Creative Sydney 2011

Creative Sydney is about the people who make stuff, and make stuff happen: artists, designers, technology types, engineers, teachers, entrepreneurs, musicians, festival organisers and the list goes on. It had a mix of design, art, business and technology and was about the ideas that take off because they find an audience they resonate with.

There were events over 2 weeks. I went to just a handful:

  • Are you experiential?: on the latest in arts and advertising using augmented reality technologies
  • Future Smarts: how education is beginning to innovate to teach the “Digital Natives” generation in the 21st century
  • Hands on: Makers show their wares a showcase by artists, designers and design businesses
  • DIY World—The rise of citizen engineers about art inventors and 3d printing technologies and the market places that are emerging from them
  • Group Think about the power of collaboration
  • and lastly the Affection Economy on community marketing

The talks were a mixed bag. At their worst there were a few too many “I” statements as one friend put it and a tad too much self promotion. However that could have been a result of the format. A moderator introduced the topic and a panel of 3-4 speakers. It then opened up into a general discussion on the topic. Unfortunately at times the balance wasn’t struck between short presentations and the panel discussion. Better use of the time would have been made sticking to just one of the formats. That being said I found the festival to be a stimulating survey of ideas of what is going on in various fields and it was refreshing to hear different disciplines perspectives on the one topic.

So, to give you a taste of the diversity of creative case studies I enjoyed there was:

Disruptive business case studies included:

This was also a festival about collaboration and community be that in new marketplaces (Shapeways, Etsy, Image brief) or in classrooms. Fostering a community was central not because of the market but because of the opportunities that emerge when people connect:

  • The Esty co founder spoke of how the market place emerged to satisfy  his small clique of art makers and how it has flourished to service a growing crafts community
  • The Rizzeria artist collective open their facilities to promote a printing technique and teach others
  • And surprisingly Deloitte showcasing the power of community, particularly within their organisation to cross pollinate ideas

The biggest value for me in this festival is that it is about the doing, in whatever context. It was about the people that action their ideas. My highlight was Jeremy Somers, who made this the central sentiment of his presentation. 18 months ago he had an idea to put large bold graphics on swimwear. Now he has 90 stockists in 16 countries. His brand has received mainstream fashion editorial and is mentioned in 5,500 online articles. He had zero experience in the fashion industry. He had zero marketing budget. He had $2,800 to start. His advice was simple:

  • When you get an idea, do something immediately to action it.
  • Do something everyday to create momentum and make it happen.
  • “It not about resources, it’s about resourcefulness”

So, I guess it’s times I take another look at my to-do list and go and make something!


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