Addressing some issues about the Digital Art Conference Frankfurt 2017

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dnlbln
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Addressing some issues about the Digital Art Conference Frankfurt 2017

Beitrag von dnlbln » 4. Jul 2017, 21:42

Hello guys,

I am the organizer behind the Digital Art Conference in Frankfurt and I recently had a phone call with Marcus Blätterman to talk about the event because he had some questions. He has also told me that more people from the forum are having the same questions and thoughts, so I am writing down what I told Marcus so you understand what exactly is going on.

The biggest elephant in the room is off course the name so let's address that first. I will walk you through my thought process that went on before deciding on the name.

The first thing I did before doing anything is researching other similar events. So I googled Digital Art Convention/Conference...and it was really hard to find any because they all have special names: IFCC, Trojan Horse was a unicorn, Industry Workshops, Promised land etc... While I think their names are cool, I wanted to have Digital Art in the name...because that is what it will be about, and I thought it's going to be easy for me to pitch the event since it says what it is about right in the name!

Very early on, with some artists from Frankfurt, we fantasised about maybe also doing smaller local events to revive the art scene in Frankfurt. This brought me to the idea of having a more generic name that can be flexible for many things. At first I came up with 'Digital Art Foundation', but that was a bit too narcissistic I thought, so I went for 'Digital Art Frankfurt' because...it is in Frankfurt. So appending Conference* to it made it easy and I got 'DAFCON' which I thought was cool since it was inspired by the digital art forum conventions. My intention was not to name the organisation in such a way to end up at 'DAFCON' but everything fell into place so smoothly that I thought it was a good idea.

After making all these decisions I went straight to work to have something tangible to show to the public before announcing anything. Here is where I think me, and Daniel, made a mistake. I think we should have first announced our intentions on the forum and talked about it with the community, since it's what inspired it, and it was using the same name. When I look back now, it's quite clear to both of us, that's what we should have done first.

The people I personally have spoken to from the forum so far never had any objections, but I understand some might feel otherwise. I'm really not sure what to do right now since the event is only 2 months away, but I would like to hear more thoughts and opinions.

Sponsorships.
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One of the sponsors this year is Wacom, although like with the old Digital Art Forum Conventions, they are not sponsoring the event with any money. I have reached out to many organisations and none of them were willing to give money. My original idea was to get organisations to fund most of the costs so I can keep the price as low as possible while organising a serious event with cool stuff. I still want to give people a good time and have really cool things happening at the event, but it will be completely self-funded by ticket sales only. Whatever sponsorship I have now, or in the future, it will be in the form of physical goods like equipment or prizes.

Volunteers
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Because of this event I have now been on both sides of the situation and for me it has always seemed a fair and mutually beneficial relationship. When I was younger I volunteered for some events to get free entry with various reasons and I never felt abused and it was always entirely my own choice. I feel the offer I am extending to volunteers is fair and while their nr. 1 priority is the successful operation of the event, I will schedule the work accordingly so they have time to participate in workshops they are interested in. The volunteers who have already signed on are very positive and I believe each individual can make up their own mind and decide for themselves if it's worth or not.

Money
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All teachers have been incredible with their approach to the event. Most of them spontaneously offered to speak for free at the event but I did not want that. The reality is that first the basic costs (rent, equipment, teacher lodging and transportation, ..) have to be met before anything can happen. That's why all teachers have agreed be paid less than their original fee, or in worst case, to speak for free if the basic costs of the event are not met or there are not enough ticket sales to meet their full fee. They are all doing it because they want to see this happen, and not just for the money, so I am incredibly thankful to all of them.

Will I make money on this? Just like with business, if the basic costs are covered and the teachers are paid their full fee, then anything left after that is basically mine. Since I am already employed full time, there is little point in actually earning something because of taxes. Most of the profit will be better spent on making the event better or buying some physical goods that can be used for this edition and potential future editions. Those of you who are freelancers or run a business will understand what I mean.

I really hope this post has answered some of your questions and cleared things up. Everyone who is involved in the event really has their best intentions in it, but I think me (and Daniel) failed on communicating properly with the digital art forum community first.

If you have other questions or thoughts, please let us know so we can have a constructive discussion about it.

Cheers
Danijel

* at first it was called convention, but it confused a lot of people because they had completely other expectations than what the event would actually be like. So eventually I changed it to conference because that seems like a better description.

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jaymo
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Beitrag von jaymo » 24. Jul 2017, 18:31

Hello Danijel,

I am co-founder of digitalartforum.de and have been organizing our conventions together with daniel, Franz-Xaver Koch and some others for more than a decade. Daniel and me met a long time ago at the USF-forums and decided to build a german forum about digital art, which was Daniel's digitaldecoy forum and later became digitalartforum in an effort to make it more of a team venture. From the very beginning it was a place from artists for artists and strictly non-commercial.

When I learned about your event plans mostly everything was already set. I was very surprised to see Daniel posting an announcement to a "dafcon" event without noticing me beforehand. Daniel explained to me your event would be a convention just similar to our own in days past. And he was happy there would be a chance to meet old friends without the need to take things in his own hands this time.

That sounded reasonable and others have done similar cons, like the sketch wizzle con. That didn't explain the use of the name "dafcon", though. It seems this wasn't discussed in detail beforehand and even Daniel was a bit taken by surprise, but he still gave the benefit of the doubt that it still would be great.

I for one was not very happy to see this become sort of a dafcon revival thing without my contribution. Especially under the circumstances that it would be high cost, english language and organized by a non-member that contributed zero to the original community. That is pretty contrary to my own idea of what makes a dafcon.

But since quite a lot of former members including Daniel seemed to be doing talks I decided to remain silent and just not attend the event. I did not want to harm their event.

This could all have been just fine, if there was no use of the name "dafcon" for a digital art convention in Frankfurt. But that gave me the impression someone was trying to take advantage of the reputation we built in many years. And just saying it now does not mean convention but conference is rather insulting than a solution to the problem.

I was reluctant to actually comment on this, since I did not want to be a butthurt spoil-sport. But recent events made me change my mind. I refer to a FB posting by Nadia Enis, who expressed her displeasure about how she was treated and used for advertising this event without her actual consent. And that was not the first example of such practice.

I still do not want to harm any of the great artists on the lineup for this so-called dafcon. Yet I can't help but admit now, that I am really unimpressed by the way things have been handled and will not attend or support this event in any way.

dnlbln
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Beitrag von dnlbln » 24. Jul 2017, 21:25

Thank you Janosch for your reply.

I completely understand where you are coming from. Daniel only notified me a few weeks ago that you were not pleased with the usage of the name Dafcon but that was it. The rest of your thoughts was not touched upon. Looking back, as I mentioned above, I should have had the insight to propose the whole concept to the forum including the usage of the name after I spoke to Daniel. Most likely we would be having this discussion then, and I'm sure I would have realised that using the same name was a bad idea. I was not familiar with the exact hierarchy of the forum, nor did it ever occur to me to ask, and I never meant to leave someone out, but looking at how we approached it, we actually left everyone out. I assumed if Daniel said it was ok, then that was it.

I also want to clear up the convention/conference name change. It wasn't meant as an insult or solution. I spoke to a gentleman who has been organising art related events for many years and he told me that the way I describe the event and the name convention do not match and that I should change it to conference. I received the same feedback from other people and I thought about it and then decided that they were right and changed it.

Again, I really wish I started this conversation from the start because I never meant to upset anyone. It's clear to me now that the event shouldn't have used the name DAFCON and definitely shouldn't continue using it. I'm not sure what the right thing is to do now, changing the name, cancelling the event, something else? I hope to get some input from you Janosch, because I really would like to settle this issue correctly so hopefully you and others who feel the same can look at the event positively.

I never meant to create this mess, but I understand I am completely responsible for it.

As for the situation with Nadia, I made a serious mistake with leaving her on the website while she was unsure in speaking and I take full responsibility for it, but I will make a post to address the things she mentioned in her post because it's not just black and white, but it will be on another channel because I'm not sure that belongs in this thread.

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jaymo
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Beitrag von jaymo » 24. Jul 2017, 22:14

My only concern is the use of the name "dafcon" for your frankfurt digital art event, that is intentionally targeting the original daf-community (something you stated yourself). Everything else is obviously completely up to you.

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digitaldecoy
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Beitrag von digitaldecoy » 25. Jul 2017, 22:47

It would be unfair to let Danijel take the full responsibility for using the name "dafcon" for his event. I at least had the chance to advise him better when he showed me the website one day before the release. I knew he was going to use the name and I just didn't grasp the relevance of that fact. Danijel talked with several DAF members in preparation of the event and my own feedback to him was very encouraging. I plainly found the idea of having a digital art event with other DAF veterans involved (and without having to organize it myself) very attractive. I think (but I really don't remember 100% of our Skype calls) that we had never discussed the actual name of the event. But I knew about the name before the public announcement and I didn't react appropriately. I'm really sorry about this because it would have been very easy to avoid the bad feelings that have developed out of this issue.

Changing the name of the event so close to the actual date is a pretty big step and I would not have dared to ask for it, especially since I feel that my own ignorance had partly caused this mess. I think it's the best thing to do and an actual solution to the problem. I think it's fair to keep a redirect to the new website under the old URL at least for this year's event because the link is probably still floating around on blogs and in social media and I really hope that as many people as possible will learn about the event. For a potential second edition of the event next year the redirect will make no sense anyway because then all the PR can be done under the new name right from the start.

God knows I wish this event will work out in the end. I'm really sorry for not having been more alert in the starting phase and I hope we're all able to overcome the bad feelings and just enjoy this new breed of event.
Besuch mich doch Mal in meinem Personal Showroom! - http://www.digitalartforum.de/forum/vie ... php?t=1604

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