‘It felt like either I’d gone mad, or everyone else had gone mad’: why Paul Pateman had to give up his life in advertising
Paul ‘Pâté’ Pateman left advertising to become a graphic illustrator after a bout of pneumonia forced him to rethink his career path. But years before, as a creative director at TBWA, he had felt the first pull away from the industry.
“I don’t think that I ever wanted to become a creative director,” he admitted to The Drum, as part of the title’s Why I Left Advertising series. “You used to be paid a lot of money for doing great ads and that was enough. But… now you have to be a creative director.
“Writing great ads is a really selfish thing, and being a creative director is an altruistic thing; you have to get great ads out of other people. And just because you can do the former, doesn’t mean you can do the latter.”
Despite his longing to keep drawing and stop managing, Pateman’s career saw him advance through the ranks of AMV BBDO. But frustration with the industry and its idiosyncrasies came to a head while in a meeting at his last agency, TBWA. He decided to leave when he realised he began thinking “either like I had gone mad, or everyone else had gone mad”.
Pateman and his long term creative partner Mike Nicholson left to go it alone; their shop was named Loaf & Egg after their respective hairstyles. Business carried on relatively well – until Pateman contracted pneumonia.
“I just thought: ‘I don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t want to work for somebody, I don’t want to talk to marketing people, I don’t want to be in those meetings where you’re endlessly talking instead of doing. I’ve just got to get out’.”
Looking back, Pateman is oddly grateful for his week laid out and unable to move on a hospital bed. “I saw people in my ward of varying ages, but mostly the old people affected me Just how so many were neglected or didn’t have families, some of them hadn’t looked after themselves.
“I was just wondering about their lives and comparing it to my own and thinking: ‘You’ve just got to spend as much time doing things that you love as possible’.
“I love drawing, so I’m going to try and do that.”
Other episodes in the series
Kate Robertson on leaving advertising : ‘You never realise how bad materialism in the industry is until you get outside'
Today (7 December) sees The Drum launch a new video series examining the myriad reasons behind personal exits from the marketing world. Why I Left Advertising’s first subject, One Young World co-founder Kate Robertson, details her industry insights only garnered after resigning from her position as president of Havas Worldwide in 2015.
Jonathan Durden on exiting the industry: 'I felt bored being treated like gold'
In the second in The Drum's Why I Left Advertising series, we speak to PHD co-founder Jonathan Durden about his escape from - and re-entry into - the media and marketing industries.
'We thought we were Mad Men but we were drinking in Tiger Tiger': Chris Maples on life after advertising
After a lifetime in high-profile ad sales, Chris Maples departed his post of VP, Europe at Spotify to try something completely different – running a school. In the third part of The Drum’s Why I Left Advertising series, he chats through his reasons for departing the industry, and discusses how his life is different now.
Emer Stamp's journey from ECD to children’s author: ‘Advertising gives you a very hard skin’
In the fourth episode of Why I Left Advertising, Emer Stamp, the former Adam&EveDDB executive creative director, explains her reasoning for giving up life as a creative to write and illustrate full-time.
Dave Buonaguidi on his hiatus from the industry: ‘You shouldn’t hate working at your own agency – but I did’
When Karmarama co-founder Dave Buonaguidi quit the agency he founded, he did so publically, lambasting the “professional creatives who are only creative between the hours of 9am and 6pm” who work in agencies all based on Mad Men”. Yet now he’s back in ad land, working as creative director at CP+B.
‘It’s just fucking advertising’: Natalie Marsan on giving up the NYC grind for travel, work and family
Natalie Marsan has managed to do what was once the impossible: raise a baby, hold down a London-based job while living in Croatia, and travel – constantly. But less than three years ago she was buried deep in New York’s marketing scene. In the latest episode of Why I Left Advertising, Marsan explains why and how she became a nomadic working mother.