OFFF Barcelona took place 5-7 May 2022 and we had the pleasure of attending among industry leading designers in digital, graphic, interactive, motion picture and more. OFFF Barcelona is the largest showcase and window of contemporary visual creativity and design. Over a decade ago OFFF was born as a Festival but today OFFF is a way of understanding creativity and a way of life.
The festival included a series of keynote presentations, workshops, showcases and trends. World-known industry legends like David Carson, GMUNK, Wieden+Kennedy, Malika Favre have been presenting on stage alongside other legends like: Vallee Duhamel, FOREAL, PORTO ROCHA and STATE Design and many others (although the ones enumerated here are the ones that really impressed me the most).
After seeing the OFFF website built on Editor X, as an Editor X partner studio, I was very keen to participate and see what the event is about. Here are some highlights and conclusions I was able to draw based on my personal opinion:
1. A Move to NFT, Metaverse, AI Driven Digital Art and more.
There were several discussions about developing digital art for NFTs and selling it online or at in-person auctions. Anyone who was initially dubious of NFTs, including myself, is now almost forced in to adapt and take this seriously. For us, this opens up a whole new realm of possibilities in the world of interactive design. How can we make the most of it? Trading platforms, NFT shows, NFT design, auction websites? Or can a web design become an NFT in itself? NFTs are not just related to mixed media art or graphic design, but also to a new style of art made exclusively for NFTs - and this is something worth thinking about very deeply.
It seemed to me that everything is still a bit hazy - not even the few colleagues I was talking to at the event, who were clearly more knowledgeable with NFTs & the metaverse, could pinpoint exactly what they are all about. I suppose everything is still happening so fast, and this could be a good time to jump on early and be part of the movement.
2. Great for Graphic & Motion Design. Some Content on Interactive Design Would Have Been Great
As an interactive design studio, I was eager to learn about the latest trends and concepts in web design, web development, and user experience / interface design. I still believe that web design is very much an art form, and it should have received more attention at this year's OFFF. Many art forms are brought to life with the help of interactive design. Why not invite more speakers and create a programme with more focus on interactive at next year's OFFF?
This could encourage graphic and motion artists to collaborate more with studios like us, and rather than use a layered design strategy, we could learn to build together from the ground up.
3. Lesson Is "Don’t Take Everything Too Seriously"
I was impressed when I heard big design studios and designers sharing their startup stories: “We started for fun” “At first, we didn’t really know what we were doing” “We said yes and figured it out how later” “We decided to start small and think big” - all this led me to believe that everything is possible. It makes no difference whether you attended art school or not, or whether you have previous agency experience. What counts the most is creativity and an eye for design. And inspiration doesn't have to come from exquisite sources; it usually comes from the simplest things.
Prior to hearing these talks, I frequently felt small, intimidated, and unprepared when we took on a bigger client or project. I now have a lot more faith in what we know, what we do, and how valuable our work is.
4. We Need More Networking Opportunities
I had no idea what to expect as it was my first time attending OFFF, even if I had gone through the schedule ahead of time. It was incredible to see so many designers together sharing insights on their creative processes and experiences. This was truly inspirational and delightful to be a part of.
If there was one thing to improve, I wish there were more networking opportunities at OFFF Barcelona. Perhaps some events dedicated to designers connecting with other designers? A significant amount of our business comes from industry referrals: a large agency requires assistance, a graphic designer refers us to a client, motion graphic designers seek collaboration, and so on.
As a result, I would have loved to be able to network more easily. If OFFF gathered so much talent and industry colleagues in one place, why not include some networking events as part of next year's agenda?
5. The Market Is Still Growing and So Are We.
Seeing so many designers in one place made me think - does the world need another design studio? But the truth is that yes, the world does need more design professionals, as demand continues to grow and expectations rise.
Projects become larger and more sophisticated. Digital continues to coexist with print, and chances are that they will work together even closer. There is an almost endless amount of work available and, as businesses grow, startups scale and as long as digital stays omnipresent, there will always be a need for design studios like us.
So for anyone still debating whether it's worthwhile to startup a new design studio, my advice is: take the leap, it's absolutely worth it.
OFFF Barcelona was a fantastic event and it was a pleasure to attend on behalf of AST & Partners. I was filled with inspiration and had the chance to listen to interesting talks and learn from the very best. It also encouraged me to go back to the studio with fresh new ideas to design and innovate.
On the other hand, the slight absence of content & programme related to interactive design, together with the lack of organised networking opportunities, makes me hope that next year's OFFF Barcelona could be even better.
If you are considering joining next year in March 2023, I definitely recommend you go. Tickets will be available soon on the offf.barcelona official website.