Need an Inspirational Escape & Creative Recharge? Meet FITC Amsterdam 2018
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FITC is returning to Amsterdam on February 19th to 20th to host its groundbreaking design and tech event on the future of innovation, design, and all the cool shit in between. The conference, whose name stands for Future. Innovation. Technology. Creativity., is boasting a pretty formidable lineup of speakers from the likes of MediaMonks, Google, ManvsMachine, Territory Studio, KesselsKramer, and W+K Amsterdam.
Ever wonder how conferences like FITC come to life? We talk to Founding Director Shawn Pucknell below to learn what lead him to launch FITC in Toronto back in 2002, how it's expanded to over 25 cities, how the FITC team selects speakers, and why conferences like FITC are so essential for creative growth both personal and global. "Finding a new job, or a new partner for a cool project, or just someone to talk to about design, about a new technology or process or idea, it’s these things that offer us all a way to grow, to stay fresh and current, and to explore new opportunities."
WNW is excited to support FITC as we get more involved in Amsterdam's creative scene. If you’d like to attend FITC Amsterdam, be sure to use the discount code WNW to save €50 off any of their tickets. Manda Wilks, WNW's New Business & Community Leader, will be attending on our behalf so make sure to connect with her, either during the conference or ahead of time here. On the second night of the conference, we'll also be hosting a pub night at one of Amsterdam's oldest venues overlooking the canals. RSVP to our afterparty here.
What was the impetus behind you launching FITC in 2002?
I had no plans to be an event organizer, it evolved from a desire to talk to others in the industry. I was working as a Flash developer and was invited to speak and attend an event called Flash Forward in San Francisco back in 2000, and when I returned back home to Toronto, I realized I knew no one in the industry - there was no community to connect with. That lead to me to start a Flash user group (pre meetup days) which grew to be the largest Adobe user group in the world within 6 months. It was obvious that there was a community in our city, which lead to my decision to host a conference. It was a sold-out success the first year and has lead me down the path of hosting over 100 conferences now over the last 16 years.
How has the FITC conference evolved since its start 16 years ago?
We started as a Flash focused event, and only in Toronto. Obviously, we are not focused on Flash anymore, but at the time Flash was the only real tool that allowed – and encouraged – both designers and developers to work in the same space. That focus continues to be our area of play…the intersection of design and technology.
In addition, we’re no longer just in Toronto, we’ve had the pleasure of hosting events in over 25 cities since – including the lovely city of Amsterdam – where we’ve been hosting events for 11 years now.
A conference is only as good as its speakers. What is the FITC team’s process for selecting speakers?
We spend a great deal of time and effort on our curation. Over the years, we’ve had the pleasure of working with thousands of speakers, so we have a very large network to draw from. For each of our events, we aim to have a well-rounded list of speakers from a diverse range of backgrounds and disciplines, from freelancers and small companies to large companies. We look at a number of factors when reviewing potential speakers, who they are, their work of course, but the most important aspect is what do they have to share? What is their story, and what is the value to our attendees. In the end, it’s a bit science, and a bit of an art putting together the perfect list for each one of our events, and it is something we take great pride in.
What do you do to encourage attendees to connect with each other and take advantage of all of the conference benefits? How do you cultivate a sense of community that they can take with them?
For everyone attending one of our events, from speakers to volunteers, to sponsors and attendees, we encourage them all to ask themselves one question…why are you here? They’ve taken the effort, the expense, and the time to come and be part of our event, and we want them to get the most out of it. Some are there to network, while others are there to be inspired or to be educated and learn something new. Once they are able to identify the ‘why’, we can help them reach that goal.
How does FITC serve the creative scene of the city it’s hosted in?
By bringing in international speakers and attendees, and cultivating events that welcome them to connect via the talks, our evening mixers and other activities. It’s through all this that relationships are formed, that people find jobs, or fill positions, and start new projects and friendships. We’re lucky enough to be part of that, and to help foster a sense of community both locally and globally. In addition, we work with as many local organizations and companies as we can and look for opportunities to involve them with our events.
How do FITC’s events in Amsterdam differ from those in other cities, such as Toronto, Tokyo, and New York?
I’m often asked which event or which city is my favorite. It’s a hard question to answer, as I enjoy aspects of all of them, in different ways. It’s very hard to compare Tokyo to Toronto. Or Amsterdam to New York. It’s like trying to decide between apples and oranges. They’re both great, but both very different. Each city and event we run has its own unique vibe, its own pulse and energy. Amsterdam is one of our more geographically diverse events, with attendees coming from all over Europe and beyond, one of the things that I think makes it a very special event for us.
What would you say to someone who’s never been and is considering it? What makes FITC one-of-a-kind?
The subject of streaming our talks live via video comes up a few times a year for us, and while I think it’s interesting, it’s a very different value proposition than attending. Watching a video on your laptop while at work, or on your couch at home, is so far removed from actually attending an event. By coming to an FITC (or other industry) event, you are committed; your time and energy are going to be more focused and not distracted by work or home. It’s an escape from the day to day, and something that refreshes you in a way that nothing else can. Meeting up with old friends and associates, and finding new ones, that’s the real value of an event. Maybe it’s someone you’re sitting next to at a presentation, or over coffee during the breaks, or over a beer at one of the evening events - these connections, they change lives – I’ve seen it. Finding a new job, or a new partner for a cool project, or just someone to talk to about design, about a new technology or process or idea, it’s these things that offer us all a way to grow, to stay fresh and current, and to explore new opportunities.
PS. If you’d like to attend FITC Amsterdam and check it out, be sure to use the discount code WNW which will save you €50 off any of our tickets. I hope to see you there, please come say hi, I’m easy to find!