OFFF Barcelona 2019
Talk about inspiration as much as you want, but if we don’t work hard, no good is gonna happen. Working hard does not mean working alone at the computer sweating ourt new brilliant ideas. It is necessary to go out of your comfort zone, change the scenery, meet new people and learn from more experienced professionals. I found it very useful to have visited a design conference, the first one for me. So here comes a little “about OFFF Barcelona 2019”.
Travelling in itself is a source of new ideas and fresh insights. Barcelona is a city where you can find all you need for being inspired: busy streets or quite neighbourhoods, enchanting architecture masterfully coexisting with the living needs of the modern world, beaches for both sports and party, and mountains for a sweet escape from the hustle and tourists. People watching alone is a must-do in Barcelona. I love guessing where people come from and what brings them here.
And talking about people, where does one meet thousands of like-minded personalities? Of course conferences and conventions, - and OFFF gathered creatives from all over the world, all united by one purpose: learn and interact. But enough of generalisations, lets talk about what I learned at the conference.
The selections of speakers could please any picky listener, so I chose my lectures rather confidently knowing that no choice is wrong. I never regretted my decisions.
Ilya Ruderman, humble and charming, made me feel that I can fall in love with typography and this relationship can be long-term. Attention to details, playfulness with serifs, spacing and originality of the hole in a can be just as entertaining as choosing colors for an illustration. I saw hope for the future after the speech by Edel Rodriguez. As artists (and a citizens of this world) we are responsible for what is happening around us, politically, socially, environmentally, spiritually… Our role is to wake up people and make them think and act. It is also personal to see an immigrant like Edel to succeed and become an active member of the society he was not born into. James Victore spoke about his life passion for adventure and encouraged the aspiring designers to come up with dangerous ideas and kill the inner critic! The team from Crowd went technical but were convincing and reminded me one more time to do a very thorough research while doing a visual identity, or any kind of creative work for that matter! Sparkling on stage and in her work, Kelly Anna called to action: “Take the leap! Be stupidly confident!” Rurger Paulusse had a memorable presentation both in the way it looked and in the way he was grateful to all the people who helped him along the way. “Collaboration is important for everyone’s careers”, and other life wisdoms like “everything moves in waves, getting comfortable with the uncomfortable”, were good to hear about. How to make a studio in a year - sounds impossible? Not if you listen to Cabeza Patata. They advised to create and publish the work and move on to the next project, balancing out commercial projects with personal projects. (It has actually been posted out by all the speakers - try out new media, realise your personal ideas and it may end up being your commercial work). One of my absolute favourite speakers was Lobulo, his sense of humor and self irony is incredible! He is just so down to earth and relatable! That said, his skills are beyond my comprehension. His lecture was the one I took least notes of, it was just too engaging, entertaining and real to be writing down stuff! The way he was grateful to his father and his whole family for what he is now, was precious. Moving on, Naresh Ramchandani spoke not about design but really made me think about how the professional choices we make can influence the world either a better or a worse way! The “take-home” from Ben Johnston is definitely “versatility means longevity”. I know I need to challenge myself to try new things and learn new techniques, become a graffiti artist for a day maybe?! “Energetic dancer” Marina Willer is a prolific designer I discovered at OFFF and now look up to: creating beautiful work, she is observant, innovative, open and daring, and (what is very personal to me) a great mom-artist who includes kids in her work and learns from their naive and uncompromised souls. And of course David Carson, his ability to notice every little and big thing around him is what I wish I could get at least a bit of. I admire his bravery to be different, to break the rules and to have fun! He is entertaining to listen to, and even more entertaining when you know he has substance to what he does. Surely a legend we can learn a lot from, whether his style is to your liking or not. He has a loud voice in the industry and we should listen to it.
When I started the journey of becoming a graphic designer three years ago, I could not imagine where it would take me. The road of ups and downs, achievements and big-time reality checks, it all has been nothing but an adventure. It is a learning process that is continuous and uninterrupted (whether I am on vacation with my family or out walking in the woods, cooking dinner or planning a birthday party — I am learning to be sensitive to what I see and constantly search for inspirations). Being observant, listening to others, being humble, supporting fellow artists, being brave and curious, daring to try new things, working harder everyday and (very important!) having fun - all of these are key ingredients in making it as a graphic designer.