The Art Directors Club of New Jersey recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its annual awards judging and show at the Birchwood Manor in Whippany. Art Directors are the people responsible for conceptualizing most of the creative advertising, marketing, public relations, Internet, digital and other forms of communications currently in use. They determine what photos, illustrations, typography, colors and even the augmented reality animation for the ad, package or website that companies use to communicate to their markets. With all of the awards shows praising creativity in New Jersey, the ADCNJ’s is the only one that identifies the Art Director as well as the agency.
Every year, hundreds of Art Directors send their best samples of their work to be judged against that of their peers. Finding judges with the experience necessary to understand the nuances of each category to be judged is the responsibility of Nancy Fischer, a freelance designer who works with the Awards Show Committee to secure judges for the show. This year, Nancy received the Lew Kraut Award for her dedication to detail and service to our association.
The concept and design for the Awards Show was developed by Andrew George and was Chaired by Brec Morgan and her staff at CAG Brand First who produced the show’s identity, marketing materials, hangtags, and the show. And it came off perfectly, thanks to the attention to detail that Sue Sabol and her team from Opulent Events provided. Kudos to everybody that worked on this event from the beginning to the last spoon of crème brulee. This year’s show was entertaining and enjoyable with show emcee Tony Selimo and mentalist, Ted St James taking the show to new levels.
The ADCNJ is deeply involved in the college level art programs and gives away several scholarships to students majoring in many of the creative industry talent providers and this year’s crop of talent was present with their portfolios. Most of New Jersey Colleges that have graphic design programs encourage their students to enter their work for judging in the ADCNJ’s Student portfolio judging and the winners are featured during our show.
Special scholarship awards are also encouraged and Kean University put aside several for their graduates. James Smith, Principal at Smith Design gave out a packaging design award while Justin Martucci, President at Nicklefish issued two for inter-active designers.
The ADCNJ has held its last few Awards Shows at The Birchwood Manor, and this year, the bar was still set high for the victuals. As we have come to expect from Michael Marino, the Banquet’s Manager at the Birchwood Manor, all of the food was prepared and served in style to attendees by the many servers and all of the tables were brimming with delicacies. My favorite has always been the raw bar, filled with cooked and peeled shrimp, oysters and lobster tails, making the food we eat of a higher quality than most of the food at other creative awards shows.
More than just a show paying homage to the creative production process, it’s also a litmus test for the industry itself, which has undergone serious changes due to the ever-evolving technology and the slower economy. It’s not enough to think creatively, you need to understand the mechanisms necessary to produce and communicate these ideas and that has motivated the ADCNJ to add newer and more relevant categories to their call for entries. And through their efforts, Brec and her team were able to generate over 300 entries to be judged.
Sherry Fitzgerald, ADCNJ President and program coordinator at Sussex Community College called on her connections to bring in Tony Selimo, a video producer, radio personality and Director of Communications at SCC to perform the duties of Emcee, and he did a superb job. Frank Peluso, a long-time club member and constant supporter of our show was there to capture the event in his inimitable way. His photographs are part of this article.
Mentalist Ted St James regaled the attendees with his mind-reading skills, and his ability to guess accurately, certain words pictured in the mind of his willing assistants and his show brought him a lot of wows. But the main reason everybody showed up for this wonderful event was to walk away with their share of the awards. To win an award from the ADCNJ is to be honored by your peers. And this year, the judging was so tough that only 65 awards were bestowed upon the designers, illustrators, photographers, and creative thinkers from the state of New Jersey.
High hook winners of the night were Ogilvy Health and Graphic D-Signs with 7 awards each, but the real winners were all of the attendees, the students, the agencies, the clients and the spouses and guests of the entrants. Everybody had a good time. Have a happy summer.