Here at ORCA, we’re big fans of stepping outside the studio for a change of scenery and some much needed off screen inspiration. A few weeks back I went to Us By Night Design Festival in Antwerp with an awesome crew of designers from UK agencies Supple, Halo and us at ORCA. So for this special edition of Agency Juice, I’ll be giving a round up of some of the awesome creatives we met at the festival along with a few of the antics we got up to in the city.
Having never been to the festival I was hyped to check out some of the guest speakers and come back to the studio filled with inspiration. After way too many beers on the first night and with sore heads we hit up the festival to check the event space out and see what was going down.
With over 80 speakers talking at the festival, it was hard to narrow down exactly who we wanted to check out. After looking through the schedule we managed to plan things out so we didn’t miss any of the good stuff and first up on Thursday eve was Seb Curi; an Argentinian illustrator & animator based in Vancouver.
Seb gave a heartfelt talk about the struggles of trying to work on his own illustration style whilst holding down a more corporate role in his early days. He now runs his own studio space which he shares with his girlfriend and has worked with the likes of Apple, Facebook & Corona to name a few. Seb’s talk was motivational and it was awesome to see some of his most recent work.
I hadn’t actually heard of Catarina until recently and I made sure to check out some of her work before hand to learn more about her background and the projects she had worked on. Before setting up her own studio, she worked as head of design for the Boiler Room which meant working for some of the top talent in underground music. She started with an intro and overview of some of her artwork and posters created whilst at Boiler Room;
After setting up on her own Catarina‘s client base grew substantially, moving onto work for various music, culture and retail brands including Diesel, Reebok, The Barbican and Selfridges to name a few. Catarina introduced some detailed case studies where she explains how her studio creates full brand identities and the process involved, including going from strategy thinking through to bespoke typefaces for her clients.
All in all, really awesome to listen to her speak and we’ll be keeping an eye on her studio for sure as some serious creative fuel.
Next up on the hitlist was our girl Kelly Anna who was speaking on the main stage on the Friday eve. This was one I didn’t want to miss. A few of our crew had already met Kelly previously when she gave a talk in Bristol and I had heard nothing but positive things about both her super friendly personality and her motivational story. Kelly was born into a family of ballroom and latin dancers and she started out sketching the dancers as they moved around the floor. She did that for years to build up her skills and by the age of 20 she was a fashion illustrator at London Fashion week. These influences are both so prevalent in her work and now having setup on her own she’s worked for the likes of Nike, Moleskin, AirBnB and H&M. An awesome, inspiring and authentic talk, topped off by meeting her later on too :)
The highlight for me of all speakers was definitely Hasan Rahim. This dude oozes personality and is one of the most modest speakers I’ve seen. So real, informal and definitely no bullshit with this guy. Before he talked about his design style and career, his talk was pretty much a life story summed up in 45 mins and he warned from the outset that shit would get deep! And.. it did, we learned about his tough upbringing in various shared foster houses on the outskirts of Orange County and how in his teenager years, in his own words, ‘skateboarding saved my life’ helping him to get away from some of the darker parts of his rural hometown. The skate scene led him to become part of a tribe and a family that introduced him to underground music, art and a new culture that would become the fuel for his textured, raw and inspiring design work.
Another new name for me, someone who’s work I had never seen which made her talk all the more inspiring was Nicole McLaughlin. She pushes fashion innovation and concepting whilst making sustainability and recycling a priority. She uses old, unused sports clothing or various household goods to create unique clothing items and she’s been featured by some of the top fashion and design publications including Vogue, Hypebeast and WWD. Starting off as a passion project whilst working as a pattern designer, her work was quickly picked up by the likes of Reebok requesting her to create unique, custom pieces.
Ampere, culture, hangovers & vietnamese food
We finished the festival off by hitting up the Ampere Club for the Resident Advisor night with Folamour playing a retro, jazzy disco set that sounded like it was from outer space. Stepping into this venue with it’s vintage, Bauhaus decor and Folamour’s sounds was a mad experience. We loved the vibe, even the fact you had to queue up to get tokens to use for drinks which just made the whole thing even better.
The next day, we went for a nosey round Plantin-Moretus; a printing museum that presents three hundred years of book-printing art and some of the oldest printing presses in the world. Feeling cultured, hungover and starving, we went and hit up our favourite food spot round the corner from our AirBnB. Turns out we didn’t try any Belgian cuisine (sorry waffles) but we did find the tastiest Vietnamese food we’d ever had. Thanks Antwerp, catch ya next year!