OFFF Festival: Best of Barcelona

It’s the digital age (you may have heard…) But while some agencies ditch the drawing and declare ‘paper is dead’, our own Michela Nicchiotti scopes out Europe’s largest creative showcase to see what happens when analogue and digital collide… 


Three days, 70 exhibitions, screenings of animation, interactive installations, the world’s greatest creative minds sharing knowledge of visual communication… and not a single printed programme.

With hundreds of specialists descending on Barcelona to celebrate all things digital, I guess it’s unsurprising. In this instance, print can seem plain redundant. But what happens when there’s a call for animatic sketching or killer calligraphy? In an industry where consumers access the vast majority of media online, CGI reigns supreme and artwork has to transmit to screen, are these methods becoming obsolete? Or is there still a place for traditional skills and materials within the digital sphere? Can craftsmanship and innovation coexist to shape new frontiers in creativity? Now in its tenth year, OFFF Festival drew to it four artists doing exactly that…


REFLEKTOR, Aaron Koblin


The man behind Arcade Fire’s latest interactive music video, Aaron Koblin is lauded for his use of light-responsive tech in REFLEKTOR, in partnership with Google lab. A YouTube sensation, the viewer connects mobile phone to webcam and uses gyroscope and accelerometer functionalities to manipulate the reflection of light from the video, to control the contours of shapes and shadows on-screen.

What is not so apparent from your standard viewing, is that most of these light effects are in fact hand-made using marble ink on paper. By bouncing the light off a CD and using shards of mirror, the shimmering lights are filmed overlapping one another. This footage is then edited to fit specific video content in order to achieve a unique visual experience. In short, by merging ink-and-paper craft with Google lab’s interface that allows for hyper-customised filters, Koblin managed to produce truly unique, consumer-cultivated content.


Seb Lester goes social

seb lebster

He’s one of the biggest names in the industry. His typography and type illustrations have been adopted by the likes of NASA, Apple, Nike and The New York Times. And now, Lester’s on a mission to share his skills through ‘how to’ videos and vines across Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Incredibly niche, Lester’s style is full of references to ancient and medieval symbology, and hinges on mastering the art of a manuscript Italian pen. While some may think it unusual to share secrets of his highly personalised writing style, Lester’s foray into social networking allows for a talent otherwise confined to one man and his sheaf of paper, to be shared with digital natives.


FIELD’s Digital Painting


Cartridge paper and binary code. Not your average combination. But, in a bid to make GF Smith’s paper offering relevant to digital creative, FIELD produced 10,000 unique cover artworks using digital print and generative design. With each sleeve featuring a different hyper complex sculpture, or fractal image, it’s a prime example of how futuristic techniques can bring new life to traditional mediums.


And finally… Casey Neistat – the simple touch

casey neistat

A film maker with a tendency to come up with the goods for virals, Nesitat’s filmmaking style is fresh, spontaneous, and, in a departure from industry norms, hinges on simple pen and paper methods. Creating title and narrative slides by writing on paper with a marker, or cutting letters on boards, he achieves an owned, simple style that is distinctly ‘Neistat’. In an industry constantly chasing high production values, super effects and CGI, Neistat’s immediacy on-screen allows his content to speak for itself. His Make It Count for Nike, shot in 10 days by just two people, has reached 11.5m views in two years – case in point.