34.0522° N, 118.2437° W

‘We should always be aiming to do the best work globally.’

Gems in this


Explore Playbook

Feature by Michael Canning

Blending both branding and entertainment, Patrick Clair is an Emmy-award winning director whose work with Sydney creative studio Antibody saw him work with TV channels ABC, MTV and NBC, among others. When filmmaking collective Elastic came calling, however, he relocated to the US for a new role.

As resident creative director at the studio’s Santa Monica site, Patrick's first job was the title sequence for acclaimed series True Detective, with further TV shows including Halt and Catch Fire following on. We spoke to him about how travel inspires him and what to expect when you move to LA.


On where you’re living

Venice Beach, California.

On what motivated you to move to LA

The work, and the sun.

On your perception of LA after living there

Before I came here, I didn’t think about how LA is a desert… literally, dry and arid and full of cactus. There’s lots of boring urban grid, but also spectacular desert scenery and dramatic mountainscapes.

Iconic main title design for HBO series, True Detective

On differences in culture between Australia and America

Americans take fewer holidays, so I think Aussies living here always need to make sure they don’t lose the urge to travel. Travel is key to understanding the world and delivering good creative insights. Also, the commutes are killer — I try to spend a few weeks every year in other cities that are more walking-friendly.

On what inspires you about LA

Big windswept skies. Good street art. Global food culture (same as Sydney, but better tacos). The ghosts of Hollywood past, and the legacy of filmmaking greats.

On how living abroad inspires your work

I like the global perspective here. People from all around the world travel here to make films and tell stories. Anything is possible, as the expectation is that we should all always be aiming to do the best work globally.

‘Travel is key to understanding the world and delivering good creative insights.’

On having a foreign accent

There’s lots of foreigners here, and Aussies get a good rap.

On something everyone should do when they arrive in LA

Start at the coast, and drive Sunset Boulevard all the way inland to Silver Lake — see how the city changes from district to district. Each neighborhood has its own character.

On a key LA tip

Don’t trust the outside of any structure. The fanciest restaurants are hidden in the dirtiest strip malls. The coolest spaces are inside the most boring corporate office parks. The most important decisions can happen in both marble palaces and grim windowless boardrooms, either is equally likely — always consider the creative, and don’t judge anything by appearances.

Main title design for HBO series, Westworld

On something to be prepared for


On where you go for creative inspiration

My favourite bookstore in Downtown is Hennessey + Ingalls.

My favourite bookstore on the west side is Arcana in Culver City.

The movies. Mulholland Drive. Skylight Books in Los Feliz, followed by a picnic at Hollyhock House, from where you can watch the police helicopters buzz across the city.

Taking long drives up the Pacific Coast Highway along Malibu.

‘Don’t trust the outside of any structure...the most important decisions can happen in both marble palaces and grim, windowless boardrooms. Either is equally likely.’

On a new phrase you’ve learned in LA

June Gloom — the name for the ocean fog that settles on the coast all summer mornings. It cooks off by lunch to give glorious summer days.

On a must have item in LA


On your favourite neighbourhood

Venice or Downtown LA; the city is too massive for just one.

Adidas Superstar brand campaign

On where to get a good coffee

Gjusta in Venice; Demitasse in Santa Monica; Superba Food + Bread in Venice

On something hard to find from Australia

Good Aussie Shiraz — the stuff they sell here is often sweeter than at home.

On something you wish you’d been told about LA

Downtown is not the center, traffic runs to Santa Monica in the morning, and the 10 is a carpark heading east after 2pm. Live near work and be happy. Consider good coffee when choosing which neighborhood to make your home.


Related stories & places