(title photo by Marc Thiele) Every September since 2007 I've made an annual pilgrimage to Brighton to visit what can only be described as one of the greatest creative festivals in the world. Originally it was known as "Flash on the Beach" and was clearly aimed at Flash designers and developers - a 3 track blend of design, development and artistic inspiration.The best of the best in the industry descended onto Brighton to share their collective knowledge, their personal methodologies and their inspiration. However with the changes in the industry a few years ago, the conference began to spread its wings accordingly into different areas of digital design/development and so Flash became only a minor subject in a much bigger creative spectrum.
In 2012 the conference organiser, John Davey, made a brave decision to rename and rebrand the conference to something more fitting with its new subject matter - and Reasons to be Creative was born. A conference featuring art and design from all walks of life. Digital artists, cinematographers, print designers, painters, original developers and font designers. If it's creative, it's welcome.
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Now I have to be completely honest about this, when I first heard the new name I didn't like it at all. Although I knew exactly what John was trying to do and understood why the conference needed to be rebranded, the name just wasn't working for me at all. Last year I really struggled with it and continued to call it Flash on the Beach or FOTB throughout, some of us even jokingly rebranded it "Reasons to Flash on the Beach" because it seemed to fit with the party atmosphere that surrounds the 3 day conference. But this year, well, this year it felt different again.
The conference doesn't even feel like a conference any more. It feels like a three day festival of pure inspiration. "Reasons", the single word, seems incredibly fitting.
If you've never been to an event like this it's very difficult to put into words just how incredible it can be for your mental well-being. This year's logo sums it up absolutely perfectly - 2 batteries, one empty, one full - it's precisely like having your creative batteries re-charged.
This year I'm not going to break down the talks that I saw into the finest detail. It wouldn't be doing the speakers justice and I could never translate what I took from the conference into words. What I will say though is that if you like the sound of it (who wouldn't), you *MUST* get yourself a ticket for next year. It's the best money you'll ever spend on yourself.
As briefly as I can, the highlights for me this year were...
Amit Pitaru demonstrating how an art to sound experiment can give entirely different results when the general public are let loose on it. Fabio Sasso on overcoming self doubt and how it can help your art. Dominic Wilcox teaching us to broaden our minds with examples from his Variations on Normal project (see video below). Stefan Sagmeister, who received the first and only standing ovation I've ever seen at a conference - a truly inspiring individual.
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Brad Frost who filled his hour with an almost stand-up like talk called "Death to bullshit", discussing everything that's wrong with the internet and UI design. The amazing artist John Burgerman talking about creativity, inspiration and in his own words "screwing things up and trying to be happy".
The wonderful Erik Spiekermann giving us a frank and inspiring talk about the lessons he's learned over 40 years of a design career. Dan Rubin, a speaker that I purely stumbled on because I was too hungover to move, giving an incredible motivational lecture. And last, but certainly not least, James Paterson - I saw him speak at Flash on the Beach a few years ago and was blown away by his work. Something about his story and the way that he draws and animates set off familiarity alarm bells in my head. He was the first speaker to truly inspire me at FOTB and so I was over the moon when I heard he would be closing Reasons 2013. My only regret was that I didn't take the opportunity this time to say hi to him before I left. Next time I hope!
Reasons to be Creative. It's a conference, it's a festival and it's bottled inspiration. Get your arse there in 2014. It's the best European creative conference by far and also one of the most reasonably priced, so you have absolutely no excuses!