Sean Clarke will take over as MD of Aardman as the studio’s co-founder David Sproxton steps down from the role after 43 years at the helm.
Sean has been at the company for more than two decades and headed up the International Rights and Marketing department for more than a decade.
David, who will remain on the trustee board and act as a consultant on future Aardman projects, says he is “delighted that Sean cut through very strong competition to take my place”.
“He has a deep understanding of the creative culture at Aardman - which will ensure continuity - in addition to a very strong, clear and exciting strategy to take the company forward, so it will certainly not be resting on its laurels,” he adds.
Sean joined Aardman as Head of Consumer Products in 1998, after several years as UK Licensing Director for Disney Consumer Products. In 2008, he became Head of Rights and Brand Development, responsible for global brand development and distribution of Aardman and third-party rights across film, TV, DVD and digital, merchandising and licensing, and themed attractions and live events.
Credited with being instrumental in developing Aardman’s now 30-strong rights team, Sean’s other achievements include launching successful YouTube channels, and moving Aardman beyond on-screen storytelling to events and theme parks, including the launch of the first Shaun the Sheep Land in Sweden in 2015.
Sean says: “It’s an honour to be taking on the MD role and a privilege to be leading Aardman in this exciting new era of employee ownership. The studio’s strength has always been in its visionary creativity and storytelling expertise which, combined, mean that we are able to adapt to new platforms and changes in the way we consume entertainment whilst delivering consistently inspiring, funny and engaging animation.
“Ensuring that our independent spirit and our unique blend of innovation and integrity remain at the heart of everything we do – while nurturing and supporting sensational new creatives alongside our existing roster of incredible talent – will be a guiding principle.”
Echoing the sentiments of David, Peter Lord, co-founder and Creative Director of Aardman, adds: “Sean is the perfect candidate to handle its rich diversity and lead us on to ever-greater things. Most importantly, along with his expertise in the global marketplace, he brings a deep understanding of the legacy and culture of Aardman. Sean will thrive on the challenge.”