For 17 years now, OFFF has been a main crossroads for artists and talented people to see, hear, experience and share their vision and set of principles with their community. For me personally, other than being there to support Vuong Tong who presented, on stage, the Wix Design Playground (that will take place this summer in NYC), going to design festivals and conferences is a chance to break daily routine and gain perspective on your field of work. It’s a concentrated dose of inspiration that expands your horizons and makes you feel lucky to be doing what you do.

From this year’s edition of OFFF in Barcelona, it seems as if illustration has become the most evolved field of visual communication. Not just as a technique, but as an approach. Illustration has become personal, whimsical and more experimental at times. It captures the individual’s perspective of the relationship between the manual and the digital, between funny and serious, between artistic and communicative. But it’s also about the technique chosen – whether it’s classic, graphic, 3D or a little bit of everything.

As far as illustration trends go, the experience at OFFF Barcelona made it seem like there’s a return to old, commercial-style posters, with a conscious amount of cheesiness and bright bold colors such as in the well-known style of Toiletpaper Magazine. That was the general voice of the festival’s branding as well. But above it all, humor was the element that wrapped all this great design together. At the end of the day, the talks that resonated the most were ones that used humor as part of their style or message. Whether it was an illustration or an image, as long as there was humor there, it was rewarded with attention and interest. Like Donald O’Connor sang to Gene Kelly in Singing In The Rain: “Make them laugh, don’t you know everyone wants to laugh?”

 

With that in mind, for laughter and inspiration, here are some designers and studios that caught my attention during OFFF Barcelona.

Kirsten Lepore – American designer and animator focusing on stop-motion

Lepore started out as a flash animator, and through trial and error with her independent projects, she created a unique line of stop-motion videos that are both naive and defying. With her commercial projects, Lepore successfully combines art and messaging. Her independent work Hi Stranger from 2016, quickly turned viral and had numerous take-offs and memes following it.

Studio DBLG – a UK-based creative design agency

Their riveting work of building real structures and combining them with 3D elements make their projects feel crafty. On their branding project for Channel 4, their perspective is ever present with colorful humor-based design and a game between the communicative and the abstract that creates a unique and intriguing language.

Dogstudio – a Belgian-American interactive studio specializing in digital, product and brand

This studio’s wide variety of clients include cultural and government establishments, leisure brands and hi-tech companies. With each one of their projects, they bring forward rich design and content that combine experience and brand. Their graphic vision comes through in particular with their spectacular website design for Kikk Festival.

Malika Favre – a French illustrator based in London

After a few years working for various companies, Favre became a freelance illustrator. Her early work included erotic style illustration with a wink. Her current body of work is flat and graphic, with bold light and shade play. Her subjects are taken from a colorful rich world, mostly glamour girls that seem like they were captured in a specific period in time. The experience of seeing her work is like witnessing a time capsule. A spectacular world of glamour that references old tourism posters from the ‘30s with a touch of pop-art.

Device Studio – an interactive studio from Spain

This studio’s style combines different worlds of content in illustration, images and collages. Their design is curious and travels the line between refinement and roughness with edginess, humor, movement and ironic trashiness. Alongside their classic big clients, they have smaller ones that allow them to bring their boldness forward.