Echoing Creative Themes—Four Things We Learned at OFFF Cincinnati 2013

20 Mar 2013
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Put 400 creative minds into one building and what do you get? A diverse set of projects and art—it’s not unlike life at LPK. This year, the post-digital culture festival OFFF made Cincinnati its exclusive U.S. location, bringing global talent to the Contemporary Arts Center.

OFFF began in Barcelona as a post-digital culture festival and has matured into a way of understanding art through workshops and performances from today’s most relevant artists. OFFF seeks to be an entity in continuous transformation—alive and evolutionary. The festival has expanded into some of the world’s most design-savvy cities like New York, Lisbon and Paris. OFFF has developed a new generation of artists who are hungry to show other colleagues their work, be inspired by other creatives and share their knowledge.

As sponsors of the event, we wanted to get up close and personal with the innovative and energetic presenters that traveled across the globe to share their art and inspiration with us. Among all the array of styles and types of art we noticed some very similar themes across the speakers and guests.

With open minds and ready pens, we sent a few LPKers to the event to glean their insights. Here are the top four messages that resonated most with them during OFFF Cincinnati.

 Believe In the Spirit of Play

In an agency, design processes can sometimes become complacent after doing the same work repeatedly. Jon Burgerman, a speaker during OFFF and a multidisciplinary artist, emphasized the importance of experimenting and playing with new art in the absence of workplace parameters.

“If I was all work and no play, I couldn’t find the inspiration for a majority of the projects I work on,” says Digital Designer Justin Lee. “I love exploring new mediums and processes. But I usually don’t do this at work, I do it when I’m playing and exploring. Fiddling helps sharpen my skills and provides me perspective to use on my everyday projects. If it wasn’t for that I would become overwhelmed trying to come up with new & fresh ideas.”

By using downtime, or playtime, experimentation can lead us to stumble upon some of our most inspiring work. For example, Burgerman plays with chalk in a lot of his street art installations. You can see some of his graffiti work and a piece of the exhibition On! Handcrafted Digital Playgrounds (at CAC right now through September) in the photos below. Another example is a unique stop-motion animation Multitouch Barcelona (an interactive design studio that presented at OFFF) created for Red Bull called Fly Me.


The Importance of Collaboration

It may seem like a no-brainer, but every speaker stressed the importance of collaboration. Usually it results in the type of work that would not otherwise be possible with one person on the project. OFFF speaker Sara Blake, an artist from New York City, collaborated with another OFFF speaker, Joshua Davis, also an artist from New York City, and created a unique work of art. Her hand-drawn illustrations, combined with his Flash-based generative art, resulted in an experience that enriched both of their design perspectives.

Failure Is An Option

Embracing the possibility of failure is hard to do. Once we do, it’s liberating. An acceptance of failure cultivates a creative environment where greater risks can be taken—and in return, greater achievements can be reached. Recently, Blake worked on an in-store display for the new Nike House of Hoops. Blake underestimated the process she chose in translating her hand-drawn murals into digital files. She became overwhelmed by the tediousness of having to scan hundreds of sections of the mural and then reconstruct them digitally. But instead of giving up, she persevered and delivered great work for Nike. Sara said that instead of spending time thinking about how failure is not an option, it’s better to be focused on not giving up. Below are photos of a few of Blake’s sketches and a demonstration of her process during OFFF.


Make Work outside of Work

We all became designers, artists and creatives because it’s our true passion. We’ll be happiest and at our best capabilities if we make time for projects that we enjoy most—not just the projects that define our billable hours.

“What I found to be the most refreshing piece of advice was to pursue personal projects on our own time,” says Product Designer Aldo Barreto. “Making time for the projects we enjoy reminds us of why we got into design in the first place. Our best work comes out of our most passionate interests. I think our challenge as designers is to keep that creative flame alive and infuse that energy it into our client work.”

Click here to see a list of all the speakers and check out their own websites. What key takeaways do you have from this year’s OFFF?