I was lucky enough to be able to attend Webstock for the second time this year. The conference in 2010 changed the way I was thinking about my career as an illustrator, so I was expecting something equally as profound from 2011. What I got was even more intense than just a new perspective on my career, I feel like I have a new perspective on myself.
This year I recognised two of the speakers before heading into the conference – Amanda Palmer and Scott McCloud. While I am sure they had many other fans within the 700-strong attendee audience, I feel like Mike and Tash invited them just for me (and no one can tell me otherwise). I got to have my own moments with both of them. Amanda signed my Ukulele and Scott said really beautifully encouraging things about my artwork. I’m very grateful and so inspired to have had the opportunity to talk with such talented people.
The presentations themselves are of the quality you’d expect from an international conference. The speakers come from a wide range of backgrounds to tell you not just about the current state of the industry, but also about the history and how that may affect the future. We hear about what’s broken, what’s working, and what’s interesting. We get to hear about how we can be a part of it. Each speaker has a strong passion for what they’re discussing, and even when it’s a field I know nothing about I can’t help but get inspired. (If you want a sense of what the presentations were like, check out the collective google notes)
I think the power of Webstock is in the mix of speakers from a range of disciplines. I doubt there are many other lineups where you can hear Musicians, Artists, programmers, writers, and designers all speak during the same two days. I like to think it helps us all realise how much we have in common. What a good programmer needs isn’t so different from what a good designer needs, only the skill set is different.
Web is so often a divisive experience. We are put into boxed categories and given one piece of a job to do each. But each part relies on and needs the other parts to exist properly. Webstock is an experience where we all come together and break down those barriers. We learn a little bit about the other parts of what makes up the web. The more respect and understanding we have for the other roles within our teams, the more awesome we will be able to make things. And then we will be able to make the most awesome things.
The only thing that everyone at Webstock has in common is love. Do what you love, and good things will happen. While we all come from different disciplines and backgrounds, this theme runs strongly through the entire conference. Make things and make them with love. Webstock itself is made with love, and that’s evident in even the smallest of details.
Two full days crammed in the Wellington town hall filled with so much love, such intelligent discussion, and such beautiful conversation. It replenishes tired batteries and recharges souls. Last year I realised I could do this stuff, this year I realised I already am doing it.
I’m now two days out of the conference and I still can’t help but grin at everyone I walk past. It makes me miss Webstock so much, because there every single person smiled back.
See you all next year.