OFFF 2015: Seven learnings from Finnish creative director Monica Javanainen

I must admit that it was indeed just as inspiring and magical as I thought it would be!

Monica Javanainen is an influential Finnish creative director who attended OFFF 2015. This is what she had to say about the creative festival in Barcelona. All photos by Monica Javanainen.

Now, when I look at my notes from the OFFF festival in Barcelona last week, seven words stand out. These were reoccurring themes that seemed to surface time after time, both in presentations as well as during discussions to other fellow attendees at the event.

As this was my first time at the legendary OFFF festival, this time celebrating its 15th anniversary, I must admit that it was indeed just as inspiring and magical as I thought it would be!

OFFF is a meeting place and a community for creatives from all over the world and among the speakers appeared talented designers such as Gavin Stange, Michael Cina, Momoco, Chuck Anderson, GMUNK, PostPanic, Stefan Sagmeister, Jon Burgerman, SNASK and many more who represent the seven words that stood out for me during OFFF.

All those impressions…


As Bradley G Munkowitz AKA GMUNK said, “Stribe to constantly re-invent yourself”. Michael Cina recommends that you have check-in points with yourself and your work every six months to make sure you are still taking risks and moving forward. Creative Cloud Evangelist Michael Chaize reminded us how fonts used to be stored on a floppy disc and dispatched by mail and compared this to the effortlessness sharing a font nowadays through Creative Cloud. Transformation is all about us transforming as well as the mutation of the tools we are using. Transformation is a part of the creative process and you need to let it happened. Simply adapt to the change!


… and networking. These are words I strongly believe in and things I was expecting from OFFF. And yes, I met people I believe will somehow still resonate with me long after the event. Nowadays it’s easier than ever before to work with creatives from all over the world. Behance is making it possible for creatives to show off their work, be found and also to connect with other creatives. Team members can nowadays actually work from anywhere around the world and still work on a joint project.

I find that this is an opportunity offering enormous potential for freelancers and companies looking for growth and international expansion. You can actually see the power of such collaboration in the growth of creative hubs and in the increase of their number. Today the biggest hubs are located in Indonesia, Egypt, France and Germany, for example.

Happy to meet new friends.


It’s obvious that creative people need the delight of the analog sensation. Ink, murals, lettering, embroideries and chalk are trending. The process is no longer only ‘digital’ but ‘analog to digital’. We’re going back to the basics. And the new tools and apps makes work a fruitful marriage between analog and digital.


“If you do something, something will happen. If you do more, more will happen.” These were words that designer and photographer Chuck Anderson said repeatedly when on stage. And in one way or another, all of the speakers I heard emphasized the power of work. To really make it you must be prepared to work very hard. Get your hands dirty.


This industry works on karma. Be a lover. The more love you give away, the more love you will have. Share goodness from yourself and it will all come back to you multiplied times. Give away everything you know and more will come back to you. Share. Give. Be grateful. Keep crunching and spreading goodness!

Karma was on my side. I got the chance to say hi to THE Stefan Sagmeister!


Creativity is getting mobilised. With the new Adobe mobile apps Shape, Brush or Color you can use your phone to create colour palettes, shapes and brushes and save them to your Creative Cloud library to be used anywhere. This way it’s easy to seize the inspiration whether you are on a bus or sitting in a restaurant getting a good idea. The mobile apps are digital notebooks and the mobile-to-desktop workflow has never been easier.

Experimental activity with mobile apps Adobe Brush, Adobe Shape and Adobe Color at the Adobe booth.


At OFFF you got a coffee in exchange for a bit of creativity. The price of a cappuccino was a drawing! See, creativity is everywhere. It’s all in front of you, just go and grab it. Creativity means to be brave. Bravery + stupidity = creative awesomeness, quoting the robot maker, Jan De Coster.

Michael Chaize mentioned an interesting psychological fact that creative people are divided in dreamers, incrementalists and doers, and in successful companies there are always two different profiles: dreamers and doers. If you are a dreamer, find a doer, and if you are a doer find a dreamer!

Vasava Studio on stage.

My journey with OFFF will definitely continue in my mind and on my home sofa, as I got the precious, unique, mystical book created by Vasava for OFFF. Head on to Behance to find out more about the OFFF Unmasked 15th Anniversary Book by Vasava Studio.

About Monica Javanainen

Monica Javanainen.

Creative Director and partner at Finnish digital studio JCO. Founder of the virtual network Piphyllan, a cluster for companies within the creative industry.

Previously she was a musician. Nowadays her passion is for all things creative. Follow Monica on Twitter: @MJavanainen