Embrace Your Constraints: Pecha Kucha Night

Last week I went my first Pecha Kucha Night in Winnipeg. What’s “Pecha Kucha”, you ask? Pecha Kucha was started in Tokyo in 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. Named after the Japanese term for the sound of “chit chat”, the event centres around a simple presentation format: 20 images for 20 seconds each (20×20). This limits each presenter to 6:40 at the front, keeping things moving quickly.

Hosted by the GDC, this particular night featured graphic designers, photographers, fine artists, musicians and other creative folks from the Winnipeg area. It was inspiring to get an inside look into some of their work and listen to their stories, struggles and successes.

Embracing Constraints

Of course, part of the fun of the Pecha Kucha presentation format is the question, “How will the speakers do with the time constraints?” Automatically-forwarding slides means that you don’t have time as a presenter to tell an extra story about a particular photo because your slides carry on mercilessly! At the same time, there’s always the possibility of that awkward silence as you wait for the slide to advance as well.

When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost – and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl. – T.S. Eliot

All of our creative endeavours have inherent constraints. For me, spending a good chunk of my day creating online ads means creatively conveying a client’s message within the 250×250 pixel boundaries. Photographers have their 2D canvas, web designers have each web browser’s limitations to consider. How do you let your constraints stretch your creativity?

A friend, after going to the event, wondered about incorporating this format into his meetings at work. Do your meetings tend to run overtime? Do presentations eat up more time than they’re given? Placing constraints on those activities throughout your day might force more creativity, as well as help respect the clock.

Pecha Kucha events now happen in 451 cities around the world, so chances are there’s one near you! Though this was my first attendance in Winnipeg, I’d been to a couple in Denver previously. Find locations and dates at pecha-kucha.org. Chances are the next one in your area starts at 20:20!

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1 Comment

  1. I’m glad you got to go. After I saw your post where you said you planned to go I looked it up online. SO sweet. Love the creativity in constraints, love the succinct presentation and the visuals. Very cool. We should have one in Steinbach. It would even be a great youth event. 20×20!

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