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They Won Ad Age's Cover Contest for Young Creatives; Where Are They Now?

By Published on .

One winner co-founded a boutique shop that has Coca-Cola as a client; another helped launch a "pro-lifestyle" agency with a four-hour workday. One is transitioning successfully to a career as an artist. Two winners married each other. Ad Age's annual Young Creatives Global Cover Competition has been a turning point for many winners, and an experience that helped them see their potential.

The annual contest to design an Ad Age cover started in 2010; the final deadline this year is Thursday, April 20, so there's still a week left to submit a cover design. It's free to enter, and open to creatives age 30 and under. The winner gets a trip to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in June, and the winning design will become the cover for the print edition of Ad Age's Creativity Issue distributed at the Cannes festival (See how to enter here).

Where are the 14 young creatives who won the first seven competitions? Here's a look at how seven years of winners have fared in the creative world:

Salina Cole and Garret Dafferner
Salina Cole and Garret Dafferner

2010: Garret Dafferner and Salina Cole, an art director and copywriter at Grey New York, moved as a team to KBS+ and Publicis, where Cole stayed and is now an associate creative director. She works on Procter & Gamble brands and has a 16-month-old daughter with her French husband, making her one of the young female creatives agencies are trying harder to keep in the traditionally male-dominated creative field. "Cultural change is in the air right now," she said, noting that Publicis sent two buses to the Women's March in Washington so she and other staffers could participate.

Since 2015, Dafferner has freelanced at New York shops while pursuing his passion in Brooklyn as an assemblage sculpture artist under the name Garret Kane, his middle name. (Check out his spectacular work at www.garretkane.com).

Garret Dafferner's sculpture Mimicri
Garret Dafferner's sculpture Mimicri Credit: Garret Dafferner

"I'm sort of shifting from freelance work as a source of income to doing pure art," he said. That follows a show of his work at the high-profile Flatiron Prow Artspace in Manhattan and a recent three-month trip through Asia.

Winning the first cover contest in 2010 gave him more confidence in his work as an art director, he said. "I still keep that piece in my portfolio and it's one of the things I'm proudest of."

Nguyen Tuong Luan, Do Duy Thien and Nguyen An Hoa
Nguyen Tuong Luan, Do Duy Thien and Nguyen An Hoa

2011: The winning trio in 2011 were colleagues at G2/Grey Group in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Six years later, they're still working together, each having jumped to Dentsu Vietnam in rapid succession. Winning the Ad Age cover contest "bonded us," said Nguyen Tuong Luan. At Dentsu Vietnam, Nguyen is integrated planning director, Do Duy Thien is associate director of content strategy and Nguyen An Hoa is associate creative director.

Rohit Dhamija
Rohit Dhamija

2012: Rohit Dhamija was an art director and Udayan Chakravarty a copywriter at JWT Delhi. Dhamija has since helped build a New Delhi-based creative agency called Lazy Eight, where the goal is a four-hour workday that leaves its 34 principals time to pursue other passions. Dhamija just spent months telecommuting from the beaches of Goa, the Andaman Islands and Sri Lanka.

"The clients get it, they see the work, they know what we have been delivering," he said. Lazy Eight has worked for Uber, Adidas and Hyperloop One, a Los Angeles-based startup working on Elon Musk's vision for an ultrafast ground transport system.

Udayan Chakravarty
Udayan Chakravarty

Chakravarty is now creative director at Wieden & Kennedy Delhi, and next month he moves to another agency as VP-executive creative director. Winning the cover contest marked "the moment we saw how far something we made can go," he said. In Cannes, people's reaction to the cover gave them a taste of the power creatives have.

"I think the moment you discover you have something like that in your hands, suddenly you push the ceiling off," he said.

Katrina Encanto and EJ Galang
Katrina Encanto and EJ Galang

2013: Katrina Encanto and EJ Galang, both from the Philippines, were regional creatives at MullenLowe in Bangkok. The perseverance they brought to the cover contest, which they entered three years in a row before winning, has paid off in their advertising careers, including two Gold Lions at the Cannes Lions festival for Unilever work. "The contest really opened doors for us," Encanto said. "We met so many people at Cannes, made lots of connections, and that led to us eventually coming to London."

The senior creatives at MullenLowe in London, work on global and local business. They also work with a group called Inspiring Girls, and their award-winning campaign "Redraw the Balance" promotes female role models for girls. In a video, a teacher asks small children to draw a firefighter, a surgeon and a fighter pilot. Virtually all the drawings are of men. Then a real firefighter, surgeon and fighter pilot come in to meet the class; all are women. The next phase of the campaign, Galang said, focuses on female characters in animation, where there are few leading roles for women.

Oh, and they don't just work together; a year ago, they got married.

2014: Kumkum Fernando was associate creative director at Lowe Vietnam when he won; a few agency folks liked his quirky, brand-filled cover so much that they asked for a high-res version to hang on their walls.

Fernando has since co-founded independent agency Ki Saigon, which won Coca-Cola's creative work for all its brands in Vietnam last year. For Vietnam's Lunar New Year, the agency made a tear-jerking Coca-Cola spot reuniting two brothers who had had a falling out. The agency started out in a room in Fernando's house in Ho Chi Minh City; a year and a half later it has a staff of eight, soon to be 10. He wants the team to stay small and be a "really craft boutique agency."

Fernando, whose Ad Age cover showed off his talents as an installation artist, exhibited at the Singapore Art Museum in 2015, with three giant boxes with surprises inside designed to evoke the discoveries of childhood. Since starting up Ki Saigon, "the art has been on hold because it's been crazy busy."

2015: Boyhood friends growing up in Portugal, Pedro Eloi and Nuno Gomes were a senior designer at AKQA in London and an art director at Ogilvy & Mather in Lisbon when they collaborated from different countries on their winning cover design. Since then, Gomes has fulfilled a dream to move to London, where he has been working with different agencies.

2016: Nicholas Ross and Nicole Hamilton, the first U.S. winners since 2010, were junior copywriter and art director at U.S. Hispanic shop Dieste. Ross works on the digital/social team for clients AT&T and DirecTV, and Hamilton is an animator and illustrator, which may explain why they created an Ad Age cover that turned into a virtual reality experience. Ross, promoted this month to art director, just released his second record with his band, Funeralbloom, which performs in what he describes as "a pretty obscure genre, atmospheric post-black metal."

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