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Reasons to Conference: What Inspired Leo Learning

Introduction from Laura Booth, Art Director at LEO Learning:

The beginning of September always feels like a turning point in the year to me. Maybe it’s due to the change in seasons or because going ‘back to school’ was such a big event growing up. It often seems more like the start of something than January 1st when everything is cold and wet and miserable.

The Reasons to: conference in Brighton, being the first week in September, is a great way to start a ‘new year’ creatively. To those who haven’t heard of it before, it’s been around for the best part of 10 years in various guises. It started as ‘Flash on the Beach’ and was originally more directed at creative developers. It grew quite quickly, briefly became ‘Geeky by nature’ then found its place again as ‘Reasons to be Creative’ or ‘Reasons to:’ as it’s now written.

There are numerous digital conferences and festivals in the UK but Reasons covers a superb intersection between creativity and technology. Without sounding too cheesy: there is something for everyone.

Some of the LEO Learning Learning team headed over to the conference ready to be inspired and apply some lessons to their own work. Here’s what they came away with:

Victor Verster, Designer:

I marvelled at the work of Seb Lester, a UK-based calligrapher. His passion for letterforms got me thinking: What is the ultimate e-learning font? If even such a thing can exist, that is. And is there a significant difference in legibility and comprehensibility between serif and sans serif fonts? The data I’ve analysed suggests not, but there’s little doubt that font choice influences perception. Imagine if this paragraph were written in Comic Sans. I venture to say that you wouldn’t take it that seriously!

This is something that I will be more considerate of during initial concept labs with graphic designers.

Francesca Pillon, Trainee Digital Designer:

I was inspired by Erik Kessels and his talk about how we can all have a different approach in front of mistakes: he built his own creativity and style around the concept that mistakes are good. He celebrates the power of mistakes and shows how they can enrich the creative process.

Stefan Sagmeister’s talk also stayed with me. It was on the subject of beauty and how important it is nowadays when we are surrounded by so much functionality. Beauty is a tool to make things work better and it is part of what it means to be human.

Laura Booth, Art Director:

I was super excited to hear that Jessica Hische was speaking this year. I’m big fan, not only of her lettering work, but her ethos in general is really cool. Her talk was inspirational and useful – it’s great to have that balance. Being inspired is amazing but can be overwhelming. As she said in her talk: there is a point at which you think your whole life is bad because you could be doing so much more.

She talked mainly about the importance of having a process. Partly like ours – but more like a creative process.

I thought it was interesting that she mentioned ‘research as part of your lifestyle’. This means keeping ideas flowing all the time so that when your project starts you have things to draw from which will be from different areas rather than looking things up which are similar to what you are creating. I feel inspired to experiment and go further.

Jenny Rolfe, Developer:

I went to a talk called ‘Welcome to the UFO people’ by Martin Hollywood and almost immediately bought myself an arduino with an aim to make some projects at home. An arduino is an open-source electronics platform with which I am making a squirrel frightener that’ll take photos of their shocked furry faces. I’m also linking it to a game I’m making, so that when users complete levels something will happen in the real world; for example, a light goes on on my desk.

A large part of the talk was about persuading your employer to do the fun stuff and follow technology, so I think a moodle that links to a scoreboard in the client’s office which displays the user with the highest score or similar is a possible next step. Now all I need to do is subtly bring up the possibilities to the sales team.

Ed Dickens, Front-End Developer:

I went to a talk from Josh Davis and Mario Klingemann – both very different developers but both from a time on the conference circuit where developers would stand up and talk about code.

Mario is a measured and consummate presenter, blowing your mind with logic and taking things to their (il)logical conclusion, probably several dozen depths of iteration deeper and more challenging than you could ever take an idea. By steep comparison, Josh Davis is a force of nature; he blows your mind by shouting and playing loud music. And making some deeply moving graphics too.

Both are superstar programmers (if that isn’t something I have just invented). We are not worthy.

Thomas Gamble, Animator:

I was inspired by the conference and it reminded me that everybody has to start somewhere before they get to where they want to. I always felt like these famous artists always started off that way, but Ben Newman reminded me that you have to work your way to the top, hard work is so important, and you shouldn’t feel so bad about having worked in retail for X amount of years!

Gavin Strange was also a spectacle! He was so energetic, it got me all pumped up seeing him talk. He makes it look so easy to just get home and do your own thing, but it did get me thinking, I am trying to sketch and paint a lot more in my own time and commit time to my own animation projects.

As a whole, Reasons To made me reflect on my own experiences and made me feel quite honoured to work in a similar industry to such humble and lovely people. It was an inspiring few days and I’m really glad I went.

Our creative team are passionate about learning and love to be inspired. We’re always on the lookout for people that fit the bill; why not take a look at our careers page.

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