That's a deliberately contentious title, and it's wrong. But it's what I would have wanted to say had I met someone who had judged the D&AD Awards when I was younger.
And that's kind of how I'm going to write this post. It's been bothering me for a while because there is so much to say, so I'm just going to write this in note form.
Judging would make a great RPG.
1. How to win a D&AD Award.
Do really, bloody good work. That's it.
Do work that you know is good, the office knows is good, your client knows is good and your Mum knows is good. Work that stands up to discussion. Work that you can look at again and again and it's still good. That's all.
"It's always so and so that wins." That's probably because they do really good work. Every year. You see when you're judging you don't know who the work is by, so it's very hard to claim that people vote for their mates. I suppose people may recognise work by their friends and vote for that, but I saw no evidence of that.
The standard is high, very high. Too high? Broadly speaking I don't think so (although you may get tough juries in any given year). Look at previous Pencil winners in design; Johnson Banks' Fruit and Veg Stamps (Gold), Penguin's Great Ideas series (Silver) and Nick Bell's Churchill Museum (Silver). Have you ever done work that good?
The jury I was on was tough in the respect that we only wanted the best stuff to get through. Average simply wasn't good enough. I thought we were incredibly fair and very comprehensive in our discussions.
I felt, and I believe my fellow jurors felt, some sort of responsibility towards the history of the awards. Again, look at all the great work that has gone before. You want your judging to be up to that standard.
5. Entering the bloody thing.
I always find entering the D&AD Awards really hard. It's hard enough choosing what work to enter, but it's even bloody harder deciding what category to enter it in. After judging, I wouldn't worry about that so much. Good work is good work and good work really stands out amongst a day of dross, whatever category it's in.
6. Jaded jurors.
Judging is hard work. No-one will ever believe that unless they've judged, but it's exhausting. We looked at (in detail) over 150 pieces of work. In the morning. Then we spent the afternoon, discussing, debating and arguing over the same bits of work. Often several times. Believe me, it's tiring. Unfortunately this means it's very easy to get cynical and jaded. My jury tried really hard to fight this and to make sure we looked at the first piece of work with the same eyes we looked at the last piece of work. All this just means the good stuff stands out even more. A bit like life, I suppose.
7. There's a lot of shit out there.
The D&AD received 25,000 entries this year. Out of that little lot 54 were nominated for an award. Why so little? Because there's a lot of shit out there. Seen as a group, so much of the work looks very similar, very dull and very uninspiring. That's why the good stuff stands out.
8. Advertising always wins.
Advertising wins more awards than graphic design. Why? Because the advertising industry is bigger than the design industry, by almost any measure you care to choose, amount of employees or turnover for example. The only other thing is that I imagine design is judged more on craft whereas advertising is judged more on the idea. It's easier to agree on an idea being good than the craft being perfect. Maybe.
9. Remember the criteria.
A good idea, well executed, and appropriate to medium and message.
More pictures here.