Ignite Talks bring inspiration and fun during speed session

SND conference attendees were lucky to see a large number of talented speakers in two short days of sessions. For those who attended the Ignite Talks on Saturday afternoon, they got an additional two days’ worth of speakers and presentations in less than two hours.

Steve Dorsey asked the audience, “Who is ready to have some fun?” and was met with a chorus of applause. He then outlined the parameters of the event: Each presenter gets 20 slides, 15 seconds per slide, for a total of five minutes.


While nothing matches the experience of being in the room while these presenters shared with such energy, here is a brief recap of the things they had to share:

Matt Martel, Fairfax Media (Australia) 
Martel spoke about helping fellow newsrooms, especially with major news events, and sharing images and illustrations that can benefit everyone. His example was illustrating Olympic courses. “It’s the same course for everyone,” he explained. Sharing is caring.

Josh Kadis, Alley Interactive
Kadis, Director of Product Development at Alley Interactive, talked about the relationship between bad user experience design and good product design. There are a lot of elements which affect these relationships, but he also noted that it’s easy for metrics to overlook the human element.

Darren Sanefski, University of Mississippi 
Sanefski’s presentation focused on his love of Gestalt design and how it can be used to teach basic design principles to students. Gestalt design uses a variety of methods, such as proximity, similarity, contrast, and more to create intentional ways for a viewer to perceive an image.

Julie Elman, Ohio University  
Elman’s topic, her personal exploration of fear titled The Fear Project, talked about her experiences with creative fear and how she has harnessed that creativity for personal growth. “I will give fear the finger because what else is there to do other than fly in the face of fear,” said Elman.

Kyle Ellis, Society for News Design 
Ellis’ talk focused on students and the ways SND and the industry can be best serving to them during their time as student journalists. “Student media is a place to try new things, experiment,  and take risks.” While Ellis expressed a level of worry for students and their abilities, he mostly wanted to open up a discussion about this topic and is seeking students and professionals to engage with.

Denise M. Reagan, MOCA Jacksonville 
Reagan, the Director of Communications at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, talked about launch of MOCA Jacksonville’s new website in January 2016 and the subsequent growth. She focused on the functions of the new website, particularly the blog section, which was created as part of the redesign in January. “The blog allows us to tell our own stories,” noted Reagan.

Pete Mortensen, Matter 
Mortensen spoke on a brief personal and professional history of Wally Wood, an important but less known comic book illustrator who came up with “22 Panels That Always Work.” Mortensen talked about how collaborations between writers and comic book artists (or in this case, designers) are not always two sided, and there are ways for writers to be less lazy and for designers to be more creative in their interpretations.

Renda Morton, New York Times 
Morton, who describes herself as a feral cat unleashed at the New York Times after working for small organizations for years, asked the question: “Are we using jargon to distance ourselves from our work?” She continued to recount her personal experience in cutting the word “user” out of her vocabulary for a year, how it challenged her, and yet made her a better listener and colleague.

Bill Gaspard, China Daily 
Gaspard, the Design Director for China Daily, has been in China for the last five years and shared with the audience a collection of successful design work being done by China Daily as well as other, lesser known publications, while also explaining a bit of his life living and working in Beijing.

Lars Pryds, Tolstrup Pryds Graphics 
Pryds kept it short and sweet with a list of ten reasons print will not die, with visual examples for each and every one. “I just love print, and I’m gonna show you why,” he said.

Reed Reibstein, American City Business Journal  
Reibstein’s presentation was visually appealing and intriguing as he spoke on the use of unusual typefaces in news design. The ideas he shared, such as standing out with unconventional type contrast and getting more bang for your buck with an atypical font family, support his statement that “there is great opportunity to look beyond the usual suspects” to find unique type treatments that work for your publication.

Chris Coyier and Miranda Mulligan, CodePen 
Coyier and Mulligan chronicled their interest and attempts at learning to use a letterpress machine in their neighborhood in Milwaukee. The experience proved to be challenging, interesting, and very messy, but fun, adds Mulligan. “Why do we spend so much time analyzing why we are doing things?” she said in response to the idea that letterpress is merely a hobby with no purpose.

Lucie Lacava (aka @lulucrezia), Lacava Design 
Lacava’s Instagram career has grown, changed, and progressed very quickly once she became a selected Instagram featured account. She shared her tips to curate her style and aesthetic, which in her case is the color blue and architecture-heavy shots, and how that can help Instagram users grow as artists.

Stephanie Grace Lim, Design Ninja 
Lim’s story started as a personal account of how she documented her vacation with her boyfriend, showcasing how one small dive into iPhone videos has sparked a new area of focus for her. Now she looks to share her joy and excitement with the world via her YouTube channel. She shared technical tips about filming and editing, and encouraged people to submit their iPhone videos to her via email.