POST Design Festival and Conference

Copenhagen’s newest design festival & conference POST focuses on the working life of the visual communicator and the ethics of design. From August 17 till 20, 2016 the first edition will host talks, debates and workshops. We talked with Jody Barton, founder of POST, about curating, challenges and politics.

Tell me about your path to becoming a festival organizer.

Originally I was on my own in this project but now we are a team of three people equally directing and organising. Peter Folkmar, a Danish graphic designer and Art Director, Aideen McCole, an Irish events organiser and design culture journalist and myself - an illustrator and designer. When I started working on my idea for a festival I wanted to cover the political and social aspects of illustration. Illustration is immersed in a style frenzy currently and while undergoing a continued boom it has also heavily been influenced (not for the first time in its history I might add) by the needs of advertising. Many people who have become illustrators have done so because they have a personal message - they are interested in sharing their views on the world and themselves. Immediately on expanding the team to three we realised that this ‘need to comment’ is much wider in the communication arts – ubiquitous in fact. There are many festivals of communication arts - but we feel there is a need for a new conversation. A conversation about ‘why’ rather than just stylishly ‘how’ the images come to light.

I'm curious if you give the speakers a brief/subject for their talk? Because why are politics and the social aspects so important.

We are in the process of briefing the speakers now so we haven’t finalised that part - but in essence I want to get people to talk about the politics of their work – and I don’t mean ‘party politics’ or national politics – I mean the internal politics of creation. The ‘why’ not the ‘how’. It’s not ‘what pen do you use’ – but instead ‘what makes you want to make something in the first place – and who is paying?’.

What is the story behind the festival name?

We changed the name of the festival three times. It was very specific in title before but we felt that a more open and interpretable name gave the festival more scope to develop its shape and meaning over multiple years. The modern image is ‘posted’, and the job of image making is more and more a universal obsession with the continued rise of social media. We could therefore be in a world of ‘post design’ where the image is a new language that we all know how to speak – or are learning.

Tell me about the idea behind the identity for the festival.

Like the festival itself, we wanted the visual identity to be more of a conversation than a focused (visual) message. We wanted to put our speakers in front and we wanted to show the power and diversity of their visual expressions. Peter wanted to play with the inherent political implications of design by visually referencing protest placards and activist aesthetics.

When we finally settled with the name POST the visual identity more or less designed itself – using the O in the name as a placeholder for images is so simple, it’s almost stupid. Though for us it made good sense to use the space as, well, a place to post images made by the participating artists and designers. For all these different visual expressions to work together the frame had to be quite simple and so an identity based on type felt like the natural way to go.

The typeface used (Druk) is either too wide or too condensed – like two voices, a conversation in itself. The shifting widths create a nice visual tension and so does the color scheme: none of us particularly like orange but it has a sense of urgency to it that we found just right!

Homepage Post Festival

How does organizing a design festival influence your design practice?

Well, it stops it in its tracks! It is all consuming. So I’m doing this for love because it certainly is not a money making project. The feelings that led me to this point though have been the basis of my practice as an image maker since I started.

How do you curate the program?

It’s quite simple - ask the best people in the world over and over again until they crumble and give in.

Yes, but how do you find the best people in the world?

Well, I suppose my idea of who is best is hugely subjective. I wanted people who I knew were great speakers, great creators, innovative, high profile and available!

Quite a difficult specification! Also because we are new, it was extra hard! Next year will be even better. So many people who were already booked out this year are already committed to 2017. Some serious heavyweights.

“We feel there is a need for a new conversation. A conversation about ‘why’ rather than just stylishly ‘how’ the images come to light.”
— Jody Barton

What is the biggest challenge for Post Design Festival?

Definitely, being a new festival, the challenge is funding. This is a full time labour of love for three people. It is almost impossible for us to get enough funding for our original lofty goals, but with profuse thanks to the Danish Arts Foundation we can do it. Also we have the support of the incredible Space 10 organisation who are our venue and have provided an amazing level of support and service.

What are you most proud of or excited about if you look at the Post Design Festival program?

I like everything about it. Every little thing. I can’t wait to be there. It will be pretty overwhelming.

Why should anyone come to Post Design Festival?

t’s going to be ridiculously amazing and it’s bloody cheap too. Have you seen the price of some of these festivals?

We can’t agree more with Jody. The line-up looks amazing. Just by checking the website we already discovered some fantastic new (to us) designers, like: Louise Hold Sidenius, founder of Officin, a combined publishing house, exhibition space and workshop in Copenhagen. Or, also from Copenhagen, Studio Atlant. Run by Cecilie Nellemann and Stefan Thorsteinsson who, among other matter, designed the amazing magazine The Exposed, which we have in our studio! And German illustrator Maren Karlson who creates stunning worlds full with girls, jokes and neon colours. Enjoy the first edition of POST!

Design Festival & Conference

17 - 20 August 2016
Copenhagen, Denmark


Talks Program: 250DKK Student / 400DKK ‘Full Price’
Workshop place: 250DKK Student / 400DKK ‘Full Price’

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