When Unsigned was established in 2018 by the BBH team in London, its ambition was to “put diverse talent on your radar”. Essentially, it was a way for the advertising agency to reinstate its commitment to discovering and collaborating with undiscovered and unrepresented photographers, directors and illustrators. Rather than looking to the usual traditional channels for talent spotting, Unsigned has made a concerted effort to go beyond just highlighting those who are already being spoken about, and elevating the “most exciting emerging talent” to create a platform and publication that benefits the industry.
Now in its third year, the class of 2020 edition of Unsigned magazine has launched and features a curated selection of 15 unsigned photographers, directors and illustrators alongside interviews with the creatives themselves. Previous Unsigned alumni also feature, as well as a look back at the five winners of its Good News Open brief illustration competition.
The magazine has been designed by BBH designer and art director Charley Ray, and has been commissioned and edited by art producer Tom Burns, film producer Nnena Nwakodo, art director Stephanie Flynn, strategist Thandi Mbire, account executive Moses Odubuyi, and assistant art producer Beth Mechem.
The pandemic has meant the annual exhibition that usually runs as part of the Unsigned launch has been postponed, but it’s given the magazine the opportunity to delve deep into different topics with the creatives, such as the moral responsibility of artists to capture controversial issues in society and how sex work can teach you about making it big as an artist.
Featured work includes Carlos Jaramillo’s vibrant images of dyed pigeons in Cuba, Chilean illustrator Maria Contreras’ vibrant and quirky illustrations that feature an array of fun characters, and the photography of London-based Alia Romagnoli, which often focuses on themes of identity and representation.
There’s also an exclusive look at the Unsigned Union, which sets itself out as joining “the fight for equality in our industry” and a way for the team at BBH to hold themselves “accountable for the severe lack of representation in commissioned roles in advertising”. The Union was started in support of Black Lives Matter and is asking other agencies to join them.
As part of the issue, the team has also created a 45-minute playlist featuring unsigned names in music, which can be accessed using the QR code at the front of the publication.
“In 2020 the conversations on representation and diversity have rightfully become one of the most important drivers for change in our industry,” writes BBH partner Stephen Ledger-Lomas in the intro for the mag. “With this new important generation of Unsigned talent we are proud to be helping to be part of this movement whilst singularly focusing on giving a voice to the most outstanding emerging creatives working today.”