The UpStarts programme is an intensive six-week series developed by ICAD to help young creatives hone their skills and prepare them for work in the advertising and design industries. This year, two DDFH&B juniors, Aisling Dowling and Grainne Harnett, won their places among ten others in the advertising strand.

There’s a brilliant interview with Ira Glass that often does the rounds among fledgling creative types. In it, Glass talks about being attracted to creative work because of good taste. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be instantly good at it.

What nobody tells people who are beginners… is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

Glass says the only way to close ‘the gap’ is to get through a large volume of work and give yourself strict deadlines so that finally, “your work will be as good as your ambitions.”

Mind the gap

For me, the UpStarts was an opportunity to tighten that gap, with the help of feedback from some of the best people in the business. So every Monday for six weeks we were assigned a brief from a top Dublin agency, and the following week we’d all meet at the agency to present and discuss our work.

And for us junior creatives, this meant showing our new-born ideas to Creative Directors and seniors every week. And unsurprisingly, that never stopped being a nerve-wracking prospect!

But luckily, each of us was assigned a mentor to run ideas and work past. Usually a senior copywriter or art director, our mentors generously donated their time, expertise and Sunday nights to offer encouragement and / or a gentle “it’s a nice idea but park it for the moment” word of wisdom.

They were also there to help us decipher the brief, read between the lines and explain any nomenclatures that may have been causing us to break into bouts of anxious sweat…

What does an ambient activation do?

The type of brief we were handed varied every week; some had a digital focus, some had room for clever ambient or social ideas, and others were more traditional print or radio briefs.

So some weeks art directors were writing radio ads, copywriters were designing posters and all of us were trying to figure out if a hashtag counted as a digital feature (#ittotallydoes).

And this was a hugely important aspect of the series, because it let us explore our talents, discover our strengths and learn a host of new ways to tell a cohesive story.Class of 2015

One thing that fascinated me about the series was the sheer amount of great ideas being presented every week. From one brief came such a huge variety of thoughts, insights and executions; rarely were two ideas ever the same.

Not only did I learn from my own direct feedback, but from everyone else’s too. Ideas were shared, pizza was consumed, notes were taken and feedback was dished out along with second rounds of pizza… and the resulting feeling was a sense of achievement, excitement and readiness for the next step.

It was said more than once; this year, the standard was truly high. Which makes it the best year to get your hands on the freshest, ripe-for-the-picking junior creatives around.

So to meet this year’s batch and see the fruits of our labour, make sure you come to our exhibition RIPE, this Wednesday 4th November at the Lighthouse Cinema Smithfield.

Check out the promo video below.....we're ripe and ready!


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