Taking a quick break from my US travels, I headed to Canada to attend THE event of the year, Blend! Like no other conference in the world, this two-day event is made for motion designers by motion designers taking place in Vancouver on September 21st and 22nd.
Tickets sold like hotcakes. After selling out in mere minutes, I felt fortunate to grab one. Still, in its infancy (only the third year), people were hyped.
What was all the fuss about? Here is my experience.
This was my first time attending anything like this. Flying solo, I was intimidated. Who would I talk to? What would I say?
I'm not sure if this is lame or not, but I set some goals for the weekend. I wanted to talk to, and really connect with people, introduce myself, pass out some(outdated) business cards.
Low and behold people were super friendly. The first break of day one, I just kind of went up to people and introduced myself. It's uncomfortable at first, but that is a huge reason people are there to talk!
I’m not sure I have ever seen and been around so much talent in one place, seriously, I was so humbled to be in the same area as these people.
Hosting Blend was Jay Grandin, Partner & Creative Director at Giant Ant. His thoughts on the industry reflected some of my own actually. He spoke about studio lingo, macro, and micro studios and how that is shaping the industry in new ways. On top of that, literally, everything moves and requires motion today. We have more resolutions to create for than ever before. I am glad I am not the only one that has been noticing these things.
Xoana Herrera is a wrecking ball, her energy was something to behold. She shared her growth as an artist, raw and unedited.
Nicolas Ménard seems like a guy that I would want around when things go to shit. The man has a calmness about him. His presentation was about sharing work from projects that were killed. Companies are changing and constantly evolving, their ask from last week could be different this week. With that comes work that you won't be able to share. I feel that...
Johnny Kelly tells it how it is. We all relate to the first line one time or another...
Simon & Oscar went into great detail about their ups and downs while starting Part One. Again the theme of micro studios is prevalent here.
Nick and Ian from Gunner totally nailed their comedy stand up routine... ugh... I mean presentation. No, seriously, their talk was great. They shared their humble garage beginnings, and how they eventually grew into the team, they have today. Knowing what they lacked in skill sets, they connected with people that filled what was missing. That kind of thinking was present in their work. They seem to be very particular in making sure they pick the right people for their projects. It shows.
Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits, like others she shared Moth's story of friendship and passion. Finding lasting connections and trust with the people around can give you amazing results.
The amount of inspiration I experienced over the week was nothing short of amazing. If you have been hesitant about attending a conference like this, you need to just take the dive.
Kendra Ryan, a silent force in the industry, shared a large amount of her work and thoughts on directing from an animator's perspective. I particularly liked one of her very last sentences. She is interested to see how motion design will influence education. I love this because I have felt for a long time, there isn't enough focus on quality educational content for a younger audience. We are saturated by the amount of quality work we see in entertainment. Education can't provide knowledge in a similarly exciting way; I don't doubt that students will suffer. Everything is fighting for your attention, and motion design could play an essential role in creating a fun and engaging learning experience.
One of the most inspiring speakers of the weekend was, without a doubt Handel Eugene. His presentation talked about creating award-winning... scratch that... reward winning work. Because we often search for validation in one form or another. It is really about finding happiness within your practice. Awards can be great, but it isn't what we should strive for in this industry. I think all motion designers can get caught in the tide sometimes: we lose focus on why we started in this industry.
Bingo, I am on the list.
We ended the two-day event with cheers, and we were on our way to the after-party.
Oh wait, there is a marching band!!
That then continued outside... freaking epic.
My man on the tuba was killing it.
Over two days, I had connected with so many amazing people. I think that's the lasting thing you're supposed to get out of these events. People all over the world came here to celebrate motion design, and these moments I will take with me and remember when times are tough. You need to be recharged in your career every now and then.
Everyone was super kind; I was able to grab dinner with some fantastic people both days.
The after-parties were packed, but dang were they fun. I got the chance to introduce myself to Joey Korenman, founder of the School of Motion, and even took shots with Nick Forshee from Gunner. Everyone was super cool, and I feel grateful to be a part of such a fantastic community.
Not gonna lie, shit got a little wild on the second night.
I caught this shot on the way back to my Airbnb. Vancouver was beautiful, definitely would love to return someday and spend more time exploring.
With Blend coming to a close, I couldn't believe the weekend I had just had. So much to take home with me, definitely a unique experience in a crazy industry. I hope this gives readers an idea of what it is like attending a conference. Till next time!