OFFF Barcelona 2014

OFFF Barcelona 2014

What I like about OFFF, apart from the fact it’s in Barcelona and about 10 minutes from the beach, is how, despite the full schedule, you can set your own pace and wander in and out as the speakers interest you. Some people have timetables to keep and people to see, whereas others like myself like to discover and be surprised. I’m not the best at knowing who’s who of the design world admittedly but that’s what I like about sitting down to watch a talk and being totally blown away. Oh and I’ve discovered that I’m really into sketchbooks. Really really into them.

It was a mixed bag this year, minus Brosmind but Joshua Davis was back (we found out he only ditched OFFF last year to work with Trent Reznor.. so he is forgiven). Title sequences and branding were by Atelier student studio Lorem Ipsum, who based them on relationships and love. Not sure if the retro look of the main ‘Turn You On’ OFFF imagery and stage sets is my thing but the title sequence was pretty nice.

Many of the speakers weren’t afraid to talk about their failures and rejected work to show the importance of perseverance and belief in yourself. There were some hilarious moments as well. With so much to take in – 15 hour-long talks daily finishing past 9pm – I’ll try to keep it as short as possible.

Day 1

The first speakers I managed to catch were Mucho, who talked about some of their work, notably the identity for the band Kostrok, identity for Falado, a classical music festival aimed at younger people, and the Phaidon/Wallpaper city guides inspired by Pantone swatches, and which they thought may have had something to do with Pantone’s subsequent products starting to appear on the market. The best thing, though, were their posters promoting the documentary Nitsa, about a nightclub with a rotating circular floor. The designs took the shape of the circle and each limited edition poster had a slightly different rotation angle.


The great Seb Lester and his British humour titled his talk Peace, Hellfire & Tits before proceeding to show intricately drawn letterforms with tit birds sitting on them, as well as beautiful calligraphy of such phrases as “Please Fuck Off Thank You”, “Twat” and “I am Shagging Your Sister”. As a type designer (notably Neo Sans, Mylius Modern and Soho font faces) he thought “in 2008 my work was everywhere but almost no-one had heard of me” and so was very excited when he saw torch-bearing Arnold Schwarzenegger wrapped in his Neo Sans font at the Vancouver 2010 olympics. Wanting to be more creative and inspired by Si Scott’s ad campaigns, Seb found his beautiful style, which speaks for itself really. He stressed the importance of finding a very good screen printer and showed some of his experiments with special finishes.





Aaron Becker mainly spoke about his movie title sequences, telling a funny story of pitching an idea to his idol, only to find out he’d already done it years previously for Passenger 57 (unbeknownst to him) as a way to talk about being humble and the positivity of sharing ideas. He discussed the inspiration behind his work on The Conjuring, 13 Sins, Clear History and Deliver Us From Evil and showed some of his low-key processes such as using acetate on projectors and pointing his DSLR at giant printouts to achieve some of his effect results. He said he really liked the horror genre as directors tended to be more experimental with title sequences.


Chip Kidd, the (self?)dubbed Meryl Streep of book design, told of his hilarious antics of trying to design the cover for a Christmas novel ‘You Better Not Cry’ culminating in a ‘kill fee’ and the use of an idea the client first deemed a problem. The author had wanted something mean, so the progression went from grumpy animals in Christmas hats to a Santa figurine with guns facing a girl figurine, which the marketing team felt was pretty suggestive. After ending the process, Chip Kidd was surprised and amused at the final cover they ended up using. He also chatted about his DC Batman comic cover collection (where DC published blank covers and he asked famous illustrators to draw on them) and his Type Directors Club book cover project, where he coloured the T, D and C letters of random newspaper pool quotes he collects. He ended his talk by sharing the story of his new mantra ‘Bitch, I don’t know your life!’, inspired by a man buying KFC. I think this man definitely has a very random brain!




Fleur & Manu (Division Paris) discussed some of their latest projects including the final music video ‘Wait’ in the trilogy series for M83, with the theme of returning to nature after waiting 1000 years. I love the nod to Princess Mononoke at 5:20!

Day 2

Day 2 saw the morning start off with children’s book illustrator Oliver Jeffers delighting us with his verbal and pictorial stories, some based on real life events (like a boy in Belfast who smuggled a baby penguin home from the zoo) while others inspired by his imaginative mind. He believes that “creativity is inspired by boundaries” and playfully reiterated that everything he does is a story with a beginning, middle and end. I really liked the series of paintings he did based on math equations after a chance meeting with a physics professor, and his 4-page mini-stories that were too small to turn into books (apparently all children’s books are 32 pages – who knew?).








I decided to check out the Open Room which was now upstairs, and after lengthy queues finally managed to catch illustrator Vincente Morillo talking about his work with closeups (yey!). His visually stunning Noir poster, Build frame piece for the 666 Frames project for Anti Denim and his beautiful Echo project for UNICEF’s femicide campaign were particular standouts. I loved his wise words that we all have reasons why we are creative and passion will keep that alive; that it is important to not put limits on imagination or creativity. “We don’t live inside the world, it lives inside us”, he said, “you cannot create more than what you are, so it is important to live your life”. So true.

Frame for the 666 Frames project, and Noir poster

666 Frames project for Anti Denim (Norway)


Lobulo, aka Francisco Javier Rodriguez Garcia, followed upstairs, the totally sweet designer and papercraft illustrator who was famous for creating paper vaginas (and told us how his mum didn’t believe when he got the project and thought it was an internet scam). I loved his Don Quijote, Clearwater, Atype and of course Paper Darth projects, and the careful and quiet craft with which he works. I also loved that he got into paper craft because he was bored one day and started playing with making things out of paper. He’s got some great videos on his site of each of his projects too.






I wasn’t sure exactly what the ball throwing machine that was set up at the Herraiz Soto & Co lecture was all about, until later when Rofa Soto said he’d fire candy out of it at the audience. He also invited everyone to his nearby studio (being from Barcelona) for a beer. Then he spoke about beauty, how it makes us happy and that when things are beautiful we like to share them more. He told us a story of when he began using Instagram and the way the interesting effects made him review the way he was composing his shots in order to make them better. The studio’s beautiful text-edit product OmmWriter was created to give us space to focus, and Notegraphy app displays text and ugly social media posts against stunning collections of illustrated letterforms by artists such as Jessica Hische, Seb Lester and Sougwen. Most of the lecture was spent showcasing these, but I didn’t mind as they were beautiful and it’s nice to see a studio making products just for that reason!






The great Danny Yount finished off the second day with his impressive motion graphics for Sherlock Holmes 2 and Iron man, and the stunning Iceland-esque landscaped Oblivion and mirrored Semi-Permanent Festival title sequences. (I was just excited because he worked on Six Feet Under titles – one of my favourite shows).

Day 3

The last day began with Lotta Nieminem, who interestingly enough started off with many different illustration styles before she and her editor decided on one for better marketability. I really liked the texture of her work and how she showed the process of building up her layers, but I wish female illustrators wouldn’t put themselves down so much (why do they do that?). I loved her web design work for Lula too.


Kate Moross, on the other hand, has confidence in spades. The little pocket rocket with a love of pizza and all things Japanese told us “inspiration is for Americans” as it puts things onto a pedestal, and how she hates Tumblr and Pinterest. She’s quite cool actually, I saw her speak once in London at a She Says event, and even then she had the colourful yet business badass presence. She described herself as a jack of all trades and someone who likes to work fast (why is that a bad thing?), and said how likes learning new technology until she’s ok at it, but then stops using it. She showed us some of her latest projects from Studio Moross, of which she’s a director (at 26!), mainly in music videos. Although I don’t like her aesthetic style so much, I love the way she infuses her life with her work and the intensity with which she jumps into projects.


The moment Kate realised she was dressed like a steak


Post Panic mainly spoke about their latest Kickstarter project, Sundays, a visually stunning dystopian sci-fi film set across 2 timezones in a world where systems have become too complex for citizens to handle and where the corporate has fused into one. A post-apocalyptic world that only survives as a copy of itself with lingering questions of what happened. I loved everything about this, from the amazing sketchbooks to the stunning logo and poster artwork (which everyone in the audience got a copy of). They showed us design breakdowns of everything in the film, from the architecture and broken buildings that had glitches from the copying, to the branding of the film’s corporation ‘Lennox’. It was also interesting to hear how they scouted locations using Google street view, then turned these into concept sketches. So far there are only trailers for the project, so I can’t wait to see the full film when they complete it.






Joshua Davis‘ energy graced the stage again this year after missing last year (to work with Trent Reznor), sharing wisdom like the importance of setting obstructions for yourself and remaining a student (“never let success get in the way of creativity”). He is still using his HYPE framework to create his visually rich pieces, and has started looping the outputs back in to distort them even more. He showed us his latest projection-based work with music videos for the band Phantogram, as well as his Facebook F8 / Diplo collaboration. “All my new work is about giving people seizures,” he said.

British design and motion studio Man vs Machine mainly discussed their ident work for UK’s More 4 channel rebrand, using mechanical ‘flippers’, as well as showing the beautiful new Xbox logo animation. They also created the idents for 4/7 channel, where the scenes were wrapped around a corner with a large split camera pan creating the effect (which they tried to recreate in the audience but I think the guy doing the panning was a bit too quick). I loved that they showed the behind-the-scenes, and a hilarious ‘dead’ version of the supermarket ident which apparently aired once for Halloween. British humour once again.


Latest Xbox visualisation

Aaron Koblin and co showcased their latest project for Arcade Fire’s song Reflektor, in collaboration with Google Creative Lab and Vincent Morisset – “an interactive short film combining physical control via mobile device and hardware accelerated video effects… the experience takes place across multiple devices and utilizes many modern browser features”. I really love seeing and hearing the behind the scenes stories of how it was developed, from the Haitian Voodoo traditions of drawn symbols to open worlds that inspired the logo, to the team’s light testing that led to the effects in the video. He was also responsible for The Wilderness Downtown project for Arcade Fire too, which used the capabilities of Google Chrome browser to create the music video. Another project he talked about near the end was a beautiful project called Unnumbered Sparks, where artist Janet Echelman created a woven sculpture suspended between buildings which had projections that users could control via their mobile phones. Human creativity is boundless, and it’s so exciting come to events like OFFF and hear what these amazing individuals are doing.






So there you go! As I said, there was so much to take in over the 3 days and I didn’t get to see everything. As a final signoff, here are some of the things I got at the market and OFFF’s own recap video.. so much hipster 😉

Adios til next year xx

52 playing cards by 52 artists


Poster prints

All artwork images and videos are sourced from the artists’ websites, except for the photographs of the OFFF screens which are my shots.