There’s an analogy I like to use when explaining client work to my students. I call it the “Wedding Pie Analogy”. Imagine for a moment that you’re a baker and you get asked by a bride-to-be to make a wedding cake. She tells you that the theme colours for the wedding are going to be fuchsia and violet. Your reaction to this is that typical wedding cakes are boring and a fuchsia and violet wedding cake is ugly and impossible. You get the idea to make rhubarb pie (let’s say pies are very fashionable at NYC weddings this year).
To the nearly 100 of you that attended the sold-out Draplin event – thanks. Really hope he dropped some knowledge that landed square on all of your faces. For those that missed the talk, that’s a bit of a bummer. But as a quick re-cap, Draplin talked a lot about making shit happen for yourself. He talked about doing good work for good people. He talked about saying ‘yes’ a little more than saying ‘no’. One highlight included answering a question about ‘showing bad work.’ The answer: “Don’t”. What a guy. I packed him up and sent him off on his way the following Saturday with a hug and a promise that we’d see him again. Follow his escapades on his site. Thanks to all who helped out, particularly the kind hearted and talented folks at Northern Army.
And we’re putting on another event. Well, co-sponsoring one. On May 16 at Hub Ottawa (yep, same spot as the Draplin talk) Apartment 613 and the Ottawa Creative Collective are presenting a panel discussion about graphic design in our government town. The talk will feature a brief intro by yours truly – mainly because I love hearing the sound of my own voice – and then we’ll hear from Sara Roncarelli from Fifty, Ian Rapsey from the Greater Good, and Ryan Anderson from Northern Army. The panel will be moderated by Mr. Ryan Saxby Hill from Apt613.
Find more details on bookface.
I was a 20 year old studying advertising in college, ready to get my career started. I had done well for myself, winning a couple awards and I actually enjoyed learning about the history and writing the ads and art directing and all that nonsense. However, there was a giant elephant-sized amount of BS that kept hovering around. In order to make a name for myself – and in order for any of the students to do the same – we had to move to Montreal, Toronto, or Vancouver. This sentiment was shared by many of the profs throughout the school. So I bought into it.
I split. I lived and worked in Toronto and then headed West with the intentions of making it big. I kept working hard, trying to establish my name and just do good work (that’s always been, and always will be, my goal). But I missed home. Not in that “I miss my Mommy” kind of way either. I missed Ottawa. I missed the culture. And I was through with believing that you to live in one of the three major cities in order to be seen and heard.
For years I’ve admired the work of the AIGA. The professional organization for designers in America has an incredible amount of local chapters and was constantly trying to up the ante for designers and showcase their amazing work. I have my own views on the RGD but I’ll keep my trap shut. Just let me say that I don’t feel the need to fork out an exorbitant annual fee just so I can call myself a graphic designer.
Once I made it back home and settled into an agency, the wheels slowly creaked into motion. Brett Tackaberry and I had a sit down, discussing the beginnings of a local meet-up for designers – inviting talented people in our city to gather and talk about making the city better through design. We wanted to showcase the best work this city had to offer and start waving our flag a bit more. That hadn’t happened since the ADA’s existed. And we had bigger ideas.
So we got down to work. Our first meet-up in March of 2011 brought out seven, and we sat and talked about what this could be, where it could go, what could happen. The Blackhole Sessions became monthly meetings for designers, developers, and other creatives just looking for a drink and discussion. Our group slowly grew on Facebook from month to month, and every session brought out new faces.
All the while, though, we – being Brett and I – knew that we had to do more. I pitched the idea of the OCC – essentially taking hints and cues from the AIGA and bringing it into Ottawa. Organizing speakers and other events, taking part in community activities, and giving us a platform to showcase the great work that designers in our city are churning out. Encouraging everyone to do better.
We’ve enlisted the help of others, with Amie Beausoleil stepping up and helping with some much needed admin help. And now we’re here. Over a year later. Our group is a couple members away from hitting 300 on Facebook. We have a great speaker session coming up with Aaron Draplin (which sold out in a week and a half), and we’re slowly collecting the best work that exists in the area.
But why? I can only speak personally here, so I will. I just want to do good work. My initial goal in starting this community was completely selfish. I wanted to talk about fonts and vectors and other cool shit that exists out there and bring it home. I wanted to find people who were as passionate about this business as I was – and it hasn’t been easy, but there are some that exist. The big cities exist and that’s fine – go work there if you want. This is my fucking hometown, though. I know that talent exists here and I want the kids who’re studying in school to understand that having a different postal code won’t make you a better designer. Putting in the time and effort does.
Just because your business card says you’re a designer doesn’t mean shit. It really doesn’t. There is a passion that has to exist, and those are the people we want involved here. Sure, you need the work/life balance. But you shouldn’t be calling this work. We’re fucking lucky to be doing what we do. THAT’S why we started the OCC. Not to put our noses up at clients because we know the difference between Arial and Helvetica. But to educate clients. To educate ourselves. To educate our city.
That’s why I fight, at least. And I’m not letting up anytime soon.
The OCC and Northern Army are pleased as punch to present: Aaron James Draplin of Draplin Design Co. (DDC).
Born and bred in the Midwest United States and currently holed up in the odd mecca that is Portland, OR, the “Junior Sasqualogist”, “Breaker of Hearts”, and “Lover of All Things Bicentennial” has signed on the dotted line and will be making his way to Ottawa on April 19, 2012.
The candle that burns at both ends eventually goes out. One of Ottawa’s most creative and hardworking firms shut its doors more than five years ago, and then what happened? What happened to the supposed heyday that existed? The booze-fuelled awards shows? Where’d everybody go?
I’m a stickler for design history. And what could be more important than it’s history in our own backyard. I want to fill in some holes. Figure out the path we’ve taken to get to where we’re at now. This is only the start. I hope to add to this piece as comments show up, but here’s what I was able to dig up.
Just across the bridge, you’ll find boatloads of talent at 406-B Alexandre-Taché in Gatineau. That’s the home of Carbure, the studio that houses the creative minds of Frédéric Audet, Philippe Archambault, and Patrick Sénécal. Forming after a split with OLA, the team has continued to do brilliant work, as is showcased on their recently re-designed website. Carbure has proven that they can shed the skin of potentially stodgy clientele and are able to churn out great experiences through new technologies and a great understanding of design principles. Check out some of their work after the jump.
There’s a lot to be said to have the power to create something and when you see it, you just know who did it. With his minimalist design sensibilities, Stefan Dukaczewski, or MSTRPLN as he’s otherwise known, has that power and uses it over a slew of clients. The majority of his work hovers around the streetwear sphere and the work is just so crisp, clean, and consistently good. He only landed in Ottawa a year ago, leaving behind a position at design powerhouse Sid Lee back in Montreal, but he’s still doing his thing and doing it well. Check out all the goodness after the break.
Are we on our high horse if we suggest design can change the world? Are we at a point where people can actually start believing in it? There was an incredible article written by Cameron Koczon on a List Apart a few weeks ago, and he brings up some brilliant points. It’s time for design to be held in higher regard. This isn’t a “hey look at us!” kind of ploy. This is a legitimate business strategy. Read More
Years ago, Acme Advertising existed. They were part of the heyday, so to speak, of the Ottawa industry (one which I’d love to experience). Scooping up awards left and right, all that good stuff, and then, like all good things it came to an end. Everyone went their separate ways, some went on to start their own shop. Sarah Roncarelli was one of those who started her own thing. Read More
Pardon the alliteration. Happy to announce that Shopify continues to support local talent in yesterday’s acquisition of the mobile design and development team at Select Start Studios (or s3 to those that are in the know/work there). The local tech twitter feed was buzzing with the news around 10am as the press release hit, but there were some rumblings earlier in the month. We knew Shopify was headed more and more into the mobile space, we knew S3 was the go-to shop in town – so really, it’s a match made in the market. Kudos to both parties. We didn’t attempt to reach anyone for comment, because we’re assuming they’re all swimming in piles of money.