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Creativepool Annual 2020 Spotlight: Simon Waloszek on next-gen creativity

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Simon Waloszek is something of a Creativepool legend. In the 6 years since he first joined the site, his work has been nominated for the Annual four times and last year, he received two silver People’s Choice awards for his insanely colourful work for Nike and Skittles respectively (work which you’ll find scattered throughout this very page). He’s also had his projects featured 14 times and is ranked as one of our top 25 art directors in the world.

So, as part of our series catching up with Creativepool Annual 2019 winners, we thought it was about time we caught up with him to discuss his career, his vivid and fascinating work and what the Creativepool Annual means to him. Simon, who is currently working as Head of Art at MCH Global, takes us through his thoughts on the industry, what keeps him inspired, why you should never settle for mediocrity and why you should definitely submit your work for the Creativepool Annual 2020!

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How did you find out about the Creativepool Annual initially?

I think it was in 2015, I remember it clearly because it was the time I just moved to Dubai from London where I was starting my new desert-advertising adventure. Back then, Creativepool was still opening up to the market and was this fresh and exciting new thing compared to the other stagnant sites. 

"The Annual is a hundred times more magical than all the other 'digital' publications"

The idea of the Annual was something that spoke to me on two fundamental levels: First - The quality control; the Creativepool team, absolute rockstar judges and the most amazing global community. Second - The actual idea of having something tangible and setting it up for worldwide distribution. It made it a hundred times more magical than all the other 'digital' publications. 

And they say print is dying, huh? I don't think so. I've personally seen Creativepool Annuals being a big part of agency libraries and always felt proud that I had the opportunity to bring home two wins in two categories last year.

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Where do you keep your copy of the 2019 Annual?

Usually, I keep it next to my Oscars in the Awards Room in my Hollywood villa, and the other one I tend to keep on top of the golden shelf in my Kensington house library where my butler can dust it off every day. But seriously, both of them are a proud part of our library at MCH Global; the most amazing experiential agency in the world, which I have the ultimate privilege to be a part of. 

Our main home is Switzerland, where our agency has been for more than 100 years, but we have offices worldwide from San Francisco to Hong Kong. And we are looking at expanding our Annual library space every year if you know what I mean.

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Will you be entering again this year? And if so, what are your hopes?

Unfortunately, this year I wasn't ready with any personal submissions but I can say that currently I'm working with my team at MCH Global on a very fresh piece of work for one of the biggest global players and I'm sure we’ll be submitting it for next year's Annual and hopefully adding another book to our collection. 

There are also some bits and pieces of work that I will be keeping open for next year but let's see how it goes. You know what they say - “don’t settle for mediocrity.” So, as soon as it's perfect, it will be out there.

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How do you feel the creative landscape shifted in 2019? For better or for worse.

I would like to start my personal analysis of the creative landscape just like Sesame Street did back in the day, with a lovely “word for today” - And the word for today will be: CHANGE. Change is something everyone is talking about. Yet no one knows what is actually supposed to change. Big agencies are struggling because they don't quite understand how to shift their focus and change up what they have been doing for last however many years. 

Small agencies, on the other hand, lack funding and even their thinking is often that they have to do their bread-and-butter routine just to survive. In this environment, everyone is trying to err on the safe side, yet they talk a lot about taking risks and being ‘next-gen’. 

"Everyone is a Creative Director, yet barely anyone really knows how to creatively direct or/and direct creatives"

I think the real way forward here is a mindset of absolute flexibility that can adapt to every single situation. With a complete and varied set of skills required in today’s creative industries, the positions of old are becoming obsolete. Everyone is a Creative Director, yet barely anyone really knows how to creatively direct or/and direct creatives. I personally feel that the actual model of advertising won't die until the old generation does likewise. Turbulent times are ahead but I guarantee that eventually, it will benefit our industry. But we have to go through the storm to see the sunshine again.

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How does it feel to have claimed two separate People’s Choice awards for two separate pieces of work? It obviously shows that your work resonates with the industry and the public alike.

It was really wonderful to get those awards, but the most important thing for me is that I had a chance to open up a dialogue and make people see things in a different way, hopefully also inspiring them a little in their own creative pursues. 

What is our job in the end? Our job is to make people think, to change their perspective on things, on products and clients, but mostly - to implement that creative ‘spark’ that resonates with a wider audience. If it works - I'm glad, of course, but there is still a long way to go and a lot of new territories to conquer!

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Can you talk us through your winning projects (Skittles “The Rainbow Fruits” and Nike Air Max “All That Plastic”) and explain what you think it is about them that people were drawn to? It has to be said they both share one obvious similarity - VERY bold colours!

That is true, 2018 was the year of colour and boldness for me. But then, I always had an affinity towards how certain colours affect our brains; not even from communication or colour theories but strictly from a genetic understanding. For example - why are STOP signs always red? Simply because it is a colour of danger. So why is it a colour of danger then? It's been drilled in our brains since the prehistoric era. It’s also the colour of blood.

It was great to see that those projects had something about them that connected with people. In my mind, they set up the mood, and the product itself (through the positioning) Was just in the right place at the right time.

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Did the Annual placing open up any exciting new opportunities for you last year?

Any creative awards open new opportunities. Either you choose to take them or you don’t. The more important thing, however, is that getting an award always makes you open yourself up a little and it gives you a shot of adrenaline by making you feel that “hey, those ideas weren’t actually that bad.” That is what it opened up for me the most - my mind. And when my mind is open, miracles are happening.

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What do you think it is about the Creativepool Annual that sets it apart from other awards within the creative industries? 

The one thing that separates Creativepool Annual for me is that people in the community have an equal right to say what they feel. When people have the power to choose what inspires them the most it makes it a much more relevant experience. I really like this formula and have always been a fan of Creativepool. Indeed, every year I appreciate it more and more. More power to people, more power to the creative industry. Let's keep it that way.

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On a more general level, do you think awards and award ceremonies are still an important part of the creative landscape?

It's funny you asked that because literally a few days ago I had this conversation with one of my colleagues. It's yes, and no. In terms of awards themselves, I still think it's a great benchmark of what is happening in the world and showing off  the skills of creatives everywhere. In every single contest, we have rockstars of creative communications in every category and it's just beautiful to see what people can do and how do they look at the environment surrounding them. 

It's beautiful to see what people can do and how do they look at the environment surrounding them

The main issue is that small agencies or freelancers rarely have the funding power of the bigger agencies and it sometimes just becoming a cold war of who-can-afford-more just to bring awards to the office and justify the work. On the other hand, awards ceremonies are always a blast! There have been many songs sung about how our creative world can party and the number of networking opportunities are absolutely spectacular. 

To be honest, some of the best memories in my life were either during or after being given an award. The people are always amazing, the office stress is out the window and we are just having fun - all these adult kids in one room. It’s always a recipe for a good time (and sometimes disasters afterwards).

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What are your hopes for 2020 and will you be attending the Annual launch party this year?

My biggest hope for 2020 is that our industry will finally shift into a real understanding and implementation of new technologies, finding new creative approaches and ultimately respecting the work/life balance. I have the honour of working in an agency that really values that balance and I can personally see that a happy creative is a good creative

Less anger - More positive results. And, of course, I will be attending the party. Like I said before - there is no better way to see all those big brains in one room and interact with them. I would strongly suggest everyone who has the opportunity will do so as well. 

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What advice would you give you agencies and individuals looking to make an impression and earn a place in this year’s Annual?

Ultimately (though it’s a cliché) I would be “be yourself.” However cheesy it might sound, it actually makes sense. The more you try to be someone else, the less you look true to everyone else.

“If you strongly believe in an idea, don't make anyone talk you out of it”

“If you strongly believe in an idea, don't make anyone talk you out of it”, as Stan Lee would say. Keep your head up, make sure that YOU are the one who is the most satisfied with your work and just go for it. If you are happy with yourself - The universe will give it back to you.

If Simon has inspired you, Submit your work today for the Creativepool Annual 2020. To enter your best work from 2019, to be included in the Annual 2020, click HERE and to nominate Agency/Brand, Newcomer, Influencer of the Year or Best Place to Work click HERE. Best of luck and we look forward to seeing you (and Simon, of course) at the Annual launch party on May 28th.

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