Lessons Learned from D&AD NewBlood Awards , by @AdamTaylorSmith 

Adam Taylor-Smith

By Adam Taylor-Smith

Student awards don’t necessarily get you a job. And as Dave Trott said last week, ‘who the fuck wants an award that’s for students anyway?’

However, at this point in the year they feel like a fairly big deal. Our D&AD New Blood entries are signed off tomorrow and the stress in the room was tangible on Friday.

Having got to this stage, I thought I’d reflect and note down a few things about the process. I should point out that I have no idea whether my entry will be successful or fail. This isn’t a guide on how to win, simply some observations that were true for me.

  1. The D&AD New Blood Awards aren’t for everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with deciding not to enter for the right reason. If you do decide to enter, then don’t give up. I’m pretty sure the regret of not having had a go would be a lot worse than the feeling of entering and not winning.
  2. Time it takes to animate a two minute video = 6 x (time you thought it would take)² + 4 days
  3. If you’re an art director, learn to use After Effects before you start making your D&AD entry. Truthfully, it’s not as difficult as it looks but that is very hard to believe when you open it days before the deadline and you have no idea what a keyframe is.
  4. The most important time to plan each day, remember to exercise, sleep and eat well is when you think you have absolutely no time to do any of those things.
  5. The hardest time to plan each day, remember to exercise, sleep and eat well is when you think you have absolutely no time to do any of those things.
  6. Try and commit to an idea with more than enough time to push it and craft it. You will almost always feel like you could have a better idea if you keep going, but at some point you have to make what you have the best it can be. It’s very possible that somebody out there will have had the same idea as you, but the winner will be the one who pushed it furthest and made it the best.
  7. Having said that, it’s not too late until 5pm on Tuesday. Even if you only have an idea on the Friday before, just try and make it. It will be a horrible weekend and you might fail spectacularly but there is also every chance that you will come out with an adrenalin fuelled piece of brilliance. In the low moments just refer back to point 1. And in the dangerously low moments refer ahead to point 10.
  8. If you are in a partnership, this is the time to truly appreciate the value of sharing the load. Some partnerships don’t make it through, and perhaps they weren’t meant to be. But it’s a testing time for the strongest of unions. You need to be able to be told when you are being a bit of a knob, and you need to be able to tell them when they are being a bit of a knob. Remember you are not competing against each other. They are your closest ally and you need to be able to laugh with them about how ridiculous the whole thing is. If you come out the other side together you know you are on to a winner regardless of whether you get an award.
  9. Try not to neglect other projects because of D&AD New Blood. It’s easy to get annoyed with the deadlines that continue to pile up around you. They seem like an unnecessary nuisance, but the reality is – if you do nothing but D&AD and then you don’t win, what have you got to show for it?
  10. Remember it’s only advertising. Don’t let sleep deprivation and panic allow you to loose your sense of perspective. To most people in the real world a pencil sounds like a terrible prize anyway. And in the advertising world, you have the rest of your career to win one.

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