The 90th ADC Annual Awards Gala is fast approaching! ADC invites you to celebrate the best creative work of the year on May 10th at the Hotel Eventi Ballroom in New York City. In preparation we asked members of this year’s Awards Jury to share their creative wisdom. Maia Valenzuela is a graphic designer and illustrator based out of New York City, and is currently the Senior Graphic Designer at Hearst Digital Media.

What inspires you to create?

With my illustration work, I get inspired by a lot of things that are going on in my surrounding environment, but most of all I usually get inspired by old lithographs and scientific graphics, most of which serve as a purpose to educate and are usually not intended as artworks, but which I find fascinating and very inspirational. The minute detail and craftsmanship of older graphics is something which is rare to find in this digital age, where everything is so hurried and blogged/tumblrd/facebooked that it’s hard to keep up with the speed of things, so it’s easy for me to drift back into nostalgia and appreciate a time when design was well thought out.

Also, since my job requires me to do design research on the web, I find there is a limitless amount of eye candy to be found online, but I’ve learnt to filter out the stuff that I really like and in doing so have hoarded a lot of images that I enjoy looking at, whether it be related to photography, fashion, science or other artist’s work that I find on their sites.

I gather a lot of these things in a folder, but what I find fascinating is that what I loved last year may not have the same allure to me this year. My taste keeps evolving and I get inspired by new and different things all the time, its an endless cycle.

What are the key components to a strong campaign?

Well first of all, a strong campaign has to have a dramatic visual impact on it’s audience, and furthermore a great idea has to accompany this image to make it work. You can’t just have a strong image but have no brains to it, and vice-versa. Say for example when judging illustration work, Some pieces are meticulously crafted and you are drawn to them because it took that artist so much time and passion to create those images, and on the other hand you can have another artist who has created a simple graphic yet the idea behind it is so powerful that you are drawn to that campaign as well. So in the end they are both strong campaigns and you end up giving them the same level of accolade and praise that they deserve, even though visually they are totally different from each other. Different poles of a spectrum that in the end are both very strong.

While judging here at the ADC what moments have you enjoyed the most?

First of all, I loved meeting other judges and illustrators at the ADC, particularly the team that I was working with directly since it’s always nice to put a face to someone who is well reknowned in their area of expertise. Secondly but not diminishingly, the mass of work that was submitted is always a pleasure to look at, it’s nice to see that illustration is still alive out there, and the strongest pieces were the ones that weren’t necessarily created by a large ad agency, but ones that were created from the heart of the artist, you can see the time and effort in the strongest pieces that were submitted, and it definitely separates the wheat from the chaff.