In his latest Four Corners column, Jon Daniel catches up with creative director Joanna Arscott, an orphaned child who found her way and launched a flamboyant career, beginning in the 1980s.
(Article originally published by Design Week, by Jon Daniel October 26, 2016)
For this year’s Black History month, I am proud to shine a spotlight on one of the first Black female creative directors to grace the British advertising scene. Still creating effective and award-winning work wherever she goes, please give it up for Joanna Arscott
It’s a mystery. My birth mother was White British and my father was… I knew neither. I was adopted in 1966 and diverted from a Dr. Barnardo’s orphanage into an amazingly open-minded white Welsh family and brought up in a village in Gloucestershire. My sights were always on London and when I entered 80’s advertising as a naïve 18 year old, I didn’t understand the word “career”.
I fell in love with Adlands’ kaleidoscopic Soho culture. It was a fabulous new world – a visual training ground. It opened my eyes. Margaret Thatcher as a strong female leader, the black leather Filofax that made me feel “grown up”, Champagne at Kettner’s on my first credit card (always over the limit), gallery openings, photographers’ studio parties, directors’ private views, illustrator’s daily visits to the agency, sitting in a restaurant window in Old Compton Street watching the glamorous transvestites from Madame Jo Jo’s strutting past on their pre-performance stilettos… I was captivated by Soho. It was an irresistible “hotchpotch” of London creativity.