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Awards: Ahead of Wednesday’s deadline what the YCN Professional Awards judges look for

The deadline for the YCN Professional Awards is now just days away and entries have been flooding in from individuals and studios who have been working in the industry for eight years or less. Last year creatives from 34 countries submitted work for consideration and early indications suggest this year’s crop is equally broad.

Recent projects can be submitted in one of the six categories – brand identity, design for print, digital design, illustration, photography and animation – and winners will be profiled in the annual awards publication as well as receiving their prizes at a special event in London.

A stellar international jury will consider the entries over two rounds of online judging before four jury days in London, New York, Berlin and Toronto. We spoke to some of those tasked with making these all-important decisions to give you a taste of what they’re looking for and maybe to inspire to get your last minute entries in before Wednesday’s deadline.

Dan Germain – innocent

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What will you be looking for in the judging process?

All of the usual stuff – brilliance, ingenuity, humour and beauty. Not too much to ask for, is it?

What are you not so keen on seeing or what do you see too much of?

Ideas that aren’t connected to the real world. Design isn’t great, or even good, if it isn’t doing something useful for the people who end up using or witnessing the result.

How do you find judging competitions like this?

I learn something every time. I learn from the entries, I learn from fellow judges, and think that means you get better at judging each time you do it.

YCN is asking judges to consider “freshness of thought” and “craft of execution” – how important is it to see both of these working in tandem?

Pretty vital. “Freshness” will get you noticed – if you’re doing things that have been done to death, then you have less chance of standing out. However, craft is king – it is definitely possible to do something that’s been done before, but with some new usefulness or even wit that makes the work relevant and brilliant.

This year applicants are being asked to submit particular projects; can you tell us a about a recent project you’ve which you’ve found particularly fulfilling? 

Annoyingly, my favourite piece of recent innocent design is something that I can’t show anyone at the moment. It’s a secret new product and it won’t be launched until later this year. Sorry that I can’t be more forthcoming. Our new Super Smoothies are looking pretty hot though.

Kirsty Carter & Emma Thomas – A Practice for Everyday Life

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What will you be looking for in the judging process? 

You often get a very gut feeling when reviewing work on this scale, something needs to spark something inside you. You then spend the time digging deeper to understand what the work is about.

What are you not so keen on seeing or what do you see too much of?

If you are taking the time to submit your work for an award, you should feel it is one of your most important and best pieces of work to date; you should take the time to consider why this work should be awarded. Often, a lot of the work entered can feel like it’s been submitted because the designer wants an award, rather than because the work itself is worthy of an award.

How do you find judging competitions like this?

It is overwhelming, as you as you feel the responsibility to take the time to carefully review every entry the same way and dedicate the same amount of time and focus to each.

The YCN is asking judges to consider “freshness of thought” and “craft of execution” – how important is it to see both of these working in tandem?

The two are completely intertwined and as important as each other – not many projects achieve both. That said, I think that freshness of thought is the one you really need to make a project stand out. If the thought or concept behind a project is strong, its execution can evolve and be improved or be done by someone else, but you can’t tart up a bad idea. 

This year applicants are being asked to submit particular projects; can you tell us a about a recent project you’ve which you’ve found particularly fulfilling? 

Working with Sister Arrow on One Leicester Street hotel and restaurant was an interesting and fulfilling process for us. These sorts of projects are a collaboration between people, and in this case we worked together with other collaborators to make a beautiful brand identity. It enforces my point about freshness of thought – we quickly realised that George would execute the menu illustrations far better than we could, and it was amazing to work with a very talented illustrator. 

Claire Ramasamy – Falllon London

Claire-ramasamy-2013-(1324)

What will you be looking for in the judging process?

Projects that artistically exceed and challenge my expectations.

What are you not so keen on seeing or what do you see too much of?

I’m pretty open to a range of artistic styles and approaches. There are definitely “looks” that are familiar and perhaps show heavy influences of other artists’ work that aren’t always so successful but for now, I’m keen to see it all.

How do you find judging competitions like this?

I’ve not judged any awards prior to this so I’m yet to have an opinion on the judging process however I’m looking forward to seeing the work!

YCN is asking judges to consider “freshness of thought” and “craft of execution” – how important is it to see both of these working in tandem?

Commercial projects are often faced with creative restrictions that make it challenging to achieve “freshness of thought” and high quality “craft of execution.” For the work to be successful I believe it’s very important to see both.

This year applicants are being asked to submit particular projects; can you tell us a about a recent project you’ve which you’ve found particularly fulfilling?

I worked on a project with Dan Woodger for giffgaff. It was a small and sweet job for online which was briefed to show a celebration of 200,000 giffgaff Facebook members. What was fulfilling was the client gave Dan creative licence to interpret the project in his own way allowing his personality and style to come through in the finalised work. Both client and artist were great to work with and it was fun.

Dan-woodger---giffgaff-250_000-members

Dan Woodger/ Fallon London: giffgaff