Seeding Ideas in Berlin – Part 2

I just recently attended the conference, Typo Berlin, to recharge my creative batteries. It’s always amazing what you can absorb and learn in a few days at a conference, it’s as if the act of sitting and really listening allows the information to infiltrate and sink in.

Typo Berlin's Incredible on-site bookstore

The theme of the conference is “shift”, and most of the speakers are weaving this notion through their presentations. From shifting in media, to print segueing tablet, to shifting disciplines, each story is interesting and can be thought about when it comes to my own or our own situations. The conference organizers will shortly have podcasts available of the main hall speakers, they are available to view at I won’t go into detail about what each of them spoke about, but rather I will give you my top inspirations.

It’s a small, small world.
A really interesting thread that I saw, especially great for our multi-cultural VFS students, is the amount of cross cultural work that is being done, way more than we see in North America. Perhaps this is due to the open borders of the European Union and the ability to work in different countries? What is really interesting is that the ability to understand and know other languages and written alphabets can also inform us better when doing our own everyday work. Travel and exposure to other cultures is really influential, and is a great source of inspiration to draw from.

The power of the handmade.
Maybe it’s a response to the increasing time we spend in the digital world, but I saw a great movement towards making time for the handmade, the hand drawn, and a return to craft. Each day, there were workshops on calligraphy and hand drawn T-shirt making.

The Vette Foundry guys showed us their creativity workshops where they make letterforms from food — letter pretzels, potato cut stencils, calligraphy from vegetable shavings (sounds weird but looks really cool). By playing with type, they are getting a chance to be creative with new materials, and make something good to eat at the same time.

Eva Lotta-Lamm has created visual journals of the speeches that are incredibly awesome to look at. They are a reminder to sketch, sketch, sketch. You can search for the Berlin notes, or take a look at her how-to video here at Petr van Blokland believes that sketching out problems can help you to narrow down the possibilities, breaking them down into smaller problems, making it easier to solve things a stage at a time.

Dr. Shelley, from Type Camp, showed us her projects where designers spend their days drawing and creating things by found materials. She also showed us a newspaper in India that is handwritten every day. That keeps the language alive and allows the reader to read news in their native tongue.

Shameless plug: I guess this is where events like Myron Campbell’s Draw By Night start to take on a bigger importance. I don’t go because I don’t think I can draw but, in reality, I don’t draw much anymore, so how can I continue to be good at it? Like a muscle that constantly needs flexing! Also allows us to slow down, think about where that line is going, what could be.

It’s always a big topic in all of the conferences I have attended. The importance of willingness and openness to change. And the importance of designers being at the forefront of learning and changing that comes with the evolution of the digital world.

Some daring glimpses of what’s coming up?
All information and data will be stored off-site, Dropbox and other cloud networks are making it easier to store large data and not necessary to keep everything. Getting to all information only being stored once.
Petr van Blokland’s talk scared a lot of people. He is, of course, on the leading edge of some of the new technology, both in creating it, and helping others to implement it in their every day business. If you have a chance to see his presentation, check it out. Open source platforms will begin to take over, allowing magazine publishing and information organizing to be tailored automatically to the type of device you are utilizing. Why think to a page when there isn’t the limits of a page?

Devices that start to understand your habits and wants and are able to move around with you, and interface between them automatically. Pick up your tablet at home for long articles and entertainment, your mobile device gives you snapshots of then what to read on the road, etc.

Self commissioned work.
Of great importance to all of us, is the ability to get paid for our work. There is a shift to creating work that has value and can be sold, perhaps thousands of times, to create income (i.e., apps, books and magazines). A blend of interest and profession, mashing to create wonderful projects that provide sustaining satisfaction.

So what do I remember the most? The big take away for me, as it is whenever I go to a conference, is that you can never stop learning. We may go through seven or eight different iterations of our professions, I know I feel like I have already. There will be those who want to stay in a moment In time — “I only want to do this, this is what I like, this is what I know” but those will be left behind. People who embrace the change, and are flexible to new learning, will succeed. I think, most of all, this experience has reminded me that I need to continually renew myself by traveling to new cities and new environments. Going to Berlin has seeded so many new ideas into my head, I can’t wait for them to germinate and grow!

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