Hello! It’s been a long time I know, for that I apologise. I’ve recently graduated and it’s been a whirlwind of ceremonies, celebrations and CV’s. So, whilst I need to play a bit of catch up first; I have a lot of ideas for future blog posts, so as always I appreciate you patience. Anyway, first catch up, back in July I had an amazing experience exhibiting at this year’s D&AD New Blood. For those that don’t know, D&AD is an organisation which promotes Design and Art Direction usually with a big focus on branding. Every year it hosts ‘New Blood’, a big event where live briefs from various companies are posted out to all students. The select few who have fulfilled their chosen brief most creatively are awarded the coveted ‘Yellow Pencil’ award. I didn’t enter this year, but as a part of the ‘New Blood’ season it hosts a sort of ‘trade fair’ style exhibition which universities can partake in.
The best of the best from the universities are put forward in their stalls, hoping to attract potential new students as well as showcase new talent. There are many articles which better articulate the sheer amount of talent and creative work (I will post these articles at the end) than I could, so instead I’m going to focus more on the range of exhibits, some interesting observations and our own stall. (Also because I’m an idiot for not taking down names so I can’t credit them.)
Firstly, the amount of people that pass through those stalls are incredible, some are just curious passer-bys and others are no nonsense industry people, perhaps looking to snap up the next hotshot creative. Even so, one of the undeniable benefits is having the opportunity to talk to a range of people as well as fellow students. Of course, despite these large numbers, each university is continually vying for attention; months of preparation is put in layout, concept and content of the stall all in the hopes of getting as much of this short and fleeting attribute as possible. Unfortunately, as is with competitive environments like these, there are always many students that get left in the dust. The stalls are small and some universities excel at making it work, utilising the space really well. Others go for a strong and eye-catching theme like the fish mongers (see below).
However most students never get the light of day, which is a shame and it had a tendency to pit student against student. There were a fair few internal conflicts in regards to whose work was to be shown in many institutions.
It is also interesting seeing the bigger universities, who have more money/resources and comparing them with the smaller universities. The usually buy up multiple stalls, putting up a lavish display of Macs and printed brochures whilst smaller ones just put up some work and leave. Talking to one student, they were told by their tutor that they were only allowed to bring what they could carry on the train, as they couldn’t afford van transport. Which brings me to another downside; unless your university is close to London or mega-rich you’re going to have a hard time at D&AD. Not saying it’s their fault at all, but as I was walking around, the further away universities got from London they were usually simpler and unmanned. Which makes sense, to transport everything from say, Wales, must be a hell of a lot more expensive and time consuming, even getting students to man the stalls is harder. Who is going to cover the cost of travel? Where would they stay?
Despite this, it is an amazing experience, which provides a steep but enjoyable learning curve for those that partake in it. I’m glad that there is networking opportunities like this and it’s an interesting place to observe the politics behind trade fair shows. As a bonus there were also lots of competitions, freebies and talks throughout the day.
However, I suppose you’re curious to know what our stall looked like, so without further ado, our stall:
We designed our own hanging system; the peg boards we created and drilled ourselves, and we were fortunate enough to have had a glass table which one of our tutors designed specifically for D&AD in the previous years. Luckily we were a smallish group so we tried our best to represent as many of us as possible. A lot of people commented that our stall was different which was nice and received great feedback, although many thought we were an illustration course. It’s interesting, as I was in a multi-disciplinary course but according to our tutors, this was the year most of us chose a more image-based final outcome. In the end, we didn’t win any ‘best stall’ awards but I was proud of our stall and the work we put into it. It’ll be interesting to revisit next year’s D&AD…
So that was a brief overview of my experience at D&AD and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you like trade fair style exhibitions? Were you in a university that exhibited? What were your thoughts on it? Until next time!