Ramblings from Las Ramblas

OFFF 2013 in Barcelona is rated as one of the best creative conferences, and not only because of the location. We went to see for ourselves.

25.07.13 | Opinions

By Marcus McCabe

Hero Blank

We dusted down our passports and made our way to sunny Barcelona for some inspiration and a little recreation.

It was OFFF, the highly regarded creative conference. It promised to be engaging and entertaining, and to ‘Feed the future’ – just our kind of event.

The ‘food’ came in the guise of a real variety of visual artists from Mexico to Scandinavia, London to NYC. A mash up of very different people, with different skills and interests, some showing commercial work for big brands, others, personal projects.

DHUB - circulating between the sessions

We rose on Thursday morning and navigated Barcelona’s beautifully decorated streets to the festival’s home, DHUB – a hangar on the outskirts of the city. A huge crowd was waiting outside the venue on the surrounding steps, sipping cervezas and gearing up for the talks. Yes, you heard that correctly, drinking alcohol pre-conference. Not very British, but everything about this event is Spanish, or Catalonian. Rather than 8.30am, the first sessions start at 11.30, with the day finishing at 10.45pm. You have to acclimatise quickly. 

Uniformers in Barcelona

The sun, the beach, the beer, the paella, they all set the scene for a very different event. The conference itself had some heavyweights from the design world; Serial Cut, North Kingdom, G Munk,  Brosmind,  David O’ Reilly,  McBess and James White (Signal Noise). The great sessions were great, and the others, were sometimes, a struggle, including the Argentinian creatives presenting in English despite a rather loose understanding of the language.

And then there was the classic mistake; a great creative doesn’t always make a good presenter!

Here are some of our favourites, with a little help from my colleague Charlie Pastor (CP).


“You will never know where you will end up unless you put it out there.”  Never a truer word said. This is James White’s philosophy on life. Our Canadian friend has been there, done it and proven that this approach to work succeeds. He delivered an emphatic account of his process, explaining his can-do attitude towards working with his heroes and achieving his design goals. The majority of his work started out as speculative self initiated projects. He’s since worked with Toyota, Universal Music, UbiSoft, Nike and MTV. (MM)


Not to be confused with Shakespeare’s tragic anti hero, McBess is actually a French illustrator. Originally from Cannes via London (where he now resides) Matthieu Bessudo is one my illustration heroes. He showcased his work, and his process, with a steady dose of humour and humility, often referring to his beautifully crafted projects as “it could have been better given more time”. Highlights included the music video for The Dead Pirates ‘CH&CH‘ (which he also wrote and performed) and his recent risqué spot for Oxfam. Beautiful. (MM)


If you’re a font geek (like me), Atipo is a dream. The Spanish studio behind typefaces such as Bariol, Cassannet and recently Salomé showcased some clever forward thinking type design and spoke of their approach to promoting them. Often giving away a weight of the new typeface for free through Twitter, asking users to simply ‘pay with a tweet’.  The icon set for Bariol is also worth a mention as it features ‘icons of icons’ including John Lennon and Ozzy Osbourne. I bow to their incredible skill. (MM)

From Form

This was one of my personal favourites. From Form’s talk focused mainly on the six minute long OFFF 2013 titles they created.

The titles drew “resemblance between 19th century explorers and today’s creatives”. It was a humbling and modest delivery by the Rotterdam-based outfit, breaking down the process from script through to sound and production. The attention to detail is absolutely incredible, the dedication and the passion that went into the piece really admirable, and it shows in the quality of their work. What was lovely about From Form’s piece was the strong focus on storytelling and the time spent on every aspect from typography, to camera moves, set design and choice of voice over. They nailed it! (CP)

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