2nd May, 2012

New Adventures, the sequel

The second New Adventures in Web Design took place earlier this year, again at Nottingham Albert Hall. Some three months later, I’ve finally found some time to write a little about it for posterity.

This year I had my friend and colleague Greg Wood on board, and we really pushed the boat out. Alongside our UK speakers Robbie Manson and Naomi Atkinson, we flew in Trent Walton, Frank Chimero, Denise Jacobs, Cameron Koczon, Travis Schmeisser, and Dan Mall. We organised workshops from The Standardistas, Ben Bodien, and that man Trent. We again took over a whole bowling alley, organised screen printing sessions, and held a five-a-side football tournament. Our after-party was packed and went on into the early hours. All in all, it was one hell of a week.

The hall during Naomi Atkinson’s presentation. Photo: Rob Antill

Thanks to our lovely sponsors and friends, we upped our goodie bag this time around, packed with fine stuff for attendees to carry around with them all day.

Our goodies, sans bag.

With help from my best mate Oliver Wood at Joff+Ollie, we again produced a fantastic 32-page newspaper, full of interviews and special contributions, and printed for us by The Guardian. You can still buy a PDF copy if you wish.

Second issue of our 32-page newspaper.

After a boozy little party for friends and speakers at my house on the Tuesday, it was down to business on the Wednesday morning for the three workshops. Around 90 folks arrived to be inspired across three rooms at the Albert Hall, whilst Greg and I quietly ran around preparing for the main conference.

The big Texan Trent Walton running his workshop. Photo: Rob Antill

Our friends at Erskine Design again organised a brilliant night of bowling for around 400 attendees across 24 lanes. The beer at the bowling alley is of questionable quality, but otherwise we loved again being able to find a place big enough to get everyone in the mood and meet up with each other the night before.

The second annual Erskine Bowling. Photo: Rob Antill

Attendees came from far and wide. Most come from the big cities that surround Nottingham, but also lots from London, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, plus a number of Americans, Canadians, and Eastern Europeans. It was wonderful to also welcome our first Icelanders, and even Kylie all the way from Australia.

Approximately 650 attendees in need of refreshments. Photo: Rob Antill

Our friends at Hoefler & Frere Jones helped us pay for 650 amazing custom cupcakes from local company Swirls Bakery. The cupcake tower was a sight to behold, with dozens of geeks photographing it for several minutes before the inevitable destruction and subsequent sugar-rush.

A tower of 650 cupcakes (detail). Photo: Rob Antill

I’d personally like to thank Greg for everything he did. Everything. Aside from all his hard work and killer decisions, it was especially comforting for me to have a partner in crime to help take care of everything, deal with unexpected surprises, and keep me calm throughout. In no way could I have done this again without him.

Hanging with Greg, stage-left. Photo: Rob Antill

We had several stands in the foyer, including Fontdeck, Pearson Books, Typecast, and Ubelly. The chaps from Belong launched at New Adventures with fantastic tees from the likes of Mike Kus and Tim Van Damme.

The chaps from Wear You Belong launch at New Adventures. Photo: Rob Antill

Our speakers were fantastic, naturally. Robbie Manson delivered his first big presentation and this went down a storm. Dan Mall had everyone on their feet, hands in the air. Trent had us in the palm of his hands. Frank Chimero talked about how design moves, via tiny ponies and an emotional clip from Steve Jobs that had a few of us on the verge of tears.

Mr. Frank Chimero’s closing keynote. Photo: Rob Antill

The main conference day was over all too fast, and Greg and I were exhausted. On the day, the feedback via Twitter and in person was hugely positive, and I think we learned from some of the mistakes we made in the first year. It’s vital that we make New Adventures work for everyone, yet still aim to take risks and deliver surprises in the content and elsewhere.

Time for me to close the show. Photo: Rob Antill

Greg and I managed to find a quiet corner at the after-party to collapse our brains, reflect on the day, and enjoy our first well-earned beers before others found us and we had to switch on again. The party is one of our favourite parts, unwinding with hundreds of friends from all over the web. It’s at this point that all the hard work really seems worth it.

The packed after-party, again at Escucha. Photo: Rob Antill

The following day, a number of us convened in the rain at Forest Fields recreation ground for the Fr00tball five-a-side competition. Despite hangovers and adverse conditions, the competition was lung-bustingly good fun, and the finalists embarked upon a game that nobody is quite sure who won, due to some questionable decisions I think. Still, trophy shared.

The finalists in Friday’s Fr00tball competition. Photo: Kylie Wilson

Also on the Friday, our screen printing class took place, ran by our friend Norm at Waste Studios. Take-up for this was small so we only ran one class instead of the intended four. However, I reckon we’ll do better with this next time, as everyone involved had a great time and produced some brilliant prints. Once you see all of Dan Rubin’s photos, I’m sure you’ll want to join in next time.

Naomi Atkinson at the screen printing workshop. Photo: Dan Rubin

As with our inaugural event, I was overwhelmed with the positive vibes (can’t think of a better word there) from everyone involved. The hugest of thanks to our speakers, sponsors, volunteers, everyone at Nottingham Albert Hall, Nottingham Audio Visual, Rob Antill, Dan Rubin, Norm at Waste Studios, Erskine, the Jeebols, the Studiomates, Lace Market Hotel, Escucha, The Living Room, Swirls Bakery, Oliver Wood, and many more.

Our final thanks must go to you: every single attendee. This thing just wouldn’t fly without your support. We owe every person who buys a ticket and we hope we delivered. Thank you for sharing once more in our new adventures.

As usual, no thanks whatsoever to PayPal. Thanks again for breaking our balls. Your time will be up soon.

Coverage, photos, videos, and more to explore

We’ve collated all of the coverage on this page, featuring your blog posts, Flickr sets, videos, sketch notes and more.

Our official Flickr sets are here, with photos from Rob Antill and Dan Rubin.

Our videos are slowly appearing here. Currently, you can enjoy Robbie’s amazing presentation, and a wonderful talk from Travis.

You can view slides from both events on Speakerdeck.

Finally, remember that you can buy a PDF of the newspaper here if you desire, for just one pound.

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