I recently packed my bags and headed off to Abrantes, Portugal to attend 180 Creative Camp. The week was packed full of fun, collaborative work, and just generally some really interesting stuff. I thought I’d write a little bit about my experiences in the sun, showcase some of the amazingly creative people I met and what I took away from the week.
I’m going to be completely honest with you, I felt way out of my comfort zone before embarking on this trip. For someone who travels a lot, I’m actually a really terrible traveller. I’ve never liked flying as I get nervous and I can’t sleep. I worry about not having my passport and then consistently misplace my phone at the worst possible time. I think it’s a sort of nervous distraction. That mixed with the anticipation of spending a week with a bunch of strangers, and not knowing entirely what to expect, I was feeling pretty daunted indeed.
What I found when I arrived though was a group of friendly, open, excited campers and locals, lots of collaborative workshops and a whole lot of fun.
I was also lucky enough to meet some genuinely inspiring artists and speakers from across the creative spectrum including filmmaker Sean Dunne, editor Alec Dudson, cultural manager, publisher and curator Frank Kalero, illustrator Simon Landrien and artist collective Boa Mistura, to name just a few.
All set in a pretty little town in scorching 40 degree heat!
180 Creative Camp was created by Canal 180 to gather young creators from various disciplines, including graphic design, illustration, film, music, photography, installation and architecture to develop new collaborative creations among artists from all parts of the world.
This video, edited by Luís Sobreiro, shows some great moments from the camp, and provides a little window into what the week was like.
Each day I went to workshops, attended talks and listened to live music out in the streets. And when I wasn’t doing that I was sitting in the shade cowering from the heat, chatting to various artists about what they do or would like to do, often with a white wine sangria in hand. I am going to tell you a bit about some of the people that really interested and inspired me. It isn’t by any means a full list, or even extremely detailed, but I’ve included links to their work if you want to find out more.
Boa Mistura is a multidisciplinary team with roots in graffiti art that met in 2001 at the age of 15. They now have a studio in Madrid, Spain and have created various works in public spaces in South Africa, USA, UK, Brazil, Mexico, Georgia, Algeria, Norway, Serbia and Panamá.
We spent the day learning about, and painting, murals that create a perspective effect called ‘anamorfosis’. The great thing about this sort of work is that it can only be seen as a complete and perfect image from one exact point. Boa Mistura had said that they created this effect to make the observer place himself in a specific point of view.
They create their illusions by shining a design on a structure using a powerful projector then trace the image and check to ensure it lines up properly. They’d already drawn the word Transição (Transition) onto the wall before we got there and our job was to prep the wall then pick up the paint rollers.
I had never painted a mural, or anything on this scale before, let alone played with perspective in this way so it was a great experience to be a part of. I would have loved to have been more involved in the creative process before the final design had been chosen but I imagine getting permission to do the work at all was difficult enough so it had to be pre-approved before we all got there. These types of art installations can be very divisive and unfortunately some of the property owners changed their minds about how far the guys could take things and sadly it meant one of the groups didn’t get to paint at all.
I feel really very lucky to have had the opportunity to do this, the impact it creates is truly impressive. I would definitely do it again, and would be keen to suggest the potential of large-scale work to any interested clients in future.
Seriously though, please get in touch if you ever want to do this!
Frank Kalero (if that is indeed his real name!) is quite the character. He is a photographer, new media curator, producer, filmmaker and communicator and in this workshop we were shown a wide array of his creative work.
Frank spoke openly about creating a number of personas for his work, which are created to allow him do different tasks. First, to act as his manager when he needed to be firm with a client, and then later to allow him to create the dizzying array of work he produces. He uses, for example, the name ‘Isaac Niemand’ for his film making. There are however, many more, some of which are secret. It does make me wonder what he gets up to. Maybe that’s the point?
I can see where he’s coming from. If you are doing a variety of different projects, you might feel like people may not take you seriously. They may think, hey, surely you can’t be good at doing all those things. Or, if one thing fails maybe you’re afraid that everything you do will be tainted. Creating different names for the different types of work you do can mean you’re not putting all your creative eggs in one small, overfilled basket. I think it has also allowed Frank a greater creative freedom. If he wants to try something new, he just does it. He doesn’t let the title of his current active disciple hold him back.
I came away from this workshop wanting to experiment with after effects, 360 apps and animated GIFs. It feels like there’s a world of things that I could do to push my own creativity beyond the bounds of what I normally do. That, and maybe I too could create a second persona online, a larger than life, more flamboyant version of myself, to showcase some experimental work.
Sean Dunne is a documentary filmmaker from Brooklyn New York. In his workshop we were shown some of his shorts, like his first film ‘The Archive’ as well as trailers to some of his longer films, like ‘Oxyana’ for example. They are all incredibly interesting and beautifully shot, and I’m not the only one that thinks so. There’s a lot of buzz about him online and he has had his films shown at a number of film festivals, he won Best New Documentary Director for his film ‘Oxyana’ at the Tribeca Film Festival. Also as a way of funding his documentaries he creates commercials and branded content.
Sean believes in the importance of getting out of his comfort zone, leaving all his own personal baggage behind, and telling a raw honest story of the people he is filming. He is drawn to the people on the fringes of society, and he gives them a voice, and way for the viewer to really connect to them. He doesn’t want us to look at these people as being different. I think he definitely achieves this.
I’ll be honest, I know nothing about making films, and I’m way out of my depth here, but I do appreciate how beautifully they are put together and shot, and the passion that has driven Sean to make them. I was touched, and moved almost to tears watching a number of these documentaries. And as a designer it makes me think a bit more about the content that I am putting out in the world and how it ultimately effects people.
Intern magazine is primarily shaped by its young contributors and all the content is created by the young audience for which it is intended. Since 2013, Intern has provided a contemporary platform for the discussion of the necessity of internships, while at the same time showcasing the work of emerging young creatives.
In Alec’s workshop we were tasked with creating content for a magazine about 180 Creative Camp. After some discussion it was determined that the overarching theme of the magazine should be interaction and that the aim would be to capture the effect that the camp has had on attendees and the people of Abrantes alike.
Unfortunately, we had very little time to work on the magazine during our week and I feared that it would ultimately be a non-starter. Alec has very kindly however kept the project going via email and it is still on course for being printed. I am currently working with a few different people remotely, creating visual content like illustrations and photographs to sit alongside their articles. Although at the time of writing this blog it is still not complete, watch this space, as it will hopefully be completed soon!
Simon is a French illustrator currently living in London and his work is bright, bold and incredibly saucy!
Simon shared his portfolio with us on the big screen outside in a basketball court. It ranged from comics to animations, and included a few projects for big brands like NIKE.
Here are a couple of my favourites:
He had quite a substantial portfolio to show and he spoke like someone doing something that they love. He was engaged, passionate, inspiring and a great speaker to watch. Although there were no workshops with Simon, he was very approachable and I was able to have a casual chat with him later in the week and show him some of my illustration work.
Being an illustrator that creates pared back, simple and easily understood work, he gave me advice on the importance of images speaking for themselves. He said that they should be able to tell a story without the need of supporting text, especially in publications. It was good advice and I am keeping the notion of visual storytelling in the back of my mind when I work.
I think that sometimes it can just feel easier to keep doing the same things you know. They are the things you do everyday and can do without thinking. But they are also the things that eventually make you feel stagnant. Speaking to people that work outside your field, however unrelated what they do may seem, and collaborating and learning from them, can open your mind to new ideas and provide you with opportunities to grow.
The camp left me inspired to try working in new creative mediums and push my ideas that bit further.
Off the back of meeting Simon, as well as Frank Kalero, I felt spurred on to do something more with my personal illustration work. Since I’ve been back in Edinburgh I have created an illustration website called Thunder and Icecream using Cargo Collective. It still needs some work of course, but it’s a step in the right direction and that feels really good.
A few things I took away from my trip to 180 Camp:
– Do things that make you feel a little uncomfortable.
– It’s really very important to connect and interact with people that do things that you don’t.
– Stop waiting around for someone to give you permission to do what you want to do.
– Don’t be afraid, move with the momentum and if you fall, fall hard.
As promised, here are some links to a few of the other artists and musicians from the week: