AWARD School 2013 – Full Time Report

Sixteen weeks of stress, bad drawings and trying to explain to people what ‘AWARD’ stood for and ending up just saying ‘ad school’. I’ve finished Australian Writers and Art Directors School.


I’ve learnt a hell of a lot, and more importantly got a job!

Graduation is this week, and I’m nervous to find out how I went (as is everyone, I’m sure). I’ve got my book in PDF format and I’ll post it up after we graduate. Or not, depending on how ashamed I am by everyone else’s work. Ideally I’ll make the top ten. Fuck it, ideally I come first. But I’ve got my hopes in the gutter. The only thing I really want is to get at least one piece of work on the wall, that’s my minimum standard.

As with my halftime report, I thought I’d put up what I learnt from the course. So here goes.

You’ll never be happy (with your work)

fisi_640No matter how long I spent on my work, I was never 100% happy. There’s always a little tweak you can make. A little longer you could spend on your concept. A tiny grammatical error you find as you hand your book in. You’ll never be happy.

But, to me, this is a sign that you’re doing good work. If you’re really pushing the boundaries to find something creative, you never really stop looking. Eventually you just need to suck it up and finish. Eventually you just need to say, ‘Fuck it, ship it’

It’s all about the idea (sort of)

fucked up jesus

AWARD school claims to be all about ideas. And really, it is. Saying that however, I can’t help but think that out of two identical ideas, the more presentable one will win.

They claim you can just sketch stick figures as long as it properly gets the idea across. However, looking at previous AWARD annuals, only a small percentage were poorly drawn.

Considering that around 100 people do the course, there is going to be a lot of idea overlap. I would argued that each campaign is judged around 70% idea. The guts. The concept. The one sentence explanation. While 30% makes up your execution. Things like your copy. The media you choose. How you present the idea. And this 30% is dependent on your drawing.

Protip for following years: if you can’t draw, outline images on an adobe program. Set the outline to an incredibly light weight. Print it. Trace the printed outline with a felt tip.

Your tutors will never agree

Advertising is subjective and your tutors probably have very different ideas about what is ‘good’. You can waste so much time running back and forth trying to please everybody. But in the end, you probably never will.

AWARD school tute groups are split up into large and small agencies for each half of the course, and such different environments often mean your tutors have differing opinions. Their feedback is invaluable (Thankyou so much to Jon and Rich at DDB/Host and Neil and Michael at AJF Partnership) but in the end it is your book.

Besides, you want to work somewhere that has a similar advertising ‘philosophy’ (if you will) as you. If your book isn’t yours, you might end up somewhere you don’t fit.

No one can teach you how to be creative

yodaDo. or do not. There is no try.

I came into AWARD school expecting to be taught a number of creative techniques. The truth is though, you can try to replicate other people’s techniques, but the only way to truly learn is to start doing.

I can quite confidently say I spent around 500 hours on the work over the 16 weeks. And the differences between my ideas at the start and my ideas towards the end were huge. When you look back at your first ideas, it’s truly embarrassing. But hopefully, this is a sign I got better.

If you got this far, thanks for reading. I’ll post up how I went, and my portfolio, in the last of all these AWARD school posts.

 A Few Other AWARD School 2013 Portfolios

I’ve been keeping a pretty close eye on people books as they go up, here are some I’ve found. In no particular order. Sorry if I spelt a name wrong.

Kylie Martin

Jennie Burton

Jess Wheeler

Jess Wong

Rifi Theja

Emil Cholich (one of my favourites so far)

Michael Healy

Adam Slater

James Croxford

John Petropoulos

Anthony Ortuso

Rayendra Jeramia and Part II

Stephanie Broadbridge

and Ryan Clayton (Cause he just favourited my tweet and I saw his portfolio) Hey Ryan

If there’s any others, throw them up in the comments!

  • Anthony

    Hey Justin. Congratulations and great coverage of your time at award. I was wondering how you went about securing a job. I just applied for award so hope I get in as well. Email me if it’s easier;) cheers