On Friday 9 June, 700 people from across the creative industry joined us at London’s Royal Geographical Society for Here 2017. Our sixth annual symposium celebrated creativity in myriad forms, from the inspiring talks to the fun activities, and left us – and hopefully everyone else – excited and full of ideas. We’ll be sharing stories, images and films from the event over the coming days, but in the meantime we’ve plucked out some standout learnings from the brilliant day. Thanks to the support of our sponsors and event partner Adobe Stock.
Juno Calypso: photography is dangerous business
Taking us behind the scenes of her renowned photo series shot in a US honeymoon hotel, Juno Calypso kicked off the day with some anecdotes. “Being in a honeymoon hotel with 200 couples is a whole new kind of awkward,” she said, describing her stint there as “creepy time alone”. “This hotel was the perfect location for what I do, because it’s built for perverts!” She also showed exactly how she created one shot, by dangling her “very heavy” camera above herself in the bath. “If this had hit me in the head, I would have died.” But what a way to go.
Christopher Raeburn: The Wombles have enduring impact
With a beautifully honest exploration of his background and career, fashion designer Christopher Raeburn showed the unexpected motivations for his work. He began by showing a segment of classic British TV show The Wombles: “I realised I owe a large amount of my career to The Wombles,” he said, showing how the show’s dedication to reusing materials has correlation with his own collections. “Making good use of the things that we find, things that the everyday folk leave behind… there’s so much out there already, not being used, and I like making something new out of it. Our ethos is Remade, Reduced and Recyled.”
James Jarvis: “drawing is a method to understand the world”
Starting with the bold statement: “I’ve decided I’m not an illustrator, I’m a situationist,” James Jarvis described his “existential crisis” about illustration and how he’s transformed his approach to work. “Looking and thinking about my work, I felt like it had become purely about surface, how things look. I wanted it to be about how things are. Drawing can be an intellectual process, rather than an aesthetic one. Drawing is a method for me to understand the world.”
Astrid Stavro: borders aren’t conducive to creativity
Atlas studio co-founder Astrid Stavro took us on a journey around the world with her talk, saying she likes “the idea of countries without borders, like an organism”. As a child she travelled across Europe in a green VW Camper van meeting the illustrators her father published books for, including Quentin Blake, and in her career so far she’s worked in numerous cities from Trieste to London to Palma de Mallorca. Finishing on a poignant note, she added “Seclusion leaves very little scope for creativity”.
Marguerite Humeau confuses gallery curators
Creator of some of contemporary art’s most epic projects, Marguerite Humeau gave the marvelling audience a peek into her mind, and her bizarre processes. “I recreated Cleopatra’s voice with a team of vocal experts,” she said, summarising her portfolio. “I made liquid human from components bought on eBay… I went to Thailand to get elephant tears, and Florida to get Black Mamba poison. Sometimes I send proposals to galleries and they say “we don’t get it but it sounds great! My brain is clear, but maybe to the rest of the world it’s not so clear.”
Triboro: it’s good to say no sometimes
David Heasty, co-founder of New York design studio Triboro, went some way to explaining its consistently beautiful output. “We started Triboto in an effort to have some sort of freedom. So we dedicate our time to projects that really resonate with us. We simply say no to projects that don’t feel right.” Among the many highlights, David showed the vivid identity for restaurant Sauvage and a campaign for Nike where they “hacked” the logo to make it into NYC.
Charlie Chaplin is Noma Bar’s hero
Master of the visual double entendre, illustrator Noma Bar took us through his vast portfolio of recognisable work, recently congregated for huge tome Bittersweet. He cited Charlie Chaplin as his hero “because he can tell a story without using words,” which is essentially Noma’s raison d’être. Before his final pieces become the refined acts of simplicity he’s famous for, he explained “everything starts in a the sketchbook, with a black pen.”
Anna Ginsburg: “Animation brings your wildest fantasies to life”
Animation director Anna Ginsburg explained her passion for the medium, saying it “brings your wildest fantasies to life”. In a candid explanation of her animation Private Parts, she opened up to the the huge audience about her first sexual experience, her views on how women are portrayed as “passive and vulnerable” in western advertising, and how both these things eventually fed into the film about sex and female orgasms.
Ryan Gander doesn’t like palm trees or selfish people
Artist Ryan Gander gave a hilarious talk about his approach to life and work, sharing his New Year’s Resolutions and the things that most annoy him. “Palm trees irritate me. There was so much palm tree artwork a few years ago you could fill the Turbine Hall with them,” he said dryly. On selfies and general modern culture, he stated: “I think there’s a problem between people’s interest in self and interest in collectivity. For me there’s only society, there isn’t the self, there’s only empathy and collectivity.”
George Hardie loves a good argument
The legendary illustrator George Hardie showed both his best known work for Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, and lesser known work, such as the Oxymoron calendar. He also shared his sketchbooks, his collections, his inspirations and approaches to teaching in Brighton. “One of the reasons I teach is I desperately need to argue, and like every British art school, the teacher is always wrong.”