CLOSE-UP: NEWSMAKER/JULIA LOHMANN - New blood transforms maggots into award winner. Julia Lohmann has taken the inaugural John Gillard Award, Alasdair Reid writes

Julia Lohmann's work isn't all maggots, obviously, but that's what

people tend to remember most. They certainly made a lasting impression

on the judges of the John Gillard Award. Said panel convened recently to

witness a presentation in which they (the maggots) were accompanied not

just by Julia but also by a map of Ibiza and a jar of ink. She spread

the map out across the table, deposited a handful of maggots bang in the

middle and then poured the ink over them. The ink makes them go mad,

wriggling frantically in all directions, dragging vivid ink trails

behind them.



It's stomach-churningly beautiful, apparently; and while you're

struggling to come to terms with the raw response, you can always forge

a few conceptual connections between Ibiza and wriggling maggots. One of

the judges, Tim Ashton, the creative director of Circus, was so

impressed that he asked Julia to repeat the performance at his agency.

We must assume that the other judges (the panel also included Graham

Fink, Ced Vidler, Michael Peters, Tim Mellors and Mary Lewis) were

similarly impressed because it didn't take long for them to decide

unanimously in Julia's favour.



She becomes the award's inaugural winner and will receive her official

accolades (and £1,000) at the Milton Glaser D&AD president's

lecture on 22 November. Her work will feature in The Lab section of the

D&AD Getty Images Bloodbank (www.dandad.org/gettyimagesbloodbank) from

the end of November.



Ashton says she is a fitting first winner. "Julia's was by far the best

work and to have her there to implement some of it was amazing too," he

states. "She is an extraordinarily talented person. When you think of

the word 'student' it immediately conjures up certain notions. Believe

me, they are all completely inappropriate here. She is half-German and

has obviously benefited from the perspective that can come from living

in two different countries. She is also well-travelled and well-read.

She has a vision and a maturity way in advance of her years."



Lohmann is now an ex-student. She graduated earlier this year from the

Surrey Institute of Art and Design at Espom. Her work, along with that

of more than 1,000 other graduates from 40 or so advertising and design

schools across the country, was part of the annual D&AD New Blood

exhibition - which this year was used as the long list for the new

award. In July, the judges drew up a shortlist of seven who were invited

for interview and the chance to present their portfolios. Cue Julia's

maggots.



The award is, obviously enough, in memory of John Gillard, the

charismatic founder of the School of Communications Arts who died in

December 2000. His school exists no more, but during a glorious decade

from 1985, it was a remarkable incubator of creative talent - former

pupils include John Hegarty, Fink, Larry Barker and Tiger Savage.



The avowed aim of the award is to give recognition (and a modicum of

financial support) to the outstanding creative of the graduate crop each

year. Which by any reckoning is a good deed in a naughty world. But the

very existence of the award evokes an ambiguous response from some of

the older and wiser heads in creative departments. Yes, it's great that

Gillard is remembered in this way and it's obviously tremendous that the

award lends a helping hand to young talent. But isn't it a shame that

Gillard's work couldn't have been carried on as he'd arguably have liked

best - by keeping the SCA open?



That's another issue for another day. The immediate question is whether

Lohmann is good art director material. Ashton clearly thinks so. "She

has an intelligence that is amazing and the thing is that she is

incredibly disciplined. Julia follows things through," he says.



So is Lohmann looking for a job in the ad industry? Yes - she can

confirm she's open to offers. "I'm still interested in all aspects -

graphic design and product design too," she says. "For me, I don't

regard these things as separate. To me it's all about ideas and problem

solving. I hope I can find a job where I can think and explore."



She has had a couple of conversations with potential employers already

and has applied for an Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO graduate incubator

scheme. If the industry doesn't snap her up, she'll have to look at

other options - such as a masters at the Royal College.



But what is her perception of the advertising industry? Is it in a

healthy state right now? "Yes, in England it is great," she responds.

"When I go back to Germany I am horrified by the poor quality of the

advertising.



Everything is so literal there. In England you don't have to explain

everything so much. I could see myself in the advertising industry here

but not in Germany. I think the fact that I got the award proves that

people here are interested in ideas."



Or maggots, obviously. Which brings us to the most important question.

What's the secret when you're working with maggots on a

semi-professional basis? "You have to use them within a certain period,"

she says. "After a while, a maggot will turn into a chrysalis."



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