Over a two day period in May, the WorkingMouse and Codebots design teams had the opportunity to attend The Design Conference
This aptly-named event happens once a year in sunny Brisbane and gathers an impressive array of creative professionals across multiple disciplines. Our venue was Brisbane Powerhouse and the keynote speakers included such prestigious alumni as brand designer Chris Doyle, calligrapher Maria Montes and Prue Jones, a designer with a passion for AI and robotics.
We've welcomed some new faces so this conference was an excellent way for the team to learn more about each other's interests and creative practices. Our other objective, aside from soaking up as much inspiration as we possibly could, was to talk with our fellow designers about Codebots and identify how this exciting new platform could be used to help others within the industry. More on this later.
The first speaker of the day was Maria Montes (who was my personal favourite). A straight-talking Spanish woman by way of Catalonia, her career had spanned work as a brand designer and UX designer. Her first and primary love, however, is calligraphy and lettering.
She has created an ornamental typeface called Green Fairy, which is now being exhibited, along with others, in her first exhibition in Spain. I appreciated Maria's obvious creativity and dedication to her craft.
In a breakout session (sort of like a workshop) with Maria I noted that she used traditional tools like gouache, watercolor and ink brushes with modern chisel-nib markers to produce her outstanding lettering examples.
The next speaker, Jackie Dewar
, transitioned from designer to art director for McCann in only four years. In today's job market, with fears of automation and the future of work all the rage, it's certainly inspirational to hear that you don't have to be in the industry for over a decade to attain a coveted senior creative role!
Jackie's resume could not have been more different from that of the Low Bros
, a pair of German siblings who take graffiti and street art to the next level. Their geometric animal illustrations take a great deal of inspiration from 80s cartoons, pop culture and hip-hop. A recurring image of a wolf in sunglasses and punk jackets appears frequently in their work.
The Low Bros' technical skill, as well as their ability to run 20 mins overtime, was incredible! Eventually, host Matt Haynes had to come on stage to persuade them to wrap up.
Another typographer appeared soon after, a Scotsman named Craig Black
, whose beautiful calligraphic creations now adorn many of the stores and products produced in his hometown. He spoke openly about his battles to get his career off the ground, finally relocating to Glasgow to realise his dream of running his own design studio. Another optimistic message for the crowd.
Prue Jones (creative director of Fjord
) inventively used a real-time survey site to collect information from the audience. She then used the collected information to structure her presentation.
Her focus was very much on technology, advances in artificial intelligence, ethics and what's called the 'living brand'.
What was clear from start to finish of #TDCBNE18 is (1) senior creative professionals are demanding more technical aptitude from their designers and (2) there's a big payoff for integrating new or improved technologies into your workflow.
For example, designers can use tools like InVision to create digital prototypes of apps at speeds comparable to paper prototyping, but with much higher fidelity. Or something like Evernote's Skitch to record and share sketches.
For designers the world over, expectations are rising, but so too are the capabilities of the tools at our disposal. Tools such as Codebots.
Codebots is democratising software development. It's a platform enabling non-developers to enter the development space with the help of AI-powered bots.
Codebots won't turn you into Steve Wozniak (cofounder of Apple), but if you're a designer with a an idea and a myriad of skills in related areas, such as branding and user experience (UX), Codebots helps you get further on your own. For some app ideas, no coding experience will be required! And for others, Codebots makes planning, building, testing and releasing your app easier.
This was super exciting for my fellow designers, who would rather focus on creating than writing line after line of code hunched over a computer. Code is important, but it's not our passion.
On the second day of the conference, having arrived a tad earlier than the rest of my group, I got to talking with a pair of freelance designers. They mentioned that many of their clients were interested in creating apps but, as designers primarily trained for print and branding, they were unable to cope with the technological barriers of entry.
They even had their own ideas for apps but, not having the time or patience to learn a programming language, were holding back from experimenting.
Codebots would be an ideal solution for creative professionals of this ilk, as it allows anyone to enter the development space without the steep learning curve typically associated with this industry. Once on the platform, people can experiment and let their imaginations run wild.
After 2 days of outstanding talks, workshops and chatting with fellow designers, we were a healthy mix of tired and inspired. We're going to bring the same inspiration and creative spark to everything we do here at WorkingMouse and Codebots, and one day, who knows? Maybe one of the UX alumni will win 'Best Speaker' award at the next design conference.