Twelve Months at The One Club for Creativity

By Alixandra Rutnik and Brett McKenzie on Dec 22, 2021

The One Club for Creativity Year in Review

“On the twelfth month of 2021, The One Club gave to me — a partridge in a pear tree!”

In all seriousness, over the past twelve months at The One Club for Creativity, we have done a lot of giving, making, and creating. And as the remaining days of the year are down to single digits, we are looking back over the past twelve months at all that we have accomplished as a team and an organization.

It’s been a crazy 2021, with all sorts of starts and stops as we adjust to the fallout of an even crazier 2020. But as we head into a new year, our mission remains the same: to celebrate world-changing ideas, to stimulate the dynamic intersection of art and commerce, to create fertile spaces for writers, art directors, designers, technologists, and artists to grow, to foster a more diverse and connected global community, and to forge bonds between recognized creative masters and emerging creative voices.

But for now, here are The One Club’s 2021 highlights.



We began 2021 with our winter installment of our Mentor & Creative Sessions, a six-week course that teams Student Members and Young Ones winners with our many Corporate Members, giving the former a taste of the professional world by being guided along the path of working on a real client brief. This program repeated in the summer and fall, and we are gearing up for our next installment early in the new year. VCU Brandcenter grad Dinma Onyekwere shared her experience with the program here


As part of our ADC 100th anniversary celebrations, we partnered with the Andy Warhol Museum for an intriguing panel event: Andy Warhol: Art, Commerce & Revolution. Before the future ADC Hall of Fame laureate was a famous artist, Warhol was an up-and-coming Big Apple art director and illustrator — talented enough to win Gold in ADC’s 1951 awards.

Meanwhile, when COVID looked ready to put a halt to our One Show Greater China Awards, our team in Shanghai decided to create a “light in the dark,” unveiling a free, region-wide showcase of the very best work. It proved to be such a hit that, rather than going back to a China-only award show, the team launched the One Asia Creative Awards this fall. The winners will be announced next month, so stay tuned!

In addition to these initiatives, we were also pleased to welcome five type-tastic members to the Type Directors Club’s Board of Directors.



Kung Hei Fat Choy! February marked the Year of the Ox, and with the help of our One Club China Team, we teamed up with various Student Members in their region to celebrate the Lunar New Year with a collection of gorgeous artwork.

Of course February is also Black History Month, and we partnered with WPP to spotlight Black creatives’ success stories through a panel event titled Black, Creative, & Successful. One Club Member and The Bloc CCO Bernardo Romero also spoke with us about his agency’s project The ABCs of Survival, a poignant book for Black youth and their parents. The book would eventually win the inaugural Fusion Cube in the ADC 100th Annual Awards.

Photo excerpt from The ABC's of Survival: The Book That Shouldn't Exist


In 2020 we introduced ONE School, our free online portfolio program geared specifically for Black creatives. ONE School was a rousing success, and this February saw our very first graduates for our New York and Los Angeles classes. We also introduced brand new classes based in Chicago and Atlanta, and we shared quite a few ONE School student stories throughout the year: Venezia Jones, Trey Bradley, Chanel Miller, and Lex Beckman, Janay Cooper, Asia Irvin, Jamal Parker, and ONE School Atlanta tutor Dominique Wynne.

February is also the time of year when we hold our beloved Creative Leaders Retreat, a special conference created to help creatives move into management roles, and those already in those roles to sharpen their skills. Unfortunately, COVID kept us from gathering in person, but we still had an amazingly fruitful virtual conference this year. Stay tuned for the 2022 edition!



Women’s History Month celebrations were in full swing at The One Club! To honor our industry’s past, we published stories on three advertising and design legends: Shirley Polykoff, Eiko Iskioka, and Barbara Gardner Proctor. For Equal Pay Day, our Gender & Equality department hosted How to Negotiate During a Pandemic, an insightful salary negotiation workshop led by Claire Wasserman, founder of Ladies Get Paid.

Miss Clairol ad by Shirley Polykoff


In recent years, more and more creatives are finding opportunities outside of traditional ad agencies, with many opting to step into the once-scary world of in-house departments. To help others embrace that shift, we hosted WITHIN, our first-ever “brand-side” conference aimed directly at those who have made that switch or have been curious about doing so. Like CLR, WITHIN will be back again in 2022.

When people refer to “inclusion and diversity,” their first thoughts often turn to race and gender. But our Inclusion and Diversity team wanted to shine a spotlight on other aspects of inclusion, and thus partnered once again with WPP for an important “Lunch & Learn” panel discussion titled Discussing Disability Inclusion in Marketing.

Finally, ahead of our wildly popular and influential Young Guns competition, we teamed up with YG8 winner Rich Tu to launch COLORFUL: A Prelude to Young Guns 19. This free-to-enter portfolio competition was created to encourage young BIPOC creative professionals to show their work to the world, giving them the confidence needed to compete in Young Guns.



April showerment brings empowerment! Our Gender & Equality department launched a new four-part series called ELEVATE: Mentorship for Modern Leaders. This new program was designed to help women and non-binary individuals to find mentors as they rise through their careers. Elevate was a huge success, and our team is busily preparing for a new edition this spring.


April also meant the spring session of Saturday Career Workshops, a long-running program where high school sophomores and juniors receive hands-on learning about possible career paths their creative talents could take them. Although COVID kept the program virtual this year, our spring and fall sessions remained highly rewarding for the teenage participants.



The month of May had four main highlights. First up, the Type Directors Club finally unveiled the winners of their illustrious TDC67 Communication Design and 24TDC Typeface Design competitions. They also held Type Drives Communities Conference, an inspiring two day conference where speakers from all over the globe shared how their typographic talents helped bring people together.

"Qualtrics XM Breakthrough Artist Award" by Kevin Cantrell Studio


Later on that month, Freelance FoundersCarolyn Bothwell led The Business of Being Freelance, a three-day workshop designed to help creatives make the leap into the world of self-employment.

And last but very much not least, Portfolio Night returned after a pandemic-induced hiatus to take place virtually and in-person in Cairo, Miami, Detroit, London, San Francisco, Montreal, Chicago, Lisbon, and Austin. Each city selected their champion, who each went on to participate in a virtual Portfolio-Night All-Stars in early August.



What can we say? Every year, our calendar builds up to Creative Week. Not only did we announce all of the winners of The One Show 2021, the ADC 100th Annual Awards, and Young Ones, we featured an insane amount of live-streamed and on-demand content surrounding just about every aspect of The One Club for Creativity. Even if you tuned in live, chances are that you didn’t see it all, so we encourage you to dive back in over the holidays and enjoy!

"#wombstories/ #wombpainstories/ #painstories" by AMV BBDO for Essity Bodyform/Libresse won 12 Gold Pencils, six Best of Disciplines and Best of Show at The One Show 2021.



In response to a disturbing rise in discrimination, hostility, and violence against Asians — concurrent with the social upheaval sparked by the murder of George Floyd — we launched a creative initiative called We Are One. Our goal was to invite our community to design digital posters that showcase their talents while giving voice to a need for support and solidarity both within our industry and the world at large.

The response from our community was overwhelming, with submissions coming in from all over the world. We placed many of the submissions on our social media channels and in an online gallery. Later on, we interviewed some of the artists about their work.

"We Are One" art by graphic designer/illustrator Wei Su



Hot on the heels of the success of two semesters of ONE School, our Creative Development team joined forces with Popeyes to announce the creation of ONE Production: Food Styling, a free ten-week online course that introduces BIPOC talent to the skillsets and career opportunities of this important aspect of food and beverage video/photo production. Led by Brooklyn-based chef, food stylist, and culinary producer Warren Ottey, the class really got to play with their food, and finished up with some bankable skills to take along their journey. 


Additionally, we had the great pleasure of hosting acclaimed production designer Mark Worthington, for a discussion on how he designs sets for such TV shows and films as WandaVision, American Horror Story, and Tombstone.



Much like June, September was all about one great big part of The One Club for Creativity: our annual Where Are All The Black People? Diversity Conference & Career Fair. Headlined by Emmy and WGA Award-nominated writer and performer Amber Ruffin, this event was a huge success, with an abundance of amazing Black professionals hosting discussions, providing industry insight, and sharing crucial advice.



As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, we were thrilled to host a spirited panel featuring four creative leaders from different backgrounds — Rafael Esquer, Daniel Lobatón, Isabel Sierra Gómez de León, and Ariana Stolarz — to learn how their Hispanic heritage has helped shape their work and professional development. Our very own Gabriela Mirensky also penned an “unapologetically Hispanic” article well worth your attention.

After launching in March, and through rounds of discussion with a jury made up entirely of BIPOC past Young Guns winners, were finally able to unveil director Sean Wang as our first ever COLORFUL winner. Sean received a $3,000 creative grant, and was given free entry into Young Guns 19, where he was eventually named one of the winners. 

COLORFUL branding by YG8 winner Rich Tu and YG17 winner Tré Seals



In November, we hosted our first IRL party (in too many months to count) at Sony Hall in New York City to celebrate the 32 winners of Young Guns 19. Right in that cozy pocket between Delta and Omicron, we were able to honor the class in style, presenting them with this year’s version of the Young Guns Cube, designed by YG12 winner Simon Chénier-Gauvreau. Didn’t make it out to the party? Check out the recap video here, watch the whole live-streamed show in all its zany Zipeng Zhu-hosted glory here, and see all of the photos here.

Photo of Young Guns 19 winners and host/YG13 winner Zipeng Zhu by Margarita Corporan


November was also the month where we welcomed the newest class of Next Creative Leaders. This competition is designed to recognize the incredibly talented women and non-binary creatives in our industry, and this year’s Top 10 and regional winners include incredible individuals and duos from all over the globe This year’s 1990s themed NCL branding — created by 2020 winner Elma Karabegovic — was A+ as well.

Finally, we closed out the month by featuring some of the shutterbugs in our community, including such talents as Dondre Green, Djeneba Aduayom, and Ilanna Barkusky.



And at long last, we’ve made it to December. While it’s probably too late to get something for under the tree, make sure to check out our Creatives Holiday Marketplace, where you will find unique gifts made exclusively by our One Club Members.


Of course, this isn’t everything we’ve done in 2021. Throughout the year we’ve continued our ongoing A Creative Perspective video series and introduced a new one called The Art of Freelance, both of which will continue into the new year.

We have a lot more in store for you in 2022, but until then, from the entire One Club for Creativity team, have a safe and happy holiday, and see you in January!




A Creative Perspective: Bobby Martin

Lunch & Learn: Black, Creative, & Successful

Best Women's Focused Ads

The Art of Freelance: Noel Pretorius

Salary Negotiation Workshop with Claire Wasserman

The Art of Freelance: Eugenia Mello

A Creative Perspective: Suthisak Sucharittanonta

Type Directors Club 2021 Judges Choices and Best of Show

Young Guns 19 Reel

ADC 100 Special Awards

Creative Week 2021: More than an Award Show


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