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SXSW: An overview

Austin, Texas

Ok, so if you've been stuck in a small dark cave for the last week or two, you may have missed the fact that SXSW (South by South West) has been taking place in Austin, Texas.

Three conferences presented back-to-back, SXSW covers film, music and (the bit I was lucky enough to attend) the world's largest interactive conference. Having been told for some time now that this is a 'must attend event' I somewhat disbelievingly put my name into the hat to go out as part of an Advantage West Midlands delegation. AWM'saim is to provide a platform for promoting inward investment for the West Midlands and a delegation of 20 or so people from across the West Midlands were sent out as advocates for the region.

In hindsight it's also been a chance to stand back, see what others are up to, assess what we've been doing and what we should be looking to be involved in both now and in 18 months time. It's certainly been an experience.

Austin is a great place and (so I'm told) a really unique part of America. The sheer scale of the conference and what is has to offer really did come close to blowing my mind, but I think one of the biggest surprises was meeting some great people who were also part of the West Midlands delegation - it's strange to think that I needed to travel to the other side of the world to meet people who are from so nearby. I really hope we'll be able to stay in touch.

Having now been there and done it, I can only repeat the sentiments of those who have gone before me. If you're involved with technology, communication, digital or traditional media, communities or any business for that matter, I highly recommend it.

If you can, watch out for the official SXSW podcasts and videos being made available on iTunes soon; and I'll be posting notes and thoughts on some of the more memorable sessions here over the coming days.


Categories: Nice stuff

Having been unsure what to expect from an animation 'made entirely from corporate logos', I'm glad I forked out the princely sum of … errr, just £1.49 actually (through iTunes) to buy Logorama.

Its award for Best Animated Short Film at the Oscars earlier this week seems well-deserved as it's thoughtful, extremely well-executed and full of clever references and uses of logos. And I'd certainly not anticipated the use of various corporate mascots – all of which have been characterised in ways that might not be entirely expected; the Green Giant is particularly revealing in this regard!

As the end credits rolled, I was surprised to discover that the team behind the film are French, as the voices are all American (including that of David Fincher as Pringles Original) and many of the logos I didn't recognise look like they belong to US corporations.

I've done some very shallow digging and can't find an awful lot about the directors' previous work – though I'm sure they'll be much more high-profile following their win.

Logorama is bold, colourful (in language as well as actual colour – you have been warned), sassy and fun but with a serious underlying message. As such, it's well worth spending 16 minutes of your time on.

If you do watch it, make sure to keep an eye out for one of my favourite moments: the very timely appearance of a Weight Watchers logo …

University of Warwick, Centre for Cultural Policy Studies

Categories: Extra-curricular

Last week I was at the University of Warwick to talk to a group of MA students at the Centre for Cultural Policy Studies.

Focussing on fields including Arts Management, Cultural Policy and the Creative Industries, I was invited in to give some industry perspective on things and talk about my background, Supercool and issues surrounding running a small creative agency. Having been slightly dreading the prospect of having to talk about myself for 45 minutes it actually went really well.

Nobody dropped off to sleep and most people responded well by asking some tough questions. In fact having rushed over to Warwick straight from a pitch, I found the students’ questions were far more testing than any potential client.

Issues ranged from creative sign-off, budget approval, business planning and cash flow. Hopefully everybody learned as much out of it as I did.

Thanks to Dr Jonathan Vickery [Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies] for inviting me in, and everybody who listened to the talk and managed to remain looking interested, I really enjoyed it.

A message from Sophie

Categories: Superinterns

I've spent my winter in Birmingham.

It was an exciting opportunity for me to go abroad as an intern. Why not? Besides from experiencing being a graphic designer in the real world, I get to discover a whole new country! I just couldn't let that chance pass me by.

James and Katie really made an effort to make me feel welcome. For instance getting my own orange office chair! Sadly I couldn't fit in in my suitcase! My main project while staying at Supercool was branding the Library of Birmingham.*

I was also lucky enough to be invited along for the lovely Chitterlings event with other interesting local creative people and John Berry, who works for Microsoft. That was a really great evening.

I also joined in on a couple of the Likemind events, where I met new people from Brum.

I have learnt a lot both as a person and as a graphic designer and gained new confidence in myself.

Thanks – it's been supercool.



Sophie's internship at Supercool ran from November 2009 until February 2010. She is a final year student at Skolen for Visuel Kommunikation)


* A project based on a recently circulated tender brief – KP