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Tips for creating winning work

Create Winning Work

Every year, we award a damn inspiring line-up of emerging creatives as part of New Blood. Here, New Blood Pencil winners and New Blood Academy attendees share some of their top tips for tackling briefs and creating winning work. They do know what they're on about, after all. 

Tom Manning, New Blood Trustee

Consume. Digest. Print the brief, read it, highlight it, cut it up, rearrange it, and then forget about it. Fill up on culture, cartoons and quotes, let your mind drift and your subconscious will do the hard work.

Set a deadline. D&AD kindly give you plenty of time to work on the briefs. But allow yourself longer than a fortnight and you’ll talk yourself out of every good idea you have. Set a deadline, work furiously, and then go for a pint.

Regret nothing. Sorry for sounding like a self-help book, but you can have excuses for not having what you want, or you can have what you want. You’ll find satisfaction knowing that you couldn’t have done any more.

Magic. Magic has the power to surprise and delight. What’s more, the rules don’t apply to magic. Aim to solve a brief with such elegance and simplicity that it seems as if you just waved a wand.

Kill your babies. Be brave enough to kill an idea that isn’t working. But love your experiments as you would an ugly child.

Serve dessert first. Beware the case study video. Cut the preamble and get to the point. Don’t make the judges wait by burying your genius or saving the best until last. Knock them out in the first 10 seconds.

One more piece of advice. Be wary of who you listen to. Opinions can be helpful, but too many can weigh you down, and dilute your ideas. Be informed but be brave – learn to trust your own voice.


Jack Beveridge, 2014 New Blood Yellow Pencil-Winner

Last year he was thinking 'Shit. What now?'. Now he has a D&AD Yellow Pencil and works at Google Creative Labs.

1. Two can be better than one. Two briefs? Working in pairs or teams? Just don’t work in isolation all the time.

2. Find the truth. Because if it’s true, nobody can argue with it.

3. Flaunt it like a peacock. When you have that killer idea don’t let yourself down by not being able to sell it. 

4. Keep it simple. You’ll probably be told this a thousand times. This is the best piece of copy I’ve ever read because it says WHY simplicity is important.

5. Go there. Whenever you come up with ideas don't just sit at your desk. You need to go there. Touch it, feel it, even lick it. Otherwise you're drawing from what's already in your head, and that's probably going to be what other people have in their head. So to get a unique insight and perspective, you need to experience it.

6. Don't hide your ideas. At school we’re told not to share our answers. This is completely counterintuitive. If you share your ideas, tell your friends, your mum, your dog…you’ll be amazed how much you get back and how quickly an idea can grow.

7. Don't forget to eat. It’s going to be tough. There will be late nights and pressured moments but don’t forget the little things.


Anna Barton, 2014 New Blood Black Pencil-Winner

Winning a coveted New Blood Black Pencil in 2014, Anna has worked at several studios including The Partners, Alphabetical and The Chase & Purpose.

YAOASORGO - (You are only a student or recent graduate once) It's the New Blood equivalent of YOLO. You don't have any barriers that exist in the industry - break rules & take advantage of your creative freedom.

Go beyond the brief. Write a short list of questions the brief is asking and keep going back to them. Tick those boxes. But don't stop there. Think what no one else is doing - stretch your idea as far as it goes.

You might cry a bit. Trial and error is key. A truly brilliant outcome has usually had a few flops on its journey to greatness. Go on the scenic route rather than the quickest. Try everything and document it.

Wow people. Fast. Can you explain your idea on a post it? Remember, judges will initially spend 5 minutes looking at your work. Don't let their minds wander - get straight to the point.


Daniel David, 2014 Yellow Pencil-winner

He won a D&AD Yellow Pencil in the 2014 Radio Centre brief. Now he whizzes up words as a Copywriter at Lida.

1. Keep honing. Even if your idea's great, if it's really obvious there might be dozens of people who'll submit the same thing. So then it comes down to 'Can I execute this idea better than anyone else?' It's not just about the concept, it's about the craft. 

2. Keep pushing. If you've got an idea that's good, a lot of other people might be doing it, it's worth spending time coming up with something a bit more off the wall.

3. Enter more than one category. For pragmatic reasons, don't put all your eggs in one basket. And also it's that old cliché that you'll solve one brief while working on another.

4. Impostor syndrome. I think more young creatives actually suffer from this than from overconfidence. When you do get a break, realise that you deserve to be there.

5. Just keep swimming. There's a Zen story that really sticks with me. Just substitute creativity for enlightenment... 

The disciple goes to his master and says 'Master, what is the secret to enlightenment?'

And the master says: 'Start.'
So the disciple goes away and thinks about this, and when he comes back to the master he says 'OK, so what do I do after I start?'
And the master says: 'Continue.'

And that's it. Sometimes you think that there has to be a more profound secret to it, but really it's like Woody Allen said: 80% of it is just showing up. 

6. And if you do win...please please practice your winning smile beforehand. Also, get a haircut.


So there they are, spotlighted tips from D&AD Pencil winners and Academy attendees. That's what works for them, but there are many ways to skin a cat. (Don't skin any cats please.) If in doubt you can always come back to Team New Blood's big three :

1. Read the Brief.

2. Be Brave.

3. Keep it Simple.

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