Mistakes have value; so does honesty

  • 2012-03-14
  • By Antra Feldmane

RIGA - “Epic Failure vs. Epic Win,” says ADwards Festival 2012, held in Riga for the seventh time and a contribution to creative industries such as digital solutions, TV and print ads, graphic design and other relevant working ‘places.’ This is a showcase of what’s done over the past year. “This year it might show how mistakes are actually not mistakes, but an organic way to excellent work,” the official ADwards statement says.

Organized by Latvian Art Directors Club (LADC) and by Eriks Stendzenieks, one of the most colorful (and sometimes controversial) ad person in Latvia, the event series will take place in Hotel Tallink Riga, Splendid Palace, culminating at the Palladium Concert hall, where ADwards will be given to winning works.

“This year there will be only six award categories compared with previous years,” says Olga Sukonnikova, member of the board of LADC. There will be: integrated campaigns, TV and radio, print ads, digital solutions, design, sales promotion activities. She also notes that “Limbo” is an experiment for them and represents those works that were produced, but rejected, by clients. Adding to that, “Grand Prix” as a solid gold for best of the best, and “Pioneer” as a dedication to the most risky and brave author.

Various seminars are also scheduled to be held during the event, where Steve Henry, chairman of the jury, will tell why breaking the rules is the only way to act. But Vladislav Derevjannih from Russia will explain how their ad company “Voshod” turned out to be one of the biggest in their field. Mikelis Bastiks, a graphic designer from Asketic Riga and co-founder of the company, will talk about what he learnt during the work and how design differs from art (he is also one of the jury members for 2012). “ADwards’ jury expects strong examples for design work this year,” says Sukonnikova.

To see more of Asketic, I went to their office, which is located near Spice Trade center. Aigars Mamis, a young graphic designer, met me in order to share his thoughts about ADwards Festival. “There are pros and cons,” he says. ADwards is an objective, panoramic view to creative industries now. Not only in ads, but in design as well. I would say this event is necessary. It develops the whole industry, and goes on through the year with lectures and seminars that LADC organizes.” Mamis adds that there are lot of market participants in Latvia, so everyone could have done things in their own way for ADwards.

When asked about the “shadow” moments of creative industries, Mamis notes that, although the festival might seem prestigious, the number of consumers is relatively small in Latvia, where everyone knows each other. He also thinks that the creative industry could be more spacious as it is now while only a few market participants tend to be in the mainstream the event.

But Sukonnikova adds that a “small nation syndrome” affects the ability to be braver in industry and to take more risk by everyone. That’s why she thinks that “creative minds should not hide their talents, when compared with big industry players.” Mamis notes that there used to be a lack of submitted works for ADwards. “But it’s not because we don’t have creative minds. You can easily and relatively quickly establish success. But you also hit the top quite soon, and then stagnation comes. Instead, in a world context, there should be loads of learning and development.”

Submitted works in certain categories seem to be of a different range. Low-budget ad campaigns cope with the “big fish.” There were, for instance, self-made video clips for promoting the music last year. Mamis thinks that low-budget projects are even better, with their smart and witty attitudes. Also, if they are self-critical and do not look at everything so seriously, it works. “To be honest, people with low budgets often come from big agencies, and can bring out their individual work.”

Fion Dobbin, a lecturer at SSE Riga and former employee of design company “Znak,” thinks that Latvians are often strong with their attitude and their work can be really entertaining and funny. He denies that Latvia’s creative industries might be somehow ego-tripping. “You should go to Berlin. The arrogance they have in there. Professionals there can be really narcissistic.” Dobbin thinks that ADwards is a fantastic event in order to meet people, drink wine and have valuable insight for future deals.

Mamis tends to agree, but he finally says that “more honesty and self-criticism would not harm ADwards in the future.”

ADward will be held
from March 22-23.
For more information visit