Held annually in Portland, OR, XOXO is an experiential festival and conference that brings together independent artists, makers, and content creators who work on the internet. What started as a small conference in 2012 with roughly 400 people has grown now to house over 2,200 people for 4 days of talks, meet-ups, and demos. Here are our key takeaways from this event.
1. Find a medium to express your passions
We focus a lot of our energy and time into crafting digital work for clients, and it’s easy to forget that the internet is a medium to create a world of great things. It can be a bridge between people and a microphone for people who don’t have a voice. This year’s XOXO lineup included people from different backgrounds who use the internet and other means as their platform to stand up for what they believe in. For example, XOXO’s keynote speaker, Cameron Esposito, uses stand-up comedy to give a voice to sexual assault victims in her exclusive special Rape Jokes, which raised more than $40,000 for RAINN, the largest U.S. organization fighting sexual violence.
2. Invite people into your passion
Love what you do? Great! Ask people to share what you’re doing with others and invite people to join your passion. XOXO’s aim is to create and cultivate a community of diverse backgrounds and shared passions to allow yourself to learn and be influenced by other people’s experiences. What was made clear during this festival is the fact that we’re not alone in this world and that we should shift our thinking from “me” to “we.” If you’re confident and vocal in your passions and beliefs, realize that you have the power to leave the door open for the people behind you who share those same passions.
3. Share and build on vulnerability
A common theme brought up in a lot of the talks at XOXO focused on “imposter syndrome.” If you’re unfamiliar with the term, imposter syndrome is the feeling of doubting your achievements and living in a certain state of fear that you’ll be exposed as a fraud amongst your peers. It’s a feeling I think we can all agree we’ve each felt at one point or another. XOXO’s aim was not to discourage people from feeling this way but to shed light on the issue and let people realize that we all feel this way. It was comforting to be in a room with people who are considered leaders in this industry who talked about the ways they feel vulnerable about their work. This theme built up an energy in XOXO that naturally seemed to put everyone on the same, very human, level which allows people to come together in collaboration where ego, fear, and doubt are not allowed.
After this event, we are definitely looking forward to seeing what next year’s XOXO Fest has in store. Curious to learn more about our design process? Read all about it on our blog.
Written by Lacie Webb.