Colly & Greg’s Excellent Adventure

So, New Adventures is over. To say I’ll miss it is something of an understatement. Adequately conveying just how great the past two years is simply beyond me. I’ve met a lot of good people, seen inspiring talk after inspiring talk after inspiring talk, got wrecked, and tested how well I fare on a football pitch with a hangover. (Not spectacularly, if you’re wondering).

It seems strange to even attach the word conference to it. On paper, yeah that’s what it is. But when you’re there in the surroundings of the beautiful old hall, with 600-odd badass people, it’s, well it’s something else. I’ll not go all new-age and call it a meeting of minds or some shit like that, but you get the idea. There’s very little hierarchy; speakers hang out with attendees. Everyone gets along. It’s the design equivalent of All Tomorrow’s Parties in that sense; like having a beer and a game of poker with Steve Albini right after Shellac are done playing. There’s a comparable amount of plaid, too.

It’s not just the conference, the fringe events are first class too. I arrived late this year, missing Second Wednesday and Erskine Bowling. At least there was no repeat of this. Dan Rubin and Naomi Atkinson were kind enough to organise a photo walk of Nottingham — a 30 or-so strong group capturing the city on a bright and frosty morning. And of course there was fr00tball, which will get its own write-up shortly. Let’s not forget the the city itself. It would be completely understandable if NA were held in London or Brighton. Higher profile, captive audience, easier to get to for those overseas. But it would have felt less like a labour of love. Colly and Greg stuck to what they know and love. For me, there will always be an intrinsic link between Nottingham and New Adventures.

New Adventures 2012 was the first conference I had ever attended. I enjoyed all the conferences I went to last year, but none had quite the same effect on me. When you enter the Albert hall, there is just this overwhelming sense of enthusiasm and community spirit. I haven’t experienced anything quite like it. Last year was a flurry of excitement for me. I had lunch with the guys from Typecast and Trent Walton. I wandered the streets of Nottingham in search of chips with Cole Henley. I rambled on at Jeremy Keith, and he was gracious enough to not tell me to sod off. For the first time I felt a part of the wider web design community.

This year the excitement and optimism were still there, but as the day came to a close, the realisation took hold that this might be the last time we would all be in this room together. Reluctant to leave, I stayed sat for a couple of minutes, trying to take everything in. As fleeting as they were, those two days spent sat on rickety chairs listening intently to an unfathomably great array of speakers, will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I didn’t get to thank either Colly or Greg in person, so guys, if you’re reading this: Thank You. And a big thank you to Laura, Relly, every single speaker, and everyone who worked so hard behind the scenes to make it a success. It will be remembered fondly for a long time. Words like “amazing” and “awesome” get used so much as to become meaningless, so it’s more fitting I borrow from Colly’s lexicon. New Adventures was wonderful.

Those of us who attended have hopefully been invigorated and inspired to become better at what we do: better designers, better thinkers. It has elevated the conversation around web design to something more considered, more academic. But — to paraphrase Colly himself — the conversation can go on for only so long. If New Adventures is gone for the foreseeable, the best way I can think to honour it is to take the lessons it has given us and apply them in our work.

It’s time to make things.