Design Awards – A Sign of Success, or Just a Load of Bull****?


More and more often, we hear designers referring to themselves as ‘award-winning designers’ – but what does that actually mean?

Does being an award-winning designer make you successful? Does it get you better work, more money and recognition from your peers, or is it the adult equivalent of having your drawing hung on the fridge? 🏅

Strap in Angry Designers, because this week we are hitting you with a VERY angry episode, where  Massimo and Shawn climb the podium and tackle the world of industry awards, to explain why they might not be as prestigious as they seem. In this episode of The Angry Designer, the dynamic duo tackle:

– Using awards as a metric of success
– The process of awards
– What’s missing in design awards
– True success as a Graphic Designer

Episode Transcript

Massimo: What's up Sean? 

Massimo: It's, you know, it's, it's, it's only the beginning of the week. Wow. I know. 

Shawn: It's one of those weird situations, right? We don't have miles of week across our face, but it feels like it a lot. I know. It's been a tough couple of days. I am. Wow. 

Massimo: Like we're not even halfway through the weekend. It's pretty bad.

Massimo: I think we've earned this drink. Yeah, I think we have. This is like the first drink I've had since. Since the weekend. What do we have here? So this is something interesting. This is called Rabbit Hole. Oh, this is a Kentucky, a Kentucky Straight bourbon. Check that bad thing out. That's awesome. Like, that's really cool.

Massimo: Yeah. I never tried this. Um, I grabbed this a couple weeks ago when we went to a soccer tournament in Berry. Oh. Okay. And I was just like, all of a sudden it was just like, whoa, what is this? I haven't. Nice. So it's called Rabbit Hole by Cave Hill. It's a Kentucky Straight Bourbon. Nice. Okay. It's got a four grain triple malt, [00:01:00] which means there's a lot of shit going on in this one.

Massimo: Okay. But the part that scares me the most. Yeah, right. 

Shawn: Yeah. Um, Does 

Massimo: it make it go blind? Get four grain triple malt that really messes with you. Right. But no, the part that's gonna make us go blind is it's 47.5%. Fuck. Are you serious? Right. So we gotta take it easy on this one, right? We'll have to, but I mean, I saw this logo.

Massimo: I thought it was brilliant. Like, I mean, it was just cool. It's, you know, it's sexy package. It is. It's kind of cool. It's got something here that looks like a little loony, but it's not. Right. So there's a lot to this. So I give the bottle like a, you know, like, What, like a 7, 8, 9 outta 10. That's a total song.

Massimo: It's even got like a little rabbit. Rabbit. See that? The rabbit, it wraps around the side. You know they're not using some third party, you know, bottle here. That's just being rewashed week after week. So let's try. All right, let's give it a, I'm kind of excited cuz I thought this was really cool looking.

Massimo: Cheers. Let's give her a sip. Cheers my friend. Oh, it smells nice, but it smells strong. Yeah, it smells [00:02:00] really good.

Shawn: Wow. 

Massimo: Ooh. Again. You're right. Ooh, it's strong. It is, but but it's got like a, you taste like, I taste like, like a little minty cinnamon. Oh no. That's just strong. That just 

Shawn: keeps going. That's strong. Yeah, that's, it's good though. But you're right, it's cinnamon. I can taste the cinnamon. You can taste 

Massimo: it. I don't even know if it's got cinnamon in it, but I mean, again, there's something unique here.

Massimo: Yeah. So it's 70% corn, 10% malted weed, 10% barley, and 10% malt. Honey malted Bart. Honey. Honey. Maybe that's what we're tasting right's. Probably. It's cause it's sweet, right? It is sweet. It's it's sweet. It's strong. It's kind of making, you know, my chest burn a little bit. I think I'm starting to go blind, but you know, that could be the, the higher alcohol content.

Massimo: I know the Canadian mentions that. Yeah. You worried. 

Shawn: That's right. We're not gonna walk by any, uh, open flames or anything like that. Actually, [00:03:00] Canada's burning. We better be careful, man. Unfortunately, everybody 

Massimo: who I talk to, all of our American customers, first thing they do is like, what the hell are you sending our.

Massimo: You know, we don't have a giant national defense budget, but we have a hell of a lot of forest, and apparently we just send smoke all everybody's way. Right. We'll smoke 'em out. Yeah, 

Shawn: that's right. That's right. Get your barbecue, get your meat out on the, on the, on the fucking calls line. You'll get a But 

Massimo: anybody wants to, um, anybody who wants to invade Canada, the first thing we do is run with our lighters.

Massimo: To the bushes. To the bushes. 

Shawn: To the bushes. Lighter up. 

Massimo: Oh my God. Really? We shouldn't make fun of that though cuz it's a pretty serious situation. It's pretty bad. Yeah, it's, but um, but now we've got this, this ode to campfire everywhere you 

Shawn: go. Right? It's everything is smelled. Yeah. You know that when you come back from like a long weekend, the may too for you camping, something like that.

Shawn: Your close smell likes fire's. A every day smells like that for, for two weeks. Oh my. 

Massimo: Oh, [00:04:00] that's pretty funny. That's all right. 

Shawn: It's, um, but that's really good. I, I do like that. This, have you had the second sip? Try the second sip. Okay. It's much nicer than the first. Mm-hmm. 

Massimo: Yeah, it's not burning the same as much, but that is definitely strong, isn't it?

Massimo: That's, 

Shawn: that's got 

Massimo: a kick to it. I won't be sneaking that after hours, that's for 

Shawn: sure. Alright. Yeah. 

Massimo: So, Mr. 

Shawn: Shawn? Yes. Mrma. 

Massimo: So let me tell you what I, what, what, what I read the other day. Okay. And, um, this is, yeah. Okay. And, and this kind of goes back to, you know, our topic earlier. I, um, A a as I regularly do, I was on Reddit.

Massimo: Mm-hmm. Right. And I like reading what, you know, everybody's kind of going on about bitching about, or not bitching about. Mm-hmm. Or just in general talking about. Right. And there's a lot of shit going on right now there. But this one caught my eye cuz this was like the whole design community attacked this poor person.

Massimo: Oh no. Okay. So this, this, this girl, she um, I, I'm assuming she was a girl based on, on what she was saying, cuz she, she threw men under the bus for some reason. Oh, [00:05:00] okay. Kind of weird, but whatever. Right. Fair, fair. And, um, but it really had nothing to do with it. She was going on about, Um, how is she ever gonna be a successful design or recognized as a success as a successful designer if her agency doesn't send her to the cans?

Massimo: Right. Or the cons? Cons or what? The, the movie thing? No, no, no, no. I think it's like the awards for designers, aren't they? Oh, is it? Hold on. Pause. I'm pretty sure cuz that's what she was going on about. Hold on. Wow, that's weird.

Shawn: Weird.

Shawn: Oh God.

Massimo: No, you're right. It was the Cons Film Festival. Yeah, it's film festival. That makes no sense. Right. Why was she complaining about 

Shawn: that though, Casey? So this person doesn't even know what awards she needs to go to. That's fucked up. If I am [00:06:00] designing something that's really worthy Moss and you don't send me to the Grammys, I'm gonna be pissed.

Shawn: That's pretty funny, right? God, get your shit together. Get your shit free. Ok. Right. 

Massimo: Ok. So that was a messed up that that was a messed up. But I mean, the, the reality is, no, Dick, come on. She couldn't have been that on because it was all advertising related. Hold 

Shawn: on. Yeah, that's, that's really weird. I don't, I don't understand that.

Shawn: Hmm. I, unless it's a, maybe it's, 

Massimo: it recognizes no look. Yeah. Ks Lions International Festival of Creativity. Oh, 

Shawn: so they do like a bunch of awards things? Yeah. Okay, so let's continue. All right, so there you go. Uh, so 

Massimo: ready Joe. So she, she, and she made a comment, she made a comment that was like, how am I ever gonna be recognized as, as a successful designer if my agency doesn't send me to the camp?

Massimo: Or cons or however the hell that's that, whatever. Yeah, the, the creativity Advertising Awards show that [00:07:00] thing. Right. Okay. And at first it was just like, whoa, you, you don't drop shit like that on something like Reddit, cuz I mean, everybody's either gonna support or attack and that's exactly what happened.

Massimo: Yes. So first off, a whole bunch of people. Right away, I had to just jump on her and be like, oh, your poor ego. How are you gonna, how are you gonna handle this? You know? Ooh. And you, you know, well, I'm an executive vice president of Creative, and they're like, and you're complaining. They're like, if you're fucking evp, you pay for your fucking ticket and go.

Massimo: And then everybody's like, you can't be that good if, if you're already complaining and you're saying you need to win this, you know, you need to win an award to be successful. Right. So it's just, All of a sudden everybody started tearing into her. Mm. Because she was going on as like a crybaby type scenario.

Massimo: Yeah. Yeah. And the response on of it w was completely opposite. But the opposite was number one, everybody was picking on her. Yes. Saying you're an idiot for thinking that way. You don't need a stupid award to make you be successful. Yes, exactly. Right. But then all of a sudden there was this whole other slew of, um, conversation that started happening and, and it was a whole bunch of people complaining [00:08:00] that their agencies participate in these awards, participate all the time.

Massimo: Oh, and. It sucks. Oh, they're going on about like, you know, it's like the environment's not good. The culture's not good because, you know, they're striving to become this award-winning. You know, and again, and I even remember somebody made the comment, oh, our agency hasn't, hasn't ever applied for an award and you know, we, we still rock or we're still good or whatever.

Massimo: And that one guy was like, can I apply at your agency? Because he was tired of constantly. So it was this whole war of people are saying, you know, this is what we do. This is what our agency does. Yeah. And these other people that are like, that's stupid. It's like, it seems to me there's these two train of thoughts.

Massimo: Yeah. Which is like, you know, but you know, it's, it's this constant back and forth. And what blows me away is, is, you know, nobody was ever mentioning about the clients in any of this. You know, it was kind like, this is client work. But you're focusing on this fucking award side, so it's like, I don't understand.

Massimo: Oh my God, yes. You know, like [00:09:00] they're going on and how, how great it was for the agency, how good it is for designers, the design, how great it is for the creative director. Yeah. Good For me. Nobody said anything about how good it was for the customer. For the customer, yeah. Or fucking not good in my opinion.

Massimo: Because according to what that one dude was going on about, like, you know, it's, it's like a toxic environment because it's like they're thinking. What do we do to win an award? Yes. Let's, let's create an award-winning piece for this customer, this job. Yes, 

Shawn: exactly. And then right then and there, the cart goes before the horse.

Shawn: Right. It 

Massimo: just 

Shawn: feels you're designing. Yeah. You're actually working to a goal of getting an award. Well, you're not serving the client when you're doing that. 

Massimo: Right. Right. And that's, and that's exactly it. It's like there's this whole. Uh, prestigious illusion, um, if you want to call it that, that winning this award that is given to you from your peers Yeah.

Massimo: Makes you a better designer. Makes you more successful designer. Yeah. But nowhere in this does it even talk about, did it do anything for the customer? Did it improve their roi? Did it. [00:10:00] Get them more leads. Did it, did it change perception? Like it kind of fucking blows me away. Yeah. Right. Like it's just, it's, it's a secondary 

Shawn: thought, 

Massimo: right?

Massimo: To these people. It's a secondary thought, right? I mean, again, you have to think about your customer. Mm-hmm. And their goal, their objective, right. And then you have to like, worry about, like the award part comes second, and I can't say one way or another, but it's like when people are, are trying to push.

Massimo: You know, the wrong intention. Mm-hmm. Like, I mean, you always have to think of your customer. Right. And that, and your end user Of course. Right. And when you don't, things kind of get blurred in the middle. And you're not sure, like, I mean, I don't want to go there like too deep, but like, no, I'm not even gonna go on about that whole Anheuser Bush thing that's going on right now.

Massimo: Now it's interesting. Yeah. The 

Shawn: Bud Light thing. Yeah. I, I see what they're, I see what they're doing with that. That makes sense. But, Know. Yeah. You're, you're gonna alienate a bunch of people 

Massimo: with that. It, it seemed like they were, they were, you know, almost not necessarily going for the award, but they weren't thinking like their customer, their, ah, you know what?

Massimo: That's a whole other fucking episode. Well, the only 

Shawn: thing I would say about [00:11:00] that too is, uh, even bad publicity is good publicity. Hell 

Massimo: yeah. Now, when you lose. 7 billion overnight did in valuation did use that. And I, I think even more too. Oh yeah. Uh, but that's another, that's a whole other argument altogether.

Massimo: Yeah, you're right. That's, that's a different, that's a different conversation altogether. And I, cuz I mean, I can't even say that they, they weren't, they probably weren't doing it to win any worse. Probably just don't, doing it to dont kind Yeah. Know to do what they thought was Right. Right. 

Shawn: Yeah, but that's a whole other effort episode all together.

Shawn: Go away from that. I love 

Massimo: it. So, so yeah, here's the thing, right? So it's like, you know, and, and this is where this conversation got weird cuz it was like, well, does you know this, this initial person went on there saying, how, how is she going to be considered a successful designer if she doesn't ever get to go to Cairnes?

Massimo: Okay. And it's like she's, it's like, oh, poor baby, baby. Right? Come on. But at the same time, you're not creating something that's serving your customer. Yeah. You're creating something that's serving yourself. Right. So it it, does that make you a successful designer, period? Mm Right. Because you kind of failed at the premise of what being a designer is [00:12:00] actually all fucking about.

Massimo: Exactly. So this is where I was having a real fucking issue with this, cuz I was just like, you know, you're a cry baby, so shut the hell up. You know, if you are the super important person, you're usually just pay for yourself and submit your own shit. Right? But it gets so much deeper on that, right. Because it's like, you know, honestly, it's like being an award-winning designer.

Massimo: I. How is that good for you? Yeah, like, I mean, it's not good for the customer apparently. No. No. Right. And how is that good for the designer? Like does it make them more successful? Mm. Like amongst their peers? Does it make them any more successful than the designers that haven't won awards? Does it make them more money?

Massimo: Yeah. Does it make them more popular or are better like, I don't understand. How'd that, let me ask you this. 

Shawn: Do you, when you're hire in the hiring process or when you're looking for a designer, oh, I know. Do you hire an award-winning? Would you, would you hire award? 

Massimo: No. 

Shawn: Wow. Good point. Point, right. Do you care?

Shawn: Do you, do you care if that 

Massimo: person, person is won an award or opposite? Opposite. You'd rather They didn't. In our ads. In our ads. [00:13:00] Good point, Sean. In our ads, when we look for, you know, um, new designers or this or that, yep. Plain out. If you are an award-winning designer, move on. We are not looking for superstars.

Massimo: We're looking for team players. Yes. Plain and simple. And it, we actually put that in our fucking script. A hundred percent. Always. And I remember one person did submit and the award, award award, I'm like, you didn't read our ad, did you? And she's like, oh no, I did, but in case, you know, you change your mind in the future.

Massimo: I was like, no, obviously you are only thinking of yourself. It's so fucking, it's so stupid. But you know, my concern with this whole thing is that, you know, by people. Promoting this award-winning mentality or this award-winning metric, you know, of success. Mm-hmm. Right. That just, that fucks up the whole industry, in my opinion.

Massimo: Yep. Okay. By saying, in order to be successful as a designer, you need to win an award. That's an unrealistic metric of [00:14:00] success. 

Shawn: Right. If and if this kid is thinking that this is how you become a good graphic 

Massimo: designer, and it's like, yeah, otherwise I'm like, I'm nothing. 

Shawn: Yes. If I haven't won an award, I'm not doing a good job.

Shawn: Well, Geez. Where is that? How is that landing with kids nowadays? Is that, is this being taught? 

Massimo: Is this right? Like, do they, something they do, they feel they have to win an award. Yes. In order to be, you know, like considered like, you know, it's a necessary thing in the industry to make it right. Yeah. Which sucks cuz so many kids, I mean, everybody apparently wins awards these days.

Massimo: Right? Everybody gets a trophy fuck. So why, why not? Right? Yeah. That's, Right, but I mean, if, if they start promoting this as a metric of success, right? Mm-hmm. Then again, you know, people are gonna feel that it's necessary just to be in the industry. You know, it's gonna pressure designers to start tailoring their work to win awards, right.

Massimo: Not to serve customers. Exactly. Okay. Which again, horrible, right? Because by nature, We're designers, we're there to serve our customers, we're solving their problems. Right. Right. So that's, I mean, that's unnecessary [00:15:00] pressure. Mm-hmm. Okay. It's gonna fuck people's confidence and self-worth. Mm-hmm. Because if they put themselves out there and they lose, or they don't even get, you know, any, any sort of recognition back.

Massimo: Right. Yeah. You know, it's gonna impact their, their self-confidence. Mm-hmm. Their 

Shawn: self-worth. Right. Because you're gonna start. Thinking that I'm not a great designer because I haven 

Massimo: won't won any award winning. Exactly. Right. And again, it's gonna impact them and, and impact people in this industry in the worst ways, right?

Massimo: Mm-hmm. Um, in all fairness, it fucking creates this popularity contest. Yes. Yeah. Right? Because it's this same type of companies that always win and not even the same type. The same companies period. Really? Right. And you see year after year after year, year, it's just like, oh, they, they want another word.

Massimo: They, they want another word. Right. But I mean, half the challenge just submitting the fucking thing. Right. Because I mean, it's, it's so, it's it's fucking, it's so expensive to even just drop your one ad, let alone a whole drop, you know, 20, 30, 50 of them, right? Yes. Yeah. So who even knows, uh, and of 

Shawn: course the big agencies are gonna be, are, are gonna be paying for this cuz they can afford [00:16:00] this kinda thing.

Shawn: Mm-hmm. Right? Mm-hmm. Your little Joe sweat sock. Freelance guy, he can't get in on this, on this 

Massimo: racket. And that's a huge problem. Yeah. Because there's so many small shops and freelancers. Yeah. They deserve, they're creating more award-winning work than a lot of the big shops. Right. This is true. But what, in order to win award, you need to have big budgets mm-hmm.

Massimo: And, and work with big clients. Big cause I mean, that, that does, that is not a good metric of, of a successful designer. Yeah. Right. And so this is, this is my worry about this. Right. In my opinion. These awards, these client awards really aren't that far off from these fucking people on Dribble that are just creating fake fucking companies and posting it and being like, here's my portfolio and showing fake this, fake this fake.

Massimo: Because it's more of a vanity metric. Yes. Than it actually is a success metric. Yes. Right. It's all about them. It's all about like once you figure out how these awards go, you're just more or less gaming the system. Mm-hmm. For your. Own vanity for your own ego. These people on Dribble, they're [00:17:00] like, well, I'm gonna put like 50 of these fake logos out there cuz they look a hell of a lot better.

Massimo: Yeah. Than the actual real logo I had to create for a customer. Cause God knows that's, we got limitations up the fucking ass with that shit. I know, 

Shawn: I know. Right? You gotta do it one hand. One hand handcuffed behind your back. You know that Right. Blindfolded. And figure out how to make a logo 

Massimo: green. Like seriously.

Massimo: It's like winning an award, my opinion. Mm. It's like vanity. It is a total vanity metric. It's, it's just to be like, you know, I'm an important designer. I'm an award-winning designer. I am now above other designers. Yes. Look at you. Cause I won an award. Yes. Okay. 

Shawn: I'm gonna wear it around my 

Massimo: neck. You know, like it's, it's not really being a successful designer, it's more so like, gives the illusion of being a successful designer Yes.

Massimo: To some. Right. Who honestly are obviously lacking in other areas, you know? Yes. I, I, I don't know. It's it's the 

Shawn: grownup version of your mom putting your work on the [00:18:00] fridge. Right, right, right. It is. And, and that for me, that was my motivation when I was a kid. Yeah. As a kid know. Right. You put, you get your artwork up on the, on the fridge, and you're like, yeah, damn, that's really cool.

Shawn: But as you know, You know, nowadays when you're growing up, when you're an adult, you gotta pay the bills what the client wants. You've gotta make that happen. Right. And, and not, it's not always the sexiest 

Massimo: thing in the world. Not always the sexiest, but it's also not always the not sexiest. That's right. We create cool shit all the time.

Massimo: We do. That's right. Would I, would, would I say it's a word winning. Well, I mean, it gets customers incredible return on their investment. You know, it increases their lead gen, right? Mm-hmm. It's helping develop their brand, which in turn then gives us more work. It's this ongoing effect. I would consider that award winning.

Massimo: Yeah. But it's a different kind of metric. Yeah. Yes. It's not like what a lot of these awards, the, the, these stupid awards, their whole process goes, right? Mm-hmm. Okay. So let's, let's talk about how these fucking award things work. Okay? Yeah. Oh, good. So, and again, let's, let's break this [00:19:00] down cuz I mean, think it's a hell of a lot easier, right?

Massimo: So, First off, there's an open call or a closed call if you want. Right. That there's an award coming open. Meaning that it's open to the public closed. Oh. That it's just to their membership. Just to their, oh. So in order to, to be, be part of this club. Oh, you've gotta pay to be part of this club. Right. And then you submit your work.

Massimo: Okay. With an entry fee, let's face it. Okay. There's, there's no honor. You. There's an entry fee. You're it's a pay Yeah. To play mo model. Okay. Yeah. There you go. Which is stupid. And sometimes the fees are really fucking high. Mm. Right. Just like you said, like it, it would eliminate a lot of cool small shops Yeah.

Massimo: Freelancers. Right, because it's just, it's just they can't afford to even submit, because I mean, while to an agency who might be making, you know, tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, right? Because mm-hmm. They can drop like a million dollars and, and throw. Everything they fucking have. Right. But to smaller shop, that might be doing quarter million dollars, half a million dollars.

Massimo: Yeah, even a million dollars. Yeah. Dropping 10, 20 grand in awards. That's a lot of money. Like we're entry fees. Yeah. And often you [00:20:00] don't even get a reason why you didn't win. It's just like, Nope. Thanks. Thanks for your money. Nope. So, okay. So anyway, so open call, you gotta submit, you gotta pay to play. Right.

Massimo: And then fine. Right? Yeah. It really fucks a lot of people up. Yes. Number two. Judging. Oh, this is, then this shit gets judged. 


Shawn: By, okay. A robot or what? 

Massimo: Yeah. Wish working right. So there, it gets judged by, by either experienced, respected, or self-proclaimed industry experts. I've been doing this for 25 years.

Massimo: I've been working in this organization. I'm now a judge. I'm now a judge. Okay. Like and, and the reality is a lot of these judges are either, Out of touch because they're these old self-proclaimed experts. Mm-hmm. But they fucking have no idea how the digital world works because they just sit back and criticize.

Massimo: Yeah. Or there's these young hot shots. Okay. It's like, oh, I created a really cool campaign last year and, and I won an award, so [00:21:00] now I'm judging yours. So it's like their whole fucking five years of experience now makes them an expert, which is fucking, so these are the people that are basically judging you?

Massimo: Mm. Okay. Yes. And then there is this set criteria that they have to judge by. Okay. Okay. The score, your work with that, okay. Mm-hmm. But okay, let's, let's be completely clear about this set criteria. All right? It's completely fucking subjective. What I might think, as you know, as. Aesthetically pleasing or impactful, you might be like, eh, not really.

Massimo: I don't think so. Yeah. And again, it's subjective. Yeah. So who's right and who's wrong? This is the problem I've always had with people grading graphic design, or even art. Right? You can, because it's subjective field. Yes. Right? This is, these metrics aren't based on does it actually work for the customer?

Massimo: Does it get them lead? No. It's completely subjective. Okay. Mm-hmm. So this is the judging part. Okay. And. Based on people's culture, based on people's experience or their [00:22:00] background or even what they fucking had for breakfast that morning, their opinions are gonna be different again, this is the flaw. It's subjective.

Massimo: Okay. Um, and again, you're right, sometimes the criteria is, is based on aesthetics. Mm-hmm. Okay. Sometimes it's effectiveness. Innovation, relevance, right? There's no standardized metric here. Right? So again, they're just throwing out all these awesome, you know, well, we feel Argo organization stands behind these metrics.

Massimo: Okay, fine. Make 'em up. Do whatever you want. I, but the reality is everything is completely subjective. Yeah. Okay. So whatever the hell, the metrics they want. They're subjective. Yeah. There's, yeah. Very, very, very rarely are, you know, are, are these criteria based on the effectiveness of the campaign, right.

Massimo: The return on it. Right. There are some marketing awards that are a little bit more in depth. Yes. But a lot of these things not at all. They're like, do they look cool? Yeah. What's it selling? I don't know, but it looks. It's fucking great. Right? It's innovative. [00:23:00] And then, and then, okay. Of course last but not least, then there's the winning and the recognition.

Massimo: Oh, okay. So this is like, you know, the big fancy parties that happened. The awards are handed out, right? Everybody gets to socialize and mingle. Look at me, look at my award. Oh, he's so hot right now. She's on fire. Like it's fucking ridiculous. And then, You get this, okay? So you get all this recognition from your peers.

Massimo: You get these awards from your peers, which then allow you to take and promote yourself against them. Okay? So this is, this is the ironic part, okay? You're being fucking judged by peers, whether you feel they're deserving or not. Yeah. Okay. Because they're your peers. Yeah. You win an award. Yep. Which then you get to PR all around, to all the potential new, new customers.

Massimo: And hold over your peers fucking heads. But I gave you that award. I was the judge. Yeah, but [00:24:00] I'm the award winner. You know who won this 

Shawn: guy? Hey, that's 

Massimo: right. Right. So I mean, again, and this is what helps you get new customers in, in their opinion. So it's just, it's kind of a really flawed. System big time.

Massimo: Right. And it's this horrible circle because then unfortunately you take this award, you go find new customers. Mm-hmm. Okay. And which is, this is the, this is the part that I hate cuz it's like you're Hoodwinking customers. Yes. Because now you're like, Hey look, I'm an award-winning customer. Yeah. I, yes.

Massimo: Right? Yeah. And then customers are really like, well, he must be successful designer if you won an award. Yeah. Right. And so then he takes on the new customer and tries to create more award-winning work. It doesn't necessarily work. Ah, but it is rewarding it. It could get him a new award. 

Shawn: Right, right.

Shawn: Vicious chasing the dragon. This is what happens. Yes. Yeah, that's exactly 

Massimo: it. Wow. Right. Yeah, because interesting. It's like that's all they're, it's his vicious cycle that once these people start getting like some agencies. Are all into that. And they're all [00:25:00] about resubmit, resubmit, grab awards. Grab awards, grab awards, yeah.

Massimo: As it's this kind of illusion of success, but it's not really the right kind of success. Mm-hmm. And it, it doesn't mean they're successful agency. Right. A success, a successful agency pays its fucking bills. It gets their customers, you know, work, it gets your customer's results. Yep. Right. Yep. Um, it. It, it keeps its staff, it keeps it staff happy, it builds a great culture.

Massimo: Mm-hmm. To me, that's a successful agency. Big time. Not this fucking aw fucking wall of awards and being like, this is how great we are. Yeah. But everybody's working 12, 14 hour days. Yeah. They're pissed. They're grumpy. Yeah. You know, and it's just like you swear you can hear whips in the background. Yeah.

Massimo: Yeah. And, and also not the good kind. Not, 

Shawn: and also, you know, you got your eye on Tim cuz he hasn't fucking won an award yet. Yeah. Right. It's like I'm watching you. I'm watching you Tim. You Tim. Come on man. It's, you're sweating cuz you're like, I gotta win an award, otherwise I can't work here 

Massimo: anymore.

Massimo: Honestly, to me, this just shows that you're successful at fooling people. That's right. Right. Yeah. Like, cause again, I don't necessarily think that that this is [00:26:00] any sort of metric or anything. It's nothing to be proud of. Right. It's not, and, and again, it's like, Ah, but people take this shit seriously. Yes.

Massimo: Yes. And that's the part that worries me. And, 

Shawn: but, but you know, back to back to your Reddit post. Yeah. It, it almost sounds like I. Is it, are we in two camps here, like half and half maybe? Or are predominantly most people piling on this woman for wanting to, to win an 

Massimo: award? Well, it started first as everybody.

Massimo: It was like an old, poor baby go cry, you know? Yes. You're saying you're, you're an e v P, you're obviously making good coin. Yeah. You know, and you're complaining that you know you're not gonna be seen as, so they're basically saying, look, you've already fucking made it up there. Yes, yes. Right. You're already, you know, you've got not one person underneath you.

Massimo: You obviously have teams of people underneath you. Yeah. And you're saying you're not a successful designer because you, you're not being invited to CNS and, and won an award. Yeah. Like, so I think, I think that was where it started. Okay. Yeah. So [00:27:00] everybody was like, shake your fucking head. Yeah. You're, you're thinking thero the wrong way.

Massimo: Yes, totally. But then it started getting this giant conversation about, just in general about how ridiculous a lot of this is. Yeah. So, cuz again, I mean, How, how it makes you feel like you're success. Okay. So I guess, you know, an award can make you feel successful. Mm-hmm. If, if it gives you recognition from your peers.

Massimo: Right. Okay. So it's like, Hey, look at me. I'm important. Yeah. Wow. All my design friends said I'm fucking really cool now. Cause I won an award. You know, Shawn's awesome this year. He won an award. He's not just a really good designer. He's an award. Yeah. He's an award winning designer. Yeah. So again, that might give you this illusion of success.

Massimo: Yeah. Or you know, visibility and exposure in the industry. Mm-hmm. Right. Maybe this whole, because now I'm more seen and people know me, so, yeah. You know, it gives me, this whole makes me feel like I'm successful now cuz now I'm noticed in the industry. Yeah. For winning a fucking award. Okay. Or, um, career advancement.

Massimo: Yeah. Okay. Career adva. Oh, isn't that rain? Eh? Is that rain? Yep, [00:28:00] that's right. Oh shit. Um, career advancement. Yeah. Right. So again, um, I guess they would feel successful cause they won an award, you know, and they maybe get bumped up, get a bump, bump in salary, maybe a new job or something. Maybe another agent's like, oh, he's an award.

Massimo: We only hire award-winning designers here, come on over to our team. Right? Yes. It's not teams. A whole bunch of individual designers. 

Shawn: I was trying down what they did last year. 

Massimo: You know, more frosty gradients. Yeah. 

Shawn: One worked last year. This two work.

Massimo: Um, networking shit. Maybe it makes them feel like, you know, they're, they're successful. Cuz now they're a networking event and they're walking around being like, Hey, yeah, I'm the man. Hey, recognize me. I'm one no more take, I'm important. Short of wearing, 

Shawn: how, how are you 

Massimo: gonna fucking man? It's just like youre, it's gonna wear it around his neck, you know?

Massimo: Instead of a big ass clock, you wear your [00:29:00] like big award. 

Shawn: Yes. Yes. 

Massimo: See that works. That works. Um, you know, and another way I guess it makes them feel more successful is cuz it, it, now all of a sudden they feel they can benchmark against other designers. Right, right. Yeah. They're like, oh, I won an award, have you award?

Massimo: Yeah. I don't even have to look at your stuff because I won a fucking award. It's kind of ridiculous and maybe it's exaggerated, but the reality is it's like this is that self-importance Yeah. Of winning an award. Yes. Like this. Right. Because the, again, they're vanity metrics. Yeah. They're not actual, you know, um, Success metrics, in my opinion anyway.

Massimo: Right. Yeah. And also too, 

Shawn: sorry to interrupt. No. You know, you're, you're paying for this, I know, right? This is called prostitution, you know what I mean? Like you're, you're, you've submitted. X amount of dollars and it's not a cheap fee. This is expensive stuff. Absolutely. It's so you get an award, but at literally at one Cost.

Shawn: Cost, right. 

Massimo: Well, if you're entering the cons, so yeah, it's [00:30:00] about $20,000 for every entry. Right. Oh my God. Like it's, it's fucking, it's stupid. Some of this stuff 

Shawn: stuff. Right. That's so dumb. Yeah. And that's money you could have been spending on new equipment or some updated software, do you know what I mean?

Shawn: Something? Yes. Or putting it back. It's a practical, putting it back into your business. 

Massimo: Exactly. Absolutely. Geez. You know, you got, they, there's all these reasons how people are like, you know, like just these stupid reasons, of course. Mm-hmm. But why people think it's successful, but none of those reasons.

Massimo: The problem is none of those reasons that make, that, make these people, these award-winning designers mm-hmm. You know, feel successful. None of them have to do with the fucking customer. And that's, this is the problem I have with this because as a designer, okay, we have this fiduciary responsibility to help solve problems for our customers.

Massimo: Not for ourselves. Yes. And none of those metrics. Yes. Networking, career advancement, benchmarking, have anything to fucking do with the customer. Yes. Right. Which just blows me away, right? [00:31:00] Customer doesn't get a fucking trophy, customer doesn't get an award. Right. If anything, they just keep getting screwed over and over and over again 

Shawn: with this.

Shawn: Cause they look at your work and they're like, what the fuck is this now? Whatcha doing? That's not what I asked for. 

Massimo: Seriously, the words in our field are just self-serving vanity metrics, I find, right? Yeah. Because again, they're not, they're, they're basing it on the wrong type of metrics, right? Yeah. And then what happens is once it starts getting worse and worse, right?

Massimo: People are, are placing, you know, um, fashion over function. Yes. Oh, right. Yes. Like they're making, they're worrying about how it looks, not necessarily how it works. It works. Or I guess, I guess in our space it's form, form forms over function. Okay. Right? Yes. Yeah. Um, which again, it's like that's not necessarily gonna help solve the customer's problem, right?

Massimo: Yeah. Their priorities become misaligned a little bit, right? Because now it's like, instead of thinking to yourself, how do I solve a customer's problem? Right? You're thinking. How am I gonna win that next award? Yes. And shoe tail that Yes. Into something that'll work for this customer. Yes. Doesn't really work for them all the time.

Massimo: Yes. [00:32:00] Because a lot of the shit that I saw, it was really cool. High level branding type stuff that you see. Mm-hmm. Doesn't fucking solve a problem. No. Right. It's just, it's, it's almost like straddles that line of like, dude, I, I don't even understand what the hell you're trying to tell me here. Looks fucking great.

Massimo: Looks awesome. I love that there's a car driving vertically up the side of the building, but I don't understand what that has to do with toothpaste. Yeah. You know, like, again, it's like it. You start getting into this whole routine, and then you find that you're, you're designing for your peers, not for your customer.

Massimo: Right. And that's where I have an issue with this. I mean, there are some really cool fucking shops out there that create amazing work. And you know, again, they're not looking for awards. No. Not from their peers. No. But they want, they're looking for accolades from the customers. Yeah. They want their customers to be like, you fucking killed it, man.

Massimo: You guys are awesome. Right. Yeah. And this is what I mean, like, It's, it's awards are putting the wrong emphasis on the metrics. Yeah. For what actually is a [00:33:00] successful designer. Right. And that's my problem. Yeah. With awards. Yeah. And, and this poor girl was a victim of it. Mm-hmm. Because she felt she needed to win an award to be recognized by a bunch of.

Massimo: Probably douche bags. Yeah, exactly. Right. 

Shawn: And, and, and in all fairness, if she's an evp, they're probably literally beneath, you know what I mean? Like Yes. Like 

Massimo: she's pretty up there. Right. And, and that's what everybody was saying, like, yeah, shake your fucking head girl. So Right. You've, 

Shawn: you've gone, you've plateaued.

Shawn: You got weight past 

Massimo: that. Oh geez. I don't know. I, wow, that's really odd. It's, well, and I mean, again, I. Think what happens is we get really wrapped up in this space. Mm-hmm. About, you know, and it's very common. Right. Because I've had friends that were like, you know, all about the awards too. And I can't say like, I mean, I never saw eye to eye.

Massimo: Mm-hmm. We, we fucking have never submitted for an award. Ever. Not, we've never submitted customer's work for an award. Right. Do you know the award? Just a little bit. Please. It's really good stuff though. Rabbit hole. It is. Thank you. Um. And, and, and I don't really care to because I don't really give a shit.

Massimo: And I've always said this from the start, right? [00:34:00] If I had, you know, as a kid growing up, you know, my, my vision of an agency would've been like doing the kind of work that you see coming out of like Lincoln, right? Mm-hmm. Yes. Because I mean, again, it was really cool. It was gie it's, it's fun, right? Yep. But the reality is, you know, we built an amazing agency, but we serve a market that that is not even a possibility.

Massimo: Mm-hmm. And I'm cool with that. Yeah. Right. So I'm not thinking that in any way that we didn't succeed, we fucking killed it. We totally in opinion. Yes, exactly. And you know, we're still going strong. So Yeah. Different metrics, yes. Is what we should be going for. Not a war. Yes. Okay. 

Shawn: Yeah, I know. I was just gonna say, and, and, and to your point before, it's like we do amazing work here inside of the confines of the, what our customers give us.

Shawn: Right. And it is, it, some of it is, is pretty restricting. Yes. But other times you're allowed to kind of, Feel free and And go a little bit nuts. Yes. You know what I mean? And then you can kind of flex your creative muscle there. But even still, what we're doing is serving the [00:35:00] customer. Exactly. Which is a fucked up 

Massimo: concept.

Massimo: I know for a designer, I don't know how the hell that works. That makes no fucking sense. I know. 

Shawn: But that's what we do and we make. Good work doing that. 

Massimo: Absolutely. Right. And this is your job. That's what you do do. We're doing it day in, day out. Yes. You know, all the time. We're, we're loving it consistently.

Massimo: Yes. We're in, in, in the right environment. Yes. We're living creative. Right? Yes. Like, I mean, again, these are the metrics that people need to start thinking about, right? Yes. And this is where like awards, again, awards are not a metric of a designer's skill. Yeah. Or if they're successful or not. All right?

Massimo: Yeah. So I got a list, right? Oh, client satisfaction. Ooh. You wanna know if you're successful, a designer, right? Yeah. Look at how fucking happy your customers are. Right? Are you getting them the results? Are they happy? Yeah. Are they giving you return work, you know, day after day, week after week, month after month, right?

Massimo: Yep. Customer satisfaction should be number one. Mm-hmm. You know, one of the reasons if you, you know if you're successful or not, right? Yep. Yep. The strength of your portfolio. Right. And I know this sounds weird, but I mean, and I don't mean that everything has to look like a fucking million dollars, but how, what is the [00:36:00] breadth of your portfolio?

Massimo: Yeah. Right. Like if you want to consider yourself a successful designer, look at your portfolio and look at how many different things you've touched. Mm-hmm. How many different things. If, if it all looks the same. Yeah. Okay. Then maybe broaden it a bit. Yes. You know, you know, experiment a little bit more.

Massimo: Right. Broaden that portfolio workup, right? Yeah. That's the kind of metric that maybe you want to, you know, gauge if you're a successful designer or not. Right. Yeah. Yeah. Um, skill development and mastery. There we go. Right. You want, this is real. Exactly. Yes. This is the kind of shit to be a successful designer, right?

Massimo: Yes. Don't, just half ass fucking illustrator. Yeah, I know it, I know it. Right way around it. Don't, don't jump into Canva. Grab a template, slap your name on it, and be like, unlocking gr No, like, Learn your craft. Yes. Master your fucking craft. Yep. Get really, really good at something. Yep, yep. Exactly. Then you can start feeling successful, right?

Massimo: Mm-hmm. Because you've earned that shit, right? Yes. For the right reasons, right? Yep. Yep. Impact of your work. Mm-hmm. Okay, so this. Impact of your work to a customer's [00:37:00] business? Ah, to possibly an audience. Okay. Like who it's touched, what it's done, the broader, did it solve a problem for anybody? Right. This is what I mean by the impact of a work I if, if you create shit that is getting people results is making a difference, is catching eyes changing a movement.

Massimo: Yep. That's fucking successful. You're doing it right. Right. Professional reputation. Ah, okay. So again, not fucking eagle vanity player, but your professional reputation. Yes. What are people saying about you? Are there, are they saying no? He's a good designer. Yeah. Or Oh yeah. He's helped my company out so much.

Massimo: I can't wait to work with him again. Yeah. Or that guy's a fucking rockstar. You got to work with him. Nowhere does it have to say, oh, they're an award-winning designer. I haven't worked with him yet. That's, but, but maybe someday, once, once I stop using the guy who actually gets me fucking results on a daily basis.

Massimo: Cuz that's the kind I'm gonna stick with. Yes. Because I'm getting results. Yes. Right? Yes. Yes. So, professional rep and of course, Personal satisfaction. You want to [00:38:00] consider yourself a successful designer, how satisfied are you at what you're doing? Right? Right. You're fucking designing, right? This is, this is the biggest award that you can get out of.

Massimo: All right? Because, because you are doing this day in, day out, and you're proud and happy with whatever the fuck it is that you're doing, right? Mm-hmm. Like again, we get to be creative on a daily basis. I know, I know, right? It's so true. That's awesome. So that's an award and, and I mean that alone, if it.

Massimo: Builds your creative passion. Yeah. That's all the award you fucking need. Totally. You know? Yeah. So, I mean, again, people are, are, are, are oddly, you know, aligning, winning awards with, you know, being a successful designer, and I think that mentality has to change Yes. Big time. Right. It really, really, really, really does.

Massimo: You know, in my, in my, okay. Ready? I wrote these two things out. Okay. Okay. All right. Two points. Yeah. On being a successful designer. All right. Okay. Number one, being a successful designer. Is a journey, not a destination. Ooh, okay. In success, success is [00:39:00] not determined by a single moment of recognition, but it's the skills that you learn, the problems you solve, and the impact of your work that truly defines you as a, as a successful, successful designer, designer.

Massimo: Wow. Okay. Number one. That's awesome. Number two, I couldn't decide which one of these was better, so I'm just throwing both of them at you guys. Okay. Number two. Yeah. Success is personal. Yes, it is personal, right? It's not about the approval of fucking the industry or stupid ass, fucking peers who are looking to judge you and use you as a benchmark.

Massimo: Yeah, it's about fulfilling your creative. Vision. Yeah. Okay. Satisfying customers and the joy you receive from the journey that you're on. Okay. Instead of striving for all this validation externally mm-hmm. Focus on your personal and professional growth. Yes. To me, those two points are what makes a successful design big time.

Massimo: Okay. Yes. Remember that. And honestly, I think I, it, it is such [00:40:00] a, it's such a, a huge weight off my shoulder. Yeah. Right. When it's like, no. We don't do awards. We don't submit shit for awards. No. We had a customer, remember, remember, uh, last year when we created the, the, the digital, um, you know, the whole digital market art?

Massimo: The SIRS job? Yeah, yeah, yeah. And he's like, this is amazing. Everybody loves it. It's fucking outstanding. Are you gonna submit it for an award? No. Wow. I's just like, no, that's not the kind of agency we are. That's not what we do. But thank you. What you just said was, All the award we needed. Yes, exactly. 

Shawn: If he thought, if he was so happy that he thought that this fucking thing had deserved an award right then Yes.

Shawn: Yes. Our job is 

Massimo: done. Exactly right. And, and when he came back and said, everybody loved it and this, and it was just like, 

Shawn: good. Yeah. That, that's what we wanted. Yeah. No further questions, your honor. Yeah. Right. 

Massimo: So true. 

Shawn: Yes. It's so true. Exactly. Yeah. That's great when that happens. Yes. Where did you 


Massimo: those quotes?

Massimo: Those last two I made myself. You did not. I did. Those [00:41:00] are great, man. Thanks buddy. Holy 

Shawn: shit. Thanks. That's 

Massimo: heavy. Wow. I know. And, and I actually wrote them out. Okay. And I'm not gonna lie, those two quotes took people about an hour to write, which is why, you know what? I just read them. I was like, I'm not even gonna try not to.

Massimo: I was like, no, I don't wanna fuck it up. I wanna make sure I say it just like this. But again, they're, they're, they're how I feel the closing points. Okay. Yeah. Like obviously, you know, um, I, I think this is a really touchy subject for people, right? It is, yes. And, and I know that, you know, I struggled with it in the sense of sometimes I would meet people who claim they won awards.

Massimo: Yeah. And I remember when I was younger, I met other agency owners who were like, you've gotta submit. For every award. Mm-hmm. And that makes you, and I was just like, wow, dude, that seems really fucking vain. Mm-hmm. You know, why are you such a narcissist? Yeah. And I, and, and I was like, am I not? Am I just, you know, insecure or not confident enough?

Massimo: And I, and I struggled with it for years and I was like, no, dude. Yeah. It's because at the heart I am truly a fucking designer. Yes. And what I do is for customers, I don't give a shit. You know? I really don't give a shit if these fucking, you [00:42:00] know, other peers or people who, you know Yeah. These, these has beens are like, yeah.

Massimo: You know, your aesthetics are just not what they should be here. I mean, yes, I clearly understand the ad, the offer, the cta, thank you. But it's not as cool looking as this over here. Yeah. Which, which 

Shawn: you can't see anything. Can't see anything. I don't know what it's talking about. It's a fucking card driving up the side.

Shawn: It's toothpaste. Don't you 

Massimo: get it? No, no. This one is the hairbrush version, not toothpaste. Sorry. Oh, right. See? Yes. The hairbrush. Oh Lord. You win stamp.

Shawn: Oh shit. Oh my God. Oh, there's our rant. We haven't had a good rant for a little while. Yeah, I know. It's been a long time and awards seem to be a great release for us. Well, 

Massimo: I saw that again, I saw that and I was just like, you, like, it's like I, I was like, where does this come from? Exactly. Somebody feels that they need to win an award.

Massimo: They need to be recognized amongst these people who are nobodies. Right. Because again, these people in the [00:43:00] panel, they probably don't even know who the hell they are. Yeah. Do you know what I mean? Yeah. It's like, so. It. I don't know. 

Shawn: Dude, that's sad. It really is like to, to to live your life with that kind of thing, hanging over your head.

Shawn: Oh, I think so, dude. 

Massimo: And it's like, I couldn't handle 


Shawn: Yeah. I couldn't either. It's just, and it's so unnecessary and it's such a, exactly like you said before, it's a pay for play kind of scenario. And why would anybody want to get involved in something like, like if somebody came to us Yep. And said, we have to give you an 

Massimo: award.

Massimo: Yeah. Well, it says here, okay, I'm not, 

Shawn: but it's like, okay, well this is the greatest design that was ever created. Sure, sure. It gets an award, which happens on a daily basis. Here. This is, which one are you talking about? Is what we say first.

Shawn: Oh, that one. Oh, I know. Oh, that Tuesday, John threw it on the, on the pile over there with the rest. Yes, you can have that one. Exactly. Oh shit. But yeah, [00:44:00] if you have to go outta your fucking way to win an award Yeah. You're, there's something wrong with you, I think. Doesn't feel like it's worth it or I don't, maybe not something wrong with you, but it's like you're, you're, you're, you're not pointed in the right direction.

Shawn: Yeah. You know what I mean? Yep. Agreed. Exactly like you said, the customer is, you know what I was thinking about when you were talking about that you seen that meme where the, the. Two kids in the mom in the pool, and the one mom's playing with the one kid with the other kids drowning. It's like I could just see clients over the top of the kid.

Shawn: Drowning award, award designer over the road. Brilliant. That's kinda what it's like, right? That's, it's like your poor client is just. Out here going, what the fuck are you sending me this? Yeah. This does not work. This's not what I 

Massimo: asked for. Oh, that is so true. Right? That's a good, we're gonna use that one on our Friday.

Massimo: Fun. Tony, you're gonna dig that bad boy out. 

Shawn: Oh, shit. Yeah. This is great. This was, thanks. 

Massimo: Good. Thanks, man. Yes, man. I, I, I enjoyed this. I needed this one. Let me tell you I needed this one. Yes. [00:45:00] All right. Okay, everybody. Right. I hope that you actually, um, got something out of this. If you were even remotely thinking about this one way or another, drop us a line.

Massimo: Let us know how you feel. It's always fun to hear from you guys. Mm-hmm. I'm not gonna go on and tell you where to reach us, how to find us, who to share us with. You know, you know what to do. All right. We've been doing this now for like 130 plus episodes and shit. Dude, we're just gonna keep going for another 130 more, so that's, if you're annoyed now, wait another 130 

Shawn: later.

Shawn: All right. Yes. When we're talking about awards, again, awards again, because they're so mad at all these awards, they'll be AI awards at that time, right? Yeah, sure. Right. Another 130 will see what the next two years look like. Oh, kidding. Oh, can you imagine? No, I know. Thank you. FARTHEST 

Massimo: award. You got all these fake awards coming up outta nowhere.

Massimo: I am better. I won an award. I went to Mid Journey and printed my own. 

Shawn: Fuck look. 

Massimo: Here's my print ad award. Hey, I'll go to an award event and you'll see some guy [00:46:00] with the CANS award. You'll see another one with an A award. And then I'll walk in with the world's best fucking designer award right beside Sean, who's gonna have Universe Best Designer Award.

Massimo: Beat that motherfucker. No, that's 

Shawn: right. Look at us man. What 

Massimo: cans got on this buddy? Where's the benchmark 

Shawn: now? Ah, that's hilarious. Yeah, don't wanna, where did you get that award? What? I wanted 

Massimo: Just give me your submit, your repeat. I'll hook you up, brother. 

Shawn: Yeah, it costs $10,000. Yeah, that's it. Holy shit. Oh, that was awesome.

Shawn: All right, buddy. Oh god. Funny. Good. With that being said, yes, my name is 

Massimo: Mossimo 

Shawn: and my name is Sean. 

Massimo: Stay creative. That's angry. Yes. 

Shawn: Awards suck.

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