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Meet the winners of ‘On the Rise’ 2022 Design Awards

The winners discuss their work and how it felt to share a stage with some of the world’s most renowned creators

Each creative profession has its own idea of what ‘making it to the top’ looks like. Actors practice their Oscar acceptance speech with a shampoo prop. Musicians sing into their toothbrush dreaming they are headlining Glastonbury. And what about us designers? We look at our latest project and fantasize about presenting it to the world, preferably onstage at a famous design festival like the OFFF Festival in Barcelona.

We were able to turn this dream into a reality for some of you. Seven brave designers, all at the beginning of their creative career, submitted their favorite project from the last year and won the opportunity to appear on the main stage of OFFF Barcelona.

Designers submitted projects they were particularly proud of in the following categories: Type, Graphic Design, Creative/Art Direction, Illustration, 3D/Motion, Web Immersive/New Media, Overall Standout Portfolio.

Earlier this month, the competition came to an exciting end when the seven winners got to present their work on the global stage. Our judges were an expert panel from the OFFF Festival lineup. As well as choosing the winners, the judges also held one-on-one mentoring sessions with each of the designers. That’s what we call a prize!

So how did it feel to be part of this experience? We asked the winning designers:

Type winner | Dossier de Songe - Marie Ducrocq and Ellyson Gasparetto

Judge: Porto Rocha

Paris based graphic designers Marie Ducrocq and Ellyson Gasparetto met six years ago during their studies at Lille, and have not separated since. Their creative duo, Dossier de Songe, is all about experimenting with different mediums and visual elements to create unique and impactful designs (with a strong focus on typography and lettering).

Their winning project is a visual identity for Jiudi, a hair color brand. “We started working on it while we were still at school doing our typography master’s degree at ECV in Paris. We always start by drawing, using several mediums. For this project, we used our calligraphy skills with a plume.”

Why did you choose to submit this specific project?

“There were actually no doubts. Jiudi had just launched and we absolutely loved the result, so we thought why not try our luck with that one. It was clear it belonged to the Type category as our work on that project was mostly lettering.”

How did you prepare for presenting your project on stage?

“It was very intimidating at first. But as we are a duo, we were confident we could count on each other. We searched together for the best way to share our project with people who had never heard of Jiudi. Then we practiced our speech so we could refine it before our talk.”

What was it like to have a mentoring session with Porto Rocha?

“It was really amazing because they are a duo like us! They gave us advice that was really helpful. We talked about their experience and their current agency, and they motivated us to pursue our creative journey.”

What was the most memorable part of the whole experience?

“Getting to know and hear from so many people during the OFFF Festival. It was so motivating and inspiring! We were in our element, surrounded by all this creativity, talent and passion! The festival really has a strong positive energy. It was both crazy and amazing to experience three days in that intense design atmosphere.”

Graphic Design winner | Thinh Truong

Judge: Paula Scher

Motion graphics student, Thinh Truong, always dreamt about attending the OFFF Festival. “I live in Barcelona but as a student it was always too expensive to get a ticket myself. When I saw the ad for the ‘On the Rise’ competition on Instagram I immediately knew I had to apply. I applied in multiple categories to enhance my chances of winning! But even then, I never imagined I would actually win. I submitted applications so many times before to various competitions, and never even made it to the shortlist. So when I got the email saying that I won I couldn’t believe it”

Tell us about your project

“It’s actually a project I did in class, a rebranding for Llantiol Teatre. It’s a theater from the 80’s, hidden in the multicultural Raval district in Barcelona. It’s a place where all sorts of performers and people come to have fun in an intimate space. A lot of up-and-coming comedians used the theater to help them launch their career. I wanted to represent that special vibe in my design, using the concept ‘Once Upon a Second Ago’. I wanted to pay tribute to the theater’s heritage, as well as giving it a contemporary breath of fresh air. I used playful shapes, simple lines and primary colors. For the final logotype I chose a combination of three typefaces to bring out the chaos and diversity this place stands for.”

What was it like to meet Paula Scher?

“Oh my god that was so surreal! I thought it would be intimidating because she's an extremely influential designer but she was super nice and down-to-earth. She walked me through my presentation and talked about what worked and what didn’t work. That was really helpful! Then, we just chatted about typography and graphic design. I told her about how much I disliked Helvetica. She laughed and explained to me that I had to look at typography from different perspectives which I appreciated!”

What was your main takeaway from the whole experience?

“It made me realize the most important thing in the creative industry is its community. We all support each other on this crazy journey. At the end of the day, we make something that sparks a little something in other people, and then they do the same for us. And that is design at its best”.

Creative/Art Direction winner | Kurt Champion

Judge: Vallée Duhamel

Graphic designer Kurt Champion studied visual communication at Arts University Bournemouth. Combining his passion for graphic design with his interest in art, he began to explore art installations and experiences, and is currently developing this area of his work.

Talk us through your winning project

“Bin Laden's Hard Drive is my most recent project. It presents 2% of the data found on Osama Bin Laden's personal computers which were recovered (and soon declassified) after the raid on his compound in Pakistan. I attempt to show the contents in a way that translates digital archives to a physical form. Audiences watch while a small thermal printer on a plinth releases a seemingly never-ending line of images that belonged to Bin Laden during the final years of his life. The paper twists, bends and ribbons as it finds its own path into the clear perspex box which sits on the floor below. This is accompanied by the natural sound of the printer that is reminiscent of the Zurna instrument.”

How did you prepare your talk about the project?

“I was incredibly nervous about it, which was natural I guess. I created a presentation a few days after receiving the news that I won, and also created a script to talk about for each slide. I rehearsed in front of my girlfriend about a million times. Poor her!”

Tell us about meeting Vallée Duhamel

“Firstly, the brunch was incredible, I had lobster and 3 cocktails before 11AM! The mentoring was such a great experience, it was all really relaxed. We talked about my work and my plans for after graduation. I also got to ask many questions about the industry. We even discussed cashew nuts, avocados and the strange taste of the water at the hotel”.

Illustration winner | Julia Hanke

Judge: Temi Cocker

Julia’s winning project, ‘Your voice has POWER’ is part of an Amnesty International Poland campaign which uses Julia’s illustrations. But Julia didn’t actually study illustration. She began her creative journey studying landscape architecture. She took the leap to become a graphic designer and three years ago decided to focus on illustration: “I realized that drawing was always a big part of my life since I was a little kid and now I am happy that I can make a living from my passion.”

What was the visual inspiration for your project?

“The main inspiration was the people who defend human rights. I took inspiration from their confident attitude, their hand gestures and the signs they carry. These signs are usually made from cardboard and feature strong typography. I used colorful elements that look like paper cutouts. These elements are also supposed to symbolize the diversity of society. I used vibrant colors which go well with the main Amnesty color, bright yellow.”

Did you get any priceless tips from Temi, your mentor and judge?

“I actually had the chance to speak with Temi before the mentorship session, so I already knew he was really cool. He gave me a lot of support before my presentation and I could ask him anything. We talked about business stuff, how to find one's way, dream clients and agencies. He did actually reveal some secrets about his work but I can't say anything about that! I really like what he said about always being a student. He really meant that, because he was so curious about my process. This was really nice, to share each other's experiences and process of creation.”

3D/Motion winner | Steph Ramplin

Judge: Buck

3D animator Steph Ramplin loves creating characters and telling stories: “I would describe my work as a mixture of vibrant colors, big bodies and a sarcastic sense of humor.” She was already planning on coming to the festival, so the opportunity to be involved and present her work felt like a no-brainer.

How did you decide what project to submit?

“I definitely wanted to submit in the 3D/Motion category. The project I chose, my Melissa Sustainability project, was something I made recently and also my biggest animation project to date. I'm really proud of this piece of work so it felt like a great project to submit. I used Cinema 4D, and storyboarded, modeled, rigged and animated everything myself. This was the longest piece of animation I've created to date, so I really wanted to take the opportunity to work on my transitions between scenes, so the whole thing felt seamless.”

What was the biggest challenge in translating your project into a presentation? My main concern was not to trip up the stairs as I walked onto the stage! I always prepare for this kind of thing by saying my presentation out loud to myself a few times. I think my favorite thing about the experience was seeing my animation on the huge screen! I'm so used to just looking at it on my laptop at home so that was very cool.”

What can you tell us about meeting Buck?

“First of all, I was super excited that they were the judges of my category, and was thrilled to be selected by them as I love their work.I don't know that many animators so it was just great to have a chat with people that I really look up to in the industry and hear about their careers. I showed them my work and we talked about general things like what to include in my portfolio/reel, how to get new clients, some technical animation stuff, and how I might be able to push my work further.”

Web Immersive/New Media winner | Ninon Oudin Judge: Pep Salazar, OFFF

Ninon’s winning work is her graduation project for the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands. “I’ve always worked at the intersection of graphic design and other digital media such as 3D and AR”, she explains, “and what I like most is experimenting with software and techniques. I like to create images and work on concepts related to contemporary topics.”

Why did you choose this specific category and project to submit?

“It was quite a difficult choice because I have a hard time categorizing my practice. The project I submitted has its own identity but its most important part is on the website and augmented reality side. That's why I chose to submit in the Web Immersive/New Media category. As for the concept of the project, I was interested in how we speculate when finding artifacts from ancient civilizations and raising questions of what we will leave behind us. I used the one object that I think represents our society, the Ikea bag. I created several interpretations from it, all very absurd and abstract, leaving the viewer questioning themselves. I worked with 3D, photogrammetry, and augmented reality. I also created a website for the whole project.”

Were you anxious about going on stage?

“I was really stressed at the idea of sharing my work onstage in front of a lot of people. To prepare, I rehearsed three times and brought a sheet of paper with me with some key words. It was reassuring to have it just in case. The first ten seconds were really stressful but once I got into it, I enjoyed it - despite the stress!”

Overall Standout Portfolio winner | Emely Wensky Judge: Iris Koutchmar, Wix

Originally from Germany, Emely Wensky graduated from a fashion design course at AMD Berlin last year, before moving to London a few months ago. “During my studies, I realized I’m very passionate about creating visual worlds and telling the story behind a fashion collection. So now I’m focusing on art direction, branding, and graphic design. If I had to define my work and aesthetic I would say it’s very much influenced by nostalgia. I find incorporating physical and analog components into an otherwise digital practice very valuable.”

Tell us about the process of building your portfolio i.e. your winning project

“One of my biggest passions is web design so creating a portfolio website has been something I always wanted to do. Building my portfolio website was done as part of the Wix Playground Academy program which I took part in. I was encouraged to think a lot about my creative self, who I am as a designer and where I want to go in the future. In general, my portfolio highlights my most important projects over the last few years about art direction, branding, and editorial design. For me, creating a website that shows my personality and has a consistent visual language that reflects the aesthetic of my projects has been really important. That said, the portfolio design itself has been the most important.”

How did you feel when you won?

“It was honestly quite overwhelming to have gotten such an amazing opportunity, since this whole graphic design world is fairly new to me. I felt very grateful and humbled to start my path by speaking at the OFFF Festival. It’s pretty surreal! The festival has such a great, supportive, and welcoming atmosphere. Hearing about other approaches and being inspired by so many great talks has been very nurturing to me.”

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