Last October, months into the pandemic, London-based non-profit D&AD took its New Blood Shift program virtual in New York. The free night school program helps diverse creatives without college degrees break into the creative industry.
Eighteen participants attended online workshops, mentorship sessions and presentations by leaders at agencies including VMLY&R and MullenLowe, while gaining hands-on experience working client briefs for Spotify and Adidas.
Four months later, the participants presented their portfolios in the program’s first digital showcase.
“If confidence is a skill, that's [what I learned through this program],” Caleb Church said, a participant in this year’s program. He noted that his confidence grew from learning new skills, such as using data and research in creative development.
“A lot of us were already doing the [work] before. This just gave us the confidence and the roadmap to sell it,” he added.
For Adidas, participants developed a new brand concept UNITEFIT, which aims to use more inclusive, gender-neutral patterns on its clothing.
Spotify asked participants to get 14 to 24 year-olds to use its app for listening to podcasts. Members collaborated on creative work that represented their diverse talents, including graphic design, visual arts and photography.
The program, now in its fifth year, has a focus on diverse talent, who may not have the resume and skill sets creative agencies require
“Every time I enter a room as a woman of color, I'm always scanning [to see whether] I am safe and I can say things,” said visual artist Roxanne Castro. “In the program there was a balance, a melting pot. Without that diversity, there would be no juice; no flavor.”
In 2019, over 70% of participants in the London program secured jobs at agencies after graduating, includingMcCann, Droga5 and Design Bridge. Half of participants secured placements in New York.
This year, Castro and graphic designer Ngu Asongwed got jobs as art directors at Droga5 and Area 23, respectively.
“D&AD put me in a [position] where I can confidently talk about the things that I know will work [because] I have all those other peripheral skills to back it up,” Asongwed said.
Additional work, portfolio and contact information for participants can be found here.