A few weeks ago now, I took myself out of the office for a week to attend the Look Upstairs design conference in Melbourne. The conference was held in the recently renovated Arts Centre Melbourne. The sculptural building housed hundreds of design thinkers and speakers from every continent for the three day conference.
The wide range of industry representatives discussed the ideas of breaking the rules, collaboration across creative disciplines and being open to inspiration from the unexpected were among the key topics, as well as looking at the important difference between working for money and working for passion.
Over the course of the conference I was introduced to thinkers and creatives ranging from designers, glassmakers and chefs through to the guy who designs and builds Olympic flames. This wide range of industry representatives allowed me to look at the creative process from many different angles. Even with the wide range of creatives present there were a few continuing reflections throughout the conference. The ideas of breaking the rules, collaboration across creative disciplines and being open to inspiration from the unexpected were among the key topics, as well as looking at the important difference between working for money and working for passion.
As with any conference there were a few speakers that had advice that really stood out for me, in particular Luke Lucas. Luke made a point of discussing the reasons why he does or doesn't take on particular work as a creative who produces a hell of a lot of type-based illustration. Luke asks himself the following before taking on a new project: Will I enjoy the work? Will it be good for my folio? Do I have time? Is it likely to drag on? Do I like the client? Is the budget appropriate?
This conscious decision to take on work with good reason really resonated with me – why did I decide to be a graphic designer and what did I want to achieve through this? These are the questions that we should be asking ourselves in order to stick to our goals and achieve them, no matter what the discipline is that we work in.
Another speaker that completely wowed me was Wesley Bert, concept artist from San Francisco. He opened the conference and showcased his outrageous skills in concept art and entertainment design. Wesley stressed the importance of getting ideas out of your head and onto the page, no matter the strength of the concept. This was a good reminder that pen and paper still exist in 2014, sometimes working on screen all day makes this seem like a thing of the past.
Alejandro Magallanes was a stand out designer for me, with exceptional poster work. He talked about keeping rocks and coconuts from travels, and how these memories linked with his design ideas. These memories and objects are clearly linked to the work that Alejandro produces, see some of Alejandro's work here.
As for learning something new, Studio Roosegaarde was a stand out for me. Their SMOG Project involves a virtual vacuum cleaner that removes smog particles from the sky. Not only this – but as a souvenir, a smog ring is created from the smog particles, with each ring representing 1000m3 of cleaned air. Check out Studio Roosegaarde’s work here, make sure to look at their Smart Highway project!
The Look Upstairs conference was a great way to reflect upon the work that I do everyday here at Freerange and open my mind to the possibilities within the creative industry. Hope you can find some daily inspiration here!
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