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5 things we learnt at The Story 2016

The Story is a one-day conference about stories and storytelling held at Conway Hall in London each year. Here, Nigel Smith, our Head of Content, and Nicky Thompson, a Front-end Developer, share five things they learnt there.

The Story is a one-day conference about stories and storytelling held at Conway Hall in London each year. Nigel Smith, our Head of Content, and Nicky Thompson, a Front-end Developer, joined hundreds of others at the event last month for a day full of inspiration and wonder. Here, they share five things they learnt.

The Story logo

1. Failure is a required part of learning

Spike Trotman faced endless rejection while building her comic books empire Iron Circus and characterised her career as entirely experimental – “failing spectacularly for a long time”. It brought home to me that pioneering new publishing models – or pioneering new anything – in a digital age probably can’t be done right first time and so we must experiment, not become comfortable with the status quo and always challenge it. – Nicky

2. Not everyone with the right stuff had the right boots

The science broadcaster Dallas Campbell gave us a wonderful overview of the cultural and scientific history of the space suit (he even brought an original Soyuz suit with him). Yes, I learnt that the Apollo spacesuits were handmade by seamstresses at the Playtex bra factory, but my favourite nugget from the talk involved the Mercury 7 – those pioneering airmen with “The Right Stuff“.

I’ve seen this photo many times, but until Dallas pointed it out, I hadn’t noticed that Deke Slayton and John Glenn in the front row are wearing different boots to everyone else. According to Dallas, they’d forgotten to bring their spaceboots to the photoshoot. Instead they just spray painted their military-issue clodhoppers. – Nigel

3. You don’t have to make art, to make art

Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead make art entirely out of existing media. They talked about their remixed karaoke performance art made out of spam emails (you can sing along), and the London Wall, where they have curated tweets from within a three-mile radius of the installation in the Museum of London, and pasted them up on a wall to give people an ephemeral sense of the city around them. – Nicky

4. Martin Parr went to college with a very cool dude

I’ve long enjoyed the work of photographer Martin Parr so felt somewhat ashamed to have never encountered his friend and fellow Manchester Polytechnic alum Daniel Meadows before seeing his illustrated talk at The Story. “Photographer” doesn’t quite do his job justice. He calls himself a documentarist and digital storyteller. We enjoyed lots of work from across Meadows’ career. This video, which started the talk, gives you a nice flavour I think. – Nigel

5. You can do it yourself

The zine-makers & DJs, BORN n BREAD, shared the story of how they came to make their zine, born out of the realisation that mainstream media reflected nothing about their day-to-day lives in ever-gentrified Peckham. They started out cutting and pasting stuff together to make the zine and now use it to raise the profiles of their fellow artists and makers, and host their own radio show on NTS Radio. It’s an inspiring story of making the most out of what you have (and I also love the idea of their production meetings spent cutting, pasting and bouncing around their bedrooms to Beyoncé!) – Nicky

You can read the five things that other attendees learnt at the day over at The Story website. We also learn a lot from The Story’s organisers, Storythings, and their excellent weekly newsletter.

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