Review of PALS Passion Projects

Posted by Alina Pîrvu on 24.01.19

A few weeks into 2019, it was the right time to take another look at that list of new year resolutions and start making plans and setting goals for those personal passions outside of the 9-to-5. This was the premise of the first 2019 PALS session that took place last week at the Forge in Bristol. Passion Projects was borne out of a desire to bring together a small community of people to share, learn and support each other in the pursuit of doing more of what they love.

To set the tone for the evening, three fantastically inspiring speakers took turns in sharing their own passion projects and individual journeys.

With a career that merges creativity, technology and business, Tom Evans spoke about his experience in creating BleepBleeps, a brand of connected gadgets that make parenting easier. What started as an observation in a time of distress (why isn’t a thermometer connected to the internet to immediately inform a worried parent of the situation status?), soon turned into a product idea and the initial contours of a brand, with fun product names such as Tony Tempa and Suzy Snooze.

But the journey was hillier than anticipated, as Tom candidly emphasised. He left the audience with a few of his key learnings: it takes a lot of effort, it may be beyond what you know now and it is relentless. So make sure your heart is in it no matter what!

Next Carl Godfrey from Mytton Williams brought a different perspective, that of personal endeavours and explorations fuelled by curiosity. From his experimental work driven by a pure passion to create to designing for a client such as the trophies for the British Athletics League, and proactive initiatives that end up winning hearts and growing faster than expected such as his NH-YES pin badges. Anything that sparks a thought, triggers a feeling or just isn’t right inspires Carl to put a design spin on it. 

Lastly, Adrian Barclay from Marles & Barclay spoke about passion projects triggered by a collective desire to create. One such example was a map of Bristol with a twist — an insider’s guide to the city’s independent shops and cultural landmarks. Together with his WEDF team of volunteers, the content was carefully curated to cover 180 listings and then beautifully illustrated and designed to fit in a pocket. A project that reached the hearts of the Bristol community and beyond. 

There were unanticipated challenges along the way as well as it had to be commercialised somehow, but working together the team found new ways around it whilst keeping alive the creative spark that triggered it all.

We then opened up the workshop discussion in two smaller groups, hearing about everyone’s passions, ideas and desires. Working together within the groups, each Passion Project was discussed to find ways of overcoming barriers, get some validation from people new to it, or simply inspire others to discover what makes them tick. We’ll return later in the year to see what happened next…

As we wrapped up the session it became obvious that it hadn’t just been an inspiring few hours, with more ideas, talent and aspirations under one roof than anyone can have on an ordinary Wednesday evening. There was something bigger in the air — a rewarding feeling that a small community of creative minds was just starting to shape up in a small room overseeing the city. 

Upcoming there are two more PALS sessions focusing on Freelance Life (Wednesday 20th February) and Animation (Wednesday 20th March) with the same enthusiasm and interesting crowds of people (tickets available here). We hope to see you there!

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