I caught up with Craig Oldham to discuss his recent work for D&AD‘s New Blood Awards, which draws together the organisation’s previous Student Awards, Graduate Academy, and New Blood Exhibition, aiming to create a simpler structure that encourages more young people to enter the scheme. You can see some his picks from the 700+ portfolios represented here.
A series of infographics were created, on which Craig worked with copywriter and collaborating creative director John Goddard. Speaking to Creative Review, Craig explained – “Once we’d got the main content plotted out, we realised just how massive the whole thing was, which was when we started to get excited about it – I think at the back of our minds we wanted to create the world’s biggest flow-chart. The whole point of a flow diagram is that you can use it to illustrate anything. You can diverge, and branch off. There are no limits to what you can do with it, which is as much of a curse as it is blessing,”
You’re a vocal advocate of D&AD and design education in general, whats your history and current relationship with D&AD?
I’ve been involved with D&AD in many capacities throughout the years. I exhibited in the New Blood exhibition when I graduated, I went to an agency where Ben Casey was involved in D&AD and where getting in-book was a major deal in the awards season, and from those early beginnings I’ve done pretty much everything they’ve ever asked of me—but not because of anything more than a shared belief. I was always aware of the awards—as everyone is—but they invest all that back into education and that’s what I believe in, and what has kept my relationship with them for all these years. Education is what matters to me. It can be the most rewarding and powerful thing you can share. And D&AD and I share that value system.
I was at the wrap of the New Blood Academy last week (where graduates in the New Blood Programme get a 2 week ‘bootcamp’ effectively), and speaking to the graduates involved and how much better and optimistic they feel on trying to get a first foothold in the industry than before is really powerful stuff.
When I think of the OOCO I don’t traditionally associate you with installation / exhibition design. How did you find working to such a scale? Is this the sort of work you’d like to be doing more of?
To be honest, I’ve had previous experiences working in all that scale on a lot of projects past and present. It’s different but certainly not daunting. I like it as you get to operate physically from the beginning and it adds an extra dimension to the way you have to think. I get a kick out of production, the physicality and the assembly of things, the fabrication, materials, scales and methods etc. are heightened in installation and exhibitions. Don’t get me wrong, they’re as important (if nor more) in the more 2-D medias like books and the likes, but more things can go west so you have to think a bit differently.
I always love designing spaces and things to go within spaces. It’s not a different way of thinking, just a different way of doing.
Working with a copywriter sounds like the traditional Art&Copy model, but you’re also quite the wordsmith (swear-smith?) and John (Goddard) is also a creative director – how collaborative was the process of writing and designing together?
It’s quite a flip-flop to be honest. John, besides being technically a copywriter, is a really visual person and often arms his ideas with a strong visual or aesthetic sensibility. He’s not there to simply write things or make sense of my sweary, garbled notes, but be a good art director too. And likewise I’m not just here for the pictures. I’ve never been a sketcher and always written ideas or talked them to a conclusion so generally we work extremely well together and alternate between the two. John’s words and I’m pictures, and I’m words and he’s pictures. And that relationships helps us get to a really good point. Plus we get on very well and laugh—a hell of a lot—which is important (and tends to be our yardstick for the quality of a project).
What’s next for OOCO? Anything in the pipeline you can share…
I’m working on the next book which I’ve curated and produced. It’s a different one to the Hand.Written.Letter.Project or The Democratic Lecture, but will be produced to the same standards and cover a theme I’ve always been interested in. This tome is a celebration of the intelligence, wit, humour and innate creativity of the working class. It’s a political book of graphic works from the seemingly ordinary person who can create the most extraordinarily powerful things. Alongside works from from an acclaimed film director, a Turner Prize winning artist, a YBA artist, will be stuff from my Dad and many many “amateur” creatives… bet you can’t wait for the press release on that one!