D&AD New Blood Shift calls for untapped creative talent

D&AD’s New Blood Shift programme returns for its fourth year to promote diversity in the creative industries, with a free night school and travel bursary for young creatives who haven’t been to university

A lack of diversity has long plagued the creative industries, but D&AD’s New Blood Shift scheme is hoping to make creative workplaces accessible to everyone – regardless of their background.

The free 12-week night school for aspiring creatives without a degree returns for a fourth year this Autumn and this time, a £10,000 fund has been introduced to help students with travel costs and accommodation.

Hilary Chittenden, Senior Foundation Manager at D&AD, says she has seen applicants moving to London from Hull and Ireland to take part in the course, “and unfortunately that cost of doing can be a barrier”. The relocation bursary will “make the programme more accessible for those outside of the capital,” she says.

Students can expect to refine their creative skills with practical hands-on workshops taught by industry heavyweights and work on real client briefs, helping them prepare for a creative career.

The idea was born out of pilot project with Hackney Council: when D&AD visited secondary schools in the area, it found students were unaware of opportunities in the creative industries, despite living in an area filled with studios, artists and designers. “Even in one of the most creative parts of the UK, they didn’t have any clue that the design and ad industries existed,” Chittenden told CR. “They had a vague idea of fashion or product design or music but there wasn’t any awareness that these jobs were available. So that rang a few alarm bells for us.”

This year’s campaign video for D&AD New Blood Shift was designed by Christian Johnstone, a graduate of last year’s programme. The campaign features artwork from his fellow graduates and animations of walls collapsing, to represent breaking the blockades which once prevented them from accessing their careers.

Johnstone, currently working at Design Bridge, says: “New Blood Shift gave me the opportunity to have the job I’ve always dreamed of – a graphic designer. I had such a positive experience to be surrounded by others like me – talented people stuck without degrees.”

The employment rates for ‘Shifters’ like Johnstone are impressive – last year, 78% of students secured placements after graduating from the programme in January, landing jobs at AKQA, Iris, and Design Bridge. 

Tim Lindsay, CEO of D&AD says “Initiatives like Shift are crucial for recognising and nurturing young creative minds, as well as ensuring a fairer, more sustainable and more diverse industry.” Some 87 emerging creatives have been put through Shift so far.

D&AD says it is looking for people who would approach projects in unusual and inspiring ways. Applications close on July 29 and you can apply here.