Want great graduates? Learn to teach.
Recently several members of the For the People design team undertook the role of guest tutors for a group of Visual Communication students at UTS as part of the D&AD New Blood awards.
D&AD New Blood is a globally recognized creative industry competition for students and graduates that offers them an international platform to demonstrate their talent and creativity, putting them on the radar of the world’s best creative agencies, recruiters and design publications.
Winners quickly move into the best jobs to work on the most exciting briefs, set by industry-leading clients, and grounded in the real problems facing their businesses, covering everything from brand and digital to experiential and typography.
Over a period of several months we’ve led and mentored the students, working alongside Nicky Hardcastle, the UTS Vis Com tutor as they took on these briefs, working in groups and bringing them to life on time for the entry deadline. We came to this relationship having been involved with D&AD for the past four years, the Hatchery at UTS and the student incubator we ran at For The People.
Being an industry mentor is often as inspiring as it can sometimes be challenging.
One of the main problems we encountered was that, given that contact was limited to available times, working was very different to the usual creative tension and interaction of the design studio.
For example, suggestions made one week would be repeated verbatim the next as justifications for decisions which sometimes might drive a project down a strange direction. As a result, as a mentor and team leader, you have to work like a surgeon, tactically and directly, making the key decisions to right its course.
One of the ways we got around such intermittent contact and helped to expedite decisions was using team communication app Slack to open up a constant channel between studio and students. Many studios including ourselves use Slack daily to speed up communication within a team and with clients. By encouraging them to constantly communicate we could give them an insight into studio life.
The most rewarding part of the experience was seeing how students — often juggling study and other commitments, and without the knowledge, experiences or expectations that often come with working in the industry — tackled their briefs so creatively and originally.
Many chose to rebrand Crowne Plaza, a brief aimed at creating a more relevant, engaging experience for young business travelers, and nothing was off the table — no matter how weird, unexpected and surreal… a love hotel crossed with a quickie mart, anyone?
Helping them focus down on what was most relevant, exciting and actionable became a big part of our role, in helping them work out how their ideas might fulfill both the awards’ criteria and their client’s brief.
“We worked with the students on their presentations. For Crowne Plaza, it made sense to use a customer journey touchpoint framework as a base to tell the story of the brand.” — Mel Baillache
The moment when they presented their final submissions was amazing.
The journey can be tricky and it is a sizable commitment, but the value of being involved in the D&AD New Blood program for both aspiring designer and industry mentors can’t be overestimated.
As an industry, we have a responsibility to help train the kind of designers we want, and that can only happen with meaningful, committed engagement.
In the coming months we’ll find out how our talented students got on, and whether they made it into the D&AD annual and are awarded a D&AD pencil, an invite to attend D&AD New Blood Academy, a week long intensive creative boot camp for New Blood winners.
But whatever happens, they should be proud of the hard work and excellent creative work they delivered with such passion and commitment over the course of this project.
Having spent the past few weeks checking and re-checking the D&AD New Blood Twitter feed for any news, we were thrilled to hear that one of our groups from UTS has been awarded a New Blood pencil.
‘Down To Business — Up To No Good’ was one of the winning Crowne Plaza responses. An amazing effort from everyone involved delivered a result we could only dream of.
So, apart from the glory and kudos what does this really mean? For the Lina, Annabel and Samson it instantly propels them into a select group of graduates. Judged by some of the best in the industry to be worthy of recognition. As pencil winners they’ve been given something which will set them apart from their peers as they begin their careers in the coming months and years. More than that, they have a shot at attending the D&AD New Blood Academy, an immersive two week course lead by some of the best creative minds from the WPP group. Winning a graduate competition has unlocked more potential learning and growth, D&AD isn’t about the prize, it’s about the opportunities you open up.
From our point of view this result does several things:
It proves that mentorship works, investing in young talent and helping them understand your learnings from the front line of the industry pays off. That if we want the graduates we need to keep our industry vital and relevant we can help create them.
It gives Australian design education the opportunity to be recognised in the top tier of creative competitions, helping bring more focus to the great designers who are educated, work and teach here.
Finally, hopefully it will mean more designers see the value of mentorship, and by getting stuck in they can have a direct effect on the industry we all love.
Tutors from UTS:
Mentors from For The People: