Everyone knows, we at the YCC love a good event and this one was up in the very top drawer. We’d like to thank It’s Nice That for having us over and letting us in the doors of the only ‘symposium’ we’ve ever been in! From start to finish this awesome day was meticulously planned and organised but the perfect thing about it was how it all seemed so relaxed. Nothing went wrong, everyone had a jolly old time and most importantly we left very inspired.
There were lots of elements that came together including the beautiful Royal Geographical Society, the glorious sunshine, the decent food and perhaps our favourite, the pop-up stands that you could explore throughout the day. The Poetry Takeaway was a place where you could sit with a poet, chat about your life and they’d present you with a poem later in the day. There was also live typewriter art from Keira Rathbone and Cachete Jack illustrating onto peoples bodies. The calibre of speakers left us slightly star struck so we’ll give you a little breakdown on what we took away from each of them.
In all honestly, I thought a co-founder of a site like WeTransfer would be a complete snoozefest but actually he was a very interesting guy. He spoke about how they took the long road when it came to implementing high quality, non obtrusive ads on their site (which we can all agree looks pretty classy). He also mentioned how technology is only truly used properly if it is completely invisible and how good design allows us to embrace new tech. And a real truism that is so relevant if you work in digital: Things are only impossible until they are not.
Mirko discussed how all his designers have an ability to draw using his film noir inspired poster which were all hand made. He took us through part of his HUGE body of work and focussed on his designs for the Munich Opera House. It was great to see that he was asked to design the front of a major tourist spot and chose to use some incredibly dark imagery (see below) depicting some rather graphic deaths. It was what he felt was right for the job so nothing else came into it for him, despite the shock it gave the tourists! He also showed us a very swanky showreel which you can find here.
Marion was perhaps the best speaker of the day. She literally took us on a journey through time and space by exploring what ‘Here’ actually means in the context of earth in the infinite universe, which to her is only comparable to the human imagination. She also thinks time can be an enemy because we are always rushing so we should focus on one singular task rather than having 17 tabs open on Chrome. Another great lesson was how we should do things with our hands, work on the floor, sit down less. But one of her key points was how the education system only rewards realism and if you can’t do that then you get told you’re bad. This then means we stop drawing and develop a fear of it when we are all born with the innate desire to create art. We should change the way education rewards kids that draw.
Penny, the editor-in-chief of The Gentlewoman doesn’t take her responsibility to women lightly. She is in a position of influence and she believes that many women’s magazines make some dreadful mistakes when representing her gender. The Gentlewoman, by her own admission started out quite dry and formal to cement their brand and what it stood for and has gone on a journey to a place where they can discuss fashion and beauty in a very modern and relevant way without being the stereotypical 15 year old model, laid spread-eagle on the bed with a giant handbag. We salute you Penny! Us, as advertisers, have a huge responsibility too so we learnt a lot.
Lernert and Sander decided to share their failures with us, we were lucky enough to see some world premieres of work that never made it to the public. There was a point to it all though, for us to learn from the mistakes they’ve made. Our first lesson of the day was that if your afraid to present an idea then there’s probably something good in it. Followed up by the fact that if you pitch two ideas, one is good. Never make both. This was supported by a rather interesting project for Selfridges shoe department where they made shoes look like cakes. A major lesson was to rely on your instinct; a bad brief means trouble. They’d been asked by a major fashion house to tackle Chinese New Year and Valentines Day in one go. BAD BRIEF ALERT – say no.
Sam was one of the founders of FAT, a leading architecture firm. He started by discussing the time he thought design first came into the world through a single thing: a 1.8 million year old tool. This was the first thing shaped by humans and this then went on to shape humanity. He had an amazing point, which was that in everything we do we should approach making our ‘things’ (whether that be paintings, adverts, illustrations, buildings etc) with the same optimism that those ancient folks bashed those two stones together to make a tool. That's because we aren't just creating a THING but a culture and we should look towards the kinds of worlds that we could go on to create and shape.
The written word will only dampen the charisma delivered by Eric today. This artist’s description of himself is: “a smarty pants and general jackass with skills.” Nailed it. Eric is an accidental artist after starting out in journalism and happening upon a life drawing class but it shows that if you have an undeniable talent, you’ll find it eventually. Refreshingly, Eric admitted to having very little idea about art and culture after his frat boy college years and set out to teach himself after landing a big enough pay cheque to support his self development from Sein-imation. He decided after working on some Microsoft adverts (which, he pointed out were all done on Apple computers) that if he put this much work into himself as he did for these other guys then he could go far. So that’s exactly what he did.
Marina made a great point in that designers spend their lives trying to control the world with grids, leading and kerning, yet the world around us is so out of control. She also spoke about how if big companies such as Pentagram did all the worlds branding then it would be a much duller place. Her team takes photos of some of the best homemade branding from shop fronts around the world including Abra Kebabra, SellFridges and Thai Tanic. She tries to design with less control by creating new typefaces where possible such as in her Macmillan work or the freedom in the ever-changing Tate logo. Beautiful stuff!
The fashion pair Agi & Sam introduced themselves as terrified. They shouldn’t have been because their collections were daring, interesting and unique. These guys took us through their journey with some pretty useful lessons for us young ones fresh in the creative scene. Firstly the reason they started out together was because the jobs they wanted weren’t available to them. They weren’t willing to settle for jobs designing pants or doing thing that weren’t the right job. So they created one for themselves, in a world of freelancing what we want can be out there we just have to go for it. Their motto was admirable: “get it done by any means necessary.” They meant it too, as their first collection was financed by saving up their benefits. Also, they were forced to cut up Sam’s duvet for wadding on a jacket after running out the day before a show. The wrap up of it all was that if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it, you have to follow what feels right for you. Well said.
Ewen shared with us his story up to now and how he’d made mistakes but they had led him to the right place. His photography career all began with his graduate show, which was based around the northern soul scene. This established him as a photographer of youth culture and earned him commissions for titles such as i-D magazine. He went on to photograph the grime and UK Garage scene.
It was clear to see with Ewen it was always about the people not about music. After this he branched out and started to photograph illegal immigrants in countries such as Italy and Greece, this wasn’t understood by friends of his such as Martin Parr. Whilst in Napoli he came back to youth culture with the teens on their scooters, and knew this is what he should be doing. The lesson here if you’re good at something it’s probably worth sticking with it, but there’s no harm experimenting. He also financed and self-published his books…there seems to be a pattern emerging at Here 2014 that these people have just got on and done it.
Christoph is a legend. He creates the work that makes us think, “I wish I’d thought of that.” First and foremost though he told us that being an illustrator is difficult, it’s not all pretty pictures and dossing about all day. You are constantly thinking, working as long as you’re awake. Also he likes to work alone, when it comes to drawing the collaboration he’s interested in is with the audience. Working with others can hinder the idea, too many cooks… He told us the creative process is like trying to catch a chicken with your bare hands. If you put in half the effort you don’t get half a chicken. It’s comforting to know that no one finds it easy; the best are the best for a reason, talent and hard graft. He wrapped up on the fact that we have to go out there, see things, have experiences in order to come up with new ideas for our work. If not, you’re reliant on what’s already in your head and you’ve done before.
The event partner, We Transfer, must have been incredibly generous with their contributions and have to be credited hugely with the success of Here 2014. After chatting with some of the speakers it became apparent that some had been flown in from the States purely for the talk and put up in a Kensington hotel! Nice!
So, all in all the whole day was a blast. The speakers left us feeling inspired, proactive and excited about creating great work. They showed us that you can go out there and do it for yourself. It might be a little pricey for most but for all the mediocre talks out there, it’s worth ditching them to save up for this one (or get your boss to pay).
Published by: Holly in Reviews
Tags: advertising, agi & sam, art, branding, christoph neimann, creative, design, eric yahnker, events, ewen Spencer, fashion, fat architecture, graphicdesign, here2014, illustration, illustrator, inspiration, itsnicethat, lernert & sander, london, marina willer, marion deuchars, mirko borsche, mirkoborsche, nalden, penny martin, pentagram, photographer, sam jacobs, talks, the gentlewoman, wetransfer, wolff olins, ycc, young creative council