Welcome to #INTERVIEWED, a series of interviews with creators of all kinds.
Today we’re joined by a fascinating man of many talents: Arran Cross.
D: What do you do as a creator?
A: I run the The All Night Listening Post blog. It’s a collection of original articles, essays and images focusing on menswear, design, travel and gear. Since it launched two years ago the blog has evolved into a platform for sharing stories about well made honest goods and the people who make them. As a result of the success of The All Night Listening Post, I recently co-founded Department Two, a creative content and strategy agency, with my partner Fern.
D: Amazing stuff, and congratulations on Department Two launching!! I’m sure you’ll have all the success with it!
A: Thanks. It’s early days for us but we’ve already worked with some amazing brands and we have some exciting projects coming up.
D: Can’t wait to see it! Can you tell me a bit about the gent behind the blog?
A: I live in Sheffield with my partner fern and my whippet George.(D: Every time I see George on Instagram my heart grows three sizes) The city is a great base for all my creative activities and has plenty of great spaces for working from behind my laptop with a coffee in hand. As far as my day job goes, I’m a Special Projects Manager for one of the National museums, it’s quite an interesting job with a lot of travel and creativity involved. I’m really big on well designed, well made, honest goods and hopefully that shows through in my blog.
D: That definitely shows! Very cool job also!
A: Thanks, it’s definitely quite different to most 9-5s
D: How did you get your start blogging?
A: I’ve always enjoyed producing written and photographic content and I’ve always believed in the power of story telling too. That’s something I try and do with my blog – tell the story of the people and he processes behind a brand.
I used to consume a lot of content online and still do, especially from places A Continuous Lean, The Hand & Eye and the With Love Project. I was really inspired by what they were doing and wanted to try my hand at it. It’s sometimes surreal now to count these guys as contemporaries and even friends.
D: Your photography is next level, after your Italy pics I keep meaning to find the funds to switch my kit up to something similar to your’s before I go away next. I’m always blown away by your photography.
A: Thanks, I learned all my manual photography skills at college – the technical aspects of composition and making photographs the old school way. I’m currently shooting with an Olympus OMD setup – it’s much more versatile than the full frame DSLR I had before and perfect for travel.
D: Oh nice, how did you find studying it? My work recently sent me on a DSLR course and I feel like I’ve really not been utilising it all these years, but it’s a bit bulky for travel.
A: It was definitely interesting and learning manual photography is a good grounding for digital. Technology has moved on a lot in the last 10 years though but the core principals remain the same. I can’t see me using a DSLR again when Micro Four Thirds gives you the same level of control in a much smaller package. I’d probably look to move to a Leica next when (and if) funds allow.
D: Leica cameras look incredible, if only they were cheaper.
What are your favourite things about blogging and making content?
A: I think its the community around it and the connections I’ve made – both with other bloggers and the wider creative community. There are some really genuine people who are supportive of everything I do. They’re also not afraid to tell me when I’m headed way off piste. I think the most rewarding thing about it all though is how much I’ve learned and developed as a creative person.
D: Very eloquently put!
On the other hand, are there any elements that you dislike, or anything you find difficult?
A: Excellent question, and one I could bang on about for a good few hours. There are a lot of frustrations, mainly the way PRs and brands fail to understand how to work with bloggers and content creators most effectively. They really struggle to see the value of relevant, quality content and are blinded by chasing metrics. I also think there’s not enough true support among the blogging community. There’s a lot complementing each others work but not much substance or constructive criticism that could help people grow and develop. I wrote a piece about my frustrations with it all on Medium last year, and I still stand by a lot of what I said then.
D: That’s really interesting, I always compliment but never give criticism and always have the same in return, however criticism would be much more useful at times.
A: I think if it’s done constructively and properly it can be useful, but sometimes it can backfire so you really have to know the person. Sometimes it’s best to welcome criticism and comment yourself before you start dishing it out to others. I’ll often share big pieces, drafts or ideas with fellow creatives to get their thoughts and feedback. Jamie from Banton Frameworks is very very honest and very forthcoming with ideas so he’s a great sounding board.
I trust his opinion and he trusts mine so we are always going back and forth to share ideas and opinions on what we’re working on
D: Sounds like a good relationship!
Is there anything specific you’ve written/shot/created that is a personal stand out?
A: There are few recent pieces I’ve been quite proud of. The recent collaboration with our friends at Hiut Denim being one of them.
Fern wrote this one and I did most of the pictures. David, the founder of Hiut, has been a constant source of inspiration for us through his books, newsletters and the Do Lectures series and when he asked if we’d be interested in collaborating we jumped at the chance. Other than that, Some of the work I’ve done for Mr Porter and our ongoing Talking Shop series are definitely my favourites.
I feel like I’m name dropping quite a lot in this interview but I want to share how important and influential people in this community have been in making The All Night Listening Post what it is.
D: No, it’s great to hear about all these people and what a collaborative experience it all is!
A: Good, and I think that’s the key to success – collaboration
D: I’m glad you’re up for dropping names as the next question is: 5 creators of any kind who you find have an influence on your creations or you look up to
A: Definitely Michael Williams of A Continuous Lean, he was a big influence on my early days as a blogger and still is. Outside the blogging world, the photographer Don McCullin has always been one of my big heroes, his courage and ability to tell stories through images make him a fascinating man.
Bob Dylan was a big creative influence on me when I was younger, I still regularly listen to his music, Blonde on Blonde and Blood on the Tracks are two of my all time favourite albums.
James Victore is is an artist, designer filmmaker and general fire starter who teaches creativity and personal growth. He is a particularly inspiration individual with a wealth of knowledge that has often helped me get on the right track with tricky situations or projects.
Finally it’s not a person or creator but I can’t speak highly enough of everything I have learned from the DO community, their lectures, books and workshops will change your world. Seriously.
D: Those are all very interesting influences, all ones I can definitely see in your content!
You’ve got a lot of new things on the go currently, but are there any other long term goals or plans you have in place?
A: Just to take the blog and Department Two to the next level. It’s always been a dream to start creating content on a full time basis. It’s a very difficult thing to do to make it as a full time blogger so there’s a need to diversify into other areas like creative strategy and consulting.
D: What’s your Hogwarts house?
A: I’m going to be honest, I just had to go and do a quiz to find out…
I’m not really the world’s biggest Harry Potter fan but it turns out I’m a Gryffindor. I used the official Pottermofe quiz so you know that’s a legit result
D: Brilliant, Gryffindor is the best (in my bias opinion)
Do you have a favourite film of all time?
A: It would have to be Apocalypse Now. From start to finish it’s technically excellent and one of the best stories ever committed to film. Probably because its inspired by Heart of Darkness, and probably because of the dedication of the cast and crew – it was tough film to make but well worth it. Everyone should see the Redux version of they can.
D: Finally, any favourite artists/musicians of all time?
A: That’s a tough one. I have some pretty eclectic Spotify playlists but if we’re talking absolute favorite, it’s going to come down to a tie between Iron & Wine and The National. It really depends on my mood.
Catch up on all other interviews here!