The Reasons To conference gathers the best creatives and developers to inform, inspire, entertain, thrill and educate designers and coders that attend from all over the world. With a festival atmosphere and impressive venue, this conference is unlike anything else. Reasons To Be Creative has been running for over a decade, and includes the annual 2 day conference in Brighton in September, a 1 day conference in London in February. Having attended and worked at Reasons To for many years, the most recent event – which took place in Brighton across 6th-7th September – continued to deliver valuable insights about the creative industry. Read through my personal takeaways from this year’s Brighton conference, and find out why this kind of event is so important for creatives and developers working in agencies, studios and freelance.

Why your employees and colleagues should go to a multi-day conference.

There is a trend in London for small evening talks with 1 or 2 speakers. While this set up is still incredibly useful and certainly an easier sell to your bosses, going to a few of these a year is no match for the cathartic process of going to a 2—3 full day conference.

Multi-day conferences like Reasons To give you the opportunity to make connections with people, talk in depth about projects new and old, and learn and reflect on what you have seen and heard. Time away from work is also important: After doing so many of these events, I feel confident in saying that the time you lose from people being out of the office always pays off: New techniques, ways of working and connections lead to better work and better productivity. Well worth letting a few employees get away from their desks for a few days.

Christian Heilmann

Christian opened the conference and discussed the perils of social media and digital platforms. Digital creatives have inbuilt privileges that we can use to make social platforms better and less toxic. Learn more about his presentation here.

Takeaways: Question the status quo, just because its the standard to use newsletter pop ups, cookie notification overlays, doesn’t mean that you have to as well. Also, take a look at the Netlflix x Vox series ‘Explained

Liam Walsh

Liam’s talk expanded on his 3 minute ‘Elevator Pitch’ at Reasons To in 2017 where he showcased a voice controlled children’s iPad story book. This year he had a full session to go into detail on similar projects that are both technically complex and, well, ridiculous. A stand out example being Hot Stepper a way finding AR app where you follow a large, semi-naked cartoon man to your destination.

Takeaway: Focus on the emotional aspects of a problem. Its ok for a project to have a fun or silly outcome. It’s also fine to use older technology—you don’t always need to use the latest thing.

Liv Siddall

Liv talked about the ups and downs of landing her dream job [as Editor] at Rough Trade magazine… with no team. And no time. Oh, and no budget either.

She described some genius examples of how she produced articles and features seemingly out of nowhere. One example was having to photograph a band on a UK tour, but without any budget for a photographer or travel: She posted them a set of disposable cameras and asked them to be creative. They sent back a wonderful set of intimate photos that worked better in the magazine article than a professional shoot.

Takeaway: Your work doesn’t have to be perfect. Use the less than ideal situation with a project or a client etc to your advantage. Work with what you have.

Dan Hett

Dan also did a Reasons To Elevator Pitch a few years go and if you follow Dan on Twitter, you’ll know why his talk came with a warning of ‘challenging subject matter’. Dan works on small games with a strong focus on the emotional impact of story telling and subject matter. I’ve played the text based game ‘c-ya-laterrrr’ several times and its tough. Really tough. Dan himself is funny. He revealed the funny side of his TED talk that started with screen showing his slides breaking. All this is going to inform a larger project he’ll be working on from 2018.

Takeaway: Good can come from the worst events in life.

Seb Lester

Seb reluctantly became internet famous when videos of his hand-drawn calligraphy videos gave him more than a million Instagram followers. His talk highlighted the impact this attention had on him. He also shared the best 3 work emails he ever received, including an email from NASA and JJ Abrams.

Takeaway: Being really, really good at one thing is both valuable and personally very rewarding. The secret to attaining this? Put in many many hours of practice.

Kate Dawkins

Kate really only needs a single line of text in her company’s portfolio: she worked on the visuals for the opening and closing ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics: Wow. In fact, that’s where she rubbed shoulders with our Creative Director (Kate says hi, Darren!). That said, her work with live performance and projection mapping covers everything from the Fast and Furious to WW2 commemorations – and it’s all amazing.

Takeaway: The answers you are looking for are not always where you expect to find them.

Erik Kessels

Perfection in design is now achievable: tools are perfect and their outcomes are perfect. Now, it’s possible to avoid mistakes – but mistakes can be valuable and, for creative work, essential.

Kessels’s long career has been filled with insane ideas that are both broken and work brilliantly well, thought provoking and hilarious. He clearly has some serious persuasion skills: from branding the worst hotel in Amsterdam to printing every photo uploaded to Flickr in a 24 hour period (more than 900,000 individual photos), his work is fantastic.

Takeaway: Failure is completely OK and should be actively encouraged in the creative process. If no one hates, no one loves it.

Reasons to be Creative will be on again in Brighton 5—6th September 2019, and look out for the Reasons To 1 day London event in February 2019.

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