About the work
This year’s D&AD Annual will feature 50 bespoke dust jackets created by industry legends.
Icons such as Bob Gill, Paul Smith, Nick Park, Alexandra Taylor, Quentin Blake and Neville Brody have contributed new artwork on the theme 'the power of creativity'. The work is curated by D&AD President Rosie Arnold and the book is designed by Johnson Banks. D&AD 12 will be published by TASCHEN in November.
We'll be revealing the full list of the creatives involved and images of their covers in due course. In the meantime, Dave Dye shares the story behind his contribution.
Being one of 50 people asked to create a cover celebrating D&AD’s 50th Anniversary is great for the ego.
For about seven and a half minutes.
Then comes that blank page anxiety.
What the hell am I going to do?
To further increase anxiety levels, you’ve got 49 of the best minds in our business working on the same brief: Sir John Hegarty, Sir Ridley Scott, Sir Paul Smith.
(Damn, I haven’t even got a poxy O.B.E. to my name.)
Also, this blank page is even blanker than usual.
The brief – ‘Creativity’.
It’s a common misconception that creative people want complete freedom.
But it’s not true, you need something to aim at, blue sky is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Cigarette advertising became the most creative category only after the government laid down a whole bunch of tricky restrictions.
Having a problem to solve focuses the mind.
‘Creativity’. Where’s the problem?
After a few aborted attempts to think of an idea I called D&AD to try and get more information on the ‘brief’.
They said ‘I could simply sign a piece of my work if I wanted, and that would be the cover’.
Not wanting to look like a pretentious twat, I declined.
(I haven’t seen the other 49 covers yet, so apologies to any of you who have simply signed a piece of your work, you probably had a great reason, like you’re product designer? really busy or blind or…something.)
Okay, it is what it is.
The first thing I decided is that
I wanted the cover to be very personal.
I didn’t want to create some beautiful, stylish minimal thing, I wanted it to be very me, (whatever that is?)
I just wanted it to be honest and revealing. I figured that they hadn’t asked fifty people to enter a competition to see who came up with the best solution, they wanted fifty people to expose something of themselves about the way they create.
The younger me would have probably been too concerned about what my cover said about me, as opposed to what was most true of me.
But as you get on a bit you realise that worrying about other people inhibits creativity.
I’ve worked with creatives, very good ones, who’d be so selective on which briefs they took on they’d end up making only one or two ads a year, their thinking being that if they produced something substandard others would think that they were substandard.
I’ve never thought that; create stuff, do your best and if something doesn’t turn out great, you probably learnt something, worked with people you wouldn’t otherwise have worked with and did your best. It’s fine.
I digress, what do I put on this cover?
I spent the next month working on it, getting nowhere, then getting annoyed with the open brief.
One fantastically irritating month.
I can’t think of a single bloody idea.
But the brain works in mysterious ways, and I realise that IS the idea - a stream of consciousness of me getting irritated that I can’t think a single bloody idea.
So over a two hour period I wrote whatever came into my head. Occassionally I would get distracted: I wrote down that down too.
I was lucky that I had a thousand words kicking around my cranium that day, it was a good day.
But to be fair, these words weren’t carefully chosen, logically ordered or ordered at all, it was just an unedited splurge.
I told myself to be uninhibited, to write what’s true - I could always edit it later.
Reading it later I realised I couldn’t really cut anything out; not because it was so good, but because it was true.
If I polished and fiddled with it, it may fall apart and not feel real.
Its strength was that it was raw and a bit random.
It was full of stuff non-creatives don’t usually see – the bad ideas, terrible puns, overt egotism and just plain idiocy.
Which I liked.
But bringing an idea to life is tough.
Woody Allen says that his films are at their best at idea stage; what ends up on the screen never as good as what was in his head.
Turning scribbles into a finished thing is one long decision making process.
The more you question, the more decisions you will have to make, the better chance you have of executing something well.
To me the best ads can’t be separated into idea and execution, they are one one and the same.
Form follows function is another way of saying a similar thing.
But how do you know whether your form is following your function?
You break the idea into as many pieces as you can and judge each against the function.
e.g. If you have a brief to restore credibility to J.P. Morgan after they’ve just mislaid £4bn of someone else’s money, a typeface like comic sans may be less appropriate than a font like Bodoni.
Below are the various versions I went through while breaking down the idea.
In retrospect, it’s the polar opposite of the first D&AD annual I designed, the 2004 one.
It was a spoof (‘Now That’s What I Call Music’) I enlisted 40 of the fanciest dan designers to help create section dividers, I used lenticulars, I used grey silk, it was the very opposite of personal.
This one was created with a blank page and a bunch of coloured pencils, and it’s better for it.