05 April 2012

"I believe education should be free"

That's what Prof. Eike König, co-initiator of HfG Offenbach's After School Club said when I thanked him for the opportunity to get out of my house and converge with some design people to see some cool talks yesterday—all for free. I just read about it online, and all I had to do was register. He and Alexander Lis and their team of students did an amazing job of organising this engaging event.

So while my friends back home get to attend Design Indaba or the Toffie Pop Culture Conference and Festival, I could finally console myself by getting on an early train to join the hipster generation during their week of workshops—only open to students—so that I could see the presentations by the workshop leaders. There was also plenty of time to talk to the presenters, which seemed like a good idea since I obviously knew no-one there and wasn't sure how to relate to the German girls and boys... bearded boys.

Here is my selection of some of the speakers with links to their various endeavours. Once again big up to them and all the organisers—I had such a good time and feel thoroughly educated.

The Haw-lin team of Nathan Cowen and Jacob Klein talked about wanting to pin collaboratively, before Pinterest. They didn't put it in these terms, you can blame me for that. Their site is a moodboard of their collective interests, and of course they're cooler than us regular pinners, because after some nudity-related hosting issues they switched to Cargo, so they can post freely. I have to say I often want to pin something and then I look at the picture again and realise it has a boob or something. Unfortunate.

Their efforts and responses to it eventually lead them to launch Haw-lin Services. They showed some interesting work, including what they did in collaboration with Velour. You can see more on their site.

London-based Fraser Muggeridge organised his talk according to some interesting working situations with artists, like promoting an exhibition when the artwork isn't finished, or doing a graphic design execution for an artist's idea. I especially enjoyed their studio project of "48 new books, each unique and made up of 48 different publications designed by Fraser Muggeridge studio". You'll have to scroll around there—I would've linked you to id attributes if there were any! You can see the books, and exhibitions and the shelves that were made for them. Below, a (bearded) student is kindly modelling the book we got to page through.

The next speaker was the inspiring Stefan Marx. He started with a clip from The Simpsons, so really, we were all convinced that he was very cool right then and there. Like Bart, he's really into skateboarding, and like Bart in that particular episode, he started making and selling his own T-shirts, even though he was a teenager at the time, and we all know Bart will be ten forever. You can check out his T-shirts at The Lousy Livincompany. Four designs are currently available. He also draws for a skateboarding label.

A more recent passion project is his involvement in Smallville Records, based in Hamburg. He draws the cover art and even sometimes mans the store. Launching a record store in 2004 may sound insane, but it seems they manage to break even; if you don't count time lost while working for free. But from what he told me and what I read in the paper he gave me (thanks!), the store is something none of them would want to live without. The paper, which came out as an addition to this book, is below.

Stefan is also involved with independent publishing and zines. He's worked with Nieves and Rollo Press. His The Lousy Animals & Friends colouring book proved quite popular. And on the topic of publishing, Muggeridge mentioned Hyphen Press and Eastside Projects, that's if you don't have enough links to explore yet.

The last speaker really ended this event on a high note. Niklaus Troxler's playful body of work was a real testament to how much he loves illustration, typography, and interesting experiments. He showed us how he explored and often re-explored ideas in his posters. Many of them were for jazz musicians or events, his inspiration and passion. I couldn't find the pictures on his site, but his stage designs for a jazz festival that he used to organise were also very interesting. It does seem that all his posters ever are on there though, so be educated.

P.S. I have no objection to beards, I'm just saying they're... popular.

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