Reasons:London is a day of creative talks aimed at digital creatives from any discipline. Held every year in London, the event aims to inspire and educate anyone from a creative or digital discipline with talks from a huge range of speakers from an even wider range of backgrounds. This year's speakers covered everything from creative entrepreneurialism, experiments with code, sculpting right through to data visualisation.
Johnny Belmont, founder and event organiser for Reasons To kicked off the event with an overview of why he runs these events. For digital creatives there is a huge cross over between disciplines and no one job title is (seemingly) encompassing enough anymore to cover all bases. Often, events are aimed at either development or creativity and design, Reasons makes sure to fall in-between with inspirational talks that cross the boundaries of both.
Pip is the founder of The Dots, a network built to profitably connect businesses and creatives in a new way. It is unique in that you can show your portfolio and connect the team involved in certain projects, creating a huge cross-network of connected creatives and projects to explore.
Pip's talk kicked off the day and delved into key points for optimising creativity within an organisation through her explanation of how she came to set up the Dots in the UK. She made some great points on the importance of creative balance and dealing with burnout - often seen within most agency cultures and fails to be addressed. For example, the Dots tackle creative balance by building an inclusive working environment. One great idea they had is to put together an internal pitch day on a regular basis for new ideas for the Dots as a platform. This means that everyone at the Dots feels they're able to contribute creative ideas positively to the organisation, no matter their position.
Heydon is a designer and writer, his talk outlined the need for originality; originality through "messing with stuff" (his words!). He began with an introduction to a piece of music entitled 'Le Mant 24hr Le Mant', that falls into the well-known genre of 'Satanic Black Metal meets Standup Comedy'. Through his explanation of the piece of music, he led us on to his web app Beadz, "an experimental drum machine built using the Web Audio API and Vue.js". Beadz lets you create polymetric drum patterns through the addition and removal of quarter-beats from the track. But even more impressive than the app itself, is the fact that the entire thing is fully accessible. Heydon broke down his process for creating Beadz and throughout this injected some incredible food for thought on the importance of experimentation. Even greater was his statement: "inclusion is good disruption".
Placing such importance on the accessibility of Beadz really led me to consider how much thought is truly given to accessibility throughout web communications. If as designers and creators we are to disrupt, perhaps positive disruption would be something as simple as making all creative output completely inclusive. So why is it overlooked to begin with?
Nadieh was the winner of Reasons To's Elevator Pitch last year, and since has become a sought-after speaker on the creative conference circuit. Nadieh is a data visualisation designer and creates incredibly visually stunning representations of data sets. She went through how she approaches her projects, showing examples of data and how she builds up to land on her final visual representations.
What Nadieh reminded the conference was that problems can be overcome by re-visualising them. Sometimes it's worth taking the time and effort to rearrange something at an earlier stage to lead you to the final product or solution – and one solution is never final.
Elliot Jay Stocks
The afternoon brought Elliot's talk on Typography, which was a brief overview of his workshop on the same topic to take place in Brighton this September. Elliot was previously Creative Director at TypeKit, began 8 Faces (a type publication) and now runs Largon, a creative lifestyle magazine. Elliot demonstrated his expansive knowledge and love for typography by running through a few tips on picking fonts for your design.
One great takeaway was the danger with using frameworks in online design to build the backbone of your design. Often decisions surrounding type and typography are based on an understanding of how the fonts fit together, if relying on a framework built by someone else with a different understanding, more time can then be assigned to revisiting and revising the framework to suit your fonts (amongst other design aspects!).
Wilfrid is a sculptor, famed for his work for publications such as It's Nice That. He creates caricature-like homages of famous faces that show an appreciation and understanding of the aspects of human nature we give less thought to; the ridiculous, the painful, the hilarious, to name a few.
Without a doubt, Wilfrid's work is purposefully provocative, often addressing current affairs or celebrity culture, having sculpted the likes of Justin Bieber, Mary Berry and David Cameron (pictured). What was really evident from how Wilfrid talked through his process, was his intrigue taken with the subject matter. His understanding of the persona he is creating with each project is what leads to the hilarious, bold yet truly intricate sculptures.
The final talk of the day came to Brendan Dawes, he entitled his talk "Notes to my younger self". Brendan placed importance on experimentation, pushing the boundaries of what we do as creatives by continually doing things we "don't know how to do", and in doing so, stepping out of a position of comfortable complacency that is so easy to return to again and again.
Brendan creates tactile experimentations that play with those strange quirks in human nature – such as our over-obsession with our phones. His project with AirBnB at Sundance using mini-printers to print visitors SMS' notes does exactly that. It quietly emphasises how attached we are to our phones because they're hand-held, particularly in comparison to our desktops. But also how personal communications that we send and receive using them can be.
Brendan raised some important points through his explanation of his creative process for many of his projects, but what really stood out was the need to create our own tools (often through experimentation). Making your own tools reduces the limitations on what you can achieve!
Events such as Reasons:London allow for the ever increasing number of cross-disciplinary roles within the Creative and Digital industries to have access to a variation of speakers all in one place. Though February's event brought together speakers from different disciplines, their disciplines most certainly didn't limit them to just working within their role. What led to their success in their field was their curiosity and ability to see beyond what is immediately at hand. In doing so, they are re-thinking complex challenges and providing solutions in the form of things such as; new systems (Beadz) experiences (sculpture), services (data visualisation), business models (the Dots) or movements.
My biggest take-away from the day was seeing that through a combination of perseverance and experimentation we're able to create incredible things, and they don't have to be beautiful in their execution - they just have to address the questions raised by our own curiosities.