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Dan with his winning Scout badge design.

Dan with his winning Scout badge design.

The ad that made Dan want to make ads.

The ad that made Dan want to make ads.

Dan on his 21st birthday. 

Dan on his 21st birthday. 

Some of Dan's work. 

Some of Dan's work. 

A drawing Dan did when he found out he had cancer. 

A drawing Dan did when he found out he had cancer. 

Styling it out in hospital. 

Styling it out in hospital. 

Love.

Love.

Dan and Mirella in Vietnam.

Dan and Mirella in Vietnam.

Harry, Sarah, Dan and Chloe taking on chores. 

Harry, Sarah, Dan and Chloe taking on chores. 

Dan and Coops in Croatia. 

Dan and Coops in Croatia. 

Dapper drilling.

Dapper drilling.

Mr. Dan Wallace

The terminally ill appreciate things in life that the rest of us take for granted. Dan Wallace certainly did. The thing about Dan though, is that he was always like that. With a ridiculous appetite for life and relentless energy and ideas, he always looked for ways to improve things – to turn challenges into something fun.

His love of art and design was evident from a young age, as he scooped up prizes at colouring-in competitions and even re-designed his Scout group’s badge.

Nurturing this talent, he later studied graphic design in his home town of Brighton, surrounded by his mates and designing everyday. Life couldn’t get much better.

It was while reading a copy of Creative Review that he came across an article about the legendary Sony ‘Balls’ TV advert, where millions of colourful balls hypnotically cascade down the streets of San Francisco. It blew him away and inspired him to step out of his comfort zone, move to the big smoke and learn how to make adverts for himself.

He applied for a place at the School of Communication Arts in Vauxhall. Even as a child, he had been excited by the energy of London and when he found out he’d been accepted he danced with joy. He made an impact the moment he arrived at the school. He was loud and opinionated and as a result, ruffled a few feathers. 

Dan was an annoying gobshite when I first met him. Then I got to know him better, and it didn’t take long for me to realise that the annoying gobshiteness was fuelled by an irrefutably magnetic passion for life. Dan had a refreshing opinion on any subject presented to him. He wouldn’t back down if he knew he was in the right. He’d make sure that everyone knew where he stood. He gave a shit. Sure, annoying if you were on the other side to him. But if you found yourself on the same side as Dan, it was nothing short of inspiring. I will never forget his infectious spirit.
— Alex Moore
Dan was part of a small intake that year, but he just filled the room with his personality. He had so much presence, such energy – and it was contagious. And when it came to the work he just threw himself into everything. Every brief was a challenge to do something amazing, which is a very rare attitude amongst students.
— Marc Lewis, Dean of SCA 2.0

The first few weeks of the SCA course challenged students preconceptions, teaching them radical new ways to solve problems. Dan was in his element. His mischievous nature loved the idea of challenging the status quo. 

A brief to get people to visit the furniture retailer DFS, saw Dan work on an idea that turned stores into cinemas, inviting people to watch films whilst trying out sofas. With fellow student Victoria, he worked on a Greenpeace campaign designed to encourage Volkswagon to make cleaner and more efficient cars. They proposed a stunt featuring an animatronic polar bear suffocating inside a VW Polo, like a dog in a hot car. Dan and Victoria's creative talent was officially recognised when they made it into the 2010 D&AD book for their McDonalds work. 

I worked with Dan on McDonalds. And to get our heads around the brief and the brand, we worked IN McDonalds. I don’t mean for just a few hours while we ate a burger. We were there for maybe 20 hours plus, just watching people. Checking out people’s habits. Talking to them. Eating weird combinations like fries in ice cream and BBQ sauce on everything. It was fun.
— Victoria Trow

Studying at SCA involves an enormous amount of dedication and sacrifice. On the eve of his 21st birthday, finding himself working through the night on an important pitch, he reflected on the school blog:

Every waking second is worth it, every drop of sweat is worth it, every mile cycled or pound spent is worth it. Why? Because I am privileged to have found something I want to do. Some people never find this, and I found it at 18
— Dan

Despite a demanding schedule at school, Dan still found time for side projects. He rebranded a cosmetic surgery on Dover Street and collaborated with the makers of iPhone app CrossProcessed, designing a website to promote images taken by their users. Even during half term he found time to re-decorate one of the school playrooms with graffiti. Dan was never someone to let an opportunity pass him by. Dan's drive was matched only by his generosity and kindness. He loved to collaborate, even inviting other students to work on pitches he's already won on his own. 

Dan was a bright and burning ball of energy. He saw everyday as an opportunity to rip the ozone layer a new one. And everyday he did just that. Always blazing with passion. Pushing for perfection. Doing it, redoing it, sweating it a bit more until it was just right.
— Victoria Trow
He never backed down without a fight. No half measures. That boy had an awful lot of will, so found a shit ton of ways. He found the fun in the boring, no matter how well it hid
— Sam Jenkins
I worked on the scholarship competition that Dan was running and every now and then Dan would check in, whether it be a tweet or a Facebook message, he was very encouraging and his praise meant a lot. I looked up to Dan as he was where I wanted to be and I’ll forever be thankful for the help he gave.
— Olly Wood

In the summer of 2011 Dan began complaining of pains in his chest and back, and in October discovered he had a very rare type of cancer – of which only 200 cases had been diagnosed since 1989. Naturally, this was considered cool by Dan. He was given a 50/50 chance of survival, but didn’t contemplate not beating it.

As Dan was young and fit, the doctors decided to hit the cancer hard, with gruelling 80-hour chemo sessions. After his treatment, he would go home, be very ill for a few days, and then return to school. Despite the toll it was taking on him, Marc and Dan’s family thought it would do Dan good to have a distraction. So, they encouraged him to have a crack at that year’s D&AD brief. Working with Sophie, they came up with an integrated launch campaign for a new Channel 4 service, winning a Best in Year award.

After his first chemo session, it emerged that the situation was worse than first thought. The chemo would probably extend his life, but was unlikely to cure him.

Following this news Dan decided to travel to Amsterdam to stay with his friend Sam, who’d studied with him at SCA. It was on this trip he met Mirella, who he fell immediately in love with, purposely missing his flight home so that he could spend more time with her. He desperately wanted to tell her then that he was seriously ill, but because she was about to finish her degree and he didn’t want to distract her, he instead waited for two months. When he did tell her they went on holiday to Italy together.

With his treatment not making progress, he was offered a trial of a new medication not yet available in the UK. These new drugs had the curious side-effect of turning his hair and beard completely white, like a kind of hip Papa Smurf. With this new treatment he began to feel stronger and the tumour stopped growing. He was overjoyed, and he and Mirella began to plan an epic motorcycle adventure across South East Asia, inspired by the Top Gear episode where they travel around Vietnam on scooters.

Ever the entrepreneur, while staying in Laos, Dan arranged to do a photo shoot for a bar, turning their creativity into free food and accommodation. After an amazing trip they returned to London, found a flat together and Dan resumed his battle against cancer. 

While in hospital he would teach the old men on his ward how to use their mobile phones and fetch them their morning papers. He also still had the creative itch – a fellow patient’s son ran an overseas charity, so naturally Dan was soon hard at work redesigning their website. He even found time to rebrand a sandwich shop in the station near the hospital. 

All in all Dan completed five 80-hour bouts of chemo. It was just before the 6th session that doctors told him that it there was no chance of a cure, all they could do was give him more time. He decided there and then that he’d rather spend his remaining time with his two siblings, hatching an elaborate plan to escape from hospital to spend half-term with them.

In his last few months, Dan packed in so much. He went to Paris with friends and made a short film and toured Croatia with his good friend Cooper, coming up with designs for an Olympic sailing team and a catering company.

His sense of humour and zest for life never left him. While back home with his family, Dan once made them all dress up in their Sunday best, even though they were just going round to his Grandad’s house to borrow a drill. In hospital he’d always pack pyjamas and insist on coordinated socks.

Dan’s battle against cancer finally ended on the 30th April 2013, at home in the London flat he was so very proud of. He was 22, and will always be remembered by his family and many, many friends as a man who lived life to the absolute fullest, and would have gone on to take over the world.