The last three talks on Day 3 of Design Fabric Festival (DFF) began with Rob Alderson, Editor-in-Chief at WeTransfer talking about creative ideas and the importance of discovery. With 42 million people around the globe using their platform, the responsibility of sharing good, creative work with people lies on him. Rob spoke about the three ways in which WeTransfer and DFF had a strong synergy with the festival's theme of ‘Design makes Culture. Culture makes Design.’ “We’re interested in how ideas work. It’s not a safe, linear process. It’s mysterious, which is what’s magical about it. Our general belief is that Creative Thinking = Curiosity x Conviction,” he said, elaborating on a project where WeTransfer commissioned artists like Owen Gatley, Cybel Martin, and Pann Lim to design their dream studios.
WeTransfer’s interest in discovery was his next reason, and he spoke about his curation process and helping people from entirely different parts of the world discover art and design projects happening elsewhere. From Second Life Toys in Japan that does organ transplants for broken toys to Pavithra Dikshit’s paper salads to Kenyan artist Kawira Mwirichia’s LGBT artworks, Rob praised the “unexpectedness of creativity” and questioned what happens to ideas when they become available to different cultures and people. Finally, he spoke about the power of creative ideas, and how design is an important tool in shaping the world through dialogue. He referred to Jean Julien’s illustration that became the image of the 2015 Paris attacks; WeTransfer’s collaboration with FKA Twigs on the Baltimore Dance Project to create a documentary on dance, creativity, identity and pride; and the company's participation in the recent March For Our Lives worldwide protest against gun violence for which they took a stand through design and creativity. Finally, Rob said, “We should be doing things that mean something to people, even if it's just for one person."
His inspiring conversation was followed by a talk by Verònica Fuerte and Eva Vesikansa of Barcelona’s favorite Hey Studio. Talking about their journey creating branding, identity and illustrations for brands like Arrels, Rebuild Japan, Athletics, Braun, Scopitone and others, the refreshingly honest duo said that “it’s graphic design when it’s unique, not replicated.”
The two designers took the crowd through different principles of the studio - Colour, which is a “universal language to tell a story”; Bold, to create identities that are clean, readable and direct; Try, and the importance of tests to make sure that the one you pitch is the best one; Food, and the love for cooking and their @lapastaolavida experiment; Fun, to ensure that not everything is looked at seriously and professionally, with personal projects like EveryHey, where they made geometric, vector pop culture characters; and finally, Side, and the need to have side projects to “do whatever one wants, experiment, create new styles and allowing it to seep into your commercial work.”
Christoph Niemann, the most awaited talk at DFF, took the stage and had everyone hooked to his creative advice, life lessons, challenges of creativity, and stories from his career. In an illustrated presentation, the New York-based artist and designer, who has been featured on Netflix’s Abstract, talked about the difficulties of being a creative person, advising the crowd on how to deal with clients. From something as simple as “Do something people like and is new to the world” to eliminating the middleman and being an independent designer to the basic inspiration needed to create art, his insightful talk was a beautiful walk through his world and how his mind works. “You have to be excited and proud about what you’re doing every once in a while!” he said. On the topic of ‘Managing Expectations’, he reflected how artists need to be careful about what they put in their portfolio, not just their best work. “Your portfolio is a promise that this is something you’re really continuously delivering under any circumstance,” added Christoph.
Christoph also brought up some core essentials and principles he lives and work by, like punctuality, craft, sleep, and health, noting that “you have to take care of yourself to actively help your design career and have fresh ideas". Lastly, he spoke of abstract ideas and the importance of a little distance from one’s own work to be a shrewd editor, not just the artist. “You engage the viewer and make them start filling in the blanks. As artists, we have the responsibility to shape the perception of people. The more prominent an image is in our mind, the less information it takes to convey it. So I use visual language to convey ideas. Art, music, books, nobody needs them until they are made. Creativity cures a pain we didn’t even know we had,” he concluded.
An intensive Q & A session with the three WeTransfer speakers followed, along with a Meet and Greet.
Founded in 2009, WeTransfer is the simplest way to send your files around the world. Every month, users in 195 countries send one billion files through their platform. WeTransfer believes creative thinking has the power to change the world. They’re on a mission to help people make more – more music, more art, more statements, more mistakes. DFF Speakers Christoph Neimann from Berlin/New York and Barcelona-based Hey Studio were supported by WeTransfer.