Warming Up

Posted by John Mawby on 12.06.18

Firstly, I am willing to concede being asked to be the first WEDF warm-up speaker was a case of say yes and worry about it later’. It was an obvious decision, but as an inexperienced speaker it was not a comfortable one. I’d have kicked myself so hard if I had turned the opportunity down – now even more so in hindsight.

Having agreed I would speak and filled with nervous excitement, there were many things that reassured me. Simply experiencing the friendly and welcoming WEDF atmosphere through attending past lectures. The gift of being handed a large and well tailored audience to engage with. The realisation that I will simply be imparting my passion for what I do – something I do all the time!

Once in front of the mic everything made sense. As I worked through each slide, I became more relaxed and begun to observe the audiences reaction to my work and what I had to say; the looks of astonishment, the concentration through interest & intrigue, noises of awe, laughter only fellow type-nerds would reciprocate. I believe it’s experiences like this that keep myself and fellow start-ups persevering – the encouragement stays with you far longer than the fifteen minutes of fame.

Whilst the experience was valuable in personal morale it was valuable on a more practical level too. You are placed in a position, as a warm-up, to support a main speaker; in my case the brilliant Jack Renwick Studio. In this position you have the privilege of mingling with such high calibre. It was thrilling to talk with Jack, we enter the design world from two very different spectrums but at the heart seem to share many of the same principles. I think it can be very useful to remove yourself from your bubble – particularly if you are working alone – and appreciate the approaches others have to solving design problems, it may be surprising. As well as the immediate opportunities arising from supporting a main speaker, there was a whole hoard of enthusiastic audience members to indulge in. Now having relocated to one of Bristol’s bars amongst everyone on the same level, it was incredibly fun to meet so many interesting people. You never know who may be attending the event.

Since speaking for WEDF there have been a couple of exciting developments. Taxi Studio asked me to come along and spend a day with all of their creatives, introducing them to lettercutting. I was a wild day full of lots of fun and healthy competition – naturally. Throughout the day I saw 20 people divided into smaller groups, each person left having hand-carved their first ever letter in stone. It was also a great learning curve for me, being able to teach to others what I do, something I hope to do more of. The second project to come directly from the talk is still ongoing, I can tell you it involves the opening of a newly refurbished building for an existing Bristol based design studio. It’s reassuring for me to know that people can see my more artistic work and think laterally about how it can be applied, in this case to an opening plaque. 

I know that as a result of this talk I have extended my network and fan-base, there’s no telling what is around the corner and I would like to thank WEDF again for having me.

Photo credit: Ben McCluskey