I've always been a big fan of the D&AD Annual.
I have memories etched into my brain of waiting to receive my copy of the D&AD Annual and then finally getting my hands on it: the best of the best, precisely curated across every discipline and category.
Now the Annual is digital, open and free. I can’t stop imagining people from all around the world, from places where access to these types of things would previously have been impossible, having the same moment I had. I can visualise students getting exposure to these ideas for the first time – imagining what they could do, what they would improve, what they would want to change to push the industry forward.
It’s more than a gift to them. It’s a gift for all of us.
I think the effect of this change can’t be underestimated. It might have taken a long time (and a global pandemic) but Kate Stanners, Dumbar Studios, Tim Lindsay and the D&AD board have made it a reality.
It’s a legacy that I hope we will keep alive. It’s our responsibility to open up the industry to the next generation of creatives and D&AD has now created another amazing way to do that.
The work featured is also remarkable. It’s true that it’s from a pre-pandemic world but some of the themes are prescient to what we are experiencing in the world today. The amount of ideas that touch on sustainability, the environment and communities shows that there’s a real movement happening that can’t be stopped anymore.
Work like The 1619 Project from The New York Times, which went on to become one of the most talked about journalistic achievements of the year and helped to reframe the historical narrative of the US.
Work like the first PSA from Sandy Hook Promise, “Back to school essentials”, which subverted a commercially friendly and usually soft back to school message to deliver a punch in the gut message.
We need to find new ways of working if we are to face the challenges ahead. We are in a moment where we have a chance to think about what we would like to do differently. Sometimes we are part of the visual, sonic and emotional contamination of the media landscape.
In the post-pandemic world, some of the people reading the D&AD Annual for the first time this year will help to answer those questions and create work that we’ll read about in future issues. I’m sure about that.
Opening up the best of the industry in this way, in the midst of a shitty year, is to be applauded.
Guillermo Vega is chief creative officer of Saatchi & Saatchi London.