Jacob Haagen Birch











Jacob Haagen Birch is one of the 300+ powerhouse Grand Jury members responsible for selecting the World’s Best Advertising. These award-winning international creatives evaluate NYF’s entries from over 100 countries worldwide and determine which creative campaign will move on to the medal round. Not an easy task. It takes experience, brilliant creative chops, and dedication to their craft. This esteemed peer-nominated panel provides a 360-degree creative view of the advertising world today.

Jacob Haagen Birch is a graphic designer and founding partner in Spine Studio, working primarily with printed matter, identity, concept development and project management for clients in arts, culture, and publishing. He has received several awards for his work within book design. 

On Judging:

New York Festivals: Why judge…and how do you find the time? 

Jacob Haagen Birch: It is hard to find the time but important. It is a great opportunity for me to voice my opinion on the state of advertising and design, alongside so many talented people.

New York Festivals: What do you expect to learn this year from judging and what do you hope to bring back to your creative team? 

Jacob Haagen Birch: Hopefully it will sharpen my perception of today’s visual tendencies and on what is happening in the contemporary design and advertising scene around the world.

New York Festivals: What cultural/social changes do you think will influence this year’s work?

Jacob Haagen Birch: Must likely Trump and all that comes with him being the president.

New York Festivals: If you were to participate on the Grand Jury ten or fifteen years from now, what changes would you expect to see regarding the work?

Jacob Haagen Birch: More interactive stuff I guess, hopefully even more printed matter in new exiting materials. 

New York Festivals: What are your personal criteria for choosing award-winning work?

Jacob Haagen Birch: Quality and originality of the graphic work obviously, and how designers keep their eyes on the ball: content is king! No make-up will save you. 

New York Festivals: When judging, what trends do you hope will fade away, and what “old school” trends do you hope will make a resurgence?

Jacob Haagen Birch: I´ve judged in several design competitions and its always very apparent when designers are relating to trends and not to what they need to communicate. So, my hope is that people will disregard what’s popular on fancy design blogs and do what is most suitable for the project they are working on.   

On Advertising: 

New York Festivals: What was the hardest ad you ever had to create and why?

Jacob Haagen Birch: I used to work as a final artist in advertising when I started out, and we did a lot of retouch on food photos. Like photoshopping hot dogs. Those sucked – but to learn what really interest you, you need a lot of detours I guess. I don’t regret it at all, it was a valuable experience and it motivated me to work even harder.   

New York Festivals: In 3 words or less, what do you think about 6 second commercials?

Jacob Haagen Birch: Sometimes it works.

New York Festivals: What was the first ad you saw that made you say “wow!” and got you on the track to a career in advertising?

Jacob Haagen Birch: As a young kid I remember the Benneton ad, where they used the image of a young man dying of aids. It moved me. I was repulsed and fascinated at the same time and it sparked my curiosity in what images and words combined can do in terms of communication.  

New York Festivals: What philosophy drives your career?  

Jacob Haagen Birch: We (in Spine Studio) are not driven by a desire to grow into a huge agency with 120 employees. We like our size (three people). It makes it possible for us to engage in projects we find truly inspiring, and not only worry about money. Our ambition is to keep doing quality projects with interesting clients within art and culture. 

New York Festivals:What’s the single best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? 

Jacob Haagen Birch: "Put in hours."  Mervyn Kurlansky (founder of Pentagram Design) told me. That makes a lot of sense to me. Nothing comes for free.

On Life:

New York Festivals: How do you tap into creativity?  What do you personally do to fan the creative flames? 

Jacob Haagen Birch: Ping pong and coffee is a good start.  

New York Festivals: What’s the one smartphone app you couldn’t live without?

Jacob Haagen Birch: Instagram.

New York Festivals: If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Jacob Haagen Birch: Copenhagen.

New York Festivals: Who’s a creative icon that inspires you?

Jacob Haagen Birch: Nick Cave.

New York Festivals: New Favorite music album of all time?

Jacob Haagen Birch: Harvest with Neil Young or 36th Chambers with Wu-Tang Clan.

New York Festivals: Favorite travel destination?

Jacob Haagen Birch: Chicago, since my girlfriend lives there.

New York Festivals: What is your mantra for life?  

Jacob Haagen Birch: Good question…

New York Festivals: What movie or book best depicts the theme of your life?

Jacob Haagen Birch: Movie: Full Metal Jacket by Stanley Kubrick.
Book: Rend mig I traditionerne by Leif Panduro. 

New York Festivals: If you’re binge watching…what are you watching?

Jacob Haagen Birch: Billions.