20th July 2015, 8:57am
Young designer wins ‘Black Pencil’ for poignant reflection on fatherhood
'When I'm A Dad' - Tom Watkins One of the most sought after prizes in the international design industry has been awarded to a young student for his poignant reflection on fatherhood which brought one of the judging panel to tears.

Tom Watkins, a second-year undergraduate studying Creative Advertising at the University of Lincoln, UK, received a coveted Black Pencil at the annual Design & Art Direction (D&AD) New Blood Awards for his children’s book, ‘When I’m A Dad’.

The awards are recognised around the world as setting the standard for international creative excellence, with thousands of students, graduates and young creatives entering their design projects into the competition each year.

Entrants are invited to respond to one of 10 creative briefs for big-name brands, which this year included Facebook, John Lewis, Nationwide and npower. Judges select a winner from each category to receive a Yellow Pencil, and these winners are then considered by another expert panel for the top award – a Black Pencil – an accolade presented to only the very best creations each year.

Tom was one of only three designers to receive a Black Pencil at the 2015 awards ceremony. His children’s book responded to a brief from WeTransfer to “envision the person you'll be in 10 years through illustration”.

He said: “My When I’m A Dad project was born out of pure honesty. I had to envisage myself in 10 years’ time through illustration and although work was high on the initial list, I felt that being a dad meant something more, and so the project was born.

“It feels surreal that my project was awarded so highly. I never even slightly imagined that it would go down so well, let alone reduce one of the judges to tears! Above all, the whole project has been so much fun, and no doubt something I can look back on fondly in 10 years’ time!”

As part of his prize, Tom will now have the opportunity to attend the New Blood Academy to hone his skills with industry leading figures and build his network of creative contacts.

Mike Belton, Programme Leader for Creative Advertising at the University of Lincoln’s School of Architecture & Design, said: “A D&AD Yellow Pencil is the equivalent of a gold award. Thousands of students from across the globe try to win one but only a tiny percentage are successful and such is the credibility of winning one, many creative careers are founded on them. A Black Pencil is very rare indeed and represents the best in show at the awards and they are rarely handed out.

“When I’m A Dad was highly praised by the judges for its originality and excellent craft skills, and Tom was genuinely humbled when he went on stage to collect it.”

Tom’s success follows his commission earlier this year to showcase his work via a major social media account for global software company Adobe. To mark the 25th anniversary of Adobe Photoshop, the company selected 25 of the world’s most promising visual artists under the age of 25 to present their work on its new Instagram account. Tom was chosen to take part after winning the coveted Creative Jam at the Adobe Education Summit 2014.

The D&AD New Blood awards ceremony also saw Lincoln students Joseph Lovett, Jack Snell, Elly Hogarth and Malene Lovnes receive accolades for their work, each receiving a Wood Pencil for their projects.
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