Design & Freelancing

9 things we learned at OFFF 2016 that changed ourselves as creatives.

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This is the second article after MOWE’s break of two months without new content and I’m happier than ever with what we learned in this journey.

Even though I’ll be talking about the event, all I want is for you to capture the essence of what I learned and how it can impact your own creations.

What is OFFF

Sorry, the best way to explain what’s OFFF is to actually quote their website description:

OFFF is a community inviting all those who are eager to learn to participate and get inspired by a three-day journey of conferences, workshops, activities and performances.

It’s a combination of Offline/Online designers, Motion Designers, Thinkers, Sound Designers, Graphic Designers, Theorists, Developers, Professionals, Students… Putting the titles aside, OFFF is made for the curious.

OFFF takes place once a year in Barcelona, with some special editions around the world during the rest of the year. This was their 16th edition, my first time and Felippe’s third time since he worked, lived and studied in Barcelona while he did his Master’s in Motion Graphics Design at BAU.

He loved so much his past experiences that he brought the idea of going to the event together this year. I loved it and the tickets for next year are already bought. We even convinced our friends from Relampago to go ;)

Ok, let’s cut to what’s interesting.

What we learned from the event

Many of the talks somehow talked about the same thing through different points of view. I’ll be sharing more details about some of the talks that were more relevant to me.

Find your creative process

Let’s start with the great talk from Rama Allen, Executive Creative Director at The Mill New York. It was a really interesting talk about not losing your inner child and understanding your own creative process.

I always thought the process as something more related to how the steps of a project relate to each other in order to produce a final output. My focus was more on the final product and not on the birth of the idea, as showcased by him. In his talk, he focused on the importance of understanding your own process when creating. What allows you to come up with different concepts? What helps you to view things from a different perspective?
In his case, he pointed out that both music and observing the world around him were huge on his process. Every project for him had a playlist that put him in the right mood for that specific project. He also gave a great example of walking alone one day at night, seeing how the lights reflected on the building until he saw a party at the top of a building, which gave him a great idea for a project he was doing.

The search for your voice is a need

Having your own voice is crucial. It’s what define your work for the general public and clients. Having your voice will not only allow you to experiment more with your creative outputs but it’ll bring the right clients for you. The ones that will value the quality of your work and that will ask you to create for them on your own style.

Find a way to incorporate what you love in the work you do.

James White from Signalnoise gave a great talk about his life as a creative. His childhood and passion for games and the 80’s are a huge influence on his work.

One of the things he pointed out was that only later in his life he noticed that he has been following the same style of representation since he was a child, drawing in his school’s notebook.

This example is great to represent that your love should incorporate something that you love and that represents you. It not only helps to find your artistic voice but also creates a deeper connection between you and your work.

Meet, Share and Learn

People at events are there to meet friends, meet random people, share their case studies and their experience. At the end of the day, even the best designers in the world are learning from others on every new conversation.

Don’t be afraid to interact with others, to teach or to ask for guidance. Everyone wins from this kind of interaction.

Don’t be afraid

Being afraid is a huge sign of lack of confidence. If you trust in yourself and your work, you are more likely to be successful in everything you do.

Creativity is pushing the limits and by doing that you may eventually make mistakes, but you should never take then as a failure. They are learning opportunities and the best creatives actually breath them.

Experiment. Experiment. Experiment.

What is design without practice? Everything we do, from Design theory to software, ends up being practical. Finding alternate passions and doing experiments on your own is a great way to:

  • Get used to failure.
  • Evolve your own skills.
  • Maintain your curiosity about the world.
  • Know more about the people that work with you.
  • Know more about yourself.

Break the walls with side projects

Clients have objectives, budgets, and restrictions. But you don’t actually have any of those. Everything on a side project can be changed to fit a budget, objective, and restriction. There are no limits to your creativity and you should benefit from that detail.

Al Mendili made a great point about it during his presentation where he showcased several side projects where he pushed his limits, resulting on either successful or half-successful projects. It didn’t matter because, at the end of the day, any experience was a learning experience.

The final output isn’t the only thing you must care about. Living the process and having joy on it is essential to allow you to overcome your fears and make more incredible projects.

Make connections

Events, right? The basic purpose of an event like this is to make connections and network. I know it’s hard but give your best to try and to people.

Don’t limit yourself to the talks. Interact with everything and everyone around you. I myself have a story about that. I’m an introvert and I didn’t know anyone at the event, but I found my way and met some great people there.

I even participated in something crazy – A live review of my portfolio streamed to the whole world through Adobe’s Twitch channel. It sounds scary, right? Now, imagine that the review is with no one but both Timothy Goodman and Al Mendili from Digital kitchen. Seriously, how can I say that the event wasn’t incredible?

The event was more than a simple event, it was a full experience and I’m really happy about that. We arrived back in Brazil anxious to work again and to practice everything we learned through the amazing talks we saw.



I’ll leave you with not only the huge takeouts listed above but with the cute Little OFFF Dude – the character created for OFFF’s Main Title – and second video showing a little bit the space and the dimension of the event.


I hope I can see you there next year. Just send us a message and we’ll love to meet you!


PS: Our tickets are already bought ;)

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