One of the last pieces of work I completed while studying for my degree was for the module titled Professional Context, a module that is designed to package students ready for working in their chosen advertising field. And when I looked back on my work of the last semester in a reflective manner and recognising areas for future progression, I made the pledge to start writing my blog again. So where better place to start, than my experiences and reflection of my degree.

When I made the choice to return to further education nearly four years ago, many questioned my sanity (including myself) and also why? Over the three years of hard and intense work, it’s still a question I cannot narrow down to one clear simple answer other than because ‘I can and I will’.

Grad ShowTo study for a degree that’s marked on merit and skills and not one that’s marked on the ability to memorise facts and regurgitate them almost word for word in exam conditions was no mean feat, and when I look back on the learning experience now, I still cannot quite get my head around that I’ve actually accomplished it and made a half-tidy job of it at the same time.

It wasn’t just the study side of the degree that I embarked upon, it was the lifestyle changes and the ability to keep numerous balls in the air at the same time, after all being a single parent is a challenge in its self, but throw in hundreds of hours of study time into the mix and things can get pretty hectic. This was also the time I learned of my hidden talent of perfecting the art of procrastination. Never had I experienced the desire to do the ironing, clean the bathroom, watch the rain water running down the windows (I live in Wales, it rains a lot) in preference to putting together endless pages of project research documents that formed a large percentage of my final marks. But the work was completed as was the ironing and the bathroom cleaned, and it still rains in Wales too.

Dr Don Parker came to our JustAd_ Grad show last month and having not seen him for over a year it was great to catch up again and put the world to rights at the same time. As the original senior lecturer that interviewed me when I applied to study at the University of South Wales and accepted me on to the course too, it was rather fitting that he asked: “if it was all worth it?” And I have to say wholeheartedly that yes it was, it was at times difficult and seemingly impossible, but I did, and I did it well, and that’s all I can do in the greater scheme if things. I learned so much about advertising, consumer behaviour, branding, marketing and social media, but also the art of storytelling and communication, two skills I appear to excel in, but equally, I learned so much about me too.

So to all those teachers when I was at secondary school all those years ago that said I wasn’t degree material, I proved you all wrong I was and I still am, just in a creative genre and not the stuffy academic pathways that you tried to fashion me to fit into.

Recently, I made the long journey by train from South Wales to Spitalfields Market in the East End of London.

Why might you ask?

Well, it’s a simple answer, I seized the fantastic opportunity that’s available to all design students to visit the D&AD #NewBlood exhibition.  It was not a course necessity for me to attend, after all, I’ve only just finished my first of three-year degree course, but I wanted to go and see what D&AD was all about and prepare me for what’s required when our time comes to submit work in the future.

So just what is D&AD New Blood?
New Blood is just that, the fresh graduate students from industry related degree courses. Graphic Design, Advertising Design, Copywriters and Photographers alike, all exhibiting their amazing and exciting pieces of work.

New Blood also offers Creative Agencies the opportunity to view and crit work in one place, to search out their future new talent and ultimately, offer employment in the fast moving and competitive world of advertising.
While I was walking around the very busy, hot and noisy isles, I quickly became aware that the number of senior creative and directors from agencies equally matched the number of students and grads. Each looking for that one piece of work that’s something special, the piece that stands out, answers the brief fully and demonstrates the creative mindset and understanding of the brief.

What stood out and why?

D&ADMy initial impression of the work was how amazing the level of work was, it left me feeling in awe of some of the outcomes.  But it didn’t stop there, it was how the work was presented, and that was a work of art in itself.  The creative ideas used to present the work were unique and the presentation was phenomenal, and this was reflected in the high levels of attention the work received too.

The Larger graphic design stands with actual physical pieces of work naturally drew more of the crowds and provided an opportunity to see the skilfully crafted outcome to the briefs. This did, however, leave the advertising design, photography and illustration grads at a disadvantage, their work was equally as impressive, but because it was mounted on a wall, and or on a large screen, they didn’t seem to draw the crowds as much as the stands with physically crafted items, and that to me was a great shame.  The work was equally as good and presented well, but just didn’t appear to quite get a look in, I hope this was just an observation and not reality.

A book is anything but a book at D&AD

But what about the copywriters?

Where were they? I walked around the exhibition several times, trying my utmost to find and view copywriters work. Looking for guidance and an idea of where to be in the future. Yes, there was plenty of short copy, especially on the exceedingly popular and One Minute Briefs busy stand, but where else was it?
I couldn’t find what I was looking for, and it left me feeling a little disappointed.  This possibly is why the advertising industry is desperate for good copywriters, they’re just not coming through the creative education pathways, and that in itself is a great shame.

Why Spitalfields Market is so special

The Hat Man

The huge market hall that staged the busy event offered an ideal cultural setting for the huge and expansive exhibition.
The sections of the market, located around the edges of the hall provided a welcome escape from the noise and heat of D&AD, and a chance to experience London Market stalls first hand, a must see to understand the historical and cultural traditions of the London Market Trader. One stall stood head and shoulders (no pun intended) above the rest, and that was traditional hat stand. The gentleman working the stall was dressed in an immaculately tailored grey suit and wore a charming top hat to complete the appearance. His stall was presented with the same prestige and drew many a curious passer-by.

D&AD, I will be back next year, equally keen to learn, and a little wiser not to try and do a 300-mile round trip, and view the exhibition in one day!!


Hardworking and enthusiastic creative thinker and copywriter based in South Wales.
I enjoy taking complex problems and turning them into simple creative solutions.