Wednesday 11 August 2021

Matthew Chen named AWARD School 2021 National Top Student

Victorian Matthew Chen has been named AWARD School 2021 National Top Student as part of an interstate virtual ceremony live streamed on Facebook on Tuesday night to celebrate the industry’s brightest new talent.

Matthew emerged as the winner ahead of more than 208 students in a year marked as one of AWARD School’s best, with a hugely successful program including participants from Indigenous communities, regional Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

As part of the same virtual event, the Australasian Writers and Art Directors Association (AWARD) also announced the AWARD School student state winners in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia –  following the announcement of the Victorian (Matthew Chen) and West Australian (Jordan Ellis) state winners last week.

Caitlin Hall from New South Wales, Joshua Gilsenan from Queensland and Gemma Easton from South Australia took out the top gong in their respective states for their incredible body of creative work developed throughout the year.

State runners’ up included Jackson Best and Claire Kirby (NSW),  Michael Geedrick and Dane Alexander (QLD) and Ella-Maude Wilson (SA).

As National Top student, Matthew received a coveted AWARD School Black Pencil and state finalists a Gold Pencil equivalent. All will be flown to Sydney in November to attend the annual AWARD School celebration as part of This Way Up: Australia’s Advertising Festival of Creativity (Nov 3-9), where they will attend industry lunches, key speaker sessions, a ‘talk and tour’ at Facebook Australia HQ, and will meet leading industry creatives from Australia and abroad.

Katie Kidd, Lizzie Wood (The Monkeys Sydney) and Andrew Torrisi, Henry Wall (TBWA Sydney) were named NSW Tutor Agency of the Year, and all student folios now available to view on the AWARD website.

2021 National Top Students and Finalists

National Top Student
StateName Tutors
VICMatthew ChenRohan Lancaster, Carlo Mazzarella (Clemenger BBDO Melbourne) Murray Bransgrove, Joan Lim, Gareth Sweet (Noisy Beast Melbourne)
State Finalists
NSWCaitlin HallKatie Kidd, Lizzie Wood (The Monkeys Sydney)
Andrew Torrisi, Henry Wall (TBWA Sydney)
QLDJoshua GilsenanGuido Pecego (VMLY&R Brisbane)
Tim Harding, Lee Griffin, David Schaak (Publicis Brisbane)
SAGemma EastonDave Lawson (Design People), Corey Swaffer (KWP!), Rory Kennett-Lister, Abby Moulton (Showpony) James Rickard (JAMES), Mark Atherton, Patrick O’Reilly (TBWA), Georgia Ion, Sarah Thomas (On Social), Sam John, Amy Sincock (KOJO) David Ormston, Pat Parisi (Simple Integrated Marketing), Nick Brz, Alice McKenzie (NATION), Adam Carpenter, Wes Heddles (Prohibition Gin), Matt Minear (BAD Advertising)
WAJordan EllisLachy Banton, Niall Stephen (The Brand Agency Perth) Matt Wilson, Luke Williams (Wunderman Thompson Perth)

AWARD Chair Cam Blackley and Super Jury member and Chief Creative Officer of The Monkey’s NZ Damon Stapleton described Chen’s work as sharp and engaging. 

“Matthew’s work consistently showed strategic thinking, simple creative and sharp arguments, it was just a very smart book overall,” said Blackely.

“For these reasons, his portfolio stood out to nab the ultimate National Top Student prize. Matthew is following in the footsteps of the likes of David Droga and he should be congratulated for that alone,” he said.

“I love the simplicity of some of your print and your television work,” said Stapleton. “Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication,” he said.

AWARD and Advertising Council Australia would like to thank this year’s school heads, tutors and speakers who continue to make the AWARD School program a success, and AWARD School principal sponsor Facebook Australia for its ongoing support of the next wave of Australia’s creative talent.

“A massive congratulations to the AWARD community on an excellent 2021 AWARD School and thank you to the students, tutors and organisers for your dedication,” said Facebook Creative Agency Partner ANZ Liz Harper. 

“AWARD School has long been a linchpin for aspiring advertising creatives in Australia and the creative industry overall, and Facebook is proud to support all of you on your journey to building ideas that bring people and communities together,” she said.

Two new initiatives in the AWARD School this year include Brief 9 and Brief 10, that encourage students to think outside the square and laterally apply their creative skills to real world scenarios. 

Brief 9 encouraged students to develop a campaign for AWARD School itself, treating themselves as the target audience and thinking creatively to attract others like them to the course, while Brief 10 saw them apply their honed skills to come up with ideas for new business ventures, products, services, tech and entrepreneurial pursuits outside of the realms of advertising.


Visit the AWARD website for a full list of 2021 AWARD School Heads and Tutors.


State winners
1. Caitlin Hall – gold pencil
2. Jackson Best
3. Claire Kirby

Top 10
Isabelle Comber
Andrew Bao
Michael Maait
Edward Moult
Charles Dejean
Josh Roseberg
Taylor Aranki

Brief 9 Winner
Jackson Best

Brief 10 Finalists
Josh Roseberg
Jackson Best
Edward Moult
Amelia Hanigan
Josh Pickering
Louis Fairbrother

Oscar Godsell
Mikaelee Miller
Heath Mcildowie (online)


1. Joshua Gilsenan – gold pencil
2. Michael Geedrick
3. Dane Alexander

Brief 9 Winner
Benjamin Feeger

Brief 10 Winner
Katie Ridley

Calvin Martin
Josh Griffiths


1. Gemma Easton – gold pencil
2. Ella-Maude Wilson

Brief 9 Winner
Gemma Easton

Brief 10 Winner
Elliott O’Callaghan

Elysha Glaser

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