Why you need to be part of the new breed of 21st century creatives

Mark Bonner on how the design industry is set to be driven by multi-talented creative minds.

As president of D&AD for 2015, I plan to celebrate a new breed of 21st century creatives. Today, we operate in an industry where the boundaries are blurred. Technology created the perfect conditions for this by providing the platform. The creative of the future will become ever more flexible, dexterous and in-demand. But it's the people that will make it happen.

Clients today want creative relationships that allow strategic, conceptual, graphic, campaign, social, digital and even environments to be fully explored within the typical communication project.

Way beyond the patchy specialism of the one-stop-shop, the agency of the future will be able to access all areas, with a degree of craft and expertise previously found only in the very best exponents of each individual discipline.

Cross-disciplinary excellence

The opportunity for clients to find agency partners like this exists now. It's here, and some of us are already working in this way. The integrated project has been a many-headed beast wrestled by the new creatives for some time.

The modern client is changing too. A new product launch or a campaign initiative cannot run in one media alone. It's a triangulation of crossfire that's needed now, with strategically related content building a buzz across multiple channels.

International examples abound. Take Japan's Dentsu Tokyo, and a diverse body of work which includes the iButterfly platform for smartphones and the 'Sounds of Senna' Project for Honda, winner of a 2014 D&AD Black Pencil.

This project fused sound design, graphic design, interactive, film and digital components to re-create the F1 racing legend's lap record at Suzuka in sight and sound, and shared it globally.

Part ad-agency, part design boutique, part digital hub, this hybrid powerhouse is producing some of the best work in the world, regularly. Not just from one perspective, but from myriad perspectives, fused into one cohesive communications whole.

My own agency, GBH London fuses graphic, campaign and digital skills for projects for Puma, Starck and Virgin Galactic. Rhizomatiks in Japan is another agency that tightrope-walks way above conventional approaches.

New design thinking

Or take the Glue Society in Sydney; they add art, sculpture and a wild imagination to the increasing modern communications toolbox. Their projects – which are exceptionally hard to define in traditional terms – for Nissan Leaf, Elle McPherson, NAB and NRMB are well worth a deeper look.

Droga5 in New York, via De-De, went beyond the confines of a project to create a 'Crowdspeaking' platform which collects social media campaign messages and releases them in one resounding moment of online amplification called The Thunderclap.

With this new breed of cross-disciplinary creative, we are at the beginning of a new thinking, and I think D&AD is ideally placed to explore and celebrate this new kind of creativity. It is an excellence so challenging that it requires big ideas which can unite multiple disciplines.

I'm exploring this space between the disciplines for a series of refreshed President's Lectures, as well as a completely new approach to the D&AD Annual.

No fear

To date, creatives have always instinctively defined themselves by a category or a skill. But in an era where convergence within communication is all-encompassing, our industry is thriving thanks to a generation of creatives and clients that collide the disciplines in order to cut through.

It's a mindset we need to encourage amongst young and emerging talent. It represents a 'no fear' approach to creativity without boundaries, which I think is tremendously inspiring to young creatives. To do this, I'm extremely keen to continue the growth of the D&AD Foundation and help to amplify talent with the right sort of education, regardless of privilege.

Excellence and its interdependent relationship with education is the true 'Power of Yellow' and it's an aspect of D&AD's potential that I feel very strongly about, especially at a time when art and design's position as a fundamental part of our education curriculum is under threat in the UK.

In a year's time, I want to look back at my presidency, and not think #iwishidonethat. I want to go into the year with passion, joined-up thinking, and help D&AD to welcome 'design' back firmly at the core of what we exist to inspire: a new generation of multi-faceted creatives, where excellence is the only discipline that really matters.

Image: Żaneta Antosik
Words: Mark Bonner

Mark Bonner graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1993 and worked at The Partners, Carter Wong & Partners and SAS before co-founding multi-disciplinary agency GBH in 1999.

Are you happy to embrace the multidisciplinary design world, or are you a creative specialist and proud? Let us know in the Comments below.

This opinion piece first appeared inside Computer Arts issue 234: Branding Secrets.

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