The Next category at the D&AD Awards recognises up-and-coming creatives, focusing on those fresh to the industry. Already flying high producing interesting and relevant work, these winners have only been producing work commercially for up to three years. Here, Next pencil-winners from the 2021 awards share their stories on getting their foot in the door and establishing themselves, sharing insights along the way.
Don’t let bad experiences at school dictate your aspirations at work
Hans Augustenborg, Next Creative, Next Wood Pencil
Creative, art director and entrepreneur Hans Augustenborg, who is represented by Uncle Grey, never felt like an archetypal advertising creative, but outside college he loved working on personal projects. From surf films and art projects, to launching small start-ups, he worked on real-life projects rather than focusing his energy on theoretical briefs at school.
“Luckily for me, it turned out that the creative directors at the agencies would much rather hear about my surf trips or a start-up project than my ideas for non-real school briefs and to me this was key,” he explains. “I understood that personality and passion projects weigh heavier than school projects… And of course, some Adobe skills help too!”
He also recommends bouncing ideas off a good selection of people because, while it can be exposing, the process will streamline your pitch until it’s in the best possible shape.
Accept the challenge of learning on the job
Eva Cremers, Next Illustrator, Next Wood Pencil
3-D illustrator Eva Cremers stumbled from illustration to 3-D after gaining an internship from Man vs Machine and falling in love with the discipline while learning the ropes. After being asked to learn Cinema4D she threw herself into the task and realised it was for her – but it was a process.
“I learned so much by just taking on projects and finding out how to do it when I already said yes – whoops! I do believe that you learn the most when things get a bit uncomfortable.”
She overcame nerves and work issues by tackling them one step at a time as she gained skills her confidence grew alongside it.
“There were so many technical hiccups, things I didn’t know yet and I ran into many problems while working on my first paid projects. I overcame this by just doing it, solving each problem along the way!”
Learning to operate in the global marketplace can reap rewards
Haocheng Zhang, Next Designer, Next Wood Pencil
Designer Haocheng Zhang realised graphic design was for him because it gave him a concrete way of expressing himself in the world. For Zhang, operating globally has meant learning more languages to effectively communicate with as many members of the international community as possible.
“As a new and cutting-edge graphic designer, I need to overcome language problems during an internship or work in Europe, so I have been learning foreign languages continuously to make myself work more efficiently,” he says.
When there is no clear path to follow, don’t be afraid to create your own
Mitch Kalisa, Next Director, Next Wood Pencil
Director Mitch Kalisa broke into advertising through shooting live music, which got him work filming behind the scenes at fashion shows, which, in turn, opened doors to advertising. Once his foot was through the door, he started pitching ideas to the contacts he had made, but with few examples of Black directors to follow he found it hard.
“The main tangible obstacle for me was the lack of visibility and accessibility,” says Kalisa. “I knew no one within the industry and there were only a handful of online resources that detailed paths and/or current opportunities within the industry.”
He ended up finding a colleague who felt the same way and setting up the company Jam Flicks and creating his own path to success.
Self-promotion doesn’t always come naturally, but blowing your own trumpet can draw the right attention
Simo Liu, Next Illustrator, Next Wood Pencil
Illustrator Simo Liu got into the profession after being asked to contribute to editorial illustrations by an art director friend, and following this the work requests started to roll in. While getting work was not a problem, reaching out for projects was more challenging.
“I was very shy during that time and not used to posting my work on social media,” says Liu. “However, after I did some research and learned from other artists, I found out that promoting is very important. It's a very effective way to let more people know about me as an artist and find more potential clients.”
Working through the pandemic has been tough but through digging deep both emotionally and creatively she created her D&AD winning work, Escape. “I would be thankful for that period, which brought me difficulties but also opportunities and it made me even stronger than before,” she says. “To always keep a strong heart is difficult, but if you persevere in what you're doing and don’t give up, you will finally reach the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Getting opportunities isn’t enough on its own, you’ve got to make the most of them
Noah Bramme and Andres Karlsson, Next Creative, Next Wood Pencil
Creatives Noah Bramme and Andres Karlsson broke into advertising straight out of ad school. They were accepted for an internship at Droga5 and got some coverage in Ad Age, which gave them a boost before getting a job at Scandinavian agency Åkestam Holst.
It took graft to make the most of the opportunities and when they come often, we are not ready for them, so it means upping your game to bring things to fruition.
“When you're new to the industry, it is a lot to take in. How do I know if my idea is good enough, what is the best way to execute it, why am I even doing this,” say the team who when it came to it put in the extra hours needed to bring the project home?
Success is something you build
Michelle Watt, Next Photographer, Next Wood Pencil
Photographer Michelle Watt got her big break after an editorial shoot for Blanc Magazine titled The Wait.
“It was the first time I actually proved to myself that I could successfully create something I wanted to see from scratch. After that, I felt confident that I could make any idea come to life with a unique way of seeing and problem solving,” she recalls.
Following the success of The Wait, Watt’s continued growth has been won through achievements made incrementally, through working day-to-day. Through hard work and patience she has got to where she is and now works for a wide range of clients, from Schön to Sony.
Understand every step of the process
Martin Furze, Next Director, Next Wood Pencil
Director Martin Furze's break came through his conceptualising and directing of Voiceless Women – a short film that exposes how trafficked women are abused by men who then share reviews of their encounters on the dark web. "The project was a huge undertaking,” says Furze, “but, after being spread widely, saved four trafficked women."
The film has won numerous awards including D&AD Graphite Art Direction and Cannes Silver in direction. Furze's dedication to the film meant he was involved in every aspect of production. "I was extremely hands-on in everything from concept, script, treatment, art direction, copy, directing, sound design, music, edit... I don't regret it but it was tough wearing so many hats."
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