Design Competition: D&AD New Blood Awards: ‘Hard earned wisdom’

Where does one find wisdom?

It’s a difficult thing to pass on ‘hard earned wisdom’. It presumes you have some. You also run the risk of simply repeating cliches that everyone no longer even registers hearing like “think outside the box”. My first initial idea was to acknowledge the wisdom seen in successful entrepreneurs, who rarely succeed on their first attempt, but by refusing to give up, at some point, come up with something that gets traction.

I had the rough idea of using me and my friends as the visual representation of this concept. In my life I’ve known many talented illustrators, but almost all of them have stopped illustrating. So the idea of all of us sitting at drawing tables with my friends fading out over time and the quality of work in each poster increasing as the amount of people decreases, is supposed to represent that.

Another idea I had, also based on excepted wisdom and the direction my own life has taken, was that of finding mentors to assist you in your mastery of your chosen field by seeing how they mastered said field. Not everyone is fortunate enough to find someone who will show them the ropes personally, but today, with the Internet, it’s never been easier to be taught by someone who knows how to do it already.  YouTube has channels devoted to learning how to play video games, workout, learn about history, religion, psychology, philosophy and even how to make your own YouTube channel, so you can go about teaching others what you know.

In a nutshell this poster series would have been about finding mentors anywhere and everywhere you can: from people you meet, to people you don’t, through the internet, books, films, experimentation and anything else intentional, or accidental that you can find. I haven’t quite figured out how to represent this, but since I’ve effectively learned how to illustrate using photoshop without direct mentoring, and this brief is for Adobe, creating something mimicking the skills I’ve picked up over the years, would no doubt play into that final outcome.

Something the cuts to the heart of my life situation as it stands now, is the notion of pursuing a dream no matter how difficult, ridiculous or ill-advised it may seem. As a middle-aged man looking to cover life expenses with no plan more complicated than “do comics”, this seems like the most appropriate message to convey. It was around this time that it dawned on me, that messages are always more sophisticated when they work on multiple levels. Science fiction is usually not just about what cool toys we think we’ll have that we don’t have now, but is usually a critical examination of some societal or political problem we do have now. It isn’t necessary to acknowledge all of those levels explicitly, when dealing with such things, but it’s nice that they’re there.

As I tried to figure out what visual metaphor I could use to sum up the notion of doing what you feel, despite social, economic and maybe even political pressure to do otherwise, I had the idea of using anthropomorphic animal people. The idea of a young person being pressured by parents to pursue an obvious, responsible, safe profession, but ultimately finding it unsatisfactory and choosing something riskier but more fulfilling, appealed to me.

In deciding what professions the young person should regale against, what species of animal he should be revealed itself. He would be unsatisfied with a career as a medical professional, or police officer, and in the third poster would have found satisfaction as an artist, showing that money and societal stability are not equally important to all people. I love the idea of dogs in a hospital barking wildly in relation to the chaos of trying to manage busy A&E Ward. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to connect the police with certain curly tailed pink porcine farm animals, so, in direct contrast to the first career choice the protagonist is forced to make, it seems only natural he be a cat.

With the rough premise fixed in my head, now is the time to go about making it happen, which meant to gathering research. 


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