On June 30th I attended Patterns Day, a one day event organised by Jeremy Keith. It took place in Brighton, in the Duke Of York’s, where Remy also runs FullFrontal Conference. As the name of the event already might show, the topics all circled around pattern libraries, components, style guides, and design systems. Despite of the rough trip to Brighton the day before, because of very bad weather conditions in Berlin where I was before, I had a wonderful time and met a lot of friendly people – some that I knew and some that I met for the first time. Great conversations and a long night out followed the event.
Of course I brought my camera, but from back, when I attended FullFrontal Conference, I knew how dark this place was and was hoping to catch at least a few good shots. Drew McLellan also brought his gear and made some great photos. I think he just published them in his Twitter Stream, as I can’t find them on Flickr.
This morning I watched a video by my friend Danny Gregory, who spoke at beyond tellerrand in Berlin last year. The video is titled “Hello, I have no talent” and Danny encourages people, who think like that, to not get de-motivated and frustrated. He motivates people to keep drawing and to keep remembering that the output you see on someones website or in a community, which often is crazy and wonderful, is just the things they decided to show. This is their best stuff. And it is not their first steps, their failures and their 1000 tries to draw a hand perfectly, when it failed over and over again until they finally were able to draw a hand. He says one thing, which he says about drawing, but which is valid for many other things:
Have fun drawing, ’cause drawing is fun. That’s what it’s meant to be. It’s not meant to make you feel bad. It’s not meant to make you feel inferior. […]
Replace drawing with anything you want and it’s true for you.
The video, though a bit of a different story, reminded me of a situation I have been in, when we had a Wacom Influencer or Evangelist, as they call this group, meeting in Krefeld a few years ago. We were about 20 people in the Wacom European HQ in a room on a sunny day. As we all have been people from various fields of business and not everybody knew each other, we had to introduce ourself for 5 to 10 minutes. The guy next to me on the table constantly sketched stuff and was drawing fantastic pictures. When it was on him to introduce himself, he said, he was working on Dumbledore’s death right now and used to do the matte painting for Alien. Another one showed his wonderful portraits of people he made on the streets in France using his Wacom tablet. Someone else showed his crazy Photoshop work with unbelievable compositions. Robert showed his motion graphics work and then it was on me to introduce myself.
I remember that I felt so little. I felt like I had nothing to show that came close to anything I had seen over the last hour or so. Everybody in this room was so creative and showed their fantastic work. I had nothing visually to show really and just told my story. How I got to where I was and what I was doing now. I also said how amazed I was to see all this fantastic and beautiful work, I had seen over the last hours and I said I wish I was that talented. Then one person raised his hand and asked ”May I say something?” and I says “Yes, sure.” – then he said:
You said you are not as talented as most of us in the room, which I can’t really judge. But you know, one thing I can say is, that it also is a talent to see the beauty in what we do and then to speak about it to other people and show them other peoples work. We need people like you, finding people like us and connecting us to other people, showing and speaking about what we do.
Other people in the room nodded and agreed. And guess what? That made my day. There was this one person saying something really positive to motivate me. I thought, I want to be that person more often and be the one motivating others. Saying something positive. Especially in times when Twitter and the social clubs are full of negativity and bad news.
So maybe, if you think you have no talent, look at you again and ask yourself, if you really have nothing you’re good at or that you love to do. I bet you’ll find something!
Often, when I meet people at events, we chat about work and life and I ask people if everything is ok. The person I am talking to then starts with things at the job and gets into a few details, maybe ending with a summary, that work is ok, but sometimes a bit stressful. Then, if we not already move on to family life and alike, we speak about projects, which are done next to the work life. And I can see and feel that there is much more passion into what’s said about the projects next to work than about the actual work, where much more time is spent on. I guess this is what we refer to as side project, when it is a passion project, we are doing next to the day to day business.
Now I was wondering, what exactly a side project is and how we define this term? Is it something that everybody refers to in a different way? Is it only a project for a person’s passion? Or does someone earn money with it?
When I received an edition of a newsletter called Inspiration Bits, by Zoran Jambor last week, which started with the headline “Start a Side Project”, I once more asked myself ”Do I have any side projects?” and ”What is a side project?”.
So I read all the articles in Inspiration Bits, that Zoran was linking to. What I take away from reading the articles is, that it seems, that people with side projects are much more productive and creative at their days to day job and much happier. People can tinker and play with ideas, they can try themselves at things, they can’t experiment with during work and so on. So I get this, looking at me, playing in a band, taking photos without calling myself photographer, but then I look at my day to day business, which is running beyond tellerrand and ask myself
Is this my job?
When I started beyond tellerrand in 2010 (and then the first event in 2011), I was giving myself three years to sit down and ask myself ”Is this working?”. With a positive answer to this, I kept on running the event, added Berlin in 2014 and adding another destination next year – even though I had a couple of rough experiences privately. And what I do is, to sit down from time to time – I try to do this at least once a year – and ask myself ”Do you still enjoy what you are doing?” (amongst a few other questions).
So, is beyond tellerrand a side project now? Or is it my job? Or was it my side project, when I ran the Flashforum Konferenz next to being a freelancer and then turned into my job when I decided to run beyond tellerrand full time? I have no idea, what the exact definition is, to be honest. I only know, that I am very thankful, happy and glad that what I am doing fulfils me, makes enough money to make a living with my family with three kids and I keep being humbled as I know that this is nothing someone can take for granted.
So maybe it is my job now to run beyond tellerrand, but I think I keep the attitude of running it like a side project – passionated, always excited and with a lot of joy to create something for other people that they can enjoy, meet other interesting people and have good time at.
Bastian Allgeier announced, that he and his team started working on Kirby 3. Similar to what Kai Brach did for his Offscreen Magazine, Kirby started the Kirby Next project and website. The idea of a move like this is to fund the time, where you focus on the work you are diving into for the next couple of months. So in a way it is a bit like running a Kickstarter, but without a goal that has to be reached to have this project become reality.
Kai, back then, answered the question of ”What if the funding goal is not reached or exceeded?” with
[…] If we fall short, we will have to limit the feature set of our website and the scope of the rebrand. If we exceed our goal, we can even include some of our 'nice-to-have' features.
So the benefit is, that you are not dependent on the goal to be reached and you have money you can work with. Often products like his, my event, or – and that is what I am writing about here actually – Kirby, only exist, because the support that people using, reading or attending is massive and they also do a huge part of the marketing for people like Kai, Bastian or me.
Next to the monetary support and benefit for the product owner there is a benefit for the people supporting things like this. If done nicely, you get insights in to the process of something like rebranding Offscreen or the development of Kirby 3. This is valuable information, a nice read and – at least for me – inspiration to see how other people running a business on their own do this. As you know I am a big fan of Kirby (and Offscreen) and I am excited already to follow Bastian, Sonja, Lukas, Nils, Fabian and Nico what they will come up with and – even more exciting – what happens on the way to Kirby 3, how is the decision process for certain task and so forth.
So, if you are generally interested in …
… supporting a software like Kirby (and maybe even planning to use or using it already) …
… supporting an independent system like Kirby and its development …
… how a product development process looks behind the scenes …
… how decisions for or against a feature/way of developing software are made …
… testing the new features and the new UI Kit for the Panel of Kirby 3 first …
… help the Kirby team financially …
… then you should check Kirby Next. Bastian describes in detail what you get and what the money is used for, when states, for example:
[…] Kirby has become a sustainable full-time job for Bastian, but there's still a very limited budget for the other team members. With your help, we can spend more time on Kirby together and release Kirby 3 faster.
On a side note: Bastian is running a Kirby workshop during beyond tellerrand in Berlin as well, which is targeting beginners and experts in the same way. For this workshop we make sure to keep the number of attendees to a reasonable amount of people, so that everybody is able to not only enjoy the hands-on experience, but also ask the questions she/he always wanted to ask Bastian.
I have seen Rachel Andrew speak at Patterns Day last Friday in Brighton and many times before. She is known for her well delivered practical talks with a lot of insights on the topic she is speaking about. During the last weeks, I have seen her mentioning, that she already asked the question if websites have to look the same in every browser back in 2002. If you take this in consideration and read her article, where she mentions this again, then you can definitely play around with CSS Grid Layouts. Rachel gives many useful reasons you can quote 1:1 for your boss or client. And she is right when stating:
Your job is to learn about new things, and advise your client or your boss in the best way to achieve their business goals through your use of the available technology.
So it is our job to actually educate the people we build websites for and not to justify things after we built them. We should get to a point, where a client or your boss is not even asking “Why isn’t this looking the same in this browser” anymore, right?
The tradeoff will be the requirement to present a simplified layout for older browsers. However that doesn’t mean “no layout”. […]
This is it and this it what should be common sense already. So don’t be quite about it at your job or project anymore. Read Rachel’s article and if you are not already trying to convince the people you work for and with, then start now.
So, that was another Smashing Conference in New York. I think, having been to all of them, I have to say, that this was maybe the best one so far. Not actually content wise, because that often also is a matter of taste and interest, but the atmosphere was really good. People have been very open and mindful, friendly and chatty. If you ask me what makes me think that it was like this: I can give you no facts. It is this kind of feeling that you maybe develop during the years of running and event and my stomach says “This was a good event”.
In May I ran my Düsseldorf edition of beyond tellerrand. I was happy to find out, that Typo Berlin had a gap of a week after my event. So I could attend. Next year this is problematic again, as Typo is taking place in the same week as beyond tellerrand again. beyond tellerrand takes place Monday 14th to Wednesday 16th and Typo from 17th to 19th. When speaking to Jürgen Siebert last week he said “Oh, but I announced this really a long time ago already”. And so did I with my dates. It is just, that there is no place, where you can look at and where organisers announce their event dates early enough and or at all. The question is now, how can we avoid overlapping events? I mean, Typo and btconf don’t even overlap in 2018 and from an organisers standpoint, we can even maybe share travel cost for speakers who speak at both events. But often events do overlap and for me, going to many events, this is a pity as often I have to decide for the one or other or the density of events is so big, that I would get into serious trouble with my family, if I attend all of them.
Some month are worse than others and if you see events announcing their end, you see two new events announcing they are coming. Take June this year for example. The green bars show only the events I am interested in and I got notice of. I am sure there are even more. First of all you see a clear trend to run events towards the weekend on Thursday and/or Friday, if not event at the weekend. This, for me at least, having a family, is a problem. Usually weekends belong the family and my kids. More and more events, though, are held on a Saturday and if on the Friday, you might want to leave on the Saturday, not to miss the real juice of most events: the time in the evening with conversations and networking with attendees. But the sheer amount of events in general in month like June or September, to mention another month like this, is crazy:
DDD Milano – the digital design days in Milano. Met the organiser earlier this year in London and his plans for it sounded great.
awwwards Los Angeles – a formerly web/front-end oriented event, now naming themselves digital thinkers conf.
Web Rebels in Oslo – a web an d js conference. Never been there, heard so many good things and always wanted to go.
WebConf Asia in Hong Kong – a practical event for the web community. Charis Rooda is running her first, own event. Would be e great chance to meet many friends, plus I never been to Hong Kong before.
.process in Dortmund – a pretty new event, been held for the second time. They invited me to come and speak, which I’d love to have done.
So the events above take place around the same weekend and I would love to have done all of them. Sadly – in terms of attending events – it is Pfingsten (I think it is Whitsun in English). We always are in a little house over this long weekend with two other families and enjoy the time in a forest. That date is set in stone usually from Friday to Monday.
Right before the next weekend we have got …
99U Conference in New York – I have never attended this event, but always wanted to got, as I heard good things. And I like New York.
Fifteen Seconds Festival in Graz – an event more on the business side of things, but it is said to be very personal. Graz is a lovely town, I like to visit as well and I have good memories of from working with video2brain in the past.
So, again, three events taking place at the exact same time. Not an issue for them actually, as topics are different and they are so far apart from each other, that they won’t have a problem concerning attendees or event speakers. I actually would be able to go to one of them, but it is always a fine balance not to make my family sad. On the following Sunday to these events, I’ll leave for New York as part of the Smashing team:
SmashingConf New York – since I started SmashingConf together with Vitaly Friedman and am part of board of directors of the Smashing Media AG, I like to join in for the SmashingConf’s around the world. I take photos, make notes, what could be improved and what went well and chat with Vitaly and Markus about this and enjoy my time being at the event a lot.
GOTO Amsterdam – GOTO is software development conference. I never attended, but have spotted some really interesting people in the line-up. Have to miss it again.
CSS Day in Amsterdam – PPK, Krijn, Martijn and formerly Stephen are organising this event for a couple of years now. I attended three years ago and try to come back since then. Always overlapping with something else, sadly. But one day …
Typographics in New York – a design festival for people who use type, is what they call it themselves. I always happen to be in New York for the last couple of years, when it took place and bump into several people I know, attended events around it, but never actually attended. This year I planned this, but am already more or less gone again. Next time then …
I use my time around an event to meet people I know in this particular city and stay in touch. Sometimes, like last year with awwwards Conference in NYC, it works out, that I am able to attend other events while being in town. But usually, again, I don’t want to over-do the travelling, having an eye on my family.
The week after New York, I’d be able to attend events usually, but having a look at the calendar shows me, that in the last week, I am organising two workshops in Berlin (one with Elliot Jay Stocks, one with Erik Spiekermann) and then jump over to Brighton to take photos at Jeremy’s event, so I better be careful with this week, as one day otherwise my keys don’t fit the door at our house anymore. The events I am likely to miss are:
Pixel Pioneers in Bristol – Oliver Lindberg left net Magazine and is running his own event now, after being responsible for Generate Conf by net Magazine. This one is his first edition and I so would love to be part of it and take photos, but it looks like I won’t be able to, sadly (not only time, but also budget issue).
Bump Festival in Kortrijk – friends of mine used to organise an event called Multimania in Belgium. I have been there quite often and last year they changed the format an re-branded it and I already missed out. Unfortunately it seems, I have to miss out again.
The two events above would work speaking about time. Kortrijk is even easy to go to by car from my place for one day, which is different for Bristol, where flight and hotel add to the purse. But I have to get some work done for my own events and, as said earlier, have to consider my time with the family as well. And then the week after, I am on the road again.
Letterpress workshop with Erik Spiekermann – me being me, I thought just one workshop would be too easy and not enough work. So I thought to add a lovely letterpress workshop at p98a, where I always also organise a workshop during beyond tellerrand in November. This time it looks as even Erik would be around.
Patterns Day in Brighton – after Jeremy ran Responsive Day Out for three years, which I reallyliked, he is back with a new event called Patterns Day in Brighton. Right now it seems, I am going to be there to take photos, but have to check a few things to make sure it works, as I was planning to bring my kids with me. Fingers crossed.
So, why am I writing these lines, you might wonder. First of all to give you an overview of what is happening in June on the event landscape. Then, to complain that I can’t split into multiple Marcs to be at several events at once. But also to complain, that I have the opportunity to do what I do and attend events as part of my job. I know how fortunate this situation is and how lucky I am and therefore I would never really complain about what I have written above. I burn for attending events, speak to all these different people with all their many opinions, ideas and stories. That is why I am always a bit sad to miss one. But maybe there is an event in this list, which you like to attend, as it is close to you or matches a topic, that you are interested in or want to dive into. Then please do and let mw know how it was.
Did I miss an event, I should have heard of? I am sure there are many more interesting events. Please don’t hesitate to let me know (information how, in the footer of this site). Thanks.
I spent the last two days in Berlin at Typo Berlin. I had wonderful conversations with many lovely people so far and met interesting people I did not know before. Enjoying myself and the weather a lot.