Purpose in advertising, alive and well – Thoughts from OFFF 2023, Barcelona

4 min read
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When you’re a busy creative studio and collaborating left right and centre with other studios it can be overwhelming. We’ve felt it. Other creatives have massively over the last few years for obvious reasons. So it’s good to take time out and recharge your creative juices. We did just that last month in Barcelona for OFFF festival 2023 at the Barcelona Design Hub.

Taking time off to be with your family, taking responsibility for your client’s climate messaging and saying no to clients. It’s day one of OFF Festival and we’re already getting into topics that designers and creatives apparently feel quite strongly about.

This was a theme in the keynotes we attended, whether it be about your personal relationship with physics, spending more time with family or taking responsibility for your clients’ climate messaging – speakers didn’t shy away from difficult topics. A refreshing surprise for sure.

We flew in early from a grey, drizzly London to land in sunny Barcelona. A first time for us, excited to be attending three days of talks around animation, design, 3D, CGI and even NFTs. Beeple was mentioned at least. After a little wander around the marketplace and generally soaking up the sunshine atmosphere we got into it proper.

Our first shoutout goes to Rick Oostenbroek, whose work resonated with our enthusiasm for all things CGI. If you haven't started to weave 3D design into your creative repertoire yet, you might want to reconsider. It was a major theme at OFF.

Oostenbroek discovered his unique style during relaxed and curious exploration of Deviant Art. Today, his aesthetic has become universally recognised - just think about the artistic splashes adorning iPhone wallpapers or computer desktops.

It was fascinating to understand his creative journey and see how he evolved into an accomplished artist. He strikes a balance between catering to commercial demands and maintaining artistic integrity – which was both a point of tension and resolution for him. His process, particularly his acrylic technique involving vibrant colours, is worth a closer look. He's adept at taking simple objects from nature, distilling their essence and form, or even drawing inspiration from the colour schemes of a pair of trainers.

One intriguing facet of Oostenbroek's journey is his collaboration with other artists. By sharing his files and building a community, he's fostering a global network of creatives who are co-creating and exhibiting their work in person. He mentioned an early influential artist who, in an exciting turn of events, utilised his original Photoshop file for their own creation. It's this cycle of inspiration, collaboration and mutual growth that makes the art world so captivating.

Creatives have been questioning everything in a much deeper way than ever before

KK kicked things off by sharing an agency film featuring an office dog. This was followed by a film about KK's own coffee. It was a nice piece of storytelling that used pipes to suggest coffee was being brewed underground, with an elaborate back story about clients and coffee. You had to be there.

They also took us on a visual tour of their office interior. One of the highlights was a horse suspended from the ceiling. Equally intriguing was the custom-made wallpaper designed by Mr Bingo, which drew inspiration from Victorian patterns. This quirky detail offers a glimpse into their unconventional approach to meetings - they're not big fans. The chairs are purposefully uncomfortable to discourage long sittings!

KK employs a creative technique when handling client briefs. If a client has a rigid idea of what they want, KK likes to turn the tables by highlighting the genuine human traits and behaviours that often get overlooked in the quest for perfection. It's an approach that brings authenticity to the forefront, a value that should never be underestimated in the world of design.

All of this made us think about our own brand, about our own clients, and what we are trying to do together. It was nice to suspend commercial realities for a few days and focus on the craft. So much of this comes down to having the right strategy in place before you start, knowing where you want to go and what you want to achieve.

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