An assortment of photos laid flat. The right hand of an unseen person lays across three photos in the centre of the image.

Introducing… The Creative Class of 2021

Ask an arts graduate “so, what’s next?” and you’ll normally be met with plans. Lots of plans. After all, the buzz of their degree show – the culmination of all their hard work – will still be ringing in their ears. Some may have won internships or even their first jobs off the back of this exhibition. It’s a hard-won opportunity to impress and get on the career ladder, doing the thing they love and have trained to do. But this year is different. Students have found themselves graduating into a world that is changed and confusing. Their degree shows have, in many cases, been cancelled because events simply cannot comply with social distancing rules at that scale. The jobs market is tough but standing out is tougher. 

On the other side of the fence is the creative industry. Every year it’s generally spoilt for choice, with superb graduates clamouring to share their portfolios and find the foundation of their future careers. This fresh young talent is the lifeblood of the industry – a source of new skills, ideas and perspectives that creative agency clients need to tap into to stay ahead of the competition. And, yes, this difficult period of time means that agencies are having to be careful, run tighter ships and go easy on the hiring. However, demand for their services hasn’t disappeared and recovery willhappen. But in the interim, when graduates have no place to showcase themselves and creative businesses are juggling between the now and the next, what happens? 

“There’s a real risk that the class of 2021, or even the class of 2020 as well, could become a bit of a lost generation,” says Gordon Young, founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Drum, Europe’s most widely read resource for modern marketing and media. “The pandemic conditions that have seen people cutting back and laying off staff, that’s not going to last forever either. I think, in the near future, there is going to be a bit of a career or job shortage and that’s why it’s absolutely essential that agencies get access to this talent pool.”

Left: text that reads “The Drum, Class of 2021 Exhibition, 15th June - 30th Sep 2021. Welcome to The Drum's 'Class of 2021' in partnership with Canon - a new and exclusive virtual exhibition to empower the global creative community with exclusive access to the next-generation of student creative talent within Creative Arts & Design. This digital 'degree show' offers students a second chance to earn the recognition they deserve while also ensuring that creatives don’t miss out.” Right: Five brightly coloured examples of design/photography.
The Drum and Canon are inviting creative professionals and students to benefit from a digital ‘degree show’.

In the spirit of breaching this potential gap, The Drum has teamed up with Canon to give graduates an online ‘degree show’ that not only lets them showcase their work but leverages the power of both brands as a means of connecting them with some of the best minds from across the global creative community. Students can create a profile on this this free platform and upload a variety of images to showcase their work and projects. Details about their project, as well as tags relevant to their discipline (illustration, fine art, photography, graphic design, 3D, architecture, interior design etc). make it easier for potential employers to streamline their search. The exhibition has been built to randomise the content on each visit ensuring that every login will present something new to discover. All students who get involved will be sent a personalised printed ‘student pack’ – a striking way to present their work offline in the real-world to potential future employers.

However, it’s important to stress that this is not just a website. The Class of 2021 is a campaign – practising what the industry preaches and applying key marketing principles that will bring it to life over the course of a year through creative and measurable digital and print assets. It will provide resources that help graduates further their career prospects with potential future employers. “We think this is such a great initiative and we're proud to support it,” says Cathy Bittner, Project Lead on ‘Class of 2021’ for Canon Europe. “This project is a lovely opportunity to drive technology innovation. We love this very customer-centred approach, creating this platform to bring the relevant stakeholders together and using this project to add print into what might normally be an online only experience.” 

The Class of 2021 exhibition website is live from 29th June 2021. Register today for your free event pass.

Written by Walter Young