The Design Conference 2018 started out with a major bang! Maria Montes took the stage and midway through her talk I thought to myself, how can anyone possibly top such a remarkable speaker and person! Maria talked about her life from birth and her journey to Australia in 2006 as she became part of her adopted Australian family that she lived with. Here she built up her English speaking skills and learnt all the Aussie slang.
She is passionate about illustration and letterforms. She also just released her latest chromatic font family, Green Fairy which was an intense nine-month full-time personal investment.
Maria highlighted the tension we tend to have between being unique and wanting to belong. She also signified the importance of being generous, sharing knowledge, connecting and supporting each other. Study was the key to Maria’s career and where she is today.
Jackie Dewar then stepped on stage cracking up and so full of life. Jackie works at McCann, a top-ranked agency in Queensland. So relatable, and full of life, she told her life story of being a crazy uni kid and making it out alive, something all us uni kids hope to soon! One and a half more years left for me! Whoo!)
Tips from Jackie:
1. Stay curious to your mistakes and ask why.
2. “Don’t eat pinecones.” Jackie told a story of an old lady who was asked what her secret was to her long years and she said she ate pinecones every day. This is not something you would straight off the bat start doing in order to yield the same results. It’s weird! So, do your own thing and don’t try to make someone else’s story your own.
3. Design is an identity and the whole package is like storytelling.
The Low Bros are two incredible German brothers, Christoph and Florin based in Berlin. Their work is detailed and intricate, truly revealing the amount of skill and workmanship they have accumulated over the years. The Low bros are a world-wide duo and have been to multiple continents to share their incredible talent. Christoph shared something specific that resonated with me. They often get many people asking them how they got to make a career out of what they do, and it truly is mind-blowing. He said 'We don’t need to get too overwhelmed with the mechanics of how to get there and just pick up the brush and paint. In this day and age, we tend to get so caught up in the specifics and criteria, which is important. But do not forget your passion in the midst of It all and let it be the pen to the paper as you narrate your life story. '
They were also one of the few speakers I had the chance of getting to talk to and they are so down to earth. I would totally hang out with them and I am already hoping I get the opportunity to go to Berlin and link up with them!
Craig Black is Scottish. Need I say more?!
Craig Black is a phenomenal guy. He shared a lot about what makes him tick and how he got to where he is today. His story is amazing.
Craig is a graphic designer, lettering artist and a typographer. He shared his life story and talked about a specific moment where he was working on a project that completely burnt him out due to the long hours and constant trips back and forth. He then turned to his family for support which he said was so vital. He was honest with them and how much he was taking on and he mentioned how important it is to have a support network. People that you can rely on, trust and look to. A strong base is vital for survival.
He also talked about how there are so many talented people out there but very few brave ones to step out and do what they love. He ended with a powerful quote from Nelson Mandela which says, “There is no passion to be found in playing small and settling for a life less than the one you are capable of living.”
DIA is a design and strategy consultancy made up of husband and wife duo, Mitch Paone and Meg Donohoe. Let me just start by saying these two are some the most incredible people you will ever meet.
I’m going to pause and highlight Mitch and Meg for a bit. If you are reading this guys, I want you both to know that talking and connecting with you was a real treat. I found myself stepping out of this state of uneasiness approaching people to remembering that we were all there to learn, grow and network. Chatting to you was one of the highlights of my experience at the Design Conference. I kid you not!
Mitch and Meg’s story is one of those where you cannot help but go; WHAT?! So they grew up in the same town but didn’t meet until later on in a different state. They then went to show how their paths were so aligned and connected geographically from birth to where they got married to where they started out in their line of work. DIA have contributed their expertise to a vast number of projects like Nike, United Nations, Samsung and many more.
Braulio Amado is one of the craziest guys you will ever meet.
Braulio’s life journey was one of the most inspiring. To me, he got a chance to prove himself worthy and then got to experience all aspects of working for different companies til he was well grown and confident in his abilities to do his own thing. I absolutely admire his grit and seriously want a path in life similar to his.
If I could describe Cat in one word, it would be remarkable. She really is. I could not stop writing down the words that came out of her mouth, I mean, I was so inspired! Every slide and every point was so frugal.
In a nutshell, Cat works with the team at Frost*. She is passionate about finding insights that transform brands and businesses. She continued to talk about how we seem to have more choice and less time in today’s age. Time is a very valuable commodity as we all know. She then went to talk about how the difference is what actually makes the difference. Cliché but so true when you actually stop to think about what that could actually look like.
Cat talked about how we tune out the everyday things because we are so used to seeing it every day…pretty straightforward! However, put into perspective, if you are driving and you see a purple cow, you will stop and most probably go and take a selfie with this purple cow. This is different, it is remarkability.
She then went on to talk about how safe is now risky. Playing it safe will not get you far in most cases. Apple is one of the most recognised companies simply for the fact that they came into the market with a different approach to the rest. IBM’s logo was “Think” while Apple’s logo was “Think Different.” In Cat’s words, Apple quickly became the tipping point of heralding the era we’re in now.
Cat brought up the very interesting misconception that some people may still have today; the misconception that a brand is a just a logo. It might have been back then but today, a brand is the identity. With this notion, we as creatives have great influence on a business.
When designing or redesigning a brand, Cat says we look at brands as if they are people. She also mentioned how fast design destroys the value of people’s creativity. Therefore, we have to delve more into conscious design to achieve better, fuller, more meaningful work. This doesn’t even cover half of what I took out for this talk but it is a snippet of why I think Cat is pretty cool.
George Rose is one of those people who you look at and cannot help but admire. I don’t have much of a skillset when it comes to painting, let alone painting on walls, and not many people do! That is why the gorgeous, talented George Rose is amazing. George paints uplifting messages in bright, bold colours that you cannot miss.
George shared the time she was sat down by a friend who asked her 'If you had to pick one thing to do for the rest of your life, what woud it be?' - she chose painting. George has a friend that builds her and challenges her in her career and work. We all need that kind of friend. George travels a lot, but still rents an apartment in Melbourne - Why? - She explained it is always good to come home to a base where she can recoup and rejuvenate. She discussed how sometimes this line of work can get lonely since you are by yourself painting walls, but you do get to meet a lot of people and travel and you all can share the experience of that journey together since you can all relate.
George for me was so inspiring in a sense that I may not pick up my paintbrushes and let my minimal artistic side of me flow, but I can truly go after what I believe is what I want to do for the rest of my life wholeheartedly.
In the Q and A, someone brought up the fact that the older you get, your bones start to give and how would Georgia go about continuing her passion once her bones became fragile. To that, Prue Jones mentioned Artificial Intelligence would have come up with a solution for that.
This brings me to the next speaker, Prue Jones, who is someone I thought to myself I could learn so much from. Prue works for Fjord and she spoke on technological advancements and artificial intelligence in the new generation to come. We also engaged in an activity where questions were asked and the responses were projected on the screen to see where everybody’s responses fell in relation to one another.
Elishia Whitchurch was next up. She works for UAP and is in charge of managing and creatively overseeing local and international design projects.
Before UAP, Elishia was a magician’s assistant. Pretty cool I reckon! Soon after joining UAP, Elishia moved to China with the intent on staying there a few months which turned into 5 years. She addressed some of the barriers there are with culture and language, and then went on to discuss one of their biggest projects in the United Arab Emirates with British artist, Idris Khan. She talked about the work that went into delivering this monument, which was a intense. And on top of all this, she was pregnant!
I particularly enjoyed Elishia’s talk because I could also see myself in a similar type role in the future and that was really exciting for me.
Last but definitely not least, Kris Sowersby took the stage. Kris came on with a beer in his hand and would occasionally take a sip or two after he would crack a joke. I found that so funny, on top of the jokes. Kris is Kiwi and founded Klim Type Foundry. He took us on the journey where he developed one of his fonts, Pure Pakati and told us a bit about the journey in developing Untitled Sans and Untitled Serif.
He then gave everyone in the audience free San/ Sans Serif t-shirts which, can I say, are so comfortable. I love my shirt!