Earlier this evening, emerging creative talent was recognised at the annual D&AD New Blood Awards. At an inspiring London ceremony, the event congratulated creatives who responded to industry-led briefs tackling commercial challenges and social issues.
Following hot on the heels of the New Blood Festival at Protein Studios in Shoreditch, the D&AD New Blood Awards wrapped up this evening by handing out 179 of its highly-coveted Pencil awards. Among this number were seven White Pencils – which recognise creativity being used as a force for good – and two of the highest accolades available: the famous Black Pencil.
Known for being one of the largest student competitions in its field, the New Blood Awards traditionally recognise the creative talent that will go on to work with the biggest names in the industry. And if the winners of this year's Pencils are anything to go by, the future of design is in safe hands.
With briefs set by Google, eBay and Sky, the bar was high for entrants. Covering the fields of animation, advertising and typography, the 17 briefs encouraged creatives to tackle issues such as neurodivergence, banking and healthcare.
Out of the 179 award Pencils, there were 33 Yellow, 39 Graphite, 98 Wood, and seven White Pencils. The remaining two were Black Pencils, an optional accolade only distributed to work of the highest calibre.
One of the standout entries this year scooped a Black, White and Yellow Pencil. The talented project was 'Put a Helmet on Like ô' by Linh Nguyễn Khắc Hải & Quỳnh Nguyễn Ngọc Nhã of Vietnam. The work, set by a brief from Google Fonts & HMCT, addresses the fact that 2,000 Vietnamese children die every year due to road accidents.
Using the Vietnamese alphabet, this project adopts the letter' ô' as its starting point. Playing on the similarity between the circumflex and a helmet, this work taps into a lesson every Vietnamese person remembers: 'o' doesn't put on a helmet. 'ô' always puts on a helmet.
Elsewhere, the other Black Pencil went to Sophie Ross of Norwich University of the Arts for her project responding to a Sky brief. The broadcaster challenged creatives with transporting entertainment to new digital experiences, so Sophie's project – Sky React – lets viewers express their emotions and opinions in real-time.
Unlike social media alternatives, Sky React sets itself apart by allowing people to post quick reactions and comments tied to the show's timeline. It's hoped that by bringing the live TV experience to any pre-recorded content anytime you want, Sky will be able to foster a sense of community.
Meanwhile, work awarded a White Pencil includes Adinkra Braids by Yash Bhut & Alyona Golikova, from Germany, which addresses the stigma facing women in Ghana surrounding their reproductive health.
The Red O by Laura Orkild, Clara Sofie Ahlefeldt-Laurvig & Sandra Bertelsen from Denmark also scooped a White Pencil thanks to their work tackling the six-week abortion ban in Georgia with a typographically led campaign using an exclusive version of Google's Lato font. In it, the red letter o is consistent with the size of a foetus at six weeks, measuring 6mm.
"The New Blood Awards always deliver a huge wave of creative optimism for our industry," said Paul Drake, Foundations Director at D&AD.
"This year was no different; against a backdrop of job uncertainty, unappreciated creative education and a cost of living crisis, the quality of the work still shone, with the winners providing thoughtful and beautifully crafted responses to our briefs. We look forward to seeing what they go on to do next and the impact they have on our industry and beyond."
Full details of all the winners can be seen on the D&AD New Blood Awards website.