Well, we are finally wrapping up the award season in the world of entertainment. The golden statues have been presented, the evening gowns and diamonds are returning to the designers, and Colin Firth can start working on building that addition to his trophy cabinet.
It’s always a great feeling when you win an award. For a lot of people it means so much more than “you did the best.” It signifies that you belong; that your peers and fans like what you do and respect your craft; that your hard work, long hours, and pressure-filled days have paid off.
In the advertising, marketing, and design world it is pretty much the same. Agencies enter dozens of competitions and calls for entries over the course of the year, seeing if their creative ideas and inventive executions are up to snuff. And when you do get that letter saying you’ve won, or are presented an award at a celebration or gala, you also feel the same excitement and sense of belonging as if you were receiving an Oscar.
But do you need the awards to feel that? Is that the only way to feel like a winner? Sure, it’s great to have something extra to share with clients, showing them that you are recognized for your work. And you can list awards on your website and credential presentations. But are awards the end-all, be-all to feeling that you belong or that you’ve made it?
I want to propose some alternatives.
A lot of us get wrapped up in our isolated worlds of daily work and deadlines and trying to win that next pitch or come up with some new and cool creative idea. But what about what you are offering to your professional community, outside of the 60–80 hour workweek? Are you participating in AAF or AIGA meetings, or are you volunteering on a committee or serving on a board for these professional associations?
I know working on the board of AIGA for several years was so gratifying and well worth the extra time. I definitely grew as a designer and really felt a part of a larger design community. Also, the AAF-RDU committee that put on the ADDYs Gala last Friday had a lot to be proud of. It was a great event that took a lot of work, and they made the show about promoting our creative industry. They were winners that night as well.
Another way is to bring your design/marketing abilities to a charitable or non-profit organization. Not only are you doing good works, but you are also bringing your skills to a group or community of people who don’t necessarily understand the power of what you do. So again you are promoting your profession and helping others see the value in it—gaining another set of peers who appreciate your talents.
So, whether you win an award for a kick-ass piece of creative or you help put on a kick-ass event, there are many ways to feel like a winner.
If you are interested in getting involved, here are a few places to start.