Between the pandemic, a reckoning with systemic racism, layoffs, cancelled internships, and the pressure to adapt to new routines, creatives have yet managed to support each other throughout the complex year that was 2020.

Headshot of Andre Chaves

By Andre Chaves

51 mins ago

When SXSW was cancelled in March, no one had any idea what was going to happen. Soon after, the pandemic became a reality and everything changed completely. Freelancers found themselves without work, campaigns and internships cancelled, agencies reducing their teams and those lucky enough to have work, had to adapt to a new routine full of pressure, uncertainty and never ending Zoom meetings.

The good news is that, in the middle of all of this, some people found opportunity during isolation to make something that would help the creative community deal with everything that was happening. From an award to help young people from the periphery of Sao Paulo and a public portfolio on mental health, to a two-week long advertising pitch competition for students stuck indoors, get to know the ten projects that fought hard to make 2020 a little less difficult for the industry and for a lot of creatives around the world. 

1. Our Silent Partner

In the middle of isolation, speaking up about mental health in the creative community became an important, yet delicate theme. However, a lot of people and agencies struggle with speaking up about mental health. Launched in May, Our Silent Partner is an anonymous, crowd-sourced creative portfolio that expresses what it’s like to live and work as a creative with mental health challenges. It was created by Victoria Roselli, an art director at FCB Chicago, and Laurel Stark Akman, freelance copywriter/creative director, who have forged their careers while battling anxiety, as well as attention-deficit and eating disorders.

2. c0ffe3

Many agencies and leaders struggle with recruiting talent of color. A lot cite the “we can’t find them” and “there aren’t enough of them” excuses. So, over the summer, New York-based Sr. Copywriter Chelsea Curry launched c0ffe3 — a fake company designed to help people of color land real jobs by increasing their visibility with recruiters and hiring managers. Anyone looking for talent of color can add “c0ffe3” to their search (i.e. “c0ffe3 Sr. Copywriter”) to see self-identified talent of color. If you’re a person of color, simply add c0ffe3 as a past employer on your Linkedin profile to be seen. Currently, c0ffe3’s Linkedin page has more than 530 employees. 

3. My Link Is Your Link

This June, three Brazilian creatives, Bernardo Tavares, Rodrigo Rocha and André Mezzomo, came up with an answer to the job loss and networking complications imposed by the pandemic. The team created My Link Is Your Link, a tool that gives visibility to job seekers through the use of a simple HTML code. The code redirects portfolios of those who already have a job to those who don’t. To participate in the project and redirect your portfolio to someone looking for work, all you have to do is go to its site and follow the instructions that allow you to paste the redirect into the session ‘code injection’ on your website platform. Weeks after launch My Link is Your Link already donated more than 50k page views.

4. One School

Everyone knows that advertising has a diversity problem. What most agency leaders are not aware of is that part of this is due to systemic bias in the hiring process, while another part is simply that  the cost of 2 years at a top portfolio school can pile up to $40,000. These barriers along with a lack of representation often prevent Black people from pursuing a career in the industry. In July, Spotify creative director Oriel Davis-Lyons , in partnership with The One Club, launched One School: a free, 16-week online portfolio school for Black creatives. With a maximum of 15 students per class, 30 young people have been selected to be a part of it so far. New classes will be returning in Spring 2021. Follow the initiative on Instagram to be the first to know when applications open.

Andre Chaves

Andre Chaves is the founder of the nonprofit collective Papel & Caneta.