Getting OFFF: artists inspire new world of creativity
Dozens of hand-illustrated postcards addressed to Barcelona, postage included, fluttered into the crowd of 300 designers, artists and art appreciators, all gathered in Cincinnati to learn and explore the meaning of art. Two brothers, the ones responsible for the postcards, issued a simple request: "Tell us what you thought, and draw a portrait of us."
The two brothers, Juan and Alejandro Mingarro, comprise Brosmind
, a Barcelona-based illustration firm. Their presentation, part of the first-ever OFFF Cincinnati
at the Contemporary Arts Center, looked to find the future of creative thought.
But the Brosmind session was just one of six presentations by some of the world's most innovative and progressive artists. In 36 hours in downtown Cincinnati, attendees heard from illustrators to directors, from Montreal to Amsterdam to Barcelona, about a brave new world of art.
Hector Ayuso, the Barcelona-based graphic and motion designer who founded OFFF
, brought a piece of his three-day OFFFest to Cincinnati for two days. He left behind ideas and inspiration after connecting people to the future of creative thought.
OFFF (Online Flash Film Festival) started in 2001 to help people experience art in new ways, by showcase films and design Ayuso found inspirational. He invited some of his favorite artists to Barcelona to speak and present their work. They accepted, and since then, OFFF has been growing ever since.
"I started OFFF with the idea of creating an event I would like to attend," Ayuso says. "I chose artists that make me feel inspired."
The three-day festival, which now draws more than 3,500 people, originally took place in Barcelona. He has moved it to cities such as Paris, New York City and Lisbon. But then last year, Ayuso decided to make the festival's birthplace, Barcelona, its permanent home. With hundreds of requests to bring OFFF to cities around the world, Ayuso decided to develop a smaller version of OFFF that is easier to share and take on tour.
The only thread that connects artists Ayuso chooses to present is that they all inspire him in some deep and meaningful way. Ayuso wakes up everyday around 4:30 a.m. and immediately begins to comb through the Internet for art and design that changes the creative landscape. Many up–and-coming artists he finds are from referrals of his students at a small design school in Barcelona, which he started after the success of the original OFFF. Each year, 90 percent of presenters are new, which helps the festival create an extensive network of artists around the world. They convene once a year at OFFF.
The connection between Cincinnati and OFFF began after Molly O'Toole, CAC communications director, learned about the festival from Pol Pla I Canuso, a former employee of Barcelonan who spoke at the CAC in 2010. Soon after, O'Toole contacted Ayuso about bringing OFFF to the CAC over a year ago. Last week, Cincinnati became the first stop of the On Tour version of OFFF, and Ayuso plans on it being the only one in the United States for the foreseeable future.
One of the presenting groups,
Lernert & Sander, a duo of Dutch directors, has only been a part of OFFF for four months, but they already see the festival as a way to see how people interact and react to their art. "We didn't do it [present at OFFF] to find work," says Lernert Engelbert, "We did it to hear what people think about our work."
In Ayuso's mind, Cincinnati was a perfect tour stop for OFFF. With the CAC as a home base, there are many groundbreaking local design firms ready to help with projects and events. Local high-tech startup HyperQuake
, for example, jumped at the opportunity to work with OFFF. They created a mobile app that encouraged participants to interact and complete challenges on Twitter, start a thumb war with a stranger during OFFF, and take pictures of the person to your right. All pushing for interaction between people and art, even the logo HyperQuake created for OFFF represented many pieces coming together to form a coherent image.
The relationships between Cincinnati-based artists and those traveling from around the world mirrored much of what the presenting artists had to say. Throughout the day of presentations, it became apparent that Ayuso chose all the artists, not because of their talent, but because of their passion for what they do.
The opening titles video, created by the attending artists, is a long-standing tradition of OFFF. For OFFF Cincinnati, local filmmakers and designers Lauren Edward & Mattie
, created the official opening titles for OFFF Cincinnati, which was filmed in the OTR. Vasava
, a Barcelona-based communication studio created their own opening credits, which showed candy-makers, iron forgers and carpenters making each artist's or artist group's names out of their respective mediums. HyperQuake's name was dyed blue into a red and white striped candy. At OFFF, Vasava handed a bag of the candy to HyperQuake.
But HyperQuake wasn't the only one that left with a memento, Ayuso made a stop by Designs by Dana in Northside to get a tattoo on the top of his left hand. The tattoo is the logo of Joshua Davis's company
, a presenter who has been to OFFF every year. "I like to get something that reminds me of everywhere I go," Ayuso says. "We will miss Cincinnati. We are already planning on coming back next year."
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