The first ever National Digital Design Conference (ND2C) concluded on an inspiring note in Islamabad on September 24 and the two-day conference attracted avid designers and creatives from all over the country. The biggest crowd puller was Stefan Sagmeister, a New York-based graphic designer, storyteller, typographer and co-founder, Sagmeister & Walsh Inc, who is a legend and known as an industry maverick.
Now I can give you details of the speakers and the events or you can read all that at the ND2C website (http://nd2c.com) . Instead, what I want to share are the feelings I experienced when I attended the conference.
It was two days of calling a spade a spade. There were more “How” questions being asked then “Why” questions, which led to people looking at possibilities and setting priorities.
I saw big smiles, and big sighs from people who gave successful talks on stage, a first for many. I saw positivity and honesty. It didn’t seem to be a ‘made up’ event where you go to impress each other and you have to be politically correct to ensure that you don’t end up annoying a future – or current – client, or an industry veteran. It was two days of calling a spade a spade. There were more “How” questions being asked then “Why” questions, which led to people looking at possibilities and setting priorities.
The students were the life of this party. When Sagmiester sat down for an extra hour on stage no one could believe their luck as they could ask him questions about his work. Many industry veterans were as eager as the students to know how Sagmiester sold an idea or how he managed his one year sabbatical. Some people were very resourceful and managed to show him their work and receive direct feedback.
Then there was the element of showcasing the fantastically talented artists and creatives from Pakistan. (Again, go to the website for the bios of all the speakers). When we heard Saba Zaidi talking about working at Google as a social interaction designer, or Samaya Arif, Illustrator & Designer, Oceá talking about Chris Martin sitting on her illustrations in the taxi she designed (yes you are right – that is the lead singer of Coldplay!). When Sarah Mo, ECD, Bates & Interflow talked about building someone’s career as a bigger achievement than awards – everyone in the hall was inspired. If these girls and guys can do this, surely we all can too, they thought.
The discussion panels were equally entertaining and informative, and topics ranged from the inclusion of women to business vs. creativity. Once again, genuineness was at play. Points such as asking for money and not working for free and earning the respect of an agency were brought up which led to laughter and applause.
The live design challenge, creative fair and the outstanding workshops by Samaya Arif & Shezil Malik, Ammara Gul and Ali Akber, Lara Hanlon, Ali Murtaza, Debbie Millman and Aneeqa Ishaq were sought after and fought over.
The biggest inspiration for a lot of us were the organisers, Nida Salman and Sana Khalid. You won’t find their picture or bios on the website; they didn't flash their CVs or achievements in front of us. It was astounding for me to see that two working mothers, who work from home, look after their families had the self motivation and drive to bring this event to life. I felt honoured to be a part of a genuine effort to showcase our industry with only one goal in mind. We grow when others grow. Thank you ND2C for raising the bar for all of us. I wish you the best of luck for the conference next year.