By Simon Thujis, strategy assistant, Meerkats.
“It’s a creative conference,” I said to my partner, stuffing patterned socks and a watermelon t-shirt into my sports bag.
“At a winery? Down south?” he said with a puzzled look on his face.
I should’ve known by his response, that indeed, Emergence is not quite what it seems.
Far from a creative conference (the ‘anti-conference’ as it is affectionately known), Emergence Creative Festival turned out to be, and I quote a keynote speaker here: “loose as f***”. Yet this so-called loose anti-conference also turned out to be educational.
As a fresh uni grad who is new to being a junior burger in advertising, Emergence, held at Margaret River in April, was the perfect antidote to long list-filled lectures. At Emergence the real ticket value comes not from passive listening, but from chatting to the keynote speakers over lunch on the lawn, or picking their brains after you (and they) have had a beer or two.
Lectures, pretense and job titles took a backseat, as I found myself learning by just having good chats with good people. Many of those conversations were had at Fairfax Media’s incredible opening event –– a lavish dinner held outdoors under the stars (well, transparent marquee, close enough) at Ellensbrook. After a spirited Welcome to Country, Fervor treated us with locally sourced delicacies, from fresh macadamias to salted bush and crispy Barramundi bladders. Of course, being an insufferable millennial, I couldn’t resist a salted bush selfie:
And yet while the food was fancy and the invite list exclusive, the down-to-earth attitude of Emergence shone through. This carefree attitude was clear in the entertaining pre-dessert rap that was performed by a few attendees spontaneously, apparently yet another long-held tradition of the Festival.
As for the daytime events, the festival program was incredibly diverse. Hearing from Malinda Wink of Good Pitch Australia was a highlight for me, as I learned of the strategic thinking that went into one of my favourite documentaries, Gayby Baby. Meanwhile James Dive reflected upon his refusal to be pigeon holed as an art director, and it was clear that doing so led to him completing such a wide spectrum of successful work, from sculptures and installations to brand campaigns and beyond.
Overall, Emergence’s creative casualness forces you to think beyond the brief and beyond your job title––which is clearly counter to the ways in which we’re asked to work each day.
It’s this aspect of the festival which I believe is most most helpful to juniors. Emergence has helped me to stop fretting about what’s written in my job description or goes on my timesheet. Instead it’s widened my perspective as to what constitutes ‘good work’, and ultimately strengthened my belief in the potency of creativity.
Simon Thujis is a Communications Council WA Jump Start Graduate Program participant. Visit www.emergencecreative.com for more on the Emergence Creative Festival.