April 2021 Design & Art Event Hotlist

INVT’s curated list of “must do” creative events is designed to inspire.

After thoughtfully considering all the amazing invitations that came their way—including from places far from their home in the San Francisco Bay Area—INVT co-founders and practicing designers Arianna Orland and Dava Guthmiller have curated their list of those Design & Art events they just can’t miss this month. Lectures, panel discussions, an exhibition walk-through, and opportunities to support people and issues we care about made the cut.

Get ready to feed your brain and inspire your muse. We’ll see you online!

A Feminist’s Guide to Botany: Online Botanical Painting Session.

Step inside the magical world of botany and explore the history of the heroic women artists, explorers, and scientists who helped forge the way we see the world around us. Hosted by the London Drawing Group, this special session includes a short lecture followed by instruction in some basic watercolor techniques and exercises. Pay what you can. April 1, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm PDT. Online.

Conversations on Design & Race: Getting Back to Our Roots.

Designers Kelly Walters, Jason Alejandro, Anne H. Berry, and David Jon Walker come together for a panel discussion on how the influence of family, cultural origins, and ancestral heritage takes form in design practice. Their conversation is inspired by Kelly’s book, Black, Brown + Latinx Design Educators: Conversations on Design and Race, a collection of 12 deeply personal interviews with graphic design educators from across the US and Canada. $3. April 7, 3:30 to 5:00 pm PDT. Online.

CCA Visual & Critical Studies Forum, “Archive, Mixtape, Method: A Decolonial Remix”.

Disturbing the silence of archives, this lecture with Dr. Tao Leigh Goffe offers an interdisciplinary approach to challenging the fixity of colonial knowledge. Through artistic production and attention to the sensorium, “Archive, Mixtape, Method” centers Black technologies and sonic techniques of remixing developed in the Caribbean as a way to rethink the meaning of media. Hosted by California College of the Arts. Free. April 14, 4:00 to 5:30 pm PDT. Online.

Curator Walk-Through: Design by Time.

Join Design by Time guest curators—c2-curatorsquared’s Ginger Gregg Duggan and Judith Hoos Fox—in conversation with Museum of Craft and Design Curator Ariel Zaccheo for a virtual tour of the exhibition. This walk-through will explore the dynamic passage of time embodied within design objects created by 22 artists and collaboratives from 8 countries. Free for MCD members, $10 for non-members, $8 for students/seniors. April 23, 1:00 to 2:00 pm PDT. Online.

Art Changes Lives.

Creativity Explored celebrates and nurtures everyone’s artistic journey, and we remain devoted partners in support of their work. Their annual gala—this year hosted virtually—features a Happy Half-Hour, a program featuring CE’s talented artists, and a chance to pick up some fab artwork at the silent auction. General admission tickets start at $50; upgrade to get an exclusive VIP party kit. April 23, 5:30 to 7:00 pm PDT. Online.

The 2nd Annual National Antiracist Book Festival.

This is the first and only book festival that brings together, showcases, and celebrates the nation’s leading antiracist writers and helps to prepare the writers of tomorrow. Hosted by Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research, the event features panels with acclaimed authors and workshops for writers. $10 to $250. April 24, 6:00 am to 3:00 pm PDT. Online.

Women Talk Design Speaker Stories: Erin Pinkley. 

Learn about the journeys and experiences of incredible women and nonbinary speakers through this new series of interviews, designed to inspire attendees to share their own ideas and experiences—and get out in the world and speak! Erin Pinkley, a designer and creative director, runs the Brand Team at Zendesk. She has spoken at Ueno SF Chatty Hour, Designer Fund, and Zendesk’s B2B is Beautiful. Free. April 29, 8:00 to 9:00 am PDT. Online.

Sharing what we learned when we virtualized INVT21

Turning a dynamic in-person creative conference into an online event required a whole new set of skills, tools, and “godsend” vendors. INVT’s Kat Sambor shares what we learned in the process.

In so many ways, 2020 was the Year of the Pivot. Change is good, we’re told. The need for change presents opportunities for learning and growth and sometimes even improvement.

Soon after our 3rd annual In/Visible Talks conference, when the arrival of COVID-19 required global shelter-in-place orders, we recognized we would need to go virtual for our 4th annual event in January of 2021. This would be our pivot—our “learning opportunity”—and we fully embraced the challenge.

Leading the effort was Kat Sambor, who for two years has been INVT’s Project Manager. Currently based in Los Angeles, Kat has been and continues to work as a freelance Event Producer, Project Manager, and Director of Client Relations on both the East and West Coasts. (Learn more about her on LinkedIn.) She brought all of her gifts, skills, and experiences into play as she researched what other conferences have done, presented our options, guided us in selecting vendors, worked with those vendors to build the conference’s platform, and managed our virtual event on January 14. It was a tremendous undertaking. Thank you, Kat!

In keeping with the tenets of Our Manifesto—specifically “Be passionate about making the invisible visible” and “Show up in generous ways”—we want to share with you what we learned in the process. You can read Kat’s virtual event platform comparison guide here.

Here are some highlights:

We wanted the virtual INVT to be as close to our in-person experience as possible.

“At our in-person events,” Kat said, “there is a strong sense of community and creative energy that we felt was important to capture digitally.” To achieve that, Kat reviewed a wide range of platforms and looked for ease of use, high-quality design and production, and the ability to live-stream in one continual stream—i.e., speaker after speaker, instead of separating them out by session. She also explored how we could best provide chat rooms, closed captioning, and workshops, which ran simultaneously and back-to-back in the evening.

Vito + SlidesLive + Zoom + DPEM made INVT21 work.

We found the clean, attractive, and user-friendly event platform Vito through the great Kim Crayton, who uses it for her “Being Antiracist” workshops. Then we learned how complicated the streaming aspect can be from the tech side, and Kat recommended we work with a professional production company. Fortunately, we already had the perfect partner in place. In past years, SlidesLive has packaged our videos for access after the conference. For 2021, they provided personalized services that included managing the speakers day-of, handling all audio and video, and seamlessly mixing live-streamed and pre-recorded content (like our Creative Bursts). “They also conducted dry-runs with each speaker, ran audio and video tests, and let us know what to expect on the day-of,” Kat said. “We were in constant contact with them and they were immensely helpful.”

For the evening workshops, we used Zoom. “No frills, but it worked well for attendees,” said Kat. We purchased multiple licenses (one per workshop), assigned an INVT host for each, recorded the sessions, and hired the event management company DPEM to conduct dry-runs with each workshop leader and help us with tech issues.

There are always unexpected challenges (aka learning opportunities).

Human closed captioning services are extremely expensive, so we went with a machine transcription service that was fairly easy to use, very basic in functionality, and ultimately not entirely accurate. “It picked up the audio and used AI to transcribe what was being said, which meant certain words and names were not always right, and it did not distinguish between speakers,” Kat explained. “That said, it was better to have it than have nothing! It was important to us that we increase our accessibility and this was certainly a step in the right direction.”

There was also some confusion about registrations for workshops. In the future, we’ll address the issues we experienced (and create fewer headaches for ourselves) by opening up workshop registrations earlier in the process, providing clearer confirmations, and making it easier for attendees to sign up for the conference + workshops all at one time. 

Vendors’ customer service was a key factor in the event’s success.

“SlidesLive was a godsend and Vito was great!” said Kat, and she elaborated by calling out their excellent communications and customer service. She added SlidesLive’s production was on-point and looked “professional and fantastic”, and Vito’s simple function and style worked for what we needed. “Attendees had no trouble using it, there were multiple chat channels, attendees were engaged, it was affordable, and they were a true pleasure to work with.”

Evening sessions on Zoom also went well. “It was a bit more work with multiple sessions happening at once, but all in all, it went pretty seamlessly without any issues,” she said. “And workshop attendees were happy, which is the most important thing.” 

Partner Spotlight: SlidesLive took live-streaming to the next level for INVT21

SlidesLive Logo

In/Visible Talks partner SlidesLive creates solutions to support their customers in the virtual event world.

When COVID-19 shut everything down last year and we realized we were going to have to shift our In/Visible Talks 2021 conference to fully virtual, we were incredibly grateful we already had a relationship with the perfect partner to get it done.

The amazing team at SlidesLive has recorded and streamed over 20,000 presentations across the globe, for events like Factory of Imagination (Odense, Denmark), ConveyUX (Seattle, Washington), and the BRITE Conference (New York, NY). They produced all the video live-streams for us, and we are proud to be one of their success stories.

Check out their showreel to see them in action providing 3D studio, holographics features, pre-registration pages, audience interaction, and other professional conference recording services. We learned more about what makes SlidesLive so awesome when their Social Media Coordinator Laura Millar answered our questions.

How does your brand’s team collaborate with the creative community?

“When the pandemic affected in-person events, SlidesLive had to get creative and come up with ways to please our customers in the virtual event world. This involved new technology with pre-recordings, custom graphics, and custom registration pages. More recently, we’ve created a 3D studio where a green screen will bring your event to whatever location you’d like. We love finding creative solutions for the event industry!”

What was the #1 reason you chose to partner with In/Visible Talks?

“We’ve been working with In/Visible Talks since 2018, and we’ve developed a relationship with their team based on the annual events they host. Our consistent relationship has made working with In/Visible Talks a pleasure.”

Where does your team look for inspiration?

“With our clients. We are always given new ideas and ways to improve on how we operate. When a client has an idea or a question, we look to fulfill their needs and come up with a creative solution. SlidesLive is always inspired by the needs of our customers.”

In six words or less, what do you love about your team?

“Live-streaming to the next level!”

Our brand’s biggest creative win was…

“The SlidesLive team is super excited about our new 3D studio. After a year of virtual events, we think it’s time to allow our customers the ability to change the space that they conduct their events in. With this feature, event planners can get creative with their upcoming events and conferences.”

Share one creative thing your team does that is a part of your brand culture.

“SlidesLive wants to be completely up to date with the latest technology. Because of this, we’re always changing how we operate to give our customers the newest and best product.”

Describe a dream collaborator (a company or a person) for your brand.

“SlidesLive would love to work with a big corporation that has plenty of events and is open to new ideas on how to make the virtual world a better place. We would love to help a big corporation bring their events into the virtual atmosphere where they can remain for many years to come.”