The 2021 Annual is here

  • Laura Havlin

The 2021 Annual is here – with free insights and new perspectives into the winning work

The 59th D&AD Annual is now live, published in a free-to-access digital format.

We believe in making awe-inspiring creativity accessible. Every piece of D&AD winning work is an opportunity to learn and be inspired. That's why D&AD Annual 2021 explores this year's Pencil winners in more breadth and depth than ever before, with insights from the craftspeople and creators, alongside perspectives from voices who lend unique context and meaning.

Find out how the judges differed in picking their favourite winners in the Judges' Curations, or save your own favourite projects with our new Curations feature. Most importantly, it's all for you for free. Stimulate your creativity. Discover new ideas. Dive in to the D&AD Annual.

Following an exceptionally challenging period for the creative industries, particularly for emerging and young talent, last year we published the 58th Annual in an exclusively digital format, transforming the publication into a more widely accessible resource for the global creative community. Reaching over 75,000 users to-date, 12,000 of whom are in the 18-24 age category, the 2020 Annual has enabled D&AD to fulfil a core mission by reaching as wide an audience as possible, and inspiring and supporting emerging talent in new ways.

"The most notable addition to the Annual is a series of editorial pieces which feature a variety of perspectives on this year’s winning work"


The D&AD Annual has always served as a source of inspiration, education and celebration, and this year’s free digital publication goes a step further with new features and a content series that promotes two-way conversation between D&AD and the global industry. The new ‘My Curations’ feature enables users to save their favourite projects and articles which are shareable via email and social media and serve to stimulate dialogue around inspirational creative work. The feature sits alongside D&AD Judges’ own curations which highlight work that stood out to them.

“Expert voices have addressed topics ranging from the cultural production of the Black diaspora, exploration of Gen Z's relationship to media and branding, rise of gaming and the role of typographical craft in cultural inheritance”


The most notable addition to the Annual is a series of editorial pieces, which feature a variety of perspectives on this year’s winning work. D&AD has invited creative thinkers with diverse expertise to offer insights and context to themes in the 2021 Award-winning work, providing opinion from a variety of professional perspectives and lived experiences. Across 10 editorial pieces, expert voices have addressed topics ranging from the cultural production of the Black diaspora, exploration of Gen Z's relationship to media and branding, the rise of gaming, and the role of typographical craft in cultural inheritance, all told through the lens of this year’s Pencil winners.
Pieces featured in the Voices section include:

  • Emma Hope Allwood, former Head of Fashion at Dazed, on defining Gen Z
  • Jess Crombie, NGO consultant and former Global Content Director at Save The Children, on empathy and the contributor-led approach
  • Shon Faye, writer, podcaster and author of The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice, on how creativity can meaningfully support trans people and other minorities
  • Jeff Ihaza, Senior Editor at Rolling Stone, on power and poignancy of Beats by Dr. Dre’s film You Love Me
  • Sulaiman Khan, Co-Founder of Disability-led justice business ThisAbility, on worldbuilding and joyful Disabled creativity
  • Jeremy Leslie, Founder of magCulture on print as a document of time
  • Keza MacDonald, Video Games Editor at The Guardian, on the year that gaming came into its own
  • Debbie Milman, branding expert and Design Matters podcast host, on branding and the climate emergency
  • Madoka Nishi, Editor-in-chief of Japan’s IDEA Magazine, on non-Latin typography and cultural inheritance​
  • Raven Smith author and columnist at British Vogue on coping through the pandemic with humour

To find insights and learnings in winning work from the 2021 D&AD Awards, understand how it was made and why it embodies creative excellence, the Annual includes a series of written or video interviews with winners from a broad range of creative disciplines. Highlights include conversations with this year’s Black Pencil winners on what it takes to win the industry’s most coveted award; interviews with the Collaborative Award winners on the success of creative collaboration; and insights from D&AD’s first student winner of the Side Hustle Award on designing a system for prisoners to communicate meaningfully with their families.
Building on their design of the 2020 Annual, Studio Dumbar has collaborated with D&AD again to craft a new and engaging digital experience, which continues to capture the evocative quality of the physical Annual, while harnessing the unique possibilities of the digital form. New features and updates include endless scroll to further replicate the serendipity of flicking through a physical book; an enhanced discoverability of New Blood work; and statistics and figures on this year’s awards and Judges. As in previous years, the 2021 Annual still includes much-loved features such as letters from D&AD Chairman, Tim Lindsay and the 2020/21 D&AD President, Naresh Ramchandani.

The Annual is free to access to all and is now available to view here.