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Defining Award-Worthy: Q&A with CD and Brand Consultant Samuel Åkesson

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Ranked eighth on the list of most awarded art directors in the world, Samuel Åkesson shares his insight into what it takes to create award-worthy work

Defining Award-Worthy: Q&A with CD and Brand Consultant Samuel Åkesson

Independent creative director and brand consultant Samuel Åkesson has worked on some of the most creatively acclaimed campaigns of the time for Sony, Orange, Cadbury and BBC. He was named a talent to watch in Creative Futures by the Creative Review, as well as a Young Gun by the Art Directors Club in New York. 

Samuel has been a keynote speaker around the world and his career includes over 100 international awards, including gold at Cannes and four D&AD pencils. He now works independently as a creative director and brand advisor, directly with clients from small start-ups to global organisations.


Q> What does creativity mean to you in just three words?

Samuel Åkesson> Never just accept.


Q> What is your advice for those wanting to break the mould, think differently, and create work that stands out? 

Samuel> I think that subconsciously we sense when something or someone has their own point of view - an opinion. And I think that we are interested in and drawn to that. I don’t necessarily mean that it has to be a controversial opinion - if it’s honest and subjective, that’s usually enough. 

So I guess my advice would be - don’t break your back trying to do something different, just try to be honest and don’t shy away from expressing your opinions. That tends to vitalise the work and give it soul. And those are the pieces of work that mean something.


Q> What makes a piece of work worthy of a Caples award? What will you be looking for when judging?

Samuel> I love it when I see things that surprise me and that I don’t expect. But more important is that it makes me feel something. So I guess that’s it - I just want it to make me feel something.


Q> How have awards that you have won in the past influenced or changed your career?

Samuel> Of course winning an award helps your confidence in some sense but most valuable are the times that you are acknowledged and recognised for doing something you found difficult or perhaps a bit scary - something that was maybe a bit of a gamble - I feel those situations encourage you to not hold back.


Q> The Caples feed back on every entry. As a creative, do you find this helpful when creating future work? And would you wish there were more opportunities to hear from your peers as a younger creative?

Samuel> Definitely. Hearing someone’s thoughts on your work is always really helpful. But equally helpful, I think, can be to formulate your thoughts on other people’s work. By doing so you tend to understand more about the way you think which is also valuable. So I guess a two-way dialogue - just talking about work - is the best way of making everyone’s work improve.


Q> What kind of work are you bored of and what are you hoping to see more of this year?

Samuel> So much of the work that gets attention by the ad industry seems to be made FOR the ad industry, far removed from what actually happens in real life. I find it super boring. It also tends to be too complicated, equations where we are supposed to feel a bit superior for figuring out the answer. Less of that please.


Q> What was your favourite piece of work in 2019?

Samuel> Favourite… so hard to say, but here’s a couple of things I liked from people I used to work with - it’s always nice to see what old friends are up to:  
The first one I’ll mention is 'Read Yourself Better' for The Wall Street Journal by The&Partnership, directed by Juan Cabral.


It’s a lovely piece of film. I guess it feels quite old school, and classic - probably not the most groundbreaking piece of work but It caught my attention and made me both feel and think. Interesting and quite typical, in the best of ways, direction by Juan Cabral.

The other one was made by Australian agency Bear Meets Eagle on Fire and is a campaign for Optus.


I can really sense creative director Micah Walker’s humour and attention to detail in this. It’s just so well made - a simple and clever idea, perfectly executed.
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The Caples Awards , Thu, 26 Mar 2020 15:14:20 GMT