I’m all too familiar with the whirlwind that is the American Advertising Awards. You know the process: choose your best work to submit, putting them in the proper categories, printing out your copies, then checking all your entries and information until you practically have it memorized before finally delivering your entries. Oh, and this all has to be done within a few days. But allow me to let you in on a little secret: it’s all worth it.
How did I hear about AAF Central Minnesota?
I was a student at Alexandria Technical and Community College when I was first introduced to AAF Central Minnesota. My instructors at the time, Paul Johnson and Craig Bjerke, told us all about what AAF stood for and the kinds of opportunities they offered to designers both amateur and professional.
How did my school participate in AAF?
At the end of each fall semester, we choose our best work (with no limit placed on the amount) and present them to our instructors to possibly be chosen for submission through the school. We were also encouraged to submit work on our own if we felt it was an example of some of our best work but hadn’t been chosen by our instructors. Once the American Advertising Awards Event rolled around, those who received awards for their work, our instructors, and any supporting friends or family were welcomed to the local region’s awards ceremony. If any of us were lucky to receive something at the district or national level, we would attend those ceremonies as well.
At other times of the year, our instructors also encouraged us to take part in various AAF events like speaker series, the CMYK Poster show, or 24-hour design challenges.
How did I personally decide what work I wanted to enter?
If I told you it was easy, I’d be lying. I treasure each piece I create, and I know I can’t submit every piece I want to. In the end, the pieces I choose are the ones that I find the most eye-catching or beautiful, the ones that most closely follow design principles, and/or the ones on which I used a unique design technique. What stands out from the rest?
I’ve included a few pieces of the work I’ve submitted in the past that took home awards.
Lancôme Magazine Scrap Illustration – Original and Magazine Ad
Gold Award and a Best of Show Award
Efik Girl with a Coral Earring Watercolor Illustration
Gold Award and Judge’s Choice Award
Avani Tea Package Design
Silver Award at the District Level
What have I learned about the show and entering process?
First of all, don’t procrastinate or underestimate what submitting a piece entails. My first year, I thought it was going to be a breeze and quickly learned that each entry required a lot of time, patience, and attention to detail to make sure you’re not only making the piece look good but also that you have all your paperwork correct and in the correct places. I’ve always gotten all my entries done as soon as possible – in school, I had seen too many other students rushing to meet our school’s deadline to get them in on time, and I didn’t want to find myself in the same situation and risk messing up a small detail that could jeopardize my chances of being awarded an award.
Anything notable about the show itself?
It’s an excellent opportunity to see other people’s work, both professional and student, as well as to network with others in the local design community. I’ve met some extraordinary people just because I participated in AAF. Don’t pass up this kind of opportunity! Plus, the hors d’oeuvres are always amazing. #munch
Any final thoughts?
If you still aren’t sure if you want to take part, let me tell you how AAF has helped me along my career path. I’ve included the awards I’ve received on my résumé, and it’s helped me land interviews, portfolio reviews with experienced design professionals, and two internships with the Walt Disney Company in Orlando, Florida (where I’m writing this today).
So is participating in AAF worth it, you ask? Yes. Without a doubt!