The creative studio NorthHouse’s founder and CEO, Tom Bairstow, is regularly seen at the center of action. When it comes to delivering unmatched visual arts combining video, projection, mixed reality, and digital design for international live shows and installations, Tom’s 2011-founded company has captured the attention of the world’s population. This is true whether he is on the verge of a new business partnership, the eve of a crucial global event, or is leading his team in innovative thinking.
Among their most remarkable projects were the Super Bowl Halftime show, the Coldplay World Tour, the Dubai Expo, and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee – Party at the Palace. The King’s Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle and the Eurovision Song Contest, two of the most significant events in the United Kingdom this year, have just been performed by Tom and his team.
However, Tom’s humble roots are in Yorkshire, which is further north than London. The London-based studio’s unique inventiveness and technical execution have allowed them to build projects on every continent, from Dubai and Saudi Arabia to the United States, Canada, and South America.
Growing up, music had a big impact on me, but I was also fascinated by the magic of cinema, animation, and moving pictures. This resulted in opportunities to play in touring groups and in-depth industry expertise. The live performance component of the touring circuit seemed so true and unfiltered, and it was so lovely to see the relationships that individuals created with the overall audiovisual experience as well as with one another.
The Journey of NorthHouse in Live Performances and Beyond
I became increasingly aware of the need to find a way to connect the fields of live performances, music, art, design, and cinema. I wanted to take part in every aspect of the live performance. I leaped at the potential to combine two worlds when I noticed a rise in the use of LED video screens in live performances around this time in 2009.
Tom’s school urged him to become an engineer or an architect, and he almost became an air conditioning engineer at the time because there weren’t many prospects in Yorkshire’s creative and musical sectors.
In quest of work, Tom relocated from Yorkshire to London in 2010. He soon discovered himself creating performances for musicians like One Direction, Olly Murs, and Little Mix.
By 2012, Tom had founded NorthHouse and had started to assemble a staff by enlisting independent contractors and full-time workers.
Tom remembers: “I got as far as I could as a solitary freelancer for a few years until the burden became too much for one person. I took the risk to recruit my first employee in January 2014—a dear buddy who gave me some additional insight and helped me recognize NorthHouse’s potential.
“Shortly after, we added a second full-time artist and a talented associate artist, which significantly improved the caliber of our output. At this point, I started to understand that the team is truly the most important thing, and my job started to alter.
“As we expanded and added freelancers, we quickly landed significant jobs including the Take That world tour, the Rugby World Cup, the Super Bowl halftime show, and Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams global tour. Less time was spent on ‘tools’ and more time was spent on creative direction, team leadership, client interactions, and general company management.
Resilience and Reinvention: NorthHouse’s Journey through Adversity
Tom’s management style comprises promoting honesty and directness while establishing a culture that is supportive of team exploration and ensures that everyone’s opinion is heard. We are not the kind of studio that creates pointless stuff, says Tom. We are totally committed to the idea, the underlying meaning, and the narrative. We must continually develop innovation and produce art, and we flourish via teamwork.
The Covid-19 epidemic destroyed NorthHouse, as it did many other businesses throughout the world, but the company had a strong business and several successful projects going into the year 2020. Tom said, “I felt like we were really flying in the early 2020.” Our customer is growing quickly, which adds to our already heavy burden. The live events market, however, was in ruins when Covid came. On a personal and professional level, it was such a trying time for everyone that we all had to find our own ways to get through it.
“I learned a great deal at that time. We supported each other a lot as a group. My staff gave me and NorthHouse a lot of support since I did all in my power to keep the company afloat and make sure that everyone had a job. Together, we learned a variety of brand-new techniques and tools that would eventually propel us into a number of really intriguing new domains.
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“In my opinion, that was a turning point for us. It became very clear to me how I had let NorthHouse to function with a steadily growing clientele previous to Covid, in a pretty secure manner. It was almost shockingly invigorating to start afresh and feel tremendously voracious for new areas of work, though, when all of that had been sucked away during lockdown.
“It enhanced my urge and want to network with others from across the globe and speak with them, as well as to develop a wide range of ideas in both the actual and virtual worlds. I also made use of the time to improve my financial skills. Being compelled to step beyond of your comfort zone has merit, and lockdown certainly did that.
From Innovation to Inspiration: NorthHouse’s Journey in Augmented Reality and Beyond
NorthHouse persevered through the pandemic and developed a ground-breaking augmented reality performance, demonstrating the versatility of their innovation.
Tom said, “We came out of the first lockdown with a ground-breaking augmented reality awards show that we built, The Green Carpet Fashion Awards. I am really proud of what my team and I have accomplished. This cemented its status as a hallmark project for our further advancement.
By the time NorthHouse finished project-mapping onto Buckingham Palace for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Party at the Palace in 2022, Tom had reached his work capacity and was going through burnout like never before. By that point, NorthHouse was rejecting four projects for every one that they accepted. Fatigue is a common problem in the sector, and work-life balance is the main contributor for both administrators and suppliers, according to PCMA.org.
Tom understands the difficulty of striking a work-life balance, but he is a grounded, down-to-earth family guy who works to achieve it not just for himself and his young family, but also for his staff and to make NorthHouse a pleasant and welcoming place to work. As he firmly thinks that imparting business wisdom and supporting others is a vital part of who he is and what NorthHouse stands for, he also works to inspire and support newcomers to the field. Tom works as an Ambassador for Media at London’s Big Creative Education College, where he helps students succeed in the business by creating briefs that meet industry standards.
“I enjoy taking this outside of NorthHouse, giving talks at schools and universities, mentoring and coaching, and helping students find a place and a lifestyle in the creative world,” Tom explains.
Despite the fact that I was more worn out than ever, I felt really pleased of what we had done. It was the understanding that in order to sustain this level, our full-time crew would need to grow. We were unable to handle the rising number of requests for significant projects coming from all around the world. I had to take action quickly yet carefully, tripling the team’s size by combining Directors, Managers, and Juniors.
Tom characterizes the present scenario as follows: “As of June 2023, we have a vast roster of brilliant freelancers who join us for various areas of the projects. We also have 14 full-time workers. With such an emphasis on developing remarkable experiences that connect people and figuring out ways to support those working in the business in growing and developing, I’m interested to see where the next five years will lead us. Naturally, I have goals for the money and a plan for how NorthHouse will expand, but it’s really more about the team, the work we do, and the chances we get to explore.
To see what’s new and what they plan to do next to lift the industry bar even higher, other industry leaders are looking to Tom and his team.
Breaking Boundaries: NorthHouse’s Journey of Innovation and Global Expansion
Following their wildly successful performance with Coldplay at the 2022 Dubai EXPO, which prompted unprecedented interest from the Middle East, Tom is currently on the verge of breaking into the WANA area.
“We’re in talks with a number of parties about some amazing potential ventures. As part of Hans Zimmer’s live performance, we spent a week in Dubai working with his team. Currently, we’re developing some incredibly intriguing multi-media art installations and immersive experiences in the UK and Europe as well as negotiating tours with some incredible artists for the US and Europe. The future seems extremely interesting with such a wide range of efforts.
“Going forward, we’re dedicated to producing the most innovative performances and installations while always pushing the boundaries. The primary objective is to provide the best work possible, but there is also a continuing drive to research the newest technology and expand our skill sets and offers.
It might be challenging for a business owner to choose the ideal location within a growing studio. Being an artist and creator at heart, I totally value diving into intricate concepts and stories to establish the essence of an event or experience. However, I now see how important it is to build a brand, something special that people want to be a part of, and a top worldwide agency. building a name for quality in all facets of production, service, and culture while producing something of value. I truly value taking care of the team, identifying amazing people, supporting them in their development, and creating a beautiful environment for innovation, connection, and progress.
How NorthHouse is doing so well. Tom recently got back from presenting as a VIP speaker on NorthHouse’s work for Encanto at the Hollywood Bowl last December at Disney’s conference in Los Angeles. NorthHouse has been nominated for three BAFTA awards, winning one with BBC Studios for Best Live Event.
Tom has mastered the method for increasing his success by fusing skill, commercial sense, and technology innovation.
All of this should not be shocking considering that Yorkshire, Tom’s homeland, is known for brewing the perfect brew with a hint of Hollywood allure.
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