Wednesday, 8 July 2015

My Week as a D&AD New Blood Festival Guide

For those of you who follow me on twitter and instagram you would have seen an influx of information regarding various advertising and design agencies, creative work, selfies and goings on in the Shoreditch/Brick Lane area in London. In short I was a Festival Guide for this year's D&AD New Blood Festival. An organisation that I have harped on about on this blog for a few years. 

I love D&AD. They are a celebration of international creative talent, bridging the gap between graduates and industry, and work closely with many companies and creative individuals. 

The New Blood Festival #NBFestival focuses on showcasing upcoming talent or 'New Blood' from advertising, graphics and illustration undergraduate and postgraduate courses across the country. Many companies will host events throughout the week providing workshops, talks and opportunities to network. At the very end of the week there is an award show to see who has won a prestigious yellow pencil, followed by a afterparty. All held in one of the most hipster areas in London. Standard. 

And while I live roughly 200miles away from London, it seems I am always there! After volunteering for the D&AD Professional Awards Judging Week in April I was contacted to see if I would be interested in volunteering as a Festival Guide (of course). I went through the application process and after a Skype interview which was the quickest interview of my life (!) I was offered the position alongside nine others. I was invited down to London before the Festival was due to start and spent the day in their gorgeous little studio near the main offices, being trained by Sasha. It was the most bizarre, fun and helpful training I have ever received on a job. His techniques were abit bewildering and very european (they included tango and intense eye contact with the other guides), but an effective and skilful way of teaching. I was grateful and surprised by how encompassing it was. He didn't solely focus on the week at hand but on our own confidence, presence and ability to make positive impressions. 

The following day we were all assigned to five agencies or creative companies and expected to find our way to them (maps provided) and initiate a 'meet and greet'. A great opportunity to get your foot in the door quite literally and actually talk to those in the industry face to face. Having been in agencies before for internships or book crits, it was a very different experience going to one as a person 'from' D&AD. 

Everyone made a special effort to know, remember and use my name. They knew exactly why I was there and if not, they were worried incase I was there to grill them! It seemed that they felt a sense of responsibility to answer my queries, they were much more attentive and respectful. In my past experiences as simply 'Kiera' going into an agency I was always treated kindly but I was deemed less significant or important. D&AD certainly has a clear and large reputation in the industry. 

Throughout the week I was invited to things that would usually be off limits such as the Private Opening Night of the exhibition, an exclusive talk by Margaret Calvert who designed a great deal of our British road signs, the awards ceremony, the after party, the training, the D&AD office, the D&AD Studio. 

A large part of my role was gathering students and taking them to the events. Standing with my clipboard, D&AD 'Tap to Play' tshirt and waiting for latecomers. Then guiding the group to the agency, often walking between 5-20minutes. A great opportunity to get to know the attendants, gain feedback and get them excited! (Although most of them were already pretty pumped!) It was so interesting to get a sneak peak into so many agencies and see how they work, see their studios, hear their words and check out the type of people and number of people that they employee. Many of them were very forthcoming with handing out business cards (gold dust) and setting briefs in return for placement opportunities. All of which were also open for Festival Guides! Many of whom were recent graduates themselves.

During the week it was our duty to work alongside the official D&AD social media accounts and use our own personal accounts to help create buzz and excitement around the event. I have never used so much social media in such a short space of time in my life but it was an aspect I really enjoyed! It is much harder to tweet about your own day to day than it is to tweet about an incredible event. I found engagement to be very positive and gained a fair few followers as the week progressed. In future I would be more than happy to work at events as a social media head!

The week was as a whole was SO fantastic. Having attended New Blood twice before I wasn't sure how the experience would compare to actually working the event, but I loved it and would certainly recommend it. I didn't even mind particularly that it was mid heatwave (30-40 degrees!!!!) and while it was BOILING we all pushed through and everyone had a great and successful time. The only thing I would say is that I wasn't able to take in all the work on display, but only because I like to take five years going around everything. But there's always next year and each time the work just gets better and better! Hope to see you there!   

* All the photos in this post have been borrowed from the D&AD flickr page/account. To see my personal photos of the week check out my twitter and instagram

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