Toward's trip to Insites Tour in Bristol

By Toward,

July 2011


Insites Tour

We're sat in the studio this morning with our usual friday bacon buttie, freshly brewed coffee and general morning chatter. The difference with this morning? The level of enthusiasm, passion and inspiration coursing through the veins of the Toward team is running at record levels. Why, we hear you ask!? Well, last night Tom, Mike and Rob, along with one of our great clients Richard, attended a new discussion forum called Insites, which we were fortunate enough to sponsor.

Insites is a series of informal evening discussions about design and the web, held in creative spaces with well known industry folk talking about their experiences. The talks have been happening over the course of this week and the last one took place in the Bristol Watershed.

Insites Tour Website

The format of Insites is different to the web usual conferences where one person stands on stage in front of hundreds and does their thing. The set up last night was intimate, with a crowd of around 60 people sat together and the industry experts sat down talking about their careers. There was also plenty of time for questions and answers and the informal tone meant that people could interject at any time, as if you were chatting to your mates in the pub.

Also they were handing our these pretty lovely letter-pressed coasters courtesy of the main tour sponsor Mailchimp:

Insites letterpressed coasters

First to speak was Mike Kus, a super talented designer from Bath. Mike gave a great insight into his transition from traditional graphic design to web design and if you have seen any of his work (and you really should) then you will see how he has applied graphic design to the web in a truly creative and beautiful way. Mike talked at length about designers not being restricted by the web tools available to them and creating design that works and tells a story, rather than just doing fancy things that look nice. This is something that really took us back to our uni days and is something that we need to keep at the forefront of our business.

Next up was Jon Tan. Rob saw Jon speak at the New Adventures in Web Design conference in January where he touched upon storytelling, typography, emotional responses to design and cultures. Last night these topics were also prevalent along with an insight into his own background and career progression. Jon talked about some seriously fascinating stuff about creating a relationship between the design of something and its user, stuff that is going to keep our minds ticking for some time to come. Jon was also kind enough to award Mike the 'best question' swag bag, for his question about hunting octopus (you really needed to be there).

Elliot Jay Stocks who co-organised the Insites Tour with Keir Whitaker was the third interviewee and his focus was on how to build a reputation, responsive web design and also about public speaking, something that he does a lot of. The fascinating thing about Elliot's design career is that he seems to cover so many different areas of design from web to branding and be equally good at them. He also talked about his other project, 8 Faces magazine, a publication dedicated to typography. We were gutted to have missed out on the first 2 issues, so the first thing we did this morning was download the PDF versions from his website. We'll definitely be getting issue 3 when it comes out.

Insites Tour Partners We were chuffed to be amongst some great names as an Insites partner

What was apparent across all three talks was that these guys are truly passionate about what they do. They love being part of the design community, they love getting involved and giving back and kindly they are also willing to share their experiences and stories.

So, as we crossed the bridge back into Wales, we all felt pretty inspired. The event confirmed that we are doing a lot of stuff right at Toward but it also made it clear that we have lots of new avenues to explore and there's no doubt that this is an exciting time for us and we're chuffed to be making some lovely, talented new friends along the way.