And the winner is…
Elise Granados, Associate Design Director at Odopod, recently judged the 2017 Adobe Design Achievement Awards (ADAA). The competition, a partnership between Adobe and the International Council of Design, allows students to showcase their creative work — everything from web design to motion graphics to photography to illustration. In return, they get feedback, mentorship, and maybe even a job offer.
This year’s competition saw nearly 7,000 student entries from dozens of countries. Their work fell into three overarching categories:
- Fine art
- Commercial work (for a real or ficitonal client)
- Social impact
The judging panel gauged the work by the following criteria:
- Originality and creative excellence
- Effectiveness in meeting a communication objective
- Skill in applying Adobe products toward these ends
We sat down with Elise for a behind-the-scenes look at judging some highly creative work.
What was the judging process like?
It was a lot of fun. A global pre-judging panel narrowed down the work before I and 10 other judges reviewed their selections. We spent Saturday individually rating entries, then on Sunday we judged top-rated entries together in small groups. My group judged the fine art selections.
What did you look for when judging work?
For me, a great concept or powerful idea is a crucial starting point. From there, I looked for work that was consistent and well executed every step of the way — not just creative, but also polished and refined. You can view some of that work here.
How do you judge the “effectiveness” of fine art, when much of it is subjective?
That’s something the other judges and I discussed quite a bit. There isn’t a client brief you can reference to see if the work’s on point. So we looked at originality, aesthetics, and expression, in addition to skill and execution.
Did anything catch you by surprise?
I was continually impressed with the professional level of the work. The quality, effort, and thought were incredible, given that these are students with little or no professional experience.
Awards aside, how do students benefit from being part of the ADAA?
It’s a great way for them to showcase their work and have it reach more people. They gain exposure, networking opportunities, and potentially job offers. This year’s event photographer, Martin Hoang, was actually a finalist in the commercial photography category in 2016.
Another benefit is mentorship. When entering the competition, students can request consideration for Adobe’s ico-D Mentorship Program. It pairs select entrants with creative professionals who review their portfolios, offer career advice, and sometimes even collaborate on projects.
Do you have any advice for students entering the ADAA?
Yes. Curate and think through your selection of work. Consider each aspect, including how you describe or present it. Self-edit until you’re 100% excited about what you’re showing. With the ADAA, students can enter a fairly large body of work. Some were submitting a dozen pieces, but maybe only five were exceptional. The weaker work ended up detracting from the overall submission. In short, move forward with only your best work, and make each component count.
Thanks, Elise. As for you? If you’re a creative professional who’s interested in nurturing future talent, learn more about Adobe’s Mentorship Program.