The world as we know it is changing, and so we. It doesn’t take a legendary industry leader, designer, entrepreneur, and educator James Sommerville to know that, but it does take one to rally thousands of people to embrace change. That’s what the thought leader hopes to do with his newest project, Known Unknown.
James is the former owner and co-founder of ATTIK, a disruptive design agency that began back in 1986 to revolutionize the way brands and corporations think about and approach design and branding. After leaving Coca-Cola in 2018, James started dedicating more time to two missions that he held dear to his heart. The first was to promote Britain to the world, especially in these post-Brexit and post-COVID-19 times. The second was to create a community of designers and creatives by building an ecosystem for collaboration, mentorship, guidance, and constructive exchanges. He called the project Known Unknown and launched it in 2019.
Known Unknown exists to connect the world’s creatives from various disciplines and build a virtual space to share and grow together. The organization follows a 100% distributed model and seeks to mold the future of that form of production. Currently, the organization is working on gathering some of the best talents from various backgrounds to play a role as one of the founding members of the emerging community. This step is deemed crucial, as James hopes to assemble a strong base of creatives who will set the group’s tone, direction, and culture.
James started Known Unknown, mainly for the up-and-coming artists looking for a platform to learn, connect, and grow. “I founded this project because I knew there were so many unappreciated and untapped artists out there,” explains Sommerville. “And I wanted to see whether I could bring this unknown army to work on global brands. It’s just a way of giving these unknown voices a stage for their creativity, storytelling, messaging, typography, or illustration.”
The artist understands fully the importance of having a support system to back one’s dreams and ambitions. Over the twenty-five years that the company operated autonomously, James would open offices in Leeds, London, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sydney and employ over 250 staff.