"Traditional design can still have a real impact" - #JudgeSpotlight

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With over 25 years of experience as an art director and designer, Wellmark Executive Creative Director Mark Sammartino was a perfect fit for the Annual 2020 Publishing panel.

As a juror for one field of creativity that kind of lost its essence with the advent of digital, Mark still believes that traditional design can have a real impact, so long as it solves a problem with a great display of creativity. In fact, the pieces that resonated best with Mark "were the ones that solved a communication issues most clearly, but did it with great style and aesthetic prowess."

For this Judge Spotlight, we are learning more about Mark's own experience with The Annual and what he loved the most in all the entrants he scored.

The Annual 2021 final submissions deadline is this Thursday, 10th June! Enter now to grab your slice of creative immortality.


What feels unique about judging in The Annual?

The unique thing about the Creativepool judging is that each piece is awarded on its merits. Given the breakdown of categories a piece is judged purely on its credentials within that grouping, rather than necessarily how broad or wide reaching the campaign may have been. Further to that, each piece is then scored on its merits and awarded accordingly.

How did it feel like to be a judge for the Creativepool Annual Awards?

Firstly, it was an honour to be asked. It was great to be part of a broad world-wide panel, that was drawn from agency, client and industry wide disciplines. I think that creates a real diversity of ideas and thoughts on work.

Will you be joining the panels again in the future?

I’d love to be part of the panel or similar panels in the future. I think it allows you get out of your own bubble and look more broadly at what is happening in the community.

Can you tell us more about your 2020 category and what impressed you the most about the submissions you scored?

In 2020 I was part of the panel that judged the publishing category. Having worked across many advertising disciplines in my career, I had spent a fair amount of time in print-based publications and traditional design. I thought there was a really broad cross section of work, in a discipline that has lost a bit of itself with the onset of digital. That said, when executed properly, ‘traditional design’ can have a real impact. The essence is it is still about communication and resonating with your audience. The category winner and piece that I scored best, did this extremely well, using print and technology in a beautifully presented and engaging publication.


What did you love about the Creativepool community and the entrants you scored?

I loved the diversity in entrants. I could see there was a real passion for creativity and an obvious love of print design. The few that really stood out looked to do something unique with the medium and pushed the boundaries. Two clear standouts for me were #Romanovs100 AR Photo Album / RT and STHLM Magazine / Swedish Chamber of Commerce. The first was an amazing idea, using a superb combination of technology and print to recreate history. The STHLM magazine used beautiful colour treatment and visualisation of data throughout.

What advice would you share with agencies and individuals looking to grab a prize?

The pieces that resonated best with me were the ones that solved a communication issues most clearly but did it with great style and aesthetic prowess. I would always encourage being unique, presenting ideas in a new way or completely break the mould of a category. But they must always have a precise thought, resonate with the target audience and clearly communicate the key promise.

How do you feel Covid has impacted the creative landscape in 2020?

I think COVID really made people assess what was important to them. Whether that was family, work, hobbies and the broader community. Although most of us were isolated, I felt there was a real sense of a world-wide community. I guess being isolated, actually allowed people to explore more. Discovering ideas, industries, creative disciplines and competitors more openly. It may have been the isolation, but I think working remotely allowed for that online exploration. Hopefully we have discovered new ideas and new ways of doing things as a result.


What are your hopes for 2021 and beyond?

Like most people, I hope the COVID situation becomes more manageable on a global scale. I hope that we can establish some semblance of normality, but not lose sight of insights, appreciation, community and ways of doing things that were discovered last year.

What is your most exciting project in the next year?

Working in a Healthcare agency, we had a few exciting covid related projects last year. This year is about taking some of those learnings into practice with our existing client base. The way some of our clients operate has changed, creating opportunities in how we communicate for them. A lot of our work in healthcare and the pharma space is unable to be broadly promoted but we do have some fun work coming up in the Ophthalmology and IVF space, as well as some nice branding projects.


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