The second National Digital Design Conference (ND2C2) concluded amongst much fanfare in Islamabad on September 30. Like last year, this two day conference was a huge success. Two days of inspiration, motivation and above all the feeling of belonging to an extremely talented community of creatives.
There were big names like Jessica Walsh, Valentina D’Efilippo, Miroslav Jaya Azis, Ali Rez, Laraib Atta and there were muses like Alia Chugtai, Omar Gilani, Hassan Habib, Salma Naved Jafri and Hira Mohibullah.
Amidst awe inspiring stories from Sana Nasir and Uzair Zaheer Khan about how they did the impossible and produced stunning work even when they were set up to fail. Uzair’s story of making the first animated feature film using Pakistani national animals as protagonists and conquering the logistical challenges of using a game engine to make animation, truly deserved the standing ovation he received from many.
There were many old faces and many first timers. One designer decided to pay the extra on the having the flight back to Karachi changed in order to attend each and every talk and workshop. A positive sign for old timers like me who are quick to complain about the millennial mind set.
The workshops were the hidden gems of the conference. With generous lessons and fun exercises, everyone felt like a winner. Do visit the website and get all the details. The virtual journey will however not give you the experience of being in the presence of people who truly want to make things. As opposed to the critical mindset of most people, it felt like a safe space where everyone shared an agenda of improving themselves and the industry.
It was no small feat for the two amazing women to pull this conference a second time. Although many things were changed in the format compared to last year, including adding more networking time, removing discussion panels and decreasing the numbers of talks, Nida Salman (co-organizer of ND2C) explained that all the changes were a result of the stringent feedback process they followed. All last year’s attendees were sent feedback forms and those learnings became lessons and points of action for ND2C 2018.
As a speaker in the last year conference I had an amazing opportunity to learn from Soness Stevens, a public speaking coach who has coached hundreds of TED and TEDx speakers. It is not common knowledge that ND2C made these arrangements and like last year, Soness coached the selected speakers for months before the date of the conference. You not only acquire knowledge and inspiration, you have access to an amazing course specifically designed to make you shine as a speaker. It is truly a privilege to be chosen as a speaker at ND2C.
The world around us is changing at a maddening pace; there are so many innovations that it truly is a blink-and-you-miss-it world. With machines out to get our jobs and a bleaker economic situation, communities and networks will help us reinvent.
Above all seeing role models who have walked the road less travelled and explored new territory, conferences like ND2C become even more critical for the creative community. It was a delight to see new players like Granna.com step up as the main sponsor of the event. There would have been no Michelangelo without Pope Julius and these two days of inspiration would have been like any other weekend without sponsors such as Granna.com, Jang Group, Khaddi, Pasha, Turkish Airlines, Serene Air and many more. Yet, there could have been more. The brands who talk the talk of empowerment and creativity should have walked the walk too. Especially considering that more and more organisations are moving towards models of in house creative set ups. A definite opportunity lost for such organisations and creative agencies to spot and hire talent.
Once again we all felt grateful to the organisers for conquering this herculean task of making ND2C a reality for Pakistani creatives.
Atiya Zaidi is Executive Creative Director, Synergy Dentsu. firstname.lastname@example.org