After seven years as Creative Director of British Esquire, David Mckendrick is off to set up a new venture with Wallpaper* art director Lee Belcher. As his final issue hits the newsstands, David reflected on his time at one of the UK’s leading magazines and picked out a selection of his favourite covers…
“Summing up my time at Esquire is easy. It’s the best job in the world. Also, let’s be honest, it’s not a real job. I work with some of the most talented, designers, writers, stylists, photographers and illustrators in the business.
“My most challenging moments have been art-directing cover shoots. There is no training at art school that prepares you for a cover shoot with a celebrity. It is more like a hostage situation than a photo shoot; not only trying to control an A-list celebrity but the hordes of people that suddenly turn up and have an opinion (LA celebrity hair stylists are the worst, by the way).”
“I found that my only way to survive was to look like I knew what I was talking about. And at first, I’ll be honest, I really didn’t have a clue. I think I got there in the end (after a few years), and went out with a bang with the Robert Pattinson issue (September 2014). That was a personal triumph. Bringing together the right team, location, styling, etc. is a bit of an invisible art, but it’s the most satisfying feeling when you see the results. Although, when I hinted that he was on the telly, he did take offence. Apparently he’s in the movies. Oops. I should really do my research on popular culture!
“Oh and the only rule is that if you ever meet someone famous, get a thumbs-up pic for your mum. It makes her proud.”
It wasn’t easy explaining to Keith Richards that I wanted him to stub out his ciggy to make the graphic dot on the Esquire logo. But we got there in the end. When he eventually turned up five hours late – hammered – I thought I had nothing to lose. I would have been disappointed with any other behaviour.
A personal triumph getting my childhood icon, Morph, who has been naked all his life, in head-to-toe Burberry Prorsum for the cover. He was so cool he knocked Sean Penn off the subscribers’ cover. Now that was a result.
It’s one thing getting a cover star to stand still and get his picture taken, but it’s another getting him to hand draw the cover lines and render the logo. Now that is what I call DUDE.
I probably don’t need to explain why this is a one of my faves. But as a scruffy Clydebank boy who watched Something About Mary eight times, getting to spend a day with Cameron Diaz as she slipped in and out of outfits and tried repeatedly (and failed) to do my accent, was a dream come true. She is exactly everything you imagine, and more.
One of my favourite bands, they were normal lads who were like a small gang. When they turned up half an hour late with massive hangovers, they just got on with it, took every bit of direction and did everything I asked. And we finished early. Now that is professional (and a wee bit rock and roll).
Now, seven years later, I’m finally getting the swing of cover shoots and I feel really proud of my last one – the talent, the location, the photographer, the clothes, the sunshine. It was just a perfect way to sign-off and a day I’ll never to forget. It did make me think “Why the fuck am I leaving?”
Not to forget The Big Black Book, launched last year. A type-only cover in this day and age? No idea how the hell I got away with that.