Monday 31 January 2022

Q&A with Andrew Bao, Art Director, VMLY&R and AWARD School 2021 student

1)  What prompted you to apply for AWARD School and what year did you attend?

I attended last year (2021). I had always wanted to go into advertising, loved watching Gruen Transfer and learning about the psychology behind advertising. When I was younger, I remember seeing the Cadbury Gorilla ad on TV. I didn’t know anything about advertising back then but knew I wanted to make people smile the way I smiled seeing that iconic work. Anyway, I had been searching for a creative opportunity for a while, and I did have a portfolio of mock ads that I would link to agencies. Looking back on it now, my portfolio was pretty terrible which is probably why I didn’t get much response. But one of the Executive Creative Directors of the agencies I reached out to was kind enough to get back to me directly, and she said she thought I had talent but I needed to go to AWARD School. I applied, and the rest is history.

2)  Can you tell us a bit about your AWARD School story – what were you doing before you did the course and what are you doing now?

Right before I applied to AWARD School I actually wasn’t working. I had left a previous marketing job as it didn’t feel like the right fit for me. I did try to learn how to code apps as that was another interest of mine and got pretty far with it but that was more of a hobby. I still wanted to be an advertising creative but I was realistic about my chances. I wanted to get some agency experience too, so I got a job at the first agency that would take me in any role I could get. I ended up getting a role as an account executive at a media agency. That was right before I got the news that I had been accepted into AWARD School. So during the day, I worked my job and during my nights and weekends, I worked on AWARD School. Which was tough, but definitely doable.

By the end of AWARD School my brain was thoroughly melted. I was pretty happy to land an opportunity in my current role as a Junior Art Director at VMLY&R.

3)  What role has AWARD School played in helping you get you to where you are today?

AWARD School has definitely played a crucial role in helping me get into advertising as a creative. Not just in learning and building a great portfolio, build outside of AWARD School. My current creative partner that I’ve teamed up with was another AWARD School student. You build a strong bond with your tutors who act as mentors throughout the course, and you meet with many senior creatives who may offer you an opportunity down the line. You don’t need to place top ten at AWARD School to appreciate how it might open doors for you.

4)  What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to AWARD School this year?

If you’re a hungry creative, AWARD School will satisfy your hunger but be prepared to put in the hard work. There might be 3 am brainstorms. Many trees will die for your sketches. You might go insane. But if you’re motivated and determined – you will make some of the most creative work you’ve ever made up to this point in your life. You’ll talk with real creatives and make lifelong connections. Definitely do it. Also, prepare yourself with some great advertising books beforehand. The book that really helped me was the Advertising Concept Book. Buy that if you’re serious.

5)  What were some of your AWARD School highlights? 

The briefs! I might never be able to forget the work. You grow so attached to your ideas which are the culmination of months of thinking and dedication. They’re like your babies and there’ll be a lot of babies or ideas you will kill off, which you’ll remember as well. Besides that, some other highlights are the wonderful chats I had with people. You’ll meet the smartest, most creative people. The pub meet-ups were pretty cool. Talking with your tutors and seeing their offices is another exciting highlight. The lectures were also fascinating. The main highlight of AWARD School for me, and it might end up being the same for you, was realising how my brain thinks and how I work best creatively.

Recent news