What happens when you put 8 internationally acclaimed artists and designers, not to mention mind-boggling programmers, in a room and ask them to talk about their work? You might think you would hear about lots of high brow theory and perplexing code systems. And if you thought that, you would probably be right, unless you’re talking about OFFF, the international creative conference that brings artists and designers from around the world to share their work and inspiration. I had the opportunity to attend last Wednesday’s OFFF Cincinnati at the Aronoff Center and found that just the opposite is true. In an increasingly digital world and industry, the takeaway at OFFF was a much more analog, and quite frankly, comforting approach. What I came away with is that process is king and seeds of creativity are often started from sketches and simple exploration. Now you’re talking. In fact, one of the main themes of the day from most of the speakers is that mistakes are good and often produce the best results. Sara Blake spoke about “the art of fucking up” and how she has to relinquish control to her process before she truly finds a solution. For her, failure is the only option. Failure is necessary. If you ask Jon Burgerman, a sketchbook and a pen is like a portal to another universe. Brendan Dawes spoke about how sometimes your first idea is the best and if you never go out into the woods nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin. Pretty heavy. But, the best advice of the day came from James Victore. The self-taught, independent artist and designer believes that our work, meaning our work as artists, is a gift. And if we take money out of the equation and focus on the work we want to do, the money will come. Words to live by.
OFFF didn’t end there. Friday night was the opening of ON! Handcrafted Digital Playgrounds and a talk by Joshua Davis as well as a performance by the one and only DJ /rupture. Davis creates electronically generated graphic compositions of almost unimaginable complexity and individuality and even had a piece on display for viewer participation. We couldn’t resist leaving behind a little Powerhouse “signature”.