AMA: Christine Mackay, founder of Salamandra animation studios.
Today, we met up with Christine Mackay, the multi-award winning founder of animation studio Salamandra.
Based in London, Christine’s team have created show-stopping animation for the likes of Deliveroo, Curve and Capita. We sat down with her to find out the secrets of her success...
Hey Christine! Thanks for meeting for us today. Could you tell me, in a nutshell, what Salamandra is all about?
At its most basic level, we convey complex messages for our B2B clients using animation on any platform. We work with Multinationals, start-ups, Brand Marketing teams, Advertising and PR agencies alike using 2D, 3D, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Motion Graphics, Stop Motion, Branding and Design.
We’re lucky to have a passionate, agile and high calibre multi-awards winning team and we work on creative projects across over 17 industries.
From children’s book illustrations to corporate explainers, training videos or immersive virtual presentations, our skilled team of creatives produces unique and powerful multifaceted visual assets. We do this by creating content that resonates with our clients’ target audiences, memorably.
How did the idea for your company come about?
I’ve always had an affinity for imagery, from my first childhood crush on cartoon character Marine Boy, to a deep emotional response eliciting welling eyes at Botticelli’s Primavera in Florence.
This love for imagery has been with me through decades of travelling and throughout my career and after falling in love with animation whilst working in New Zealand, I decided to run with my passion and founded salamandra.uk.
At the time, animation as a medium wasn’t so common within B2B communication, however, it has grown enormously since then and now, in this climate, animation has become a positive solution, not just for education and business but also for entertainment for all ages whilst filming is not an option.
Can you share any practical tips or processes to help people work remotely?
It’s all about collaboration for us, from our daily morning stand ups to our daily evening rushes. The morning stand ups are fantastic for reassuring the whole team that we are in this together. Everyone goes through what they are working on that day and if they need a hand or if someone has a bit of time, that’s where we let each other know. And evening rushes are a great chance for everyone to share the stunning work and it's handy for keeping everyone up to date on where we are with creative projects.
We are also a curious lot that never stop learning and because of this, we love teaching each other all sorts of stuff, from the latest shortcuts on software to the best application for a particular effect or outcome. Our lunch and learns have instructed us all on talents from sign language, 3D texturing, caricatures, and even knitting!
As well as lunch and learns, we also have our weekly Wellness Wednesdays where we spend an hour with our yogi, Lisa, and virtual coffee catch ups which are strictly all fun and no business.
How do you keep your team aligned?
Our environment is collaborative and supportive. We always work together cohesively as a team and there is no such thing as a stupid question amongst our lively lizardy lounge. We work collegiately and seek advice and support one another frequently.
Our studios have an open and honest ethos. Communication is key, both internally and with our clients, to ensure we are working as productive as possible. We pride ourselves on always being upfront and honest in everything we do.
Our physical studios both have environments which are open airy and high ceilinged (which is excellent for encouraging creativity apparently!) with Ikea furniture galore, lots of toy dinosaurs, and a nerf gun shooting gallery on one of our wooden high beams - great fun.
We work together, seek advice from one another and share innovative ideas and references frequently. Our studios have an open and honest ethos where communication is key, both internally and with our clients, to ensure we are working as productively as possible.
What is the biggest mistake you've made as an entrepreneur?
Not being bold enough to go directly to the bigger brand clients earlier!
Do you have a share or option scheme in place for your team? What impact has it made?
We don’t however, when the company does well, this is reflected in the lizards’ wages. Having seen success in 2020, despite the Covid 19 challenges, I gave everyone a 15% wage rise to show exactly that.
The bottom line is that you would not have a company/product if it wasn’t for your employees. Nurture them. Value them. Celebrate them. Success will follow!
How would you best describe your business philosophy?
The synergy between our passion for B2B visual problem solving and our zeal for healthy company culture has allowed us to both enjoy our work and grow our offices, a trend we will continue as we look to hire more staff at the beginning of 2021.
Our company environment also reflects our core values which we all live by on a day-to-day basis, these being: transparent and bubbly, acting together for the greater good with client’s best interests at heart; visually delighting, always innovating and keeping up to date; complex simplified, solving problems, hitting deadlines and having a commitment to excellence; and a lively lounge, aspiring and working to become great individually and as one team.
What motivates you?
I’m a natural problem solver and doing this for businesses using a medium which I am infatuated by is nothing short of a dream come true for me. I love spreading this passion for animation into the business sphere and bringing the (almost) unimaginable to life.
What does a Friday night look like to you?
Pretty same ol’ same ol’ during lockdown and Covid19 - Netflix, reading, night walks and family zoom calls. So I will be making up for it with getting out more, going to the theatre, cafes, restaurants and entertaining more when we can safely do so.
Do you have any pets? Care to share a photograph?
I have two manic Bengal kittens, who have been known to claw their way up my back during zoom calls. Introducing… India and Asia!
Beautiful! Thanks for sharing Christine, and give them a boop on the nose from us.