lot as an entrepreneur, from creating and growing a creative agency from the ground up, building and expanding across multiple markets, and exiting to a global agency network. James is also a renowned name in the corporate world, as he served as the chief designer at one of the world’s most prominent brands. Working with such a brand exposed him to the global system technicalities of how such big brands are built and scaled. 

Currently, James is actively engaged in the tech start-up world. He views the third chapter of his career to reinvent the traditional creative agency model designed to present a platform for accessing the best creative talents globally and building a monetized marketplace around the concept. 

James’s ventures into the design industry started in 1986 when he was just 19 years old. As a teenager, the school of design graduate was quick to note the high unemployment rate in the UK, prompting him to make a bold move to secure his future. James decided that the only way to a successful life was to start a business as there was no possibility of ever securing a job. 

With no capital to set up the business, James contacted The Prince’s Trust and applied for a start-up grant that he successfully received. He and his business partner received a total of £2,000 seed funding, and off he went to set up his design agency, ATTIK. The limited resources only allowed them to set up the agency in James’s Grandma’s attic bedroom in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, UK, in 1986. 

ATTIK was up and running under James’s watch for 25 years, growing to have additional offices in various cities including, Leeds, New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Los Angeles, employing over 250 staff. However, James later sold ATTIK to Dentsu Advertising Network in Japan in 2007. 

James has since established a unique brand in the creative industry that resonates with British designs and creativity worldwide. James is also currently rebranding Ford Motor Company, Detroit, USA, one of the world’s most iconic brands. James is confident of delivering a global brand refresh that delivers on the high expectations of such an iconic brand, and it’s only a matter of time until you see his identity work launched and driving change in the company on a global scale. 

James has also graced countless occasions as either a keynote speaker, educator, or professional in his work field, a global design leader. James has delivered over 30 keynote speeches in 20 different countries addressing over 50,000 people in the last three years. The theme is always the same throughout his speeches, sharing his continued passion for the power of design, how brands can retain a sense of familiarity yet also surprise their consumers with innovation and authentic storytelling. James holds that he will never give up on the youth and his belief in British creativity as a driving force globally for many years to come.

Written in partnership with Ascend