The first time I heard about D&AD New Blood was just over a year ago when my sister was invited to exhibit with 2 others from the University of Bolton. At the time I was studying design at the University of Salford and, unfortunately, wasn't enjoying it one bit. Like any good sister, I was naturally very happy that Rachel was branching out and displaying her work in London, so I got on a train and showed up at New Blood ready to give my full love and support to whatever it was she was doing. I was still clueless at this point. I hadn't really thought about or researched New Blood, which may have been for the best, I think I would have been too intimidated to go had I have known the ins and outs of it all. I'll cut a long story short here and tell you that when I'd spent just a day there, I knew that I had to have a slice of this 'New Blood stuff' if I was serious about my final year of education and my future career in the design industry.
D&AD are a design charity that help graduates get a foot in the door. New Blood is just one of the ways in which they make this happen. It's an annual exhibition that is held in London and showcases the work of design students from various disciplines and various UK institutions. It gives future employers the chance to look at the best of the best and it gives graduates a chance to celebrate and flaunt three years of hard graft.
A week or so after my sister's exhibition I made a quick heart-over-head decision to move to the University of Bolton to complete my third year in design. I should mention that I made this decision for more reasons than just 'Bolton go to New Blood and Salford don't.' But that reason was certainly on my list. So I did it, I moved, and now here I am, a graduate of the University of Bolton who's just showcased her work at New Blood 2012.
Between my creative degree show and New Blood there were just 4 days, which meant we had to work fast. Me, Erin, Helen and Martti (the chosen New Blood exhibitors) got our heads together and quickly threw a plan together. With no budget and no time, we settled on a simple but appropriate idea to show all of our work in miss-match black frames - think art cafe style. To be fair, it took the full 4 days to get this 'simple' idea executed. Baring in mind we also had to concentrate on any printed matter we wanted to display, website tweaks and other various things that helped us promote ourselves individually.
Above are some images of the finished stand. The second image is all my work. Lucky me to get an entire wall to myself. I was pleased with the result of our simple little stand. I don't necessarily think you need to be big and bold to get the attention of potential employers. It helps initially, of course, because they'll instantly glance over if your stall is screaming at them. But from what I could gather, when talking to designers from the industry, they don't care if you've spent £50 on wallpaper to decorate all your walls in bright yellow flowers, they just want to get an idea of how well you would cope with projects in the real world. I reckon our stall did this job just fine.
The most thrilling thing about being at New Blood is that you're surrounded by people who have full understanding and total enthusiasm for what you do. It's like being at graphic design camp, you can turn to anyone and moan about badly kerned type or an unnecessary drop shadow, and they care. New Blood is a fantastic way to wave goodbye to three years of education and swing the door open to your future. Who better to share those beginnings and endings with than people who share your passion, whether that be other design students, design tutors or designers from the industry. New Blood is what you make it, and whilst the quality of your work counts for a lot (I guess that's a given or else you wouldn't be at New Blood, right?), your personality and your passion shine through when you're networking.
For our class degree show and New Blood, I designed, printed and bound 50 class portfolios. I'm a big believer in giving people something tactile (probably because I work in a bookshop and dislike even the word Kindle), something they can hold and play with, something they can take home and treasure. And to me, what's better than handing someone a book that celebrates what you've worked three years towards? I don't have any pictures of these books on display at New Blood because they went pretty quickly, but here's some shots I took for my personal portfolio.
New Blood was a total success, without a shadow of a doubt. The experience itself is pretty priceless even if you aren't lucky enough to land anything whilst you're there. I was fortunate enough to talk to two or three agencies who showed interest in my work and I've landed a few placements, which makes me the happiest person alive. So far I've secured some time with Appetite Design, BBH and Hat Trick.