Sharp acts

Pocketing a Yellow Pencil could kick-start a career. Fiona Sibley reports on the winners of the D&AD Global Student Awards – and is impressed by the enthusiasm and quality of work on display, especially, this year, from UK entrants

The annual consignment of Yellow Pencils into the pockets of winners which heralds the D&AD Awards inspires excitement and cynicism in equal measure, not least evident at the professional awards in May. But, last week it was the turn of the Global Student Awards, and the consensus among the judges and supporters present at the ceremony was that during this part of the annual D&AD Congress, a far more positive, enthusiastic and less back-biting atmosphere reigns.

For the students, it’s the chance to make their big shot in a test-run for the real world, with top names handing out the awards for work produced in response to live briefs. Those precious Yellow Pencils – coveted by students and professionals in equal measure – were handed out last week, with graphic design student Scott Evans, from University College for the Creative Arts at Farnham, named as the Global Student of the Year. He was chosen from 28 first prize-winners, spanning advertising and graphic design, as the overall champion.

Evans created a music video for Thom Yorke’s solo single The Clock, which used stark typography to communicate the cradle-to-grave environmental energy usage that making a pop promo involves. The way that it questioned the necessity of everything designers are doing makes one wonder what pleased the judges so much, but it did.

‘To decide not to do any imagery, and not to play around with the type at all was its winning formula,’ comments Garrick Hamm, education chairman of D&AD, who hosted the awards bash with D&AD president Tony Davidson. ‘Students normally like to show you everything they can do. To be that edited, and for that to be the idea, made it seem like work that had come out of a consultancy.’

Meanwhile, from Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication, Sam Williams’s animation, Never Stop Dreaming, took a less doom-saying approach to an anti-climate change message. This filmed the realisation of a girl’s dreams of a healthy environment as she sleeps.

In graphic design, strong work appeared in the horror film festival posters category, in response to a brief set by Pentagram partners Domenic Lippa and Harry Pearce. Winner Nick O’Brien, a graphics student from Kingston University, used photography to create a typographic message with a truly scary impact.

Land Securities’s brief called for students to design hoardings for an Oxford Street development. The winning students, Jacob Blandy, Fredrik Sterner and Hampus Gunnarsson from Central St Martins College of Art and Design, created cut-out wording with plants being trained to grow through and spell out the message in greenery. This could bring some texture to London’s worst thoroughfare.

Sophie Towler from University College Falmouth impressed judges with her packaging for Warburtons bread, allegedly aimed at women, which appeared to make posh bread rolls hang from hotel doors.

‘You could easily mistake the work for the professional awards,’ said Hamm. ‘In the past four years the craft has come a long way so that it now matches the ideas.’ This year’s results also reveal a big fight-back from the UK colleges, over competition from abroad. While students from schools as far afield as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Malaysia, South Africa and New Zealand walked off with second-places and commendations, the winners of 26 of this year’s 28 Yellow Pencils were from UK colleges. Only a pair of students from The Creative Circus in the US, and another pair from Beckmans School of Design in Sweden, managed to infiltrate the UK’s domination, but it was far from a threat. This turns the tables on last year, where international students won most of the awards.

It seems that this year the UK’s colleges have had to buck their ideas up. Either that, or some local favouritism by the judges has swung the count. With more than 3600 entries received from 41 countries, it seems the global appeal of the awards looks set to continue, making the competition tougher and success even sweeter.

Many contestants have gone home with their pencil cases empty, but there’s still time for them to sharpen up before they face the big players in the professional stakes. And for the pros? ‘It’s good to be around all that enthusiasm and excitement again, and remind yourself what you had,’ grins Hamm, ‘and think – where has it all gone?’

The D&AD Student Annual, designed by Pentagram and featuring all shortlisted and winning entries, will be published in September

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