Q&A with Christopher Sharpe, Copywriter, Jones Knowles Ritchie

We sat down with Christopher Sharpe, Copywriter at Jones Knowles Ritchie and one of the creatives helping Miller Harris with the design of our two new perfumes Scherzo and Tender.

Q: What do you do and what does a typical day look like?
A: I’m a writer in the Brand Voice department at Jones Knowles Ritchie. Which basically means I think about and then write for brands.

Q: What inspired you to join the creative industry?
A: Inspired might be romanticising my abilities a tad. Like all the best things in life, I stumbled into it. I’d dipped my toe into journalism, publishing and radio but hadn’t yet found the thing thatscratched every creative itch. Discovering a design agency would be the answer to that kind of blew my mind. One day you’re exploring an “un-get-at-able” island off the coast of Scotland, the next you’re designing an app, and, if you’re really lucky, one day you might get to bring the pages of F. Scott Fitzgerald to life. I might have stumbled in, but the eclectic nature of the job is what’s bolted the door behind me.

Q: What do you most love about your job?
A: I love that the nature of the work forces me to become a mini-expert in whatever I’m writing about that day. It keeps me curious. Getting to solve that smorgasbord of challenges in collaboration with a bunch of similarly curious, but cleverer and more creative people is the cherry-on-top.

Q: Talk us through the creative process for Tender and Scherzo - how did you take inspiration from the fragrance and book to approach the copy?
A: Sarah came to us like a force of nature, full of infectious enthusiasm for Tender Is The Night, the ‘Scherzo’ passage, and the potential it held for fragrance. Straight out of that meeting, I nicked our copy of the book and set to work, reading it cover-to-cover. Since Fitzgerald had already done all the writing for me, I saw my job as being an interpreter for the design team, pulling out the various themes, motifs and resonant fragments of language and translating them into fuel for the visual world they needed to create.

Q: What do you like most about the Tender & Scherzo branding?
A: When you start to slide open the box and it feels as though you’re smearing the paint. I love it, because it captures one of the key themes of the book – our inability to hold onto our picture perfect idea of the past. For the characters in the novel that beautiful veneer fades, distorts and melts away, so to bring something that abstract to life in a piece of packaging is pretty special.

Q: Why do you like working on Miller Harris?
A: The team behind Miller Harris are fearless. So each brief feels less like a checklist of requirements and more like a collaborative art project, an approach which frees us to let our imaginations run wild.

A lot of brands talk the talk when it comes to being storytellers. Miller Harris is actually following through. Its fragrances have always been rich with inspiration and memories - now it’s creating experiences around them that aspire to be even richer.

Q: Do you wear fragrance?
A: Fragrance for me is less a daily ritual and more a rare treat. Which means when I’ve got the time – and the opportunity – to indulge, it feels really special, like a heightened version of myself. It’s what I imagine wearing ceremonial dress - or putting on a suit of armour - must feel like.

Q: What does fragrance mean to you? Does it unlock any memories?
A: I couldn’t put my finger on a specific fragrance that unlocks a memory for me. But conveniently enough, the smell I love most is the smell of books. Fresh as newly cut grass, borrowed from a friend or a stranger with notes in the margins or weird stains, or covered in dust in some old study or bookshop. They’re magic.

Q: This fragrance was inspired by the book Tender is the Night, do you have a favourite book?
A: Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion.

Q: Is there a book they would love to bring to life via design?
A: Something epic – Moby Dick maybe, or The Waste Land, if a poem isn’t cheating.