How to get through D&AD New Blood season in one piece – By @TomoWrites

By Tomo Taka


How to get through D&AD New Blood season in one piece


Aaaaaand breathe.

D&AD New Blood is over. And we’ve all managed to get through it unscathed. It’s strange to think how something given so much attention can go by in such a flash. As Marc said last week, D&AD New Blood was our first real challenge and we came out fighting.

Here are a few pointers I think might help future SCAers get through the frenzy.

(I realise there may be a credibility problem here because we’ve only just finished the process. For all we know, I could’ve completely screwed up my entries. So take everything with a pinch of salt. But hopefully there’s something useful to take away)

1) Start early.

It’s good to start thinking about D&AD as soon as Marc gives you the go-ahead. Do your research on the briefs and once you have everything you need to know, get cracking with the fun part. How early is early? We started during the half-term break just a few weeks before the deadline… 

2) But don’t worry about cracking it early.

I say we started during the half-term break but few things actually got cracked during that week. I’m not sure anybody’s ideas from that period made it anywhere. You might strike gold then – and if you do, great – but don’t worry. None of the briefs I ended up submitting were the briefs I worked on during half term.

3) Do it with different partners.

Even this far into SCA, many of us are still trying out different partners. Maybe there are a few people you know you work well with, so go with them. But try some wild cards too.

4) Change up briefs.

Don’t get bogged down on the same brief. Switch up what you’re doing every couple of hours. Unless you’re ‘in flow’ with one thing. When you’re in a rhythm on a given brief, ride that beat and see where you go. 

5) Exercise.

At least at the beginning, things won’t feel so pressing. Don’t neglect your health. Take the opportunity to go for a run. The weather’s a bit nicer this time of year. And it’s a useful creative technique to just get out and try think some stuff up. You never know what a jog down the canal might conjure.

6) Look after your health leading up to it.

Your body will take a battering in the days leading up to deadline day. The healthier you are in the run up to D&AD, the more you’ll be able to tolerate the late nights and takeaway diet. Think of a boxer’s training camp. They run for miles and push their bodies to the limit not so they can knock out a guy in the 1st but so they can last till the 12th.  D&AD is the same. You’ll need to make it to the last round.

7) Listen to new music.

When you get to the crafting stage, there’s a lot of Adobe gazing. Find a good soundtrack for those hours you’ll never get back toggling the layer opacity in After Effects.

8) Learn Adobe After Effects.

Get to grips with it at the beginning of the school year if you can. Make GIFs with it. Create dumb animations with it. Learn its mechanics, work out the effect presets and you’ll be tearing out a little less hair come D&AD season.

8) Listen to old music.

A couple of creatives taught us a technique they use where they think of their brand as a celebrity. I ended up doing something similar with music. We wanted one of our projects to have a bit of attitude and punch to it. I ended up listening to groups like the Beastie Boys to make sure that energy and boldness came through in the work.

9) Get ready for sleepovers.

In the week leading up to D&AD, I spent more nights at the house of someone I was working with than my own. I saw more of their adopted cat than my own flatmate. So pack a toothbrush and some spare contact lenses.

(Shoutout to Malou, Mona, Henry, Christine, Banana and their couch)

10) Save your Deliveroo and Uber Eats discount codes.

Don’t waste them on a weekend hangover. Save them for D&AD.

11) Embrace it. Laugh at how ridiculous the situation is.

There’ll be a time where you’re up late with your copywriter or art director and you’re arguing about the timing of a sound effect in a case study video. And when that happens, know that it’s because you’re both passionate about what you’re trying to achieve. That’s actually a nice feeling.

12) Have some perspective. Nobody else cares.

It’s not life and death. Nobody else gives a toss. I went for lunch with a mate to try to get some insight into his work, which happened to be related to a brief. The research part of our chat lasted 5 minutes.

13) Remember that it’s not the be all and end all.

Winning a pencil won’t get you a job.

14) Don’t forget your portfolio.

Marc says this. Everyone else says this. So I didn’t want to put it on here but it’s the thing that will help you get a job.

15) Don’t be scared by this SCAB.

Before I started SCA, I remember reading these types of SCABs giving us tips and pointers. But all they did was make the whole ordeal sound more daunting. Don’t worry if you feel that way reading this. You’ll be fine. Just take what you want. It’s not gospel. 

16) Don’t forget to be you.

Don’t give up your whole life during D&AD season. Keep watching weekly episodes of your favourite show. Listen to your podcasts. Tune into your football team’s matches. ‘D&AD New Blood is four weeks. Chelsea is for life.’

17) The real battle starts when D&AD is over.

More of a note to self.

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