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June 8, 2018

Our Fun Formative Fix… Lessons we took away from OFFF


We went to OFFF Barcelona – a three-day design festival and it was offf-ing brilliant.

The festival featured more than 80 different sessions. These ranged from conferences and workshops to exhibitions and interactive installations. Their aim is to engage and inspire designers, artists and creatives from all over the world.

Each year, OFFF Barcelona commission a designer/agency to brand the event. This year, the campaign was designed by the very talented Mathery. They wanted to explore what OFFF means. Their bizarre and imaginative work outlined various interpretations.

These different interpretations kind of align to the different experiences each of us had of the week. We all took away different lessons, inspirations and highlights. (Kirsty definitely experienced the Optimistic Freckled Friends Festival).

There were so many awesomely talented artists/creatives speaking at the event. We were gutted not to be able to see them all. But here are some snapshots from what was an incredible week. Each day, we each made a note of the things that had inspired us, influenced our thinking or that we loved. Here are the top 3 things each of us took away from our time at OFFF:

Dan’s OFFF

1. The Importance of Passion Projects

While it’s easy, and important, to focus on the projects that pay the bills, we should all get involved in passion projects as often as we are able. Passion projects give you the ability to experiment, develop skills and can offer creative freedom. I’ve always believed this, which is why we’ve done projects like Match For Manchester and It Will Glow. However, coming away from OFFF Barcelona has made it all the more important.

So many of the speakers have built their reputation and have done incredible things off the back of their own ideas and passion projects. They don’t just help you develop, they can get you the attention you deserve too.

2. No project too big… or too small

We were shown The World’s Smallest Movie by 1st Ave Machine, which was a project that they worked on with IBM. The video involved magnifying carbon monoxide molecules (one oxygen atom and one carbon atom) to over 100 million times their actual size. They then arranged them into a series of 242 still images. Finally, they stitch them together to make a stop-motion animation.

If you need reminding of how small an atom is again… If an atom was the size of an orange, then the orange would be the size of the whole planet Earth. This piece of work had me fall out of my seat and again demonstrated that it’s never easy but it can be worth it.

Check it out…

3. Collaborate with passionate and talented people

Great things happen when talented and positive people collaborate. From freelancers to agencies, I met some incredible people and heard some amazing stories of projects and ideas that only became a reality because they saw the value in working together. Here are some of my favourite collaborations from some of the artists from OFFF:

  1. The Wheel by Querida
  2. World’s Slowest Rube Goldberg by 1st Ave Machine
  3. Showreel 2018 by Chris Bjerre

Rhi’s OFFF

1. Practice, practice, practice

If you’re passionate about something and want to succeed at it, it requires time, practice and effort. Spare time is practice time. So many artists made me realise how much effort they put into honing their skills and becoming absolute bosses of what they do.

Christoffer Bjerre spoke about the hours he puts into his passion projects, and from seeing his incredible videos the hours of painstaking attention to detail and work has paid off. Check out his showreel:

2. Don’t let being afraid stop you from saying yes

Your first time of anything can be intimidating, just because you don’t know what you’re doing. No, I’m not talking about Will’s awkward sex scene from the Inbetweeners.

If you have an idea, or someone else has an idea, don’t say no because you don’t know how to do it… embrace the challenge and discover the unknown. Yes, it may be daunting and difficult to achieve but it’s worth a go and you may surprise yourself with an awesome outcome!

1st Ave Machine were a great example of this… They have taken on so many really cool but super complicated projects, which initially they had no idea how to do but they worked through it and worked together to achieve some pretty awesome results… Being experimental pays off!

3. Get abstract!

I loved the abstract art and ideas of the creative speakers who were there and the thought processes which went with it. Jordy Van Den Nieuwendijk has taken to using white space within his paintings to represent the things he is painting because it requires more thought from the onlooker to understand what the painting is.

Marta Cerdà Alimbau was commissioned to create a portrait of Sant Fèlix, she used her love of lettering to create an abstract face which was instantly recognisable to those from the town of Vilafranca del Penedès. I want to try and be more abstract when I’m creating things, as a bit of a perfectionist I’ve always struggled with it, but as I said earlier… The only way I’m going to get better is through practice.

Kirsty’s OFFF

1. Passion = Productivity

If your passionate about what you do, and choose to do the jobs you love then productivity will prevail. The passion of all of the speakers really shone through and when you’re enjoying the projects you are working on, you’re naturally going to be more productive!

That passion will also drive you to better yourself and your skills, because there is always room for improvement and the world is constantly changing so you need to have that focus to stay ahead of the game.

2. Think creatively

Being a predominantly ‘Back End’ developer I was sceptical of how much inspiration I could take from a creative event like OFFF but I definitely learnt you don’t have to be an artist to think creatively.

Looking at things from a different perspective, thinking outside the box is something that everyone can apply to their own lives. Solutions may not be obvious at first, but taking an alternative approach from the norm can have fantastic results… Mathery, for example, took the meaning of ‘OFFF’ and turned it on its head in an imaginative and playful way.

Next year Christoffer Bjerre is designing the campaign for OFFF Barcelona 2019 and how he approaches the project will be completely different… The same project will have two very different outcomes because of their skills, thought processes and creative ideas.

3. Positive vibes

Surround yourself by positive people and reap the rewards! Be an Optimistic Freckled Friend (like me!). Stefan Sagmeister’s ‘The Happy Film’ made me realise that happiness is something everyone is constantly striving for, and for me, the people around me have a huge impact on my happiness. Everyone has good days and bad days, but those people who brighten your day and bring a smile to your face are the people you should surround yourself with.

This covers work too, a positive team can achieve anything when working together and that’s essential when projects get tough or there are tight deadlines to work to. Pulling together and smiling through the tough times will make you closer as a team and the work you produce will be positively impacted.

And here are just a few snaps from our OFFF Barcelona trip –

Dan Sargent

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