Things we learned at OFFF

Stephen Woowat

Last week we attended OFFF 2016 in Barcelona. We made to decision to go while visiting the amazing Here in London last year. Whilst caught-up amongst the inspirational atmosphere (and slight intoxication) we booked tickets for OFFF, before we had the chance to rationalise out the idea for some sort of sensible time/money reasoning.

And it was the right decision – because OFFF was amazing. It was our first time at the festival and it was great to see so much interesting stuff all in one place. There were about 50 speakers spread over the course of three days. Due to the timetable it’s impossible to see absolutely everyone, so you have to make some choices on the day. We did our best to mix it up between people we were more familiar with and knew would be great and others we’d never come across before.

I’m not sure I’d call us natural note takers – but there were some recurring themes that came up:

1. Fun first
A cliché that holds true: so many iconic projects essentially all started as something people thought was a stupid, but fun idea at the time. People had built careers just by doing what they enjoyed, then attracting more of the same.

2. Not overthinking things
Don’t worry too much and just put things out there. Don’t refine ideas to death. Get them to a reasonable state and develop them as you go. Not all ideas worked out, but no-one ever remembered the ones that didn’t.

3. People are more willing to help than you think
If you think something’s interesting and fun, the chances are others will too. Start with the intention to collaborate with the most amazing person you can think of. A lot of sentences began with “We thought we’d ask this person on the off-chance they’d help us out with…”. They pretty much always said yes. Especially true when it involves making a rap video.

Images: Mr Bingo, Aardman’s OFFF character, Ustwo, Johnny Cupcakes

Other things:

GIFs
It was amazing how different and theatrical the talks were. But the GIF slide breaker was a presentation shoe-in. Most of the time they worked well – genuinely supporting a point and making it memorable – but sometimes they verged on being too distracting to register what was being said in the first place. Although, maybe this was more a symptom of seeing so many presentations by designers all at once and suffering some sort of GIF fatigue/overdose.

Craft+++
Aardman shot their OFF Festival ident using a unique Canon lens that was built by Canon specifically for them. A one of a kind macro lens designed for close up model work. It showed a level of craft that was beyond anything you’d expect.

Best slide
Mr Bingo, for a slide that said just said the slide number.

Obligatory trip to the cathedral building site. More amazing every time.

A lot of the inspiring things you absorb don’t always work as easily repeatable soundbites. You ultimately just leave with a really positive feeling that anything’s possible if you want it to be (yes I just said that). The Mill talked about the ‘hunt’ – the importance of filling your head with loads of stuff and letting it naturally feed into whatever happens next.

Make sure you go next year!