When D&AD announced its New Blood Shift programme back in April this year, they did so with one priority. In their own words, they wished “To test a belief that success shouldn’t be about who you are, where you’re from, or who you know.” As someone from a working class background myself, this is a belief I share, and an ideal that the programme hopes to prove is not only possible, but can result in a more diverse and healthy industry. The initiative involved selecting 17 young creatives to take part in a 12-week creative night school, which started in September. Each of the young people chosen had one common attribute; they had no formal design training. Over the past 12 weeks, the selected applicants, whose current job titles range from a yoga instructor to a barista, have taken part in sessions ranging from answering briefs and creating portfolios to honing their craft, while being supported by industry mentors. Having completed the night school course, the 17 creatives are now having their work showcased at an event in London with the hope of embarking on careers or internships in the creative industries.
Paul Drake, Foundation Director at D&AD, said: “We have given the Class of 2016 the knowledge, honed skills, and built the resilience needed to grow in the industry. But in order for New Blood Shift to succeed, we need the industry, to offer the next steps.” Mark Tutssel, Global CCO of Leo Burnett, who supported the programme from its inception, added: “I think talent resides everywhere, historically our source has always been through education and the usual outlets like universities and art colleges, but if you look outside of that, people everywhere have a talent, everybody is creative. I’m always looking for people who challenge the status quo, who point a compass to the future and bring new fresh innovative imaginative ideas to the table, which is why I'm proud to have supported and enabled D&AD New Blood Shift.”
Below, I've outline a selection of work from some of the creatives who took part in the programme:-
A budding interior designer, Bethany is currently working as a waitress to fund her gap year. Speaking on her decision not to study art or design at university, she said: “Despite loving a good paint, my dream of art school just didn’t captivate or challenge me, and I realised that on the numerous gallery trips, I wasn’t so much documenting the art as the interior spaces.”
Richardson is a music nerd currently working in a secondary school, fixing computers by turning them off and on again, but hopes to one day be a creative director. The music nerd and creative soul has no formal design training. The aspiring graphic designer said: “Shift has given me the confidence to approach potential employers without a design degree and ask, what’s up?”
A freelance graphic designer from Birmingham who aspires to run is own business, Jamie is inspired by film and also writes his own music. He believes that design and music, at least in his case, go hand in hand. Of his work, he said: “I’m always trying to find a fresh and modern solution to the creative problem.”
Someone who describes herself as an old soul, Evalcia is a singer/songwriter with a passion for the arts, who has travelled the US to write for other artist and develop her own craft, but currently works on the tills at Sainsbury's. She now aspires to be a music video director. Of her time on the programme, she said: “I have learnt that no matter what you do, where you are from or where you are going you can make your dreams happen.”
Currently designing and illustrating independently, the east London-based Maguire says that after completing the course he hopes to be designing and illustrating more often and hopefully as “part of a pack,” presumably meaning agency work is on his radar. He said of his New Blood Shift experience: “The most important thing I have taken from Shift is restored confidence.”
This carpenter’s assistant is a budding painter and illustrator. Speaking about the benefits of taking part in the programme, Skeet says: “Shift has introduced me to so many great, creative people with burning talent and ambition. It has enabled me to venture into a world I knew nothing about and feel as though there is a place for my own weird brand of creativity.”
In 25 years, Sophie has moved 19 times across three continents, and she says she has used the stories earned via this nomadic lifestyle to inform her work. She said of the programme: “New Blood Shift has made me believe that I can achieve something that has always been merely a pipe dream.”
A proud oddball with a love for abstraction, Jonny feels that convention is overrated. He currently describes himself as “funemployed,” but aspired to be a conceptual artist. Of Shift, which he hopes will help him work towards a future that will allow him to create positive change with his idea, he said: “It’s allowed me to be me, without any restrictions on my creativity or personality.”
What do you think of the initiative? Personally, with tuition costs now costing up to £9,000 a year, I welcome the idea of opening up the creative industries in any way, shape or form to those who would otherwise perhaps not even consider it a possibility. The sad fact is, many of us simply can't afford these ridiculous fees, which often lead to years of unpaid internships that are impossible to live through unless you are either independently wealthy or living off the bank of mum and dad. If the initiative has sparked your interest, you can see more of the 17 finalists, even more shortlisted work, and learn more about the programme in general, right HERE.
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and struggling musician from Kidderminster in the UK.