Sunday, 7 August 2016
If there is one blog post to explain where I disappeared to for a few months, then this is it. I was part of the team for TEDxBrum this year, the biggest independently-organised TED event the city had ever seen. My main role was creating illustrations of the line-up, resulting in 24 drawings of the world-class speakers and performers that took to the stage on Saturday 11th June to an audience of over 750 people in Birmingham's historic Town Hall.
Anyone who was party to this process can profess that it was an intense time. With twice-weekly announcements as the line-up was confirmed, I was bashing out 6 portraits - pulling two all-nighters at 3 drawings a pop - every week, all whilst relying on the project managers to acquire the images I needed in time to illustrate them. Despite this, it was an intensely exciting and rewarding experience, and was a challenge I felt able to meet due to the support of the team, particularly #PowerOfUs branding designer Helen Page who didn't bat an eyelid at my eye-wateringly early AM file transfers. Together, my hand drawn technique and her bold graphic patterns created a new aesthetic which I loved playing around with, working out how best to incorporate dots, stripes & scratches.
The illustrations were used to promote the line-up on twitter and on the TEDxBrum website, as well as being printed in the programme given to all attendees on the day. I also had the pleasure of working alongside the speaker team to create bespoke gift bags with customised labels for each speaker and performer, featuring a signed print of their face along with goodies from Birmingham independents such as Quarter Horse Coffee and Can I Cake It? It felt really special to be able to create that level of detail, with a lot of recipients sharing how much this and other little touches curated by the team had added to their wider experience of being part of the event.
As with most projects that take over your life a little bit, I will remember the process, day itself and after effects with fondness, to the extent that life without them still feels a little bit odd. Illustrating for TEDxBrum this year has improved my drawing, expanded the limitations of what I thought was possible and shown me what it means to have a creative and energetic squad who have your back, when things get real and when it's time to celebrate.
For more info about everything TEDxBrum visit tedxbrum.com and have a ganders at @TEDxBrum on twitter.