Maria D’Amato Joins Coveted FWA Jury

FWA showcases cutting-edge creativity regardless of the medium used to tell the story. FWA seeks progressive work that pushes the boundaries of what’s been done before and what’s possible. Every day, FWA’s 300+ judges from 35+ countries review and vote on today’s most innovative work, a coveted position that determines and backs the digital world’s most groundbreaking inventions.

We are proud to share that GSD&M’s Creative Director and Experience Designer, Maria D’Amato, is one of the latest digital gurus to join FWA’s jury members. Maria is the mind behind some of GSD&M’s most digitally innovative campaigns, such as Southwest Airlines’ Heart of Travel – an FWA Site of the Day – and Lennox’s Degrees of Perfect, to name a few. She joins GSD&M VP/Executive Producer, Jefferson Burruss, on the jury.

We sat down with Maria to get her take on some of the most interesting transformations happening in the digital space and what has her jazzed to take on the honor and responsibility of being an FWA judge. Here’s what she shared:

What excites you most about being an FWA judge?

Well, first and foremost, it’s an honor to be selected to join this jury. Being an FWA judge is an especially interesting opportunity because of the site’s focus on innovation. Logging into the judging portal, I get a bird’s eye view of the most interesting and technologically innovative work being done for brands and agencies. 

What will you look for while judging the work?

I have three main criteria:

  1. The idea
  2. The design
  3. The tech

To be worthy of an FWA Site of the Day, the product has to hit all three.

Can you be bribed? Kidding. Unless the answer is yes. Can you?


Are you a tough grader?

I’ve created a matrix of scores, so I don’t have to be any kind of grader. I’ll simply follow the guide I’ve created for myself, and the score falls out of that. I like that it takes some, but not all, of the subjectivity out of the process.

So, several pieces of work from GSD&M (and you) have been selected as FWA’s Site of the Day. What is your favorite piece of work selected and why?

Heart of Travel for Southwest Airlines. My background is in fine art, so I naturally bring an artistic point of view to the table. To couple that with a first-class visual artist and a first-class technology solution is really my sweet spot.

How are you applying the learnings from judging FWA to the teams you work with closely?

By judging FWA, I get really good insight into what’s trending in the tech and innovation space, whether that’s design or tech solutions, or even the types of ideas brands are paying real money to produce. It gives me good insight into what’s palpable in the landscape and where there’s opportunity.

How are you sharing those learnings with GSD&M’s clients?

My working style is “boots on the ground.” I affect people, projects and clients individually, and I’ve found that trickles up and makes a bigger difference than trying to convey information to a whole lot of people at once. My team is known as a resource for innovation and technology-first thinking, and we actively consult on nearly every technology project happening in the building. It’s important to be eager about sharing information with people who are eager to hear it, and I find that style of sharing is more effective than trying to microphone out information agency- or client-wide.

What is key to creating impactful, digital work?

  1. Know your audience.
  2. Understand the context the work will be seen within. If you’re creating a mobile experience, for example, understanding the way people interact with their mobile devices is key to creating something that will be useful, usable and enjoyable. If the work is part of a larger set of initiatives, know how it fits and what it’s going to deliver for both the brand and the consumer.
  3. Attention to detail.
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