On Tuesday, we closed the studio early at BML Creative and headed in to town for food, drinks and Glug Leeds #4 – Reloaded. The tickets were paid for weeks ago and we were looking forward to a team outing and some inspiring talks.
I love events like this; like-minded people gathering together to share knowledge, talk about passions, and inspire each other. It’s why I go to conferences, and usually I’m in work early the next day, fired up and ready to rumble. So how did Glug Leeds compare?
On arrival at Headrow House, we were each presented with a great little goody bag, containing a tote bag, newly-sharpened pencil and a voucher for event sponsor Fred Aldous. Along with that was a Glug plectrum – our complimentary beer token. The room was like a sauna so I cashed in my token, but soon wished I hadn’t; Kronenbourg isn’t a bad beer, but I really liked that plectrum.
The organisers took to the stage to kick things off. There were a few too many less-than-great jokes (mostly themed around the Matrix. ‘Reloaded’, geddit?) and a fair bit of paper shuffling, but this is the first Glug event in Leeds since December so I wasn’t put-off by teething troubles.
East Street Arts presents the Art Hostel
Nicola Greenan started things off proper, speaking about East Street Arts‘ interesting new venture; soon Leeds will be home to an ‘art hostel’.
Situated on Kirkgate on the former Bird’s Yard site, East Street Art Hostel serves as a unique place for guests to stay with rooms designed by local artists and designer. The hostel also provides space for artists to create and display work, with plans for residencies and artist exchanges.
It was interesting to get an insight into the project, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing hostel when the doors are open.
Up next was a talk by Oslo, a two-person studio run by students Ellie and Alex. The pair were entertaining and I was looking forward to hearing about their process or background, particularly Ellie’s background in colour technology and psychology.
Instead, the talk was essentially an ‘elevator pitch’, with no real insight or depth. A huge shame.
Elliot Mann took to the stage to speak to us about StrawberryToo, a unique agency concept that I’d not heard of before. The brain-child of Strawberry in Hull, Leeds-based StrawberryToo is staffed entirely by apprentices and graduates, giving young creatives exposure to genuine clients and projects and a chance to gain real commercial experience.
In return, clients using the service get lower rates – much like if you let the apprentice at a hair salon cut your hair, compared to the more experienced (and expensive) seniors.
In my view, photographer Matt Davis gave the most interesting and inspiring talk of the night. After a brief, entertaining prelude on how he got into photography, Matt talked us through a particularly challenging shoot. He also demonstrated the meticulous, unique approach to lighting that he brings to his work, giving his images something of a signature look.
Everyone was clearly impressed with Matt’s approach, and almost everyone I’ve spoken with after remembered his talk most of all.
The final speaker had a tough act to follow. Paul Greaves, co-founder of ZiMovi, was initially unable to gain the attention of the crowd, who were still excited from Matt Davis’ talk. He started with a long re-cap of his business history, during which his audience once again started to drift.
Getting onto the promotion of ZiMovi itself, it was never really explained what the product was (it appeared to be a challenger to YouTube, Vimeo and other video providers). A video explaining the product refused to play, and when Paul invited attendees to send a text message which would get them a link to the video it appeared people were getting interested. The moment he informed us that ZiMovi would gain all kinds of analytical data from us – when we watched, how long for, who we sent it to, whether they watched – many phones went back into pockets.
Glug Leeds Reloaded – Occasionally firing blanks
The moment the ZiMovi talk had ended, people gathered their coats and filed out. The schedule listed ‘notworking’ until 11pm, but around 8.30pm the room was empty. Outside, people chatted with mixed feelings. There had been some genuinely inspiring moments – mostly from Matt Davis – but some people grumbled that they’d been a captive audience for a series of pitches.
It’s exciting that Leeds has so many events for creatives and digital types, but that means that competition is high. I’d be interested in going to another Leeds Glug, but it feels like the talks should be vetted first.