Bram Pitoyo, Portland Creative/Tech Event Review

PDX Critique: An Event Review

PDX Critique

When: Monday, May 19, 2008 at 7:00 – 9:00 pm, followed by the obligatory after-meetup at The Side Door.

NOTE: After-meetup is a social gathering that happens after an event is formally over, usually at a casual, sit-down bar nearby, populated by the event attendees. It is distinguished from after-party by its tendency to encourage good flow of ideas and unusually inspiring conversation, instead of bad decisions and copious amount of alcohol. After-meetup happens because event attendees actually enjoy each other’s company so much that they prefer to huddle in a non-event, social setting. For this reason, the very idea of after-meetup is uniquely suited to Portland.

Where: CubeSpace, a venue so commonly used for creative/tech events around Portland, I practically ran out of clever quips to describe it about a month ago.

What It’s About: I originally assumed that PDX Critique is nothing more than a 20-minute presentation slot where one gets to present his or her work or idea to a panel full of highfalutin designers, wherein they will reply with how “Saul Bass won’t like your improper use of Helvetica, sucker” and “your three-column layout is unrefined. Yes, you should really move it an eighth of an inch to the left” and “my colleague at AIGA thinks that Modernist design is so 1950.”

I’m glad that I was wrong.

Because PDX Critique was filled with the most brilliant and kind designers and information architects around (my memory registered @notbenh, @staceyanderson, @reidab, @tingey, Erik Mork, Monica Mork, and one designer whom I sadly forgot the name of.) And, most importantly, wasn’t just about critique. It’s also about open discussion and lively banter. And instead of the structure that I elaborated above, that night looked more like this.

  1. You can has project?
  2. Discuss.

I learnt about Soak Your Head, a web game adapted from a recently released white paper that could drastically increase one’s quotient after nineteen days of twenty-minute training. Erik and Monica Mork, the couple who designed the game, wanted feedback on the user interface, wherein the panel brainstormed solutions that decreased clutter and enhanced usability. Believe me, the game was so deceivingly complex, I felt more intelligent just by watching it get Demo’d.

I learnt about Calagator’s new redesign, its slick underbelly, and its great use of color to emphasize, and subtle grid to organize information—albeit for only 10 minutes for lack of time.

I also had the opportunity to pitch my idea about holding a BarCamp-like event for creative professionals sometime this year (which you should contact me at because I need somebody who’s better than me at running this.) Not only did the panel asked critical questions, they also gave me directions to possibly take this event to, and agreed to help out and be partners-in-crime.

All this over the course of just two hours—not including the inspiring conversation that ensued afterwards at the Side Door. What a night.

Technicality: ⅛
Translation: No legal design cred needed to enter. Just bring your best mind.

Interestingness: ☝ ☝ ☝ ☝ ½
Translation: As one who work in the ad/creative industry and hang with people from the tech scene, I got the perfect balance from PDX Critique. This means that if you’re a creative, you’ll love it—and not for the usual reason.

This is because going to PDX Critique is the equivalent of bidding traditional ad/creative industry “networking mixers”—where all you care about is giving out business cards or landing the next job through strategically meeting the right creative director—bye-bye. At PDX critique, things are done more organically. Like, way more. Through conversations, you’ll get to know each individual as a person, not an interactive designer from so-and-so agency. And that, if you ask me, is a better way to know people.

What I Learned From The Event In Six Words:
Good folks. Great ideas. Better IQ’s.