Last week I attended Flash on the Beach, a designer/developer conference held in Brighton in the UK. I'd never been to a designer conference before so it was a new experience, and I have to say that I enjoyed every minute of it. If you've never been to one of these events before have a look around for one you can get to, as you'll almost certainly learn something new and be inspired to create new work. Anyways, here's a brief rundown of what I got up to; I'll try and keep it short as I tend to get into a habit of writing very long reports! You can find a whole bunch of photos and videos I took over here.
Saturday/Sunday, Sept. 10/11
I wasn't originally planning on heading to FOTB, as I couldn't afford the tickets for the 3 day conference. Then last week James White mentioned to me on Twitter that FOTB were doing a contest with the chance to win a free pass. It was a simple "Tweet this" kind of thing, and I got the email from John that essentially said "pack your bags, you're going to Brighton". I booked the cheapest flights and accommodation I could find and off I went.
I arrived in Brighton on Saturday afternoon and checked into (an awesomely cheap) hostel which had everything I needed for the next week; bed, wifi and a Tesco 'round the corner. I spent Saturday and most of Sunday in the hostel, watching the Italian Grand Prix before meeting up with James and having a few beers, talking about design and so-on. After the FOTB speakers had their pre-event dinner I met up with a few and we hit a nearby pub for more drinks and design chat. Got back to the hostel at about midnight, already learning new things about digital art before the conference even began.
Monday, Sept. 12FOTB2011 MAIN TITLES from GMUNK on Vimeo.
Monday was an early start, but there were a lot of speakers I wanted to see today as well as the opening titles and Adobe keynote. The titles (above) were done by GMunk who also did a bunch of special effects for Tron Legacy, which he was speaking about today. Next up was the Adobe keynote which focused primarily on Flash and Adobe Edge. The field of code, Flash and app development is not something I'm involved with since I prefer to hang out in Photoshop/Illustrator all the time, so a lot of this went over my head, but I did like how Edge worked in a similar fashion to AfterEffects and was able to understand it a little.
The first talk I attended after this was Carlos Ulloa's "Love the Future" presentation, where he showed off some of the cool apps and site work he created, and let us in on his creation process. The technical details weren't of major interest to me but the concept and execution were pretty cool nonetheless.
Next up was Elliot Jay Stocks, speaking about the responsibility that web developers have now that there's so many useful tools and techniques out there. I've done a little bit of CSS work before to make my site(s) look a little bit better than a standard template, so I was able to get the hang of a lot of what he was on about. Good presentation overall.
GMunk was on after lunch and he broke down the various effects that he and his team created for Tron Legacy. I love Tron, I love straight lines and this was one of the talks I really wanted to see over the 3 days. Picked up a lot of ideas and tips from this talk, especially Bradley's advice on reference material and how a good reference library can make or break a project.
Jessica Hische was in the Dome after GMunk, talking about lettering, typography and how it's a lot more complicated than people give it credit for. I probably learned more about typography from her over the week than I did in the past 10 years and it was a real eye-opener of an experience. When the above slide came up I suddenly started seeing Gotham everywhere, from posters to business cards (funnily enough my current business card design uses Gotham as well!). She also made the "should I work for free" chart that you may have seen around the Internet in the past year or so.
Han Hoogerbrugge and Jon Burgerman rounded out the day with some enlightening talks about their work. Jon's opening slides were hilarious as well. The rest of the night was filled with beer and design chat, a winning combination; especially when John hooked up all the conference-goers with £1 drinks!
Tuesday, Sept. 13
Tuesday was more code/developer based so there weren't as many talks I was interested in heading to. James White had a mini-session in the morning though, which I recorded and you can view above. Other than that the only "main day" presentation I went to was Angie Taylor's talk on Kinetic Typography (with AfterEffects). I dabbled in a bit of this when I was completing my degree last year and it was interesting seeing how another artist approached the same task. The evening talks were from Cyriak (who's 3 parts insane and 6 parts awesome) and James Victore. Cyriak showed some of this work and did a live demo creating a piece from some very strange source footage, and James' talk was about his book and how it came about. The day ended like every day in Brighton so far, with an afterparty and design chat.
Wednesday, Sept. 14
Wednesday started with The Elevator Pitch; 20 designers would each give a 3 minute chat and be on a proverbial conveyor belt. One guy finishes, the next starts, he finishes, next guy etc. The great thing about this was that each talk was condensed; there was no fluff or time wasting. Unfortunately seeing so many designers at once can make you forget half of them by the time you leave, and while I can remember some of the projects shown I can't really put names to each one. The next talk was Kieth Peters, who went on about how we now use tools to create new tools, which make our work processes easier. If you've ever downloaded a plugin for an Adobe product, or even a Firefox/Chrome extension, you get the idea; creating little things that make the big things better.
Next up was the Jam session, where 6 speakers had 10 minutes each to wow us. Some cool stuff was shown, like GMunk's breakdown of the FOTB titles, and a really cool project that involved almost every smartphone in the building. After this I headed to Eva-Lotta Lamm's talk on using playfulness to spark ideas. Unlike most of the talks at FOTB it was more about concepts and theory than straight up tech details, which was good and easy to relate to.
James White's main talk was on in the afternoon. I've been a big fan of his work and broadcasts ever since I came across them in January of this year, and he's been a major influence on my work and career in general. His talk was also the most relevant of the lot to me as he specialises in Photoshop and Illustrator. The video above is the last 2 or 3 minutes of the talk, giving some solid advice to young designers looking to succeed in the industry.
The conference ended with Joshua Davis talking about his mind bending illustrations and creative process (he draws in Flash, FLASH!). The day ended with several of us going down to the beach for drinks before doing the pub crawl back to the hotels. I met a bunch of cool people along the way and picked up some solid design tips as well.
Thursday/Friday, Sept. 15/16
Thursday and Friday were spent in London. I met up with James, Franz, Ollie, Simon and several other designers at the various meetups that took place over the 2 days. Getting the train up and down from Brighton each day was cheaper than booking a place in London and not much of a hassle since London's underground is one of the best public transport networks in the world. Just like the rest of the week these hangouts were great for talking design with several like-minded people and they served as a real motivator for new work. I also got to see some pretty cool things in London like the KidRobot store, Covent Garden and a Ferrari F2005.
Saturday, Sept. 17
Saturday was all about "card games on motorcycles". After some convincing from my friends in the UK I decided to hang around the UK for another day so I could compete in a local tournament while I was there. The event was being run by Dom Galizia, a fellow Duelist/Designer that I've known for quite a while. Myself, Gehan, Tomaz and some more players from Brighton invaded the tournament hall north of London and competed in a 50 man event. I hadn't changed my Deck much since Irish Nationals but it was still solid enough for me to make a Top 8 finish. It was also nice meeting some fellow UK players again as I hadn't played here for a few months, especially the mighty Lee Brook who'll kill me if I don't mention him ;)
It was a nice way to end the week and I made the trip home on Sunday. Overall the 9 days I spent in the UK were a great experience, and just the push I needed to get some more work done. In terms of shoutouts I just want say hi to James, Ollie, Franz, Simon, Barry, Eva, Jessica, Tom, Radim, Cameron and his lovely girlfriend; it was so nice to meet you all and I hope you all enjoyed the week as much as I did!