Get to Know our Panel of Judges

Excellent creative draws attention to the subject matter, not to itself. Except on The Digital Shortlist. This is a new kind of online graphic design contest, marketing competition, web design contest, and ad award all in one. We give credit where credit is due.

Objective, unbiased, and talented as hell. Get to know our panel of judges.

Annie Liao Jones

Annie is the founder of Rock Candy Media, an Austin-based full-service advertising agency specializing in areas like branding, digital marketing, design, and earned media. Jones says starting her company was one of the scariest things she’s ever done, ranking alongside having a child. “They both required making ‘heart over head’ leaps,” she said.

Worst time Annie got duped by clever marketing: Advertising and marketing is basically a way to set a product apart from the billion identical alternatives that already exist. And it works. Like with toothpaste – do you know why you buy the toothpaste you do? I do, because I buy Marvis. The packaging looks fancy and it costs about five times as much as it should. So it must be the best. Right?

What blog or publication do you actually keep up with? The New York Post, page 6 to be specific.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self? Nothing, because everything made me who I am today so f*ck it.

If there is someone’s swagger you admire, who would it be? It has to be Cate Blanchett. She doesn’t apologize and doesn’t make it separate from her personality. It seems like an innate part of her.

Kelsie Singleton

Kelsie is the art director at Rock Candy Media. As an active leader in Austin advertising and overall creative industry, Kelsie approaches the work understanding the practical necessities of the trade. Not only should designs look good, they should accomplish a purpose.

Worst time Kelsie got duped by clever marketing: We all want to be healthy and there are tons of companies willing to take advantage of that. The best one that worked on me was care/of. They send you customized packages of vitamins. I guess the point is that it’s suited to your needs, but I just liked that the packets had my name on them.

What blog or publication do you actually keep up with? It isn’t really a blog, but awwwards.com. Its my go to for current website trends.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self? I have the memory of a goldfish when it comes to my childhood, so I would tell myself to write more things down at the end of the day and actually go get those rolls of film developed instead of leaving them to collect dust in some lost box.

If there is someone’s swagger you admire, who would it be? I think I have to go with Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. Don’t make me pick one. But their style is always on point and I give them props with what they’ve accomplished post Full House. I’ve also followed them for what feels like my entire life, and yes, I read all of their sh*tty detective novels back in the day.

Jake Beam

Jake is head of the creative department at Rock Candy Media. He is versed in traditional, digital, social, content, and any other kind of creative marketing tool around. He knows the highs and the lows of our industry, and is looking forward to seeing only your highest of highs.

Worst time Jake got duped by clever marketing: I tend to make my impulse eating and drinking decisions based around advertising I’ve seen. For example, after a long hiatus, I finally went back to an Arby’s after they launched their “We Have the Meats” campaign. I can report back that they did, indeed, have meats.

What blog or publication do you actually keep up with? Cookie and Kate

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self? “You’re always your biggest obstacle. Don’t worry about the past or the future, worry about right now.” 

If there is someone’s swagger you admire, who would it be? Tom Hardy

Vandal Novacek

Vandal Novacek is a SCAD-grad with an eye for design, a brain for design, and hand coordination skills for design. As working graphic and web designer, he knows the challenges and constraints of the medium, and how to overcome them to create something that transcends the everyday. That allows him to recognize those qualities in the submissions to The Digital Shortlist.

Worst time Vandal got duped by clever marketing: I like to collect random things, one of them being records. Yes I like the authenticity of the sound and the process of playing and maintaining my vinyls but sometimes I buy them just because of the design on the covers. By sometimes I mean if I see a beautiful album design I start throwing my money at the screen and impulsively select “buy now.”

What blog or publication do you actually keep up with? IDEO’s Blog The Octopus.Here, I am not only inspired by what great designers are making, but the stories aspire me about the power of design and to always think about the bigger picture.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self? I would tell myself to actually learn another language, but I’m still young so why not start now?

If there is someone’s swagger you admire, who would it be? I would have to go with Harrison Ford. A man that is true to himself lives up to his entertainment character but in a very humble way.

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