D&AD Graduate Academy

Last year D&AD asked me to run a three-hour introduction to scribing for the talented bunch of graduates selected for their Graduate Academy. #GradAcad runs over the summer, bringing together fresh talent from all over the world in a kind of bootcamp scenario. It’s designed to sharpen those tools that compliment the flair and ability, the ones that enable you to get on and get things done. There are talks, workshops, live briefs and pitches – an amazing opportunity for the lucky few and the perfect springboard from which to start a career.

Well, the session was a bit last minute but it seemed to go over pretty well. Everybody got stuck in and seemed to see the value of scribing as a way of exploring ideas, communicating solutions and approaching a problem in a playful way. But there was only so much we could fit in, so it was great to be asked back this year and to expand the session a little.

It was also great to have Chris with me this time, stroking his beard thoughtfully and offering some pithy counterbalance to my ramblings. We wanted to leave people with something that would help them prepare for their live brief – a challenge set by drinks giant Diageo. One of the great things about scribing is that it’s useful at so many stages of a creative process. You can use it as visual notetaking, a way of capturing, for yourself, the essential details of a project at the briefing stage. It can be a way of catching the creative sparks that fly in a group brainstorm, making them more tangible, shareable and useful. And it can be a great way of presenting your ideas. Agencies often use Scriberia when they pitch. It instils ideas with a sense of freshness and spontaneity, and crucially, doesn’t feel so polished that there isn’t still room for discussion.

So we tried to give people a sense of all three of those applications of scribing. We started with a quick round of our customised version of Pictionary. There are no right or wrong responses, but straightaway you can spot the people who play it quite literally and those that are searching for a unique way of representing each concept, and that attitude really helps as the ideas become more abstract.

We had a crack at capturing a talk, first by gathering notes and figuring out a hierarchy of ideas, then by establishing a visual structure for those ideas around a central image. And that led nicely into a chat about how scribing is not simply about showing up and imposing your own creative interests on the client. It’s about immersing yourself as fully as possible in the discussion, and using that standpoint as your starting position for creativity.

With that in mind, we got everyone thinking as deeply as they could about a randomly chosen concept - from cat flaps to shuttlecocks, fish slices to ice cream van music. Once in the zone, we challenged people to visualise every thought and association that occurred to them around their concept, using that concept to inform the visual language they used. This brought about a plethora of ingenious graphic devices, including sausage meat typography and fluffy dice bullet points. But my favourite effort was a meditation on the inner thoughts of a rather bored and resentful set of cinema curtains.

Finally, Chris and I set our own creative brief. We needed help finding a route to market for our miraculous, herbal-based, energy-giving, entirely legal and possibly fictitious tonic Tono-Bungay (loosely based on the product in H.G. Well’s novel of the same name). Teams went away and used scribing as a means of capturing their ideas, and then bringing them to life visually as they presented them back to the client – us. We were suitably impressed. Check the Scriberia Shop soon for Tono-Bungay in natural and liquorice flavours, “the miracle in a bottle… the happiest you’ll ever be on a pillow!?” Erm.... yeah, don't ask.