Versett Does CAMP

We like to stay inspired at Versett. Recently we had the chance to send three members of our team to CAMP Festival, a 2-day celebration of creative technology, art, and design hosted in Calgary, Alberta. Kat, Amanda and Vinciane soaked in a dozen presentations and came back eager to share what they loved — and didn’t.

Opening remarks for CAMP Festival 2016.

Stacey Mulcahy: “Ran With Scissors”

Stacey Mulcahy focused much of her talk on lessons learned and advice given (and ignored) throughout her career as a developer and program manager at Microsoft, touching on a variety of topics, from the challenges of managing versus making, to celebrating the value in everyone’s contributions.

Kat: Definitely the funniest presentation of CAMP 2016 — I loved her use of gifs! Mulcahy described her early beginnings as a developer and explained why the advice given to her became contrary to her real experience. Her advice was honest and simple and the stories behind them made for a great presentation. My favourite quotes of hers: “Work on building trust,” “Constructive planning will get you far,” and “Everyone has value. Even the Olympic lifeguard.”

You matter, too, Rio Lifeguard!

Vinciane: Stacey’s extreme candor and refreshing take on career advice was a welcome change from the vapid “Work hard/Stay hungry/Don’t be afraid of failure” aphorisms we often hear at industry talks. I particularly appreciated that she dedicated a sizeable amount of her presentation to the benefits of championing others, encouraging us to contribute to the success of our coworkers and teammates and celebrate their successes as if they were our own.

“Don’t just take opportunities; make them for other people.” 
– Stacey Mulcahey

Michael Muller: “Out of the Box”

Spanning nearly 30 years of work as a professional photographer, Michael’s presentation was a visually stunning display of his client work and personal projects. He provided insights into how he blends those often distinct worlds, and shared what keeps him inspired.

Amanda: Michael’s celebrity and portrait work is stunning, but what was truly awe-inspiring were his stories of swimming with the ocean’s apex predators and capturing their often overlooked beauty. He couldn’t find the right equipment to create the shots he wanted underwater, so he designed and manufactured his own lighting system. That’s true passion!

Just compete with yourself; be better than your past work.” 
— Michael Muller

Kat: Muller explained how different jobs, spanning the breadth of celebrity portraits, sports, advertising, music and nature photography, had created value throughout his experience. His passion for documenting great white sharks led Muller to invent a new underwater light — also used for his sport photography for Speedo. It was fascinating to hear how he measured his experience in terms of fulfillment.

Michael Muller’s incredible photos of sharks stole the show on Day 1.

Hydro74: “Defined by Defiance”

Illustrator Joshua M. Smith (better known as Hydro74) revealed in a deeply personal talk how tragedy shaped his life and how the defiance to push forward despite facing unimaginable hardships has led him to where he is now.

Amanda: Hydro74 definitely had a different approach than the other speakers at CAMP. His talk was gritty, raw, and at times potentially offensive. I was sympathetic to his story and was impressed with his complete lack of regard for what a “normal” conference talk should look like. He fought against seemingly endless adversity and grew into an incredibly talented artist despite circumstances beyond his control. The dark nature of his story is definitely visible in the majority of his artwork which adds a certain level of genuine authenticity.

Kat: This talk missed the mark for me. Joshua struggled to tell personal stories about death, abuse and neglect throughout his life while presenting a disconnected series of his illustrations. I failed to understand how this lecture was related to creativity and technology or the CAMP theme of Attitude + Altitude. The convoluted story about his broken home was moving, but he didn’t describe how it became part of his work. I wish he had explained some insight or context for the amazing illustrations he presented on screen. Unfortunately I left feeling neither inspired nor motivated.

Vinciane: This talk was very polarizing amongst many of the attendees. My opinion of this presentation lies somewhere between Amanda’s appreciation of Joshua’s inspirational journey and Kat’s desire to see more of a connection to his work. On one hand, I thought it was an interesting change of pace from the rest of the design and technology-focused talks at CAMP. On the other, I was really excited to hear about Hydro74’s work and was a little disappointed when no real effort was made to circle back to it. It was kind of like walking into a theatre expecting to see a Pixar film, and instead being surprised with a screening of Schindler’s List. Perhaps the real takeaway here was just an exercise in compassion and empathy.

Overall, we walked away with a lot of valuable knowledge about new and emerging technology, gained insightful career advice, and came back to the Versett office with plenty of fodder for conversation and debate. CAMP Festival was an inspiring two days and we’re already looking forward to coming back next year.