Interview with Jay Scott Nicholls from United Kingdom

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Jay Scott Nicholls

After years in creative agencies and leading global editorial and photographic teams for National Geographic Magazine, Jay Scott Nicholls founded Circus in 2010. The agency has since become a top creator of award-winning virtual brand experiences, specializing in 360, 3D, Virtual Reality, and the latest addition, Metaverse technology.

Interview with the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards Winner -
Jay Scott Nicholls

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your creative background.

After spending several years in creative agencies and 7 years leading editorial and photographic teams around the world for National Geographic Magazine, I founded Circus in 2010. The agency has since established itself as a leading creator of award-winning virtual brand experiences - specializing in 360, 3D, Virtual Reality and - most recently - Metaverse technology.

As Creative Director, I've had the privilege to directly oversee the delivery of more than 2,000 projects for brands such as Spotify, Red Bull, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Primark, Royal Opera House, SpaceNK, Hilton, L’Oréal, Dyson, English Heritage, O2, Wimbledon Tennis, BT, Science Museum and the Houses of Parliament.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a creative?
A strong and enduring love for visual storytelling is truly unparalleled. Immersive media, in essence, widens the creative canvas even further.
3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.
Circus is an award-winning creative agency based in London and it specializes in immersive interactive content. It is on a mission to inspire the world's most exciting brands to do things virtually. Using 360, 3D, VR, AR and metaverse techniques to create bespoke digital experiences which engage audiences and drive action - be it taking physical locations online, selling remotely, amplifying launches and events or recruiting and training talent.
4What does “creativity” mean to you?
Creativity is where ideas and execution combine.
5To you, what makes a “creative” idea and/or design?
Creativity is rarely a goal in itself ; it always has an aim in mind. To inform, inspire or influence. So a successful idea or design isn't judged by how creative or innovative it is but by whether its execution delivers the intended outcome.
6Tell us about your creative and/or design process.
Nowadays, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to sources of inspiration and tools to realize our concepts. The obvious and most recent revolution has been AI which makes it possible to rapidly prototype creative concepts. There's been a lot of talk where AI poses as a threat to the creative industry but I believe it's just another tool.
7What's your favorite part of the creative process and why?

Collaboration. The old cliche that a camel is a horse designed by committee is wrongheaded. A camel is perfectly evolved for its environment, shaped by varied pressures through thousands of incremental improvements.

Now, there are certainly times when a creative vision has had to be compromised by technical or political constraints but more often than not, the best work is co-created.

8Describe your creative style and its main characteristics.
We're geeks so we love trying out new technology and tools. And since all our work is bespoke, every project starts with a blank page. It forces us to think afresh each time.
9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your creativity process?
Certainly! Being based in a culture-rich cosmopolitan city like London means we have access to new ideas and storytelling techniques. That itself is a great privilege!
10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
Winning this award is an opportunity to celebrate the team’s hard work and to recognize our client who was such a pleasure to collaborate with.
11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?
We collaborated with design agency I-AM to create a Virtual Reality experience which showcased KFC's vision for their restaurant of the future. It was a huge hit at events and now the rest of the brands who share the parent company want to do one!
12What was the biggest challenge with this project?
Bringing a static environment to life always requires thought. Usually, it involves animations to introduce movement and audio to engage another sense, thereby helping to complete the illusion and 'sense of place'.
13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?
Awards always spur us on to try new things and deliver work for our clients that's not just answering a brief but is award-worthy!
14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?
The people, the variety and the technology.
15What makes your country specifically, unique in the creative industry?
London and the United Kingdom more broadly attracts talent. It's a true melting pot!
16Where do you see the evolution of creative industry going over the next 5-10 years?
We're predicting a revolution in how people consume digital content - driven by the rise of wearable technology. Suddenly, people will have instant heads-up access to the world's information, overlaid onto their visual and auditory landscape. And much of the hardware we take for granted today will melt away.
17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Creative Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?
Pursue things. Keep an eye on what's happening, not just in your immediate field but adjacent creative or technical fields. Inspiration can come from anywhere. We recently built a virtual experience for a university that was inspired by TikTok's onboarding sequence!
18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the creative industry?
Take your pick. And it depends on what you're creating. But everyone should be conversant in generative AI.
19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
Nice try!
20Who has inspired you in your life and why?
Too many to name! But honestly, and at the risk of sounding trite, it's my kids. They create joyfully and without self-consciousness, they inquire about the world with a literal open mind, and they're definitely not afraid to say what they think!
21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Lift your head and set aside time for the things that are important. Too often then get postponed in favor of what's urgent.

Winning Entry

KFC of the Future - A Virtual Reality Experience | 2023

KFC of the Future - A Virtual Reality Experience | Jay Scott Nicholls and KFC
Immersive agency Circus were brought in by design agency I-AM to collaborate on producing a virtual reality (VR) experience for their client ...
(Read more at MUSE Creative Awards)

Jay Scott Nicholls

After years in creative agencies and leading global editorial and photographic teams for National Geographic Magazine, Jay Scott Nicholls founded Circus in 2010. The agency has since become a top creator of award-winning virtual brand experiences, specializing in 360, 3D, Virtual Reality, and the latest addition, Metaverse technology.

Read more about this interview with Minghang Du from the United States, the Gold Winner of the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards.