The Creative Process

Posted on March 24, 2015

Words: Abigail Lowe

You can tell just from talking to Mark Herman that he’s a man with many stories; in fact we’re pretty sure he could keep you entertained all night regaling tales from his past. And that charisma is probably one of the things that has made him such a success over the years. His career has spanned fashion, music and clubbing, and he’s been at the helm of some of London and Ibiza’s most notorious parties – he launched the infamous Pooldisco at Shoreditch House before bringing it to Ibiza, and last year he helped forge the identity of Glitterbox, one of 2014’s undisputed success stories. Nowadays he’s running his own creative consultancy, Mark Herman Creative, in which he advises brands and individuals on how to maximise their untapped potential, and using his vast network of VIPs from across the globe, he connects people to help them achieve their goals. So he’s the man you call if you want help in establishing your brand, and we’d hedge our bets by saying he’s the man you call to make sure your party goes off with a bang. So we’ll be looking forward to seeing him on many a dancefloor in Ibiza this year.

Give us the background on your extensive career, how did you end up where you are now?
When I was 21, I met a guy called Donovan Pascal who was just finishing his fashion design course at the London College of Fashion. He and a fellow student and dancer, Wunmi started a label called Revolution with Love and I absolutely loved what they were doing – they were creating clothes for Soul II Soul and Prince at the time – and so I joined them to do business development. It was around 1989 and for me, that was the summer of love – it was my first trip to Ibiza – to Space and Ku; my first E; my first Sunrise, Pushca and Pussy Posse parties – it was all too amazing. I felt like I was on the set of the most incredible film shoot. And that’s where my love for street fashion and clubland began. The following 25 years have seen me grow this love, and as a result I’ve helped, advised and co-founded many brands – MOS, Pushca, Futurebitch, The Cross, Fabric, Drama, Fiction, Defected – Glitterbox, Space, Shoreditch House, Pooldisco, The Cabin, Bacardi, Redbull, Ciroc, Buddhist Punk, Religion and Idol, to name a few.

What’s the main focus of your work now? How do you bring people together?
Now, through my consultancy, I do three things: I advise clients on the creation of new brands, or on how to maximise their existing brands; I connect brands and represent artists by bringing them unique opportunities; and I get commissioned by clients to deliver brand concepts – so I put together and direct bespoke teams to make it happen.

What stimulates you about your job?
I am inspired by a great desire to promote and grow talent – whether it’s an artist or brand. I love the fact that my job takes me to Ibiza – it’s the freeness of the island. And I love meeting people from all walks of life because I thrive off everything that isn’t normal. For me, the weirder the better.

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So what projects are you working on at the moment?
In Ibiza, I’m about to begin working creatively again on Glitterbox, and generally speaking, I’m working on the development of my own brand, Pooldisco, as a joint venture with Defected. And amazingly, starting soon, I’ll be editing two pages a month in Ibiza Style Magazine, where I promise to bring some great interviews! Elsewhere I’m helping the award-winning UK interior designer, Sean Cochrane to grow his business in new sectors. In fact, I introduced Sean to Jason from Es Vive a couple of years back and since then, Sean’s been re-modelling the hotel. I also recently began working with a brilliant reportage / portrait photographer and creative artist, Bran Symondson, and I connect business for Smart Aviation on their private jet charter side. On a very different note, I’m co-producing a documentary related to homelessness and drug and alcohol addiction.

What would you rate as your biggest achievement to date?
Staying sober for 14 years. I loved to party back in the day, but a little too much – it got out of hand and it affected the quality of my life, big time. So I had to stop. Now I help others do the same but without preaching, which is without doubt the most fulfilling thing in my life. You really can have the best of both worlds – be sober and still fully operate inside the world of entertainment.

And of course, that includes working with some of London’s most iconic clubs over the years. Recently there’s been a lot of talk about the issues the scene comes up against there, do you think London has lost some of its magic?
There are always brick walls to climb in life and things change – but this can also be exciting. I do think a dull-ness exists, but that’s because we’ve all been so spoilt. And on the other hand, the festival scene has exploded and this is where experimental clubbing is thriving, plus I’m aware of some plans that will see some pretty awesome club residencies hitting London soon.

And in Ibiza, the last few years has seen an explosion of big, commercial clubs and nights. What do you think Ibiza needs more of the moment?
Glitterbox – a night that’s gay-friendly, fashion forward, about serious house music and is loads of fun. And of course, the return of Pooldisco!


How has the island changed since the ‘80s, when you first started visiting? And has it all been for the better?
Yes for sure, it’s positive. We’ve seen the creation of branded hotels and motorways but I think the island has grown with the times. The island platforms the global dance scene, so it had to evolve!

Pooldisco was originally a night at Shoreditch House, what do you think it is about east London vibes that translates so well in Ibiza?
Pooldisco brought the visual edge of London’s underground fashion, so in Ibiza it adds something to the mix of an already stylish island. I also hand picked a bunch of stand-out artists from the London club and fashion scene who became the Pooldisco Superheroes, and these guys flew in each weekend, hosted the night and became island famous!

So what’s the key to having a concept that really stands out? How do you make something special in a time and place where so much of everything is available?
I work with brilliant teams. Commonly within this sector I work as creative producer, so I agree a brief with the client and then handpick who I want to work with me to realise that brief – generally speaking, my team is Luke Lobley on art direction, Sarah Sabner on copy and Donovan Pascal or Tamer Wilde on fashion. I’ve also worked with the photographers Jamie Baker and Derrick Santini who are both amazing. I think it helps that I’ve seen and experienced a lot and I believe I have developed a style that encompasses all that I know.

Do you think having an amazing concept is key to putting on a successful night?
I think it depends. There are times when totally immersive concepts are required and then others when clean and simple is just what works.

cochrane-Es Vive

You oversaw the branding of Glitterbox last year, what do you think was the key to its success? It’s tough to launch a new night on the island…
If I say so myself, we scored 10 out of 10 with the name, look, and feel of the brand (wait till we release this summer’s campaign!). Then you had Simon Dunmore who had a great musical vision, and my team, who simply helped him realise that. But it wasn’t that they just opened the doors and it was an overnight success – the first couple of months were bumpy. But by August the night was jumping. It took some real back up and dedication from Dan Baxter (Defected MD) and his team.

And what other recent campaigns have you been impressed by?
Personally, I love what Paradise have recently done. And also the identity of ENTER.

You’ve got 20 years’ worth of VIP experience – what’s been the wildest experience you’ve had at one of your nights?
On the occasion of the Royal Wedding in 2011, we had Jeanette Charles (Queen impersonator), come to Pooldisco at Shoreditch House and make a speech, while she walked around giving her famous wave. This was a crazy and amazing moment, although she did remark that there were homos everywhere!

And what’s the strangest work-related request you’ve ever had?
I think a couple (male and female) invited me back for a threesome one night. Not so strange but considering I’m not a lover of tits and fanny, was definitely not on my agenda.

Ha-ha, so you’ve obviously seen a lot. What’s your life motto at the end of it?
For me, I always need to look at what I’ve got in my life, not what I haven’t! And to be the centre of love rather than the centre of destruction.

And if you could invite four people, past or present to your house for dinner, who would they be and why?
Bill W, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous – he was an amazing man. Barbara Streisand, because I’d be fascinated to meet her. Bette Midler, because she makes me laugh, and Philippe Starck because of his incredible style. That would be an unforgettable dinner!