Charlie Mathews’ Agency Leaders 2018 poster design •


by MarkLives (@marklives) MarkLives has polled South African advertising agency executives since 2012 to name those among their peers they admire the most. Starting in 2014, we commissioned some of SA’s top illustrators and graphic designers for the accompanying posters. This time around, we did something different: we asked a former agency owner, who has gained growing respect for his art, to create a piece to celebrate the 2018 results announced earlier this year.

The result is Charlie Mathews’ vibrant piece that honors diversity, thought, collaboration and connection.

Please note: The 2019 survey results begin to be released on Monday, January 27, 2020.

The art of leadership

Everything we read about leadership recently reinforces how critical thinking and intelligence is to the future of the industry. So it’s no surprise that the 2018 poster looks so much like the neural networks that exist in our heads. We asked the artist a few questions.

Leaders Inside Look Agency 2018 collage

Mark Lives LogoWhat was your inspiration?
Charlie Mathews: The endlessly beautiful data and patterns that data creates when viewed. Leadership, so much these days, is about emotional maturity. Research increasingly associates business success with intellectual diversity and QE. I am fascinated by the neural part of the human being. The idea that a small piece of fatty tissue creates this remarkable experience of what it’s like to be alive runs deep. And, if you look at brain imaging and data networks, it’s amazing to see the similarity between our trigger neurons and a pattern of connections of influence groups in social media.

Mark Lives LogoPlease tell us about yourself.
CM: I am a great marketer who has been an investigative journalist, agency boss, researcher and entrepreneur. However, these days I’m more of a consultant, researcher, and author who loves to draw.

Mark Lives LogoWhat is your statement about the artwork?
CM: Ultimately, leadership is about becoming better versions of ourselves, all the time. It is a humble exercise in experimentation and iteration. Leadership is a journey. A verb. One thing to do. Fortunately, because as humans we learn by watching and imitating. We are social creatures and the greatest leaders are those who inspire others to improve.

Leaders Inside Look Agency 2018 collage

  • Don’t miss the results of the Most Admired 2019 Agency Executives Survey, which begins on Monday, January 27, 2020!

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