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Friday, 10 May 2013

agIdeas International Design Conference 2013

agIdeas 2013. Here are some snippets of inspiration from a selection of speakers at the agIdeas conference in Melbourne. Another successful and well organized event. For all photos check out TYP3D coverage here: agIdeas Photos  
agIdeas, for those who haven't gone before it is a week long design conference with a 3 day design forum, business breakfast, secondary school forum, primary school program, design workshops, studio visits, exhibitions. www.agideas.net
Neville PageCharacter concept artist/designer Neville Page (USA) kicked off agIdeas 2013, with an insightful presentation showing his working processes, general tips of creatives and some exciting clips from the blockbuster films he has worked on. These include Star Trek, Avatar, Tron Legacy, Watchmen, Prometheus and Green Lantern.  
He spoke about the fundamental importance of reading books and practicing drawing skills to get creative juices flowing, and also about the joys of collaborating with other talented individuals like famous 3D-whiz Alex Alvarez, and animation studios like Weta. They have often helped put Page's amazing creations into animated form, bringing them to life. Neville also showed a few basic motion tests of his own, made in 3D sculpting software 'Zbrush', but explained that most of his focus is on a character's cosmetics and mechanics - including detailed studies of various animal muscle and bone structures. 
Much like his Zbrush sculpting, his drawing skill is out of this world, and he illustrated how he went about injecting emotion and humour into the weirdest of alien characters. Symmetry was also an important theme as it so often is with characters. Many of his designs never made it to the big screen, but of course that never dampened his passion for what he does: "that's pretty much what my job is; create stuff that never gets used. But that's OK."
Andrew AshtonAndrew Ashton, a Sydney-born graphic designer, is now based in Melbourne and founded Studio Pip n Co ten years ago. With twenty years in design he spoke about his path; about work, art and life.  
Andrew emphasised the importance of photography to him, and how it inspired his design. He has often used photo-manipulation techniques, either using his own photos or collages of found-material.He described himself as 'that weird guy taking photos of cracks in the pavement and power poles". And good on him for it - Andrew has clearly used such seemingly banal everyday objects as base geometric lines and shapes to create something new from. 
Keeping a journal has always been important to Ashton also, and he proved it by comparing his journal and work of 25 years ago vs. his journal today. Andrew spoke of the importance to him as a designer of being an Australian, and how he has referenced it in much of his work (like his Koala phase), and about the brilliant Melbourne market culture which inspired him to found the Melbourne Design Market.
Nadine ChahineMuch of Nadine Chahine's (ArabicType.com) presentation was about her Arab and Middle Eastern heritage; the culture and her love for the language and typography, which is so calligraphic in nature. She also talked about her home country Lebanon, which while being small, is now a rapidly growing cosmopolitan place led by the younger generation, in contrast to its past and ongoing political struggles.  
To Nadine politics are part of life, and she had no trouble attempting to explain her political outlook to the audience, and how politics even play a big role in her work as a typographer. As an example, she designed an entirely new, powerful typeface for a major Lebanese newspaper, which was a huge part of their transformation and survival. They relaunched using the typeface to spell out a phrase meaning "the mountain that cannot be moved by the wind". 
Nadine spoke of challenges she faces as a designer like technology vs tradition, and simplicity vs complexity, especially with the sculptural forms of Arabic typography. Its beautiful calligraphic traditions mean it can sometimes be slow or tricky to read without careful thought put into ways to modify it in the right way. 
Herman Zapf is one legendary German typographer Nadine has worked with, but she has also designed an Arabic version of the famous Frutiger, among others. Currently she is working on the Arabic typeface for Sony's international/universal type collection called 'Sony SST'.
DebaserAaron Hayward is one half of Australian design duo Debaser, and he presented a lot of their beautiful work on music album covers and posters. He gave a glimpse of some of their working process on two case studies in particular, being work for bands Kiss Chasey and Cold Chisel. 
Much of the presentation was also about the special relationship between music and its accompanying artwork. Aaron made the point that to be iconic the image needs to connect with the music over time, not just at the time of release. It needs to be unforgettable, and unchangeable - he used the example of Nirvana's 'Nevermind', which is never released with a different cover and probably never will be, because they are so synonymous with one another. 
Music needs marketing and a visual representation of the artist, and according to Alex this will always be the case, so he does not think album art or posters will die off as the digital age advances onwards.
John Crawford (Photographer, NZ)New Zealand photographer John Crawford's presentation was a light and entertaining. Crawford very early on made the point that he is blessed to work with light. Along with finding and using great light, to John photography is really about capturing moments in time. 
In a very motivating section for any creator, John employed the audience to have passion, inspiration and desire in all that they do. "Find something seemingly impossible and do the project" was a great message. 
Of course he showed much of his amazing photography work, particularly his "aerial nudes" series taken from helicopters. John also pointed out the importance of the internet in showcasing his work and to get people to discover even his older work now, and then he made the point that even an iPhone can take a great photo if the person taking it has a story to tell, an interesting scene and processes it well. He even ran a fun little 30second portrait competition, for the entire audience to take a photo of the person next to them and email it to him immediately for judging later in the day.

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