Skip to content
Ann English - TEDx Headshot v2 TRANSPARENT
Ann English - TEDx Headshot v2 TRANSPARENT

Hello, I’m Ann English..

Founder of Create Intrigue, TEDx Speaker and Author of ‘The Clarity Quest IdeasBook.’ I’m a proud ‘Geordie’ who still lives in the amazing North East of England, working both locally and globally.

As a Visual Communicator, I ignite ideas and enabled trailblazing founders, coaches and creators to bring them to life.

I’ve realised me dreams working for the ‘BIG 3’ – Santa Claus, Willy Wonka, and Mickey Mouse!

This is the story of how I’ve transformed ideas and made dreams a reality…

1984
1984

When studying A level Art with Art History, along with Geography, I was interested in sculpture with a focused on creating 3D displays and art based around the theme of rocks.

“I’ve always loved the buzz of coming up with creative ideas to overcome roadblocks and solve problems”

After an Art Foundation course at Newcastle College of Art and Technology, I decided to specialise in Graphic Design. I chose to study HND in Visual Communications at Cleveland College of Art and Design (AKA The Northern School of Art).

New Arrow_0000s_0011_12
NEW Origin Story 2 - Image (1)
NEW Origin Story 3 - Image
1987
1987

I began my career as a Graphic Designer/Visualiser at Eldon Associates Limited, overlooking Grey’s Monument in the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne.

 “I’m passionate about visual merchandising and window displays, I’ve discovered it’s in my DNA”

I was fortunate to be given the high-profile job of designing window displays for The Body Shop franchises across the North East region.

New Arrow_0000s_0035_36
1988
1988

“I landed my dream job… working for Santa Claus!”

For 25 years I worked at Centre Design Ltd, leading teams of trailblazing designers, makers and installers. Transforming major shopping centres in the UK and Europe with huge scale Christmas display schemes and experiential Santa’s grottos.

From coming up with creative ideas, to designing innovative products, managing contracts, and installing on site, I was involved in projects from concept to completion, turning ideas into reality.

New Arrow_0000s_0032_33
NEW Origin Story 4 - Image
NEW Origin Story 5 - Image
1996
1996

“Another Dream Come True!”

At Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, I was fortunate to do an ‘Imagineering’ program at The Disney Institute. It was fascinating to learn how Walt transformed his ideas into reality and overcame roadblocks by bringing together the creative ‘Dreamers’ and the practical ‘Doers’.

I find it intriguing how Santa Claus, Willy Wonka and Mickey Mouse all started out as an idea in someone’s imagination,  then became iconic images and have grown into global brands.

New Arrow_0000s_0012_13

As Centre Design Ltd grew I was involved in many key roles. Working with the Directors and talented teams to build the business into the UK’s leading innovator and provider of 3D design display solutions for retail environments.

Flash 1

Sparked by an idea from Ron Woodman, Marketing Manager at Metrocentre, The MetroGnomes characters were designed to represent the four coloured malls within the shopping centre. We named them Herbert, Sherbet, Maggot and Rusty, along with pet dinosaur called Metroshopasaurus!

New Arrow_0000s_0007_8
NEW Origin Story 6 - Image
NEW Origin Story 7 - Image
2005
2005

Searching for fun ideas for my 40th Birthday Party, I came across an US chocolate fountain website… WOW!!! I immediately knew I had to have one, I’d never see a chocolate fountain before in the UK… that planted the seed of an idea… 

This is why I founded Charlie’s Chocolate Factory with my engineer husband John, we created an amazing lifestyle business. 

For 10 years we enjoyed providing The Ultimate Chocolate Experience at high profile events. Another dream come true, as we were paid to go to other people’s parties and eat chocolate!

New Arrow_0000s_0004_5

“I loved my time at Centre Design, all the amazing people, projects and places I went to”

Over 25 years as the company grew I went from being their first employee, as a Designer, to Design & Display Manager, then Client Services Studio Manager. Becoming Account Manager for over 500 large-scale seasonal schemes and interactive displays for major retail centres in UK, Europe, and as far as Toronto Eaton Centre in Canada.

I was responsible for managing £1.4m p.a. account portfolio incorporating the world’s largest retail property brands. As well as being an installation and takedown Team Leader at client sites. Clients ranged from Metrocentre and Eldon Square locally, to Disneyland Paris resorts when it first opened.

New Arrow_0000s_0011_12
Ann Eldon Metro Disney
Origin Story - Look North
2013
2013

Centre Design Ltd became the leading provider of Seasonal 3D Displays and experiences. Sadly in 2013, after the business merged with a competitor and became Fuzzwire Ltd, our design studio and manufacturing facility in the North East was closed down, making us all redundant.

“I was devastated when I was made redundant. However I reframed ‘Rejection’ as ‘Redirection’… this was the push I needed to become a freelance Creative Consultant”

I could now put my decades of experience, knowledge and insight to good use providing business development, visual communications and marketing support to SME’s, Business Founders, Coaches and Creatives!

New Arrow_0000s_0012_13
2014
2014

 As a freelance consultant I was commissioned by Iain Kerr and Simon Dews, Directors of Trapeze Creative to help them reposition the company to take advantage of a gap in the market.  Over 3 months they secure £1,000,000 in new contracts which enabled them to move from The Toffee Factory in Ouseburn to a new production facility, and employed new members of staff.

New Arrow_0000s_0013_14
NEW Origin Story 9 - Image
NEW Origin Story 12 - Image
2015
2015

I then went on to do consultancy work with Paul Windle Design, one of the world’s leading creative art studios. With an impressive list of clients including The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros.

 Due to the nature of their work, everyone  had an avatar (AKA cartoon character). As the connection between the company, their clients and prospects, and with my husband called ‘Johnny English’ I was awarded the honour of becoming…

“Ann English, AKA The Bond Girl!”

New Arrow_0000s_0004_5
2016
2016

One of the North East’s longest established creative agencies Sheridan Design Ltd then called upon my vast bid writing skills to tender for major contracts in the culture, heritage and museum sectors.

“It was fantastic to be part of a talented team again, working on creative design solutions and immersive interactive displays”

Successful tender bids included ‘The Great North Greats’ touring exhibition for Great North Run Culture. ‘Mail Rai’l pop-up touring exhibition for The Postal Museum. Branding, print and digital requirements for the ‘Generation’ project.

Alongside this, I provided hands-on Visual Merchandising, Design and Display service, and The Pen Shop retail chain commissioned me to refresh their Christmas window and interior displays.

 My business evolved, as I launched the ‘Visual Marketing Academy’ to teach designer-makers, independent retailers and creative entrepreneurs the secret strategies big brands use to create intrigue, attract attention and boost sales.

And so I began a new chapter…

“To be continued…”

NEW Origin Story 14 - Image
qUOTE

Everyhting starts with an idea…