Why we love New Blood

Ciao! We are Andrea & Silvia and, on behalf of The Gate Edinburgh, in mid-July we happily immersed ourselves in the murals and the vibrant atmosphere of Shoreditch to make the most of the 2018 D&AD New Blood Festival. So, if you missed it, and if you’re into exotic phrasing and food-related digressions, keep reading about our tasty highlights.

Every D&AD event is, of course, amazing. We are especially fond of the New Blood initiatives that invest a lot of funds and energy on supporting young creative people. Enjoying free talks by the greatest professionals of the industry, education programs, and workshops, whose quality can be compared to the classic (and more expensive) D&AD ones: you cannot ask for more. This Festival was no exception.

No creative blockages

The talks and panels we enjoyed the most

The New Blood 2018 opened with “Creative Discomforts”, a panel led by the D&AD CEO Tim Lindsay (he’s also The Gate’s chairman, so it was a nice opportunity to say hello from the Edinburgh team). Five brilliant guests discussed what makes work fearless and able to stand out, when at least 80% of the advertising out there is sh*t. They put a lot of emphasis on building a healthy relationship with the client and staying true to your values (“Beware the lollipop of mediocrity; lick it once and you’ll suck forever”, they said quoting Brian Wilson). And, at the end, everyone mentioned great examples of creativity coming to their mind (like FCK for KFC, or The Superhumans, or the Dot Watch). But when it came to Jo Arscott, an independent creative director, she said: “The best piece of work? It is yet to come”. What a powerful answer to spark the enthusiasm of the many young folk there!

More talks by great agencies’ professionals were waiting for us. We really enjoyed W+K Creative Director Scott Dungate’s “Working out what works”, about finding your own rigour throughout the many stages of a creative brief. From the brainstorming (“making your compost and keeping adding more sh*t” and “treating your ideas as if they were your children… all equal”) to the presentation (“seating your creative director far from the window”): he gave us a mix of serious and fun, but always brilliant, tips.

Then, between a visit to the Rough Trade shop and a slice of wood fired, delicious pizza (yes, we’re endorsing a pizza abroad – it’s rare but it happens), it was time to enjoy some brand-focused talks.

Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima from MinaLima charmed us with stories and anecdotes about being the design studio for the Harry Potter movies. Like, for example, spending more than 6 months designing packages, products and gadgets for a one-minute scene (in the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes). Looking for tons of old theatre posters, billboards, and more, to recreate a Time Square credibly belonging to the 20s (for Fantastic Beasts). Or designing the same product (the pumpkin juice packaging, or the Daily Prophet) for two completely different decades (Harry Potter vs. Fantastic Beasts).

LEGO’s Creative Director Vivi K. Schlägelberger displayed some recent work, but most of all told us about the four promises at the core of every creative piece produced for LEGO: the Play Promise, the People Promise, the Partner Promise and the Planet Promise. Also, she left us with a great, unexpected, highly re-tweetable piece of advice: “never ever cook fish in the office microwave”.

Last but not least, of course we attended the talk of the D&AD President and Google Lab Creative Director Steve Vranakis, displaying the most inspiring case studies from Google (check out Project Bloks, to teach kids to code, or NSynth, to make music using new sounds generated by machine learning).

Napier Uni's D&AD stand

Student stands (well done Napier!)

The chance of attending amazing talks and workshops wasn’t the only great opportunity offered to creative students. Like every year, in fact, a wide space was dedicated to College and University courses’ exhibitions.

There was plenty of cool stuff to see, from recent graduates who proudly talked you through their work. And we’ve been over the moon for the Graphic Design course from Edinburgh Napier University (where we graduated in Creative Advertising), officially awarded as the best stand of this year. But we wanted to personally elect more favourites. So we refuelled with organic truffles (a must-have, guilty pleasure of every D&AD experience), we armed ourselves with a camera and a totem bag (plenty of brochures and freebies to collect!) and we started exploring all the student stands. Three stands grabbed our attention in a special way.

One resembled the Red Light District. “We’ve been told to sell ourselves. Well, here we are”. These guys put every piece of work behind a window glass, with bank notes stuck in the corners. And just when we were tempted to grab one note, it revealed to be an individual business card. So we did grab it, guilt-free (BA Hons Creative Advertising, Leeds Arts University).

Another stand was built as an airport gate. There were little fun gadgets, and the departures panel was showing the cities that each creative hopes or plans to work in. They also built a VR experience: wearing the glasses, you were sent to a virtual airport gate displaying their work on the walls. You could move through different rooms and see more about every piece, just staring at it for some seconds (BA Graphic Design, University of Gloucestershire).

Finally, one stand featured a giant View-Master, complete with a big reel filled with the students’ work, and two holes made for giant eyes (or, more likely, for our curious heads). They also had some original vintage View-Masters, and you could see the work through their small reels, too. (BA Graphic Media and Communication, University Centre Somerset).

In conclusion, the New Blood ‘18 offered us, as expected, so much more than the best street food of Shoreditch and some warm summer days in London (all stuff that, needless to say, is always a bonus). It gave us inspiration, energy and the reassuring/challenging perception of the talented folk around there, and the amazing work that is just waiting for someone to make it.

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