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Star-struck in New York

Portfolio Night takes place annually in twenty-four cities all over the world. Hosted by McCann Johannesburg for the first time in South Africa, the event saw close to 120 students from local creative institutions competing. Along with 23 young All Stars from around the world, Lize-Marie Dreyer of The Open Window School of Visual Communication in Johannesburg, scooped the honour of an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City.
Lize-Marie Dreyer
Lize-Marie Dreyer
Bizcommunity spoke to her about her experiences:

1. Where about in New York were you based?

The Art Directors Club hosted us in the Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Chelsea, NY. It is a beautiful and classic hotel conveniently situated just a few steps away from the Art Directors Club where we spent most of our time.

2. Did you work all the time, or did you have time for sightseeing and fun? Can you share some if the highlights of places you visited, people you met?

Our average day started at 9h30 when we would arrive at the Art Directors Club for a delicious breakfast of bagels, cream cheese, fruit, yogurt, tea and coffee.

At about 10h00 we would gather in the boardroom to listen to a talk from a Creative Director. Every day we met a new Creative Director who was invited to address us on different topics. We had very interesting talks from Benjamin Palmer (CEO/CCO, The Barbarian Group), Rei Inamoto (CCO, AKQA) and Corinna Falusi, (ECD, Ogilvy & Mather). We worked from nine to five and although we didn't have time for sightseeing and fun, meeting these creatives and hearing their advice was definitely a highlight.

Another highlight for me: One of the Creative Directors that addressed us was Natalie Lam (ECD, McCann Erickson). In her talk, she asked the All Stars to vote for the best work amongst us. I was one of the three that had the most votes! We won beautiful gold-foiled suite tickets to the Yankees and Detroit Tigers baseball game that was taking place at the legendary Yankees Stadium that Friday!! (I really enjoyed eating hot dogs and eating peanuts out of the shells while watching the game, like a real American!)

3. What kinds of projects did the All Stars get to work on?

We were split into six teams of four students each and our brief was to 'reinvigorate' the new Ford Focus. The week was spent in the Art Directors Club where the teams worked from early morning to late at night to create a winning idea.

Only a few short days later we were all up on the stage presenting our ideas to Curtis Melville, the Executive Creative Director of Team Detroit and Wendy King, the Car Communications Manager at Ford.

At the end of the day a winning team was chosen and sadly that team was not my team. Ford was however so impressed with the overall results, that while the initial goal of Portfolio Night All Stars was to have the winning campaign considered for production, all six campaigns would be tabled for consideration at an upcoming meeting of Ford's creative agencies.

We each left with a pack that included gifts from iStock (free image credits), Luzer'sArchive (Archive Magazine), Pantone (Emerald Colour of the year mug), (one-year Membership), Wacom (Bamboo Stylus Duos), Ultimate Ears (UE Boom Speakers) and American Icon (Limited Edition Portfolio Night All-Star shirts).

Prize pack
Prize pack

4. Did you like New York? Do you think life in New York very different from South Africa, in what ways?

New York is definitely the city that never sleeps! At three in the morning, Times Square is so packed with people doing shopping in the "open-24-hours" shops that you can barely move. People just walk everywhere, where as in South Africa we just drive everywhere. If the people need to get somewhere far, they just catch a train or a bus, the public transport system just WORKS so well, it actually blew my mind. Life in New York is indeed different.

I must admit though that the Taxi's aren't much better! I got into one and I literally thought I was going to die. They also drive like crazy people!

5. Who did you connect with, from which countries? Did you learn about other countries, cultures?

One of the things I enjoyed most about the All Star week was how well the 24 contestants got along. We all became good friends in a short period of time. I can safely say that I made connections stretching from Paris to Mumbai, from Tokyo to Chicago, in 23 cities across the globe.

I learnt about other cultures and countries - Laura Méndez from Costa Rica, for example, explained the entire layout of her city to me, which was very interesting. I loved the mixed collection of different accents and languages.

24 All Stars
24 All Stars
click to enlarge
6. What did you think of design, typography, and architecture in New York?

Wow! The architecture is astounding; it's an absolute mix of architectural history. I loved how they keep restoring the beautiful old buildings. I loved the old gothic churches scattered in between modern architecture all over New York. I was also so in awe of all the skyscrapers that are so tall you can't even see the top.

Everywhere you look there is advertising and typography. Times Square is home to thousands of flashing and blinking shop logos and storefronts, all begging for your attention. The old restored buildings are branded with shining gold serif typefaces and the modern buildings with sleek sans serif typefaces.

Design is around every corner, in galleries filled with designer tools and designer work. The best design I saw was in the MoMA Store in Soho - from designer watches to designer kitchenware to books about design, they had it all. I wish I had hours to spend in there.

7. Have you got any career plans lined up now you are back?

I want to study Honours in Illustration next year. For the rest of the year the plan is to finish my degree at The Open Window and to do an internship.

8. What advice, if any do you have for aspiring Creatives wishing to bring their work to Portfolio Night next year?

Prepare a well-designed Portfolio Book and business cards. Work that is presented in a reasonably sized printed book always has a certain charm that is lost when it is presented digitally, have yours printed on good quality paper by good printers.

Most important, be well prepared to present your work to the Creative Directors with confidence and enthusiasm.

My sincerest thanks to The Open Window School of Visual Communication, McCann Johannesburg, the Art Directors Club and Ford for making it all possible. It was a life enriching experience that I will never forget.

My Online Portfolio:

Further Web Features on the All-Stars week:
4. night-all-star-battle-well-now-you-know_b52743

5 Sep 2013 12:49