On [Innovation & Ownership]: Write-up

15 July 2011
Reading Time
3 minute read

We’re still buzzing from yesterday’s talk, On [Innovation & Ownership], during which we were challenged by the creative minds of Holly Wales, Bobby Evans, Sebastien Noel (from Troika) and George Hardie. Revealing how their ideas are born, and citing important influences on their work, all four speakers discussed what innovation and ownership of an idea means to them.

Holly Wales was joined by Telegramme’s Bobby Evans, fellow co-founder of OPEN studio. OPEN started in June 2010 as a shared studio space to encourage dialogue between commercial illustrators who would normally work alone, detached from other processes in the industry. Conceived from a desire to create an environment they felt “had been lost since leaving art college,” and perhaps something they hadn’t even fully experienced there. Due to the collaborative environment and in-house facilities, we heard how OPEN has allowed them to re-imagine the role and scope of an illustrator. They emphasised the importance of the physical space for sharing ideas, self-initiating projects and controlling their output, as well as learning from creatives working in other disciplines. It was exciting hearing Holly and Bobby talk about OPEN and the future possibilities: as a constantly evolving, expanding structure that discourages stasis, keeping them open to new ideas.

Sebastien Noel, talking on behalf of multidisciplinary trio Troika, was also proudly representing France (yesterday was Bastille day – deliberate programming from us obviously). Sebastien took us through a few of Troika’s projects, illustrating how they are constantly trying new things motivated by a compulsion to experiment with different platforms, and new technologies, often re-appropriating old technologies or techniques and using them in new, innovative ways. Sebastian stressed their enjoyment of the iterative processes often present in their projects, involving a lot of research, collaborating with experts, testing, development, and time for the project to evolve. Troika seemed to have cracked the formula for realising concepts which merge“geeky” and complex technology/mechanics with striking, often ethereal aesthetics. The captivating Falling Light project is a perfect example, a piece of work that left the audience looking on in amazement.

Probably one of the best lines of the evening was George Hardie’s opening: “I’ve never been in a room with so many famous chairs,” made in reference to the stylish seating we were perched on as we listened to him discuss his prolific career. Although he describes himself as a veteran, it soon became apparent that the word “legend” is much more appropriate. George talked candidly about the influences on his work, where he’s borrowed ideas from, and how he’s seen those ideas re-appropriated by others. His frankness about the fact that we’re all influenced by other things, and that people shouldn’t feel the need to be constantly innovative, grandiose or ground-breaking, was refreshing.

Some pertinent questions from the audience opened up a very engaging Q&A with all four speakers. Bobby asked whether any of us can ever really lay claim to an idea. Sebastien suggested that we can’t actually own anything, but that we can re-interpret what we see, and do it successfully through the purity of the approach, taking time to develop thinking. While George stressed that stamping your ownership on something was dangerous, while also acknowledging that leaving your work open to be ripped off can be a problem when things are in progress.

An all-round brilliant evening of talks with fascinating speakers at varying points in their careers. Thanks for all the positive feedback from those who came to the talk. To those that didn’t make it, hopefully see you at On [Narrative], which will again take place at the lovely Red Bull Studios on Tuesday 26th July.

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