Creative Director Spotlight | Mill Creative Director Alan Bibby

From a background in design, advertising and fine art, Alan is a world renowned creative director who collaborates with artists such as Stevie Wonder, Arianna Grande & Rihanna and global brands including Audi, Lexus, Microsoft, Google, Sony, Nike, Marc Jacobs, Honda, IBM and Budweiser. His films have been shown at international festivals and museums including MoMA, PS1, the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the Tate Modern and Palais de Tokyo. Alan has served as a judge for the One Show, ADC and AICP, and regularly speaks at conferences across the world. With a focus on automotive, fashion and technology, his eye for design, storytelling and visual effects has created award-winning work exploring the intersections between art, music, advertising and culture.
Thought August 13, 2020

Tell us how you ended up directing, what path has your career taken you on so far?

A series of disconnected events that only make sense in hindsight.

I graduated from university in New Zealand, with an obsession with generative art, I followed in the footsteps of John Maeda and MIT Medialab, teaching myself how to code. 

Moving to the US in the late 90’s I worked through the downtown NYC tech boom, falling into the Ad Agency world in the early 2000s. From there, I came back to my design roots and started making moving images in the art scene which led me back to my first love: music, and music videos. Just in time for the music industry to self-destruct. 

It was a natural step to directing commercials in the late 2000’s, and right now I’m still obsessed with every single one of the above and combining them all together, and working on more longform and experiences.


What brought you to The Mill? What aspect of working with The Mill are you most excited about?

I’m incredibly excited to be working with The Mill. I’ve been following their path closely for the last several years and seeing how they’ve been doing it right – especially right now, it feels essential to work with people and talents whose vision for the future aligns with mine. There’s a lot of uncertainty and change ahead but I feel that we are uniquely positioned to make real and relevant work.


Below: ‘Faith’ by Ariane Grande and Stevie Wonder

Talk us through the 3 highlight projects from your career and why you’ve chosen them?

So hard to pick your favorite babies. But I’ll choose three that are a range of what I love.

‘Castrol – Blackout’ | I love fast cars. Always have. Automotive storytelling is a delicate and brutal choreography that you have to fully immerse yourself into to make. This is some of my favorite, working with some of my best friends on an ex-military airfield on the polish border, staying up all night and probably coming the closest to death I’ve ever been on a shoot.

Stevie Wonder – Faith ft. Ariana Grande | Music is probably the most important thing to me, and working with your musical heroes is either the best or the worst. This was amazing because not only was I incredibly blessed to work with them, but they were so excited to meet each other. Even though they’d recorded the track together, Ariana and Stevie hadn’t met until the moment that we shot. Special.

Google Glass |  Nepal is an incredible place, and working with Sabita and the WWF researchers in Chitwan was humbling. While we were crafting a narrative, what we were doing was telling their story, and that had to be true and real. Definitely a life changing experience.


Below: Google Glass ‘Nepal’

You’ve collaborated with the likes of Rihanna, Stevie Wonder and Pharrell, what music are you into?

I’m a musical omnivore. Learning the drums for the first time though so a lot of beat driven things on repeat… But the last five artists I listened to were Tshegue, Dimmer, Patrick Cowley, Bad Bunny and Mavado.


Having worked with the fashion industry, how have you seen the way fashion brands advertise evolve over the years?

Fashion and self-expression has always been incredibly important to me – even though its traditionally been a world which appropriates, absorbs and dilutes culture and subcultures. I’m very excited to see an interest in showing other voices and seeing other creators in mainstream fashion – both within the industry and how it’s represented. It’s an interesting time and a point of positive change.


Below: Zendaya x Tommy Hilfiger

You’re often asked to speak at conferences – what’s your favorite subject to discuss and why?

Boredom – Its Role As Artistic Process. Building Cultural Relevance Within Commercial Constraints. The Role of Maximalism In Signifying Dissent. Democratizing Aesthetics In A Time Of Crisis. 


If you could choose one brand or person old or new, living or dead to collaborate with, what or who would it be? 

That’s too big a question. Too many choices! Maybe downtown New York in the 80s working with Tibor Kalman at Interview Magazine?


What piece of career advice would you give to your younger self?

“Better to regret something that you have done, than something that you haven’t done.”


View more of Alan’s work on his Creator profile or head over to @alanmichaelbibby on Instagram.