Tom Gough, founder of Thomas Patrick Creative Agency and sponsor of the Ashgrove Creative Award’s Design and Branding category talks about his personal connection with the awards and why he chose to get involved as a sponsor.

I have to begin this post with a bit of a disclaimer before hordes of angry parents and teachers descend on my studio: I am in no way advocating leaving school early.

Now that that’s out of the way… I left school at 17, halfway through my A-levels to dedicate myself full time to the design studio I’d set up when I was 15 and I haven’t looked back since. For a lot of young people, there is an almost prophetic assumption that you go to school, do well, apply to university, do well, graduate and get a job. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that but I think, for a lot of people, university is more about finding out who you are and what you want to do… I already knew.

The summer leading into my first year of sixth form I entered the Createurs competition, run by Ashgrove Marketing and as part of that competition I got the chance to go into the Ashgrove offices and work with their team. I think it was meant to be a quick chat but I ended up spending the summer working in the Ashgrove design studio with Leigh, Ashgrove’s Creative Director. Leigh is a hugely talented and passionate creative who helped me to understand and formalise an approach I had naturally fallen into: Brands aren’t just pictures they are the essence of your company.

I ended up winning the award for ‘Best Submission’ just a few weeks before I was due to head back for what ended up being my final year of school. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy school, or that I was doing badly, I just knew in my heart that I wanted to start an agency and build great brands. I was simply dedicating more hours out of my day to my clients then I was to my studies. I only lasted half way through my a-levels before giving into the temptation, and I still remember my final visit to Ramsey Grammar School to sign out. I officially launched Thomas Patrick the same day.

Createurs, now called the Ashgrove Creative Awards, is a competition that is about giving aspiring creatives chances. It gave me confidence in my own ability and it gave me experience working alongside other designers. I think it’s a fantastic competition. I couldn’t be happier that I have the chance to sponsor an Award and to support other young creatives on the island.