On the last weekend of April (23.04-24.04), we had pleasure to attend really interesting event – Element Talks, taking place in Warsaw former printery, where for two days, enthusiasts of graphic design had chance to broaden their horizons.
This year Element Talks moved from Poznań to Warsaw. Also the name of this event has been changed. It used to be called Elementarz Projektanta. It is because of the fact that after gaining a lot of great reviews, girls behind this project decided to open it to a broader audience and also foreign (english) speakers. Speaking about people behind this project, the whole event was organized by two amazing girls, Olga Rafalska and Paulina Kacprzak. Conference gathered community of beginners as well as more experienced designers and let both learn something new about trends and tendencies that run the business. Apart from attending lectures, participants could take part in workshops which took place during and before the conference. Moreover, during simulation of job interviews, hosts gave designers chance to meet in person some representatives of top Polish design studios and agencies and also land a job.
This year, main subject of Element Talks was cooperation in its broadest sense – with individual clients, big corporations or just with colleagues in the office. Lectures’ flow was divided into two separate stages. The smaller one was intended for experts. Additionally speeches had labels (for experienced and beginners), which helped audience choose talks that fit their knowledge best. However, in my opinion, this division didn’t really matter – frequently lectures addressed to beginners turned out to be interesting for more experienced colleagues too.
One of such lectures was absorbing talk by Michał Łojewski, co-founder and creative director of White Cat Studio. It gave us an idea of how the designing process and leading the studio looked in the noughties. Moreover, he shared a few tips on how to participate in the tenders and what rules should we follow to play the fair game.
Another lecture relating to magic formulas of cooperation with big companies was amusing speech by Joanna Zabawa. Basing on her wide experience (i.a. as a designer at PZU). Joanna prepared a quick walk through a successful liaison that included starting, maintaining and ending collaboration. I believe Joanna’s hints were very eye-opening for designers taking first steps into the world of complex projects and big brands. For sure she gave audience the view not only how to work to make great designs but also what to do to leave great impression and be re-invited to work on next projects.
During first day of Element Talks we could also meet Roman Łoziński from Deloitte. Being in the business for years, he let us know how advertising agencies work on Polish market and what should be taken into consideration when planning our career. Roman was really on point:
“Everyone has started with banner resizing – deal with it. But if it’s everything that you can do at work – run as quickly as possible and find a place worth giving all your efforts, learn and simply have fun”.
One of the best speeches during Element Talks was certainly lecture by Irene Pereyra and Anton Repponen – amazing graphic designers from Brooklyn. Talking about founding their own business, they overview a few splendid case studies to point out that being digital designer doesn’t have to mean spending hours using Photoshop and if your project has the deadlock there are a lot of ways to stimulate your creativity. Experience that Anton&Irene shared with us, showed, that running your own studio isn’t easy. It includes a lot of ups and downs. But when you’re open to meeting new people, getting knowledge and hard working, the top is within your reach.
Second day of conference started with great talk by Zuzanna Skalska who highlighted how openness to trends and following changes in technology and environment is important for young designers. Being Head of Trends at 360inspiration and teaching students of Technical University of Eindhoven, Zuzanna has been analysing current tendencies for companies for years now. Great lesson for designers who are still looking for their niche!
After Zuzanna’s speech we had a chance to sing with Rotterdam’s Dumbar Studio. Beside sharing Design Rhymes and their voice talent, Liza Enebeis and Wouter Dirks showed us couple of projects from wide Dumbar’s portfolio, including commercial and non-profit realizations. Being multicultural studio, they attract talented individuals from around the world. That kind of policy has big influence on diversity and vibrant style of their works.
Michał Śliwiński, founder and CEO of Nozbe, gave us a few tips on how to increase quality of our work through efficient time management. Leading team of a dozen people with no stationary office, he had to master time management. It worked out thanks to a few golden rules that Michał shared with us. One of them: if you can do something in two minutes, don’t postpone it – is definitely worth implementing!
Bruno Selles creative director for Vasava – design studio based in Barcelona – along with his team, he developed projects ranging from branding, custom typography, illustration to interactive design and animation. Designs, that Vasava created for brands like Nike, Adobe, FC Barcelona or Washington Post certainly do reflect unusual style and passion for the craft, that are main studio values.
What can be improved
Although the whole conference was hosted at the highest level, I believe there are still a couple of things that could be improved to make it even better next year.
Changing the venue and organizing such a big meeting was for sure huge challenge. Catering area was definitely too small for so many participants. Food truck corner had only three stands, that were not able to handle all hungry designers. Similarly, queues for the morning coffee and snack were a little bit too big. But it was just a small inconvenience.
Regarding lectures, organization was perfect but it would be cool to have quick Q&A sessions with speakers after their talk. Of course every interested in digging deeper into subject could talk with lecturer in the conference room but I think that quick public discussion would be an extraordinary thing.
I was a little disappointed by the Expert stage that turn out to be Sponsors’ stage. Of course it’s understandable that sponsors can have their own Lecture Area and I’m completely OK with that. But in my opinion expert stage talks were mostly focused on promoting their products and services. Unfortunately sponsors forgot how to interspace advertising with the design-oriented talks.
Despite minor drawbacks, Element Talks was a professionally held event that had something to offer for every design lover. Participants could spent some great time while learning and be part of an amazing community. Famous lecturers shared with audience good piece of know-how and experience to use in their future projects and careers. I am really looking forward to seeing how Element Talks will look next year. Surely I will take part in this outstanding event again and I encourage you to do the same.