Central Saint Martins, MA Creative Practice for Narrative Environments (2010)
Creative Enterprise Award Winner 2012 – Digital
'Dickens: London Trails' is an interactive app that allows tourists and Londoners to explore London in the context of Dickens, and the city he knew and wrote about. "Dickens: London Trails" leads users on a series of unexpected cultural encounters, guided by characters from different Dickens novels.
Jonathan worked with partners Exhibition Road Culture Group and the Dickens Museum, as well as representatives from the various cultural quarters, and secured funding from NESTA.
What inspired you to use digital technologies to explore the history and culture of London?
I have always been interested in the potential of digital devices to create meaningful experiences for people within urban contexts, beyond just practical way finding. The Dickens Trails App was the result of pure serendipity. The CEO of Exhibition Road Culture Group came across a proof of concept I had designed as part of my MA, which followed the concept of a character-based emergent narrative experience. He spotted it at a Digital Soirée organised by CSM and said "we need one of those".
What are your tips for success in a competitive market like the app industry?
One of the key aspects of any product or service design, be it an app or a physical product, is to ensure it meets an existing or potential need by people. It is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because you like your idea and find a good use for it, then everyone else will find it useful too, but that's a logical fallacy. Try to be honest with yourself, identify what assumptions you've made and conduct enough research to prove or disprove these assumptions, so that you can create a product which others will really value and love.
What advice would you give other students hoping to make a career from their creative passion?
Be driven, reach for the sky and be prepared to fall flat on your face.
Be introspective, learn from your failures, rise up and try again.
Did studying at CSM help prepare you to work in the creative sector? What else could UAL have done?
I have great memories from my time at Central Saint Martins. When I started my MA, I had already been working in the creative sector for 8 years. While there is an intention to prepare students for life beyond the confines of the art school, CSM provided an opportunity for me to unlearn some of the assumed realities of the commercial world, steering me back into a more creative path.
What’s coming up for you next?
The idea of a PhD has always attracted me, but right now, the creative challenges of my day job are just too fun to give up.