... I switch to diary mode this month to record some of the events that are about to happen in Madrid: LGM2013 (10-13 April) and Interactivos?'13 (15-27 April)
In Brussels for a few more days, I keep all on-line channels open so I feel in touch with Madrid and can respond to last minute questions from other remote Libre Graphics Community members that are about to pack their suitcases.
It is impressive to experience the full Medialab Prado team at work, making the meeting happen. After a long period of insecurity, Medialab finally moved back to their own building and LGM2013: Future Tools will be the first large scale public event taking place in this new location. The excitement is tangible even from here and I am sure that the international Libre Graphics community flying into Madrid next week will be energized by it.
For me, the upcoming events are above all an occasion to connect the Libre Graphics Community as-we-knew it with Spanish speaking developers, Open Design enthusiasts, local DIY people and the growing network around the Libre Graphics Research Unit. We purposely chose the slogan Future Tools because it is about time to take this yearly meeting serious as a rare occasion for research and development specific to Free Software in the creative field. For this to happen, we need to bring the conversations between software programmers, users, designers and tinkerers to another level.
A few years ago we tried something along these lines when Constant hosted the meeting in Brussels. Soon we found that beyond bringing people physically together, it was not easy to sustain a dialogue between diverse members of the Libre Graphics community. Three years later Libre Graphics has certainly gained momentum in art schools, design collectives and cultural organisations. There are also many new Libre tools being developed (and used!) in the context of creative coding and web technologies but I don't think we solved that community problem yet. The involvement of core developer teams this year seems minimal and I'm not sure how to interpret their absence.
One interesting example of the growing presence of Libre Graphics in cultural organisations is Medialab Prado itself. Pioneering maker-communities, 3D printing, data journalism, The Commons Lab and many other Free Culture initiatives, Medialab used the incentive of the Libre Graphics Research Unit to experiment with Libre tools on their own communication material.
In the summer of 2012 they invited Manufactura Independente to work with local designers on the collective design of Serreria Sobria and Serreria Extravagante, a Libre font-family based on historical lettering that can still be found on the outside walls of the Belgian Sewmill. It not only resulted in a beautiful typeface, but spread interest and expertise amongst people interested in Libre typography in Madrid.
A few months later, Myriam Cea began to work on The Libre Graphics Workstation, a mobile 'center' for learning about Libre Graphics. With artschool Arte Diez she developed exciting activities such as Me pica el kerning (I hack my kerning) and formed Colectivo Gráfica Liebre, a group of designers that exercises their new found knowledge on designing conference bags, badges and complicated typographical objects such as the printed programme for the Libre Graphics meeting. In the mean time OSP finished a new brochure announcing all upcoming activities at La Serreria and since last week, Medialab has a new logo too. It is of course using the Serreria font:
The Libre Graphics Workstation is now part of the "lab of labs"-structure at Medialab Prado and will continue to generate and host activities around Libre Graphics. I am also convinced this is not the last time we heard from the Gráfica Liebre collective!