14 speakers, 2 days of speeches, 5 days of workshops, about 2,000 participants. Element Talks is one of the biggest design conferences in Poland. I had intended to attend that conference for a couple of years... until finally I did it - the 5th edition.
"Designers, breathe deeply" was the motto of this year's ET. From the very beginning of the conference, a clear emphasis was placed on graphic designers’ lifestyle and work. In this article I will try to tell you briefly about the speeches that I personally found most interesting and that seemed to be the most valuable ones.
Adi Binder „Searching for the Perfect Pixel”
The first speech was a great introduction to the world of design. Adi Binder, an entrepreneur and designer living in Tel Aviv, is a creator of the FIBO Design System. The FIBO system makes it easy to use the Fibonacci Sequence in absolutely every aspect of design, i.e. logos, interfaces, icons or even in interior design. Adi presented the system in 5 different forms, which he calls as follows:
- Leo, presented in the form of rectangles,
- Cesar, presented in the form of circles ,
- Paul, presented in the form of triangles,
- Bob, presented in the form of a pyramid,
- Sammy, presented in the form of squares.
Practically, the whole speech was based on the first example. In my opinion, Binder impressively presented the use of this system in a mobile application, where everything was perfectly subordinated to the Fibonacci Sequence, every margin, field, and button. Then he showed the system on the example of an icon in the middle of the circle. Using such a system in every project can obviously be quite burdensome, but it is a very interesting option on the way to an absolutely perfect design.
Adrian & Gidi „Finding balance”
A marriage couple that cooperates with each other professionally and runs a company together. It sounds like a good recipe for a divorce. However, they proved with their speech that together you can create great projects and complement each other. Adrian is a specialist in photography, innovation and technology, while Gidi is more artistically talented and responsible for communication with clients. All these features create, as they call it, "a creative ping-pong". By combining these skills, Adrian & Gidi's projects are a mixture of creativity and different characters that complement each other.
Bartosz Jurkowski „Together we are geniuses”
"Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”- Steve Jobs. This quotation perfectly describes a 25-minute speech by Bartosz Jurkowski, which for me personally, was the best one at Element Talks. Bartosz's passion, commitment and charisma perfectly matched the topic of a coherently functioning team, supported by the technique of theatrical improvisation. And what is theatrical improvisation? Briefly, it's a team game that teaches cooperation and listening to each other. As Bartosz describes it, the aim of the "game" is not to win or lose, but to learn to interact with each other on an equal basis. The world's largest companies, such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Disney or Audi, use improvisation techniques. Such a "game" allows you to gain trust and self-confidence in the team, but also stand back when needed. Basically, a very interesting option for all companies, especially those where technology and creativity are combined.
Łukasz Zbieranowski „Creative soup without additives”
Łukasz Zbieranowski, who runs a graphic studio "Fajne Chłopaki" (Eng. Nice Guys), shared a very interesting topic. He talked about an influence of the food we eat in general on our creativity, stress, or the work itself. He explained that stress can be divided into 3 groups: underfilling, complementary and productive, and 60% of which are underfilling. And what makes up the underfilling stress according to Łukasz? 10% are environmental factors, 20% are psychological factors and as many as 70% are nutritional factors. In moments of stress our brain likes to "snack" something sweet, not necessarily healthy, and this is supposed to be a mistake. Łukasz tried to convince us to pay a lot of attention to proper food, because to a great extent, what we eat influences our creativity, work cycle, mood, etc. An interesting subject, which everyone should approach individually.
Petra Eriksson „Compulsive drawing & creative self-care”
Another interesting speaker was Petra Eriksson, an illustrator from Stockholm, who currently lives in Barcelona. While telling her story, she addressed 7 very important aspects of the design process, which she calls as follows:
1. DO A LOT WHAT YOU LOVE
The vast majority of graphic designers chose this profession not because of finances or other material aspects, but because of their passion, and commitment, and because we simply love to do it. Design is a very broad concept, so we should focus on the things we enjoy most, whether it's designing interfaces, illustrations or 3D.
2.DON’T GET TOO COMFORTABLE
At times, graphics happen to relax too much at work, fall into some sort of stagnation and whip through design after design without any deeper analysis or passion. We should be focused on each project individually and work hard to increase our skills
3. STICK TO YOUR WORKFLOW
Our work system is also an important part of this. Each of us should have some sort of a structured work plan and we should stick to it, as it is very easy to get into chaos, especially among many projects.
4. DARE TO SAY NO
Petra also told us about saying "no", which we often forget about for fear of losing an order or a project. However, we should learn to reject some of the project proposals. Too much work can lead to fatigue and stress; consequently, our projects may not be as good as they should be.
5. KEEP EXPLORING
It is also worth trying out new things in design so as to develop creativity and new skills. We may be specialists in a given field, but checking for and trying out new projects allows us to think deeper, find more inspiration and it broadens the mind.
Cooperation and collaboration make us exchange experiences and skills, and so we complement each other. This was nicely connected with Bartosz Jurkowski's speech on the team morale. That is why, it is worth working with other graphic designers and doing projects in a team. Two Photoshops are better than one!
After finishing a design, we often open an e-mail and get down to the next design, or start looking for new orders. According to Petra, we should give ourselves some time to celebrate the end of a given project. This will give us a fresh angle on new challenges as well as motivation for the next job.
Mark Porter „How to boost your uncreativity"
Finally, I would like to mention the speech by Mark Porter, who is a publication designer, artistic director and former creative director of The Guardian, where he used to work on its redesign. Using his own portfolio as an example, he passed on his knowledge of design, mainly based on the Fibonacci system, skilfully tapping on the first speech by Adie Binder, which I describe above. In an excellent way he presented 5 stages of work, i.e. Research, Ideas, Craft, Presentation, and Critique. All these stages of work were presented in the context of designing information services and newspapers/magazines. In my opinion, it was an inspiring culmination of the most interesting speeches at Element Talks. The next year's edition is combined with the European Design Awards. We will certainly not miss it!
More photos: Element Talks