D&AD Shift with Google shows why you shouldn’t need a degree to enter the creative industries
The intensive night school programme hopes to provide opportunities for underrepresented creatives who didn’t attend university.
- Dalia Al-Dujaili
- 15 October 2021
Creatives everywhere are proving that, with talent and dedication, you can teach yourself just as well as school can. In its fifth year, D&AD’s Shift programme – the free five-month night school – maintains its commitment to breaking down barriers to entry into the creative industry. It hopes to establish networks for aspiring creatives who are challenging the belief that great talent must be sourced from within institutions.
Pushing for greater diversity in the workforce, the 19 “Shifters” are creatives who D&AD believes to be shaking up the industry. They responded to client briefs set by Adidas, Virtue and Penguin and were presented at an in-person showcase event last night, Thursday 14 October. This gave the participants the opportunity to interact with potential employers and participate in networking events. All 19 participants had the opportunity to present their responses to the three set briefs with select industry professionals, before 1-2-1 portfolio sessions saw them discuss their work in front of prospective employers. For those who were unable to attend the Showcase, the Shifters’ work is viewable in person at D&AD London from 18-29 October.
“Our industry isn’t one-dimensional and the routes into it shouldn’t be either,” say Carole Davids and Nate Woodhead, group creative directors at Virtue. D&AD is no stranger to nurturing new and underrepresented talent. In 1980, it began New Blood, the awards open to marketing students, recent graduates and emerging creatives worldwide. Now, Shift hopes to support and secure jobs for a variety of creatives. It’s never been more important to prioritise diversity and inclusivity in the creative industries, and Shift wants to provide creative organisations with access to a whole range of young and rising talent, with the aim of working towards a more equitable future for the industry. In 2019, over half of the Shifters found placements in creative companies, including Droga5, The Mill and McCann.
The most valuable lesson one Shifter, Ellen Wallpole, learnt was how powerful collaboration can be. “Starting out as a creative freelancer without formal education can feel really daunting,” she tells It’s Nice That, “and there’s definitely a pressure that we put on ourselves to do everything at once.” But being on D&AD’s course and working with 18 other Shifters who all have such different skill sets, Wallpole feels she has been able to produce work that she never would have been able to on her own. This was also true for Renaldo Otoo, a fellow course-mate, who was grateful for the community aspect: “I was able to learn so much from my peers. We were all going through the same process together, so that sense of solidarity was there off the bat.”
Ebika Pinneh, another 2021 Shifter, says that the most valuable thing she learnt was to “never neglect the power humanity brings to your work.” Before the course, she knew nothing about creative advertising: the only thing that drew her in was the notion of creativity. “The only skill I knew I could bring to the table other than my writing and doodles was human insight.”
Paul Drake, foundation director at D&AD, homed in on the fact that the creative industry is one that “thrives on diverse voices and divergent thinking and yet, by recruiting from narrow pools of talent, we have squeezed differences out and often the work is poorer for it.” Therefore, he hopes Shift will remain vital for the sector to prioritise more diverse voices and ensure the industry is “relevant and reflective of the society we live in”.
The course was a welcome challenge for the emerging creatives, who believe the experience brought out the most from their creativity. “They don’t lie when they say you’d kill so many of the ideas you got attached to,” Pinneh explains. “It’s a gruelling process but the pressure definitely brought out the best in my team and I towards the very end.”
Continuing on a similar thread, Shift Select is new for 2021 and is an optional spin-off from the main Shift programme beginning in November. It will see some top creative agencies extend this learning experience through their own in-agency placements, which will focus on a particular discipline. A few London-based agencies have already signed up to offer paid placements, including Superunion, Engine Mischief and Iris, with more to follow.
The rest of the Shift London class of 2021 are Aaron Hettey, Ashley De Guzman, Aurelie ‘Kutcha’ Bouzin, Ben German-Hamilton, Chibuikem Akata, Csaba Domboroczki, Kims Mihailovs, Lücy Aa, Luke Patrick James McCabe, Maria Paula Dominguez Diez, Peggy Pollard, Phoebe Langley Gussin, Runako Bedeau, Safiya Abdinasir Farah, Sukyella Randle-Caprez and Tarrine Khanom.
Book a slot here if you’re interested in viewing the Shifters showcase and their portfolios.
GalleryWork created by 2021’s Shifters
Phoebe Langley Gussin, Kims Mihailovs, Aaron Hettey, Ashley De Guzman: Adidas Brief. Courtesy of D&AD, 2021
About the Author
Dalia is a freelance writer, producer and editor based in London. She’s currently the digital editor of Azeema, and the editor-in-chief of The Road to Nowhere Magazine. Previously, she was news writer at It’s Nice That, after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh.