Creativity for Sale Podcast - Episode S1 E9

Never not pushing beyond boundaries - Héctor Ayuso

Mon, 26 Feb 2024

“When you believe in something, it doesn't matter what happens, you just keep going  because you know that you're going to get somewhere.”In this episode, host Radim Malinic unveils the inner workings and inspirations of Hector Ayuso, the man behind the OFFF festival in Barcelona

 
  
  
Show Notes Transcript

“When you believe in something, it doesn't matter what happens, you just keep going  because you know that you're going to get somewhere.”

In this episode, host Radim Malinic unveils the inner workings and inspirations of Hector Ayuso, the man behind the OFFF festival in Barcelona~

Hector shares his unique journey from being a visual creative to the founder and curator of one of the world's most recognized creative festivals. 

Ayuso delves into his creative process, illustrating how he curates the festival and selects speakers based on intuition. The conversation also reveals his passion for endurance sports and how it intertwines with his creative endeavors, reflecting on the importance of challenges, balance, and accepting one's journey with all its ups and downs. 

The discussion furthermore delves into Ayuso's future plans, including the preparation for the 24th edition of OFFF and his various creative projects like writing a script for an upcoming film and an 'OFFF Festival' book.

Key Takeaways

  1. Have a "Just Say Yes" attitude and be open to tackling bold challenges that push you out of your comfort zone. 
  2. Persist through early struggles and losses when pursuing a passion project. Stay focused on your vision and purpose.
  3. Be willing to make big sacrifices or life changes to protect activities essential to your wellbeing. 
  4. Take creative risks and trust your intuition when curating unique experiences for others.
  5. View all parts of your life as creative expressions. Reflect on past experiences as instrumental to your growth.


Creativity For Sale: How to start and grow a life-changing creative career and business by Radim Malinic - Out now.

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Hector:

it's been difficult since the beginning, and it's been really difficult for many, many years. And I remember the very first ones, that we lost a lot of money, crazy, crazy money that probably almost anyone will just drop it and forget about it because the debts that we have over our heads was insane. But when you believe in something and you feel that that's what you're supposed to do and that's what you want to do, it doesn't matter what happens, it doesn't matter the problems and the issues that you have in front of you, you just keep going and going and going

Radim Malinic:

Hello and welcome to Creativity for Sale podcast, a show to help you start and grow your life changing creative career and business. My name is Radim Malinich and creativity changed my life. You see, I believe creativity can change your life too. I even wrote a book about it and it inspired this podcast. I've set out to interview the world's most brilliant creatives, designers, writers, musicians, makers and marketeers about their life changing experiences with creativity. If you ever wanted to know how people go from their humble beginnings to the pinnacle of their success, our conversation should provide you with an intimate look into triumphs, challenges and untold stories behind their creative endeavours. We also discuss the highs and lows of creative careers and creative life. So Thank you for joining me on this exploration of passion, creativity, innovation, and the boundless potential within us all. Let creativity change your life. Are you ready? For more than two decades, today's guest is one of the reasons why thousands of creators from around the world book their trips to soak up Catalan sunshine, recharge and inspire their creative reserves and reconnect with others in our creative community, all of them attending the remarkable OFF! Festival in Barcelona. There isn't much that my guest doesn't do. He's the founder and curator of OFF! Festival. Designer, Creative, Filmmaker, Ultraman, Cyclist and all around unstoppable force with the collection of the most exquisite tattoos. Here's your chance to find out what goes on behind the scenes of making the festival and the man that launched it. It's my pleasure to introduce Hector Ayuso.

Radim:

Hi Hector, welcome to the Creativity for Sale podcast. I'm really, really been pleased to, to have you on the show because, you and I They have known each other for maybe nearly 10 years, but we haven't not spoken in person more than a handful of times. So I'm really happy to ask you all the questions, which I want to know answers to. And hopefully my listeners will be feeling the same. So I want to start from a different perspective. You're a festival director. You are an artist. You're a designer, creative, curator. But I want to start somewhere where. Maybe not many people know what you do, and that is you are an endurance

Hector:

athlete.

Radim:

when, when I, when I met you, I think in 2015, you did a campaign called Just Say Yes, and you did, was it Ironman in Florida or something like that?

Hector:

uh, Ultraman.

Radim:

Ultraman. Got it.

Hector:

Yeah,

Radim:

I think your methodology of, just say Yes, makes me think that there was not really a plan before you said yes. Is that right?

Hector:

that's exactly right. Almost like anything I did in my life, to be honest, there's no much thinking about it. It's just when you feel that you need to do something. Because you feel that, I don't know, like that urge that your body and your mind are asking you to do. the thing is, I had, overweight for a long time. And I got to a point where I had really, really serious problems in my back because I, my weight was, 130 kilos. Which is crazy, and then all of a sudden one day I, I told myself, okay, that's it, that's enough, I have to do something with this. So I put myself on a routine, going to the gym, diet and, sports. That's something that I never have done ever in my life before. And in six months I lost 48 kilos.

Radim:

Wow.

Hector:

And then everything started, you lost your weight and you feel great, you feel like you need to do something with your body and then I start running and then from running I start riding my bike and then I start looking for, these crazy races all over the world that Things that put your body and your mind on the, on the limit. And I think it's great. I think it's, it motivates me a lot. I don't know. It's it's a challenge. And it's a challenge exactly like the ones I found at off or in my career. I know in, in my life basically, I started doing small things, triathlon, and then I did the half Ironman, and then I did an Ironman, and all of this was happening super fast, Almost every month. And in a year, I was doing this Ultraman in Florida, which was part of a project that I worked with the guys at Mucho Design. They helped me to create this campaign, Just Say Yes, and it was supposed to be a documentary and everything about it. Like you said, because when the challenge is there, and it's in front of you, why not,

Radim:

I like that you said just the little things like Ultraman, Triathlon, the little things, it's just, it's, it's, it's, as someone who I like, I think I like running only to the point where, when it doesn't hurt, if that makes sense, because I think the patience, I think, I believe as, as we grow older, we grow into patience, we grow into acceptance and endurance. And I think there is that point between the year, age 35 to 45 that actually we are more, as, as, as good as, as, as physically as we were in our early twenties or teenage years. But we somehow accept it, we actually accept that things are actually meant to hurt and that, that's how things are because in our early years, we just think, Oh, you know what, I can change the reality. I don't want to ache. I don't want to do things like that. And I think for me, it was like, I remember one year I tried to. go and actually go out for runs and actually take out running properly. And it took me like 500k before I actually started enjoying it. It was that, that sort of okay, you have to go out and you have to do it. And you just, so every time I've seen you in person, I was like, Oh, it's fascinating because you can see. The progress you can see like the labor of love that you've put into all of this that that that's showing, but on a topic of patience and a topic of no plans, when I was doing the research for my book, I was like, I started everything with no, no business plan, no idea, literally headfirst, let's do it. And when I did the, when I did research, I'm like, has actually anybody else started a business plan? It always transpires that no one, no one, no one in creative industry got any idea or any plan because we really want to do what we want to do. And, on those two topics, Patience and no plan, they have to come hand in hand because if we don't know where we're going, but how do we navigate? So with your, with your festival and with your endurance athlete stuff, how, how does it go on a hand in hand together? Because when did you start off? What year was that?

Hector:

2001.

Radim:

Wow. That's incredible. So 22 years.

Hector:

actually 23. Yeah.

Radim:

Oh yeah. I can't count. So luckily.

Hector:

it goes, it goes with the, it goes with the year. I re I, I really started in 20, in 2000. The first edition was 2001, which means, we are doing the 24th edition next year.

Radim:

that's incredible. congratulations. it's, it's a, it's one of those festivals that everyone knows about and everyone wants to go to because it's just, yeah, I think you've got a unique formula of incredible things, but just like with your, with your sort of endurance training, the story of Off, was it always okay? Was it, did you ever feel like giving up? Did you always feel like you need to learn new things? How did it go? How did it start and how did it go and to, to get you to where you are today? Incredible.

Hector:

way, no, it wasn't, it wasn't okay since the beginning at all. it's, it's exactly like a race, an endurance race. Sometimes even worse because, you're, you, you feel like you're fighting all the time against something and of course there is excitement and there is the, always the challenge, the, the thing that you, you're learning every, every year and you try to do things In a different way every year and you put, you try to put yourself, at the festival, like in Seoul and in everything, which at the end for me, it's what makes anything unique. when there is someone or a group of people behind that, they put everything on this. there's no paper and no formula on how to do something and make it great. It's just the people that are behind it. but it's been difficult since the first year since the beginning, and it's been really difficult for many, many years. And I remember the first one, oh, the very first ones, that we lost a lot of money, but crazy, crazy money that probably almost anyone will just drop it and forget about it because the debts that we have over our heads was insane. But when you believe in something and you feel that that's what you're supposed to do and that's what you want to do, it doesn't matter what happens, it doesn't matter the problems and the issues that you have in front of you, you just keep going and going and going because you know that at some point you're going to get somewhere and you're going to be happy with it and, and especially everyone is going to be happy with what you do and. And at the end of the day, it's what, it's more satisfying of, everything we do, when you see someone happy and enjoying and going back home, like with life changing things because of something that you create, I don't know if it makes sense what I'm saying. But yeah, going to your question, it wasn't easy. It's never been easy. obviously now 23 years later, I have a big team behind me. I have my partner, which is the director of the festival now. And that helps. You become like professional or somehow, but I have to say I'm sitting right now here talking to you and I feel exactly the same that I felt 23 years back in terms of how I do things. it didn't change at all.

Radim:

It makes it sound like it's the, eternal curiosity because we are never done, are we? as a, as a creative, whatever you do, you can always do something else. You can do something more. And if, if I'm sure the challenges that you had 23 or 24 years ago are no longer the challenge that you've got now, but you've got new challenges. There's always on a, on a, on a path to growth and on a, on a, on a scaling and, and, and sort of on a, on a, on a journey. You can, you can, you can make it easy for yourself and you can, I'm sure you could have kept it simple, simple, small, whatever, it's just that, that could be the journey that some people prefer. Whereas with your ambitions, what I, what I really admire and, and, and appreciate is just that. it changes, it grows, it evolves, it's, it's, it's, it's still not to retain the spirit of something like your festival. It's, it's quite remarkable because you have festivals that come and go, they, they, they've got their peak, they disappear. And sometimes it's easy to see why they've disappeared or why they've peaked. Because it's for, for some organizers, it's been more. I mean, no one makes money in events apart from, big marketing companies and stuff, but on this level, it's, yeah, I think what you, what you put into it and, what I know from conversation with yourself and Pep, for example, you guys put your life, your heart and soul into all of this, which is admirable and incredible. And actually you can see, That you live and breathe your product, you live and breathe your, your, your, your mission. And that's, that's, that's what people get, that's why people keep returning back over and over again. I want to go back to what you said about, debts. you said you had enough debts after your first event. And having worked with friends who put on the events, everyone loses money because everyone thinks it'll be okay. Everyone loses money, but we're going back to patience and endurance. How did that feel like when things didn't work out? to go again with debts over your head, how did you guys get over it? How did you do it?

Hector:

Just accepting your situation and accepting what's happening to you, because the solution is always there. And if you, if you know exactly what you want, then you know exactly where you want to go. for sure you're going to find the solution and when talking about the specifics, of course, there's always ways of, facing a debt, but, in back, back then in, in the first edition and the second edition, I, I got help from my family and even my mom put money on it. And, you just use everything. It's, it's around you just to keep going. But, I don't know, I've always seen that, whatever is in front of you, whatever is the challenge or whatever is the, problem that you're facing, there is always a solution after that. And if you, are willing to find it, you're going to find it. It's like when you're doing a race and that you're facing 12 hours of riding or 12 hours straight of running. And at the beginning, before you start, you're thinking that that's impossible. who, who the hell wants to be on a bike for 12 hours? But then when you're there, and you are in pain, and I don't know, you're throwing up, or your, your stomach is completely fucked, or whatever it is that the challenge that, it's in front of you, you just keep going. It's your mind that is going to tell you, just keep going, because at some point, your body is going to turn, and you're going to feel great again. It's exactly the same way for me.

Radim:

It's an amazing point. in your journey and in your story, we talk about racing a lot and I didn't know as a rookie runner that you you should plan your, your, your event backwards, you plan for the last climb, plan for the last stretch of running. And it was only to my friend who was a marathon runner who, enlightened me on this. He said, you know what, you plan it backwards. And then now as a cyclist, I go on these sort of miles, hundred mile run, cycles. and you just, yeah, you tell yourself like I should do this. I should climb the first climb as I would do the last one, because it's easy to burn all your matches so quickly and so early. with your curation of your festivals and with your events, of course, you've got your, Deadline date, which is your, which is your date, which is your event date. What goes behind the scenes on, on creating an event? Like, how does it, how long in advance do you plan it? How do you curate it? Because I think Pep was quite right when he spoke to me, he said, you're one of the best curators in the world in the way you put it together, because I thought there was a team of people doing this. And then I found from Pep, found out from Pep that it's just you. So how do you, how do you plan an event? What's your, what's your, what's your, how far? How many races do you plan and how many of them do you plan from the race day backwards? Does that make sense?

Hector:

Usually, it took, it took a year, maybe more or less. But, to be honest with you, there's no a timing, a specific timing, and I, I decided a long time ago that I don't put a specific timing to myself or a specific deadline. I know I have a year to work on an event, let's say, oh, Barcelona. but for instance, now we're in. November 13 and of Barcelona, which is in April, it's already planned and it's already done. Everything is ready. my production team is already working on everything, and I'm already working for 2025, which is going to be our 25th anniversary. we're planning to do something special, of course. it's a year and a half left for that edition, and I'm already working on it. But again, I don't have a specific deadline. And the only deadlines, real deadlines I have is The book we're going to print, which obviously you depend on the printing company. So they're going to give you a deadline. But besides that, in, in terms of, creating the festival, it just goes with, with the flow. It's, my day by day and how I find inspiration every day. And then. You got an email from someone introducing you to someone else and then you research about that and you find something and all of a sudden everything is coming together, and it's the parcel is making sense in front of you and and you put all the pieces together, but there's no specific time and I'm not so structured in that way. I just, I just go like with things happening, and then maybe one day I decide to spend the whole day riding my bike and then when I come at night, I have new ideas because I had these ideas, over my bike, you know, I mean, there's no specific way of doing this.

Radim:

I think it would be quite admirable to some designers or some creators to actually be able to say, what my event is next year and I'm already done. Of course, as you said, quite rightly, you've got a team of people to help you to make all of this, that, Sometimes we don't allow ourselves as freelance creators or individual creators or people running small business. We don't always allow ourselves to grow with people because I'm sure you would agree that it's quite easy to keep control of all of the things or wanting to keep control of the things yourself. how, how long did it take to grow your team, for, for the festival? And I'm sure it started with you and maybe a few others, but how big is your team now? And how did it go over time and actually what have you learned from sharing the duties with other people and letting them to run with it?

Hector:

I have to be honest, on this, which is Pep, it's, it's, it's been the responsible, the main person responsible of building a, a team behind us because, like I said before, at the end of the day, it's me and him, and he's more on the production side and, and directing the festival and, and then I'm the creative guy, and besides that, then we have a big team, not that big. I think we are like 10 people now, including me and Pep, the whole year. And obviously when the festival comes closer, like probably the last four or five months before the festival, the team keeps growing and growing until the same week of the festival that maybe we are like 150 people working together. but the team, the core team that works the whole year, I think right now we are 10 people. which is, it's quite comfortable. it covers everything. probably in, in terms of creativity, I'm the only one, Pep told you. I create, I take all the creative decisions of the festival. I take care of the, merchandise, the book, and all the things that we do. but even, even that, me having this, team behind you, it, it gives you the freedom to work, like I said before, I have my own pace, and my own rhythm of doing things, and there's no pressure, but no pressure on any side, besides the, the deadline that you can have in production, but yeah, it's, it's, it, it came, it became easy, but easy because we became professionals. And that's something that me and Pep like to say a lot, which is off is the same, off never changes in the bike and the spirit of the festival is there and it will always be there, but we became professionals,

Radim:

That's incredible. So with the curation side. I'm always, always amazed. How do you, do you even start? Of course, you've got, you've got the wealth of 23, 24 years of curating, but how do you create a festival that doesn't feel it's a repeat of the last year? Where do you? Where do you find your inspiration? Where do you look? Who would you look for and what's the type of storytellers that you're trying to get on stage that, would almost guarantee that your audience will come up, will come home excited and inspired? How do you do it?

Hector:

that's the one million secret, question. how I do it, honestly, I just don't. And let me explain myself, I would say that I don't take that as, creating, like going to, I don't know, like many others may do, like going to other events, checking who is around and who is giving talks everywhere. And who is doing great and who is not, or, I don't know, just doing, research I keep taking notes. I, I love taking screenshots on my phone of things that I find. And then, like I said before, I start putting all things together, and when I see that everything makes sense, I just start contacting people, you know? and something that I always said and it's true and I still keep doing it somehow, which is I try to put together the kind of event that I would love to go as an attendee, even if I'm not the person that often goes to other events. but I try to do mine in that sense, this is the type of event that I would love to go if I never, if I was. Just a regular attendee, because that way I, I feel like I'm sure that people is going to love it as much as I would,

Radim:

it reminds me of my, of my DJ career when I used to go out and play the music I wanted to listen to, because I was always, I was always going out and I didn't like the music, so I just decided that I will get, try to get in a DJ booth, which worked. And yeah, I spent nearly 10 years of my life listening to music I wanted to listen to, to a dismay of people that don't, didn't always like it. but like that you've created sort of your, your own sort of view of the world that, that it's yours. And it's, it's, it's, it's something that, that people always, come and associate with. with the festival, did you ever find. you've got an amazing space in Barcelona and obviously you've got other satellite festivals around the world, but I'm sure with the amount of your sort of ambition, you would, if you can take over the city, you would easily have taken over the city. But with the museum and the space that you've got available. Do you find that the limitations are sometimes actually a benefit to what you do, that sometimes you have to, compromise. Sometimes you have to do things that, you would have to ground and bigger and have more people around. But do you ever find that the limitations actually were a benefit to what you do?

Hector:

to be honest, we never had the need to grow or we never had the need to make off, bigger than it is. we are, I wouldn't say comfortable, but, it's the right size. to keep doing the off that we want to do. So that museum, that venue we have right now, it's like the perfect scenario for us. and again, either ways, it keeps, becoming a challenge. Even if it's the same place, but even the venue keeps changing every year, and they keep growing. And for instance, for next year, they have a new space. they, they came to us and they say, hey, we have this new space, so maybe we should do something, here. even the venue keeps growing with you, which means that every year you also have challenges, to overcome, which is, again, an inspiration to do something different. and me and Pep especially, we're always discussing things like, what should we do outside? Because we have a lot of space outside. Or what should we do, in the tent that we have outside? Or what should we do with this room that we have available next year? So, um, we don't have the need to grow. We don't have the need to go bigger. We are super comfortable of how it is right now, but still it becomes a challenge every year, which is great. So, uh, I would say that right now it's perfect as it is.

Radim:

mean, yeah, I would agree with you. I think sometimes things grow way too big that you just you lose the identity, you lose the spirit. And, not that many, not that many festivals do, but then when things are a little bit more corporate, with a lot more sort of production budget behind, almost, endless budgets that you can say, it just feels a little bit like a sort of Disneyland, and you just you sometimes you wonder why, why are you there, because all of a sudden you can't really hear the message, or you can't connect with people as easily because it's too big, or, it's too fragmented, I do that you've created their own sort of reality with the festival. if I was to switch back or switch over to your, your creative side, I remember, having a dinner at yours in a few, many years ago, and I wanted I wanted to see what you actually do because you always live in spaces that are extremely beautifully created and artistic and. I remember last time I spoke to you about what you were doing, you said you were planning to make a documentary about a punk band, and I see you online, I see the stuff you do, and you've got always extremely beautiful, extremely beautiful, I think that's a good phrase, identity designed by your friends, but your world always seems enigmatic, and I can never really tell what you do, because you're so busy on so many different fronts, if I was to say, who is Hector Yusuf as a creative, what do you do? What is it that makes you, apart from the festival, what gets you up in the morning and what gives you the inspiration to get and be creative?

Hector:

also a tricky question.

Radim:

How much, how much time have you got, for example, aside from the festival and from, training and endurance, sports, how much time have you got to be creative and what do you do? Is it commercial projects, is it things you do for, for the love of creativity, what do you do?

Hector:

I, do you think that you will split things like this? Like, how much, creative things you do a day and then how much not? Because for me, anything I do since the morning, I wake up in the morning until I go to sleep, even when I go to bed, it's all part of my creative mind. I mean, um. Even, being a simple thing like building my own bike, which me, the one I have right now, it took me like two months to plan how my bike is going to look like and what components I'm going to put together. And that's a great thing, if you put time and you put a lot of thinking on it, you want something unique, you want something that it's just for you. And it's going to make you happy and it's going to take you to the best races around the world and everything. So that's, that's a great, that's also my creative side working on this. And, um, and it's the same with, uh, any kind of, work that I. like you said, I have always lots of things happening at the same time, which is a good thing for me. I'm not a structured person, I always like to have many things happening. So, now I'm writing a script for a future film, which hopefully is going to be my first one. writing a book. I'm working on the book for off next year. I'm preparing an exhibition. doing something for the sphere in Las Vegas and, else? And I don't know. of things are happening right now.

Radim:

What an amazing plethora of projects. if I could, if I, if I was to be nosy, I'd be like, should we talk about a sphere? But, no, let's talk about writing because as I have one, the reason why we on this podcast is because I have decided to switch. partially from visual work to written work. And it's not something I've ever imagined I would do, because I could never really understand when I was coming through the ranks. I've seen books by Aud Aud Audrian Shogunsey, and I was like, he gave up a studio to write books? I could never understand it. Only to the point where I grew up older, I grew up, I grew older, and more curious from a philosophical perspective of creativity. to then share the messages because It was actually through speaking on the stage where I found that my philosophy is a way of working where something that people wanted to hear more about. So it wasn't, it wasn't necessarily about vanity Oh, let's smell, let's have, let's have everyone reading my books. It was more about like, how can I actually help people to work better, to exist better, to, to, to collaborate better. So with your. With your writing side, for example, I'm, I'm intrigued by your feature film. was writing ever natural to you or were you visual person first and writing came second, or did you start as a, as a, as a writer? Like how, how was your progression?

Hector:

no, I'm, I'm 100 percent a visual person. Like, when I say writing, of course, I, I have my notebook right next to me and I write, but, I, I really envy people like you, for instance, I have your new two books also in my left side of the table and I would love to one day read them. Be able to do something like this, but I can't. I just can't. And I know, and it's something that I have, I have accepted that I'm not someone that is capable to write in the, in the structured way. I'm putting Yes, in the structured way. Just writing. I'm just a visual person. So when I'm talking about writing and I'm writing my future thing, it's just ideas. So I put a lot of ideas in my notebook and then I, I try to build all these things. In a visual way, if that makes sense. probably, probably you will never see my writing side of, editorialism. Maybe just with notes, or quotes, or sentences that helps me to express myself. but, because for, the last, the last edition for us. I took the decision of doing the book, that we give away a book every year to all the attendees when they come to the festival and sometimes we collaborate with someone and sometimes I just take care of that. And this year in 2023, I decided to take care of the book myself. And I took the decision, in a responsible way, this is going to be my book, Hector Ayuso's book. And then end up doing a book, it's just pure visual narrative. It's I took it like if it was a movie. But a movie that was going to be printed in a book, which is amazing. how can you create a movie that is printed on pages, on paper? And still, there is a narrative, there is a story behind it. yeah, I'm definitely 100 percent a visual person. I can see things in another way. even when I'm thinking, I'm trying to find the ideas or solutions to things I'm working on, it's all visual all the time.

Radim:

I, I, I love that. And I can tell you that it all starts with notes and, you know, little pieces on the little squiggles and little, little pieces of writing because It took me, I think, eight years to get to the position where I've created the right environment and right knowledge and real understanding of what I'm doing, because it's just like yourself, I started with visuals, I was promoting myself as an illustrator and advertising. And I was producing little booklets and then I put some words in it. And now, after eight years or actually after about 17 years of making things and the eight years of publishing, I now, I can confidently see that I can produce a book, in fact, two books at the same time, but I had to surround myself with the people to help me make it because. Just like yourself, like you, you, you can do a lot of things on your own and therefore you try to learn more things and that's always beneficial to your growth, but it comes at a price because it's, it's never, never ending in, in, in terms of hours and things that you want to do and, and it's, can be quite challenging. And we, we feel that, we are invincible and sometimes that, when you mentioned earlier those 12 hours on a bike. It's possible, but you have to spend 20 minutes on a bike, 30 minutes, hour, two hours, three hours. And, and sometimes I feel like with, with the world of creativity, especially now, we live in such a, such a sort of situation where it just feels you can be someone, somebody really quickly without needing necessarily the foundation, but that, I think we need those layers. We need that sort of, that practice around, you can't run five miles the fastest you've ever done if you've never walked fast, five miles. And I feel like that's, that's, that's, that's, very much the key. I remember, I remember the phrase you said, many times. There's two things that I'll, I'll, I'll remember what you said. First one was that your biggest pair of luxury is your running shoes. Is that still right? Do I have the quote right? That's your biggest luxury.

Hector:

it was. now it's not anymore. Mm

Radim:

because I'm like, with your bike stuff, as a designer, as a creative person, how, how much thought does it go in your, in building your bike? Because, as someone who writes, I write Scott and I just always try to pick a frame, which has got minimal branding. I just like the object rather than the shouty one. Whenever I go to, a bike shop and obviously I'm, I'm quite gobby, so I'm like, Oh, look, the people around me, all No, they write S Works and all of that stuff. Big Cannondale. And he said, you know what? People love it. People want the condo to be as written as big as possible. But, when you put your bikes together, how much, creative process is a process, right? once, once you start seeing from start to finish, you know how to, how to challenge it and how to, how to make it work. But putting together your bike, What, what goes into it? I would love to know because I know my process, that's, that's really long, but yeah, what, what'd you go for? what is your, what is your sort of your spirit animal in, in, in a bike?

Hector:

a lot. and it's, it's probably one of the things that I enjoy the most right now. I have to be honest. Uh, I mean, and right now I'm in the middle of the process of doing that exactly. I've been riding a bike for a year now, as a kind of test, which I wasn't really happy. And now I, I, it's been like two months since I decided to build my new bike. which is a lot. and I always start with the frame, which, which is going to be the best frame for me as a rider. what I like. Okay, so that, that's the type of bike I like, which is I like hardtail, I like to go fast, I like to downhill like crazy, but not with a heavy weight, bike. I always start with the frame and then when I have the frame, it starts my research of the rest of everything that comes with the bike. I choose every single component that I'm going to use very carefully, even with the weight and the ending weight of the bike, which is really important for me. yeah, and then when I have everything together, then it comes the Visual side, which is do I like the frame and the color of the frame? No, I don't. So then I start designing the frame and I have a friend that is really good at painting bikes, so I have conversation with him and I share ideas with him and then we put all the ideas together and we create a specific design for me and for my bike. And I've been doing this for years now.

Radim:

That's incredible. It's an incredible story. Cause yeah, I, yeah, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's, when you speak to mortals and when you say, look how much you spend on bikes or what you put into this and why do you do it? they sometimes don't really understand it. It's like, why, why would you, why would you do that? But then people spend different money on interiors, cars, whatever, like everyone's got their little sort of thing that they. Really enjoy and yeah, when you talk, when you start talking about the price and weight of a bike, people never understand like what, why, what, how, only until you actually hold a bike and you realize that, everything that goes in it is really considerate. And

Hector:

it's, it's, I understand and it's difficult. I don't have a car. I don't own a house. I like the freedom of feeling that I can live anywhere. But look, just to give you a perspective of how much important it is for me to be able to bike. I just came back a few months ago, living in Mexico City for a year with my wife, because she's Mexican. And the reason, the main reason I decided to go back to Barcelona is because I couldn't ride at all in Mexico City. Because it was really difficult and I, and it was like a, probably one of the most important things of my, of me as a person. And I felt that I was losing myself and I, I was lost completely. So I decided to come back to Barcelona because I said, no way, I can't, I can't live like this. I, I really need to go every morning with my bike and spend hours on it. And. And it's just part of myself. And that was one of the main reasons we decided to come back to Barcelona.

Radim:

oh, wow. it's easy. It's easy to get obsessive because it gives you identity. It gives you release. I. Yeah, my poor wife, sometimes I'm just literally just jumping around the house because it's too, it's too wet or whatever. It's I need to go out. I need to just, just do this. And I think what I found with this, I used to be obsessive about my work and I couldn't really, I wouldn't leave the house. I was just like overworked, burnt out. And I never thought I had time for, for, for exercise. And then you, now I look at my Strava and you spend eight to 10 hours a week on a, on a bike. I'm thinking. Where did that time came from? Like you just, you have to get obsessive. You have to get, I think Strava is a fantastic invention because it makes you go out and makes you see what people do. And I've had a, I've been away for the last couple of weeks. I haven't been properly riding and I went out on Saturday. And that realization that your speed is fine, you're overtaking people, everything's, everything's going well. It's like the biggest and best smile on your face. you know what, I'm good. I just need to get back into it properly. I just need to do this. yeah, it's, it's a great feeling. And I think it's an interesting, an interesting insight that, that you moved from Mexico to back to Barcelona because of your bike. What did your wife had to say about this? Was she happy to move to Barcelona? I

Hector:

yeah, yeah. that's a good thing. she loves Barcelona, so it wasn't, it was an easy decision, but. I love Mexico City, of course, and the family is there, and we have an apartment there, and everything, we were happy, but like I said, I just can't, I just can't live without my bike right next to me, It's impossible.

Radim:

mean, I fully understand, I fully understand it. I just always admire people who have seven or eight bikes. And I'm thinking, how do you decide which bike you're riding? Because I've, I've taken my numbers to two and I'm like, poor second bike, doesn't get as much attention as the other one. So I'm, I'm, I'm guessing if, if, if Hector in 2023, so Hector in 2001, I think he will tell him that, you know what, one day you will, you won't be able to leave without your bike. that, that's, that's the thing that you'll miss doing every day. But when you look back retrospectively, because I'm sure if I was to guess, the question is Oh. If you could go back, would you go back? I'm sure you wouldn't, because it's where you've, where you're heading, I think, tells me there's, there's a lot of progress and signs of how much you've learned and grown and what you've undiscovered. what would you tell yourself in 2001 about what you know in 2023? What, what would you, what would you tell yourself?

Hector:

I don't know, probably, nothing because with, even with everything that I went through, which is a lot, and I, I talk about most of those things in, in the book I was telling you about before, that I, we probably set off this year. I can't see myself as I am right now without all those things that happened before. if I have to say something to my actor 25 years ago, probably things will change. and I don't want anything to change. I'm proud of everything, everything that I went through. The good and the bad and the shitty things and, and, I don't know, and everything. And there is, I'm, I'm, I'm remembering, a lot in this conversation. an amazing quote from Paula Sher, which I love and I have it in my, in my wall here at home, which is, she says, it took me a few seconds to draw it, but it took me 34 years to learn how to draw it in a few seconds, which is perfect definition, like everything, everything that you are today, it's because of all the things that happened before in the past. and you have to embrace that. And embrace it. I love everything that they went through. Everything. I wouldn't change anything.

Radim:

That is a fascinating answer because I like what you said that if I tell myself something different, if I knew something differently 25 years ago, it would turn out differently because everyone would normally go and tell themselves like, Hey, be more confident or look out for this and that, that would be, whereas you said, you know what, it had to happen that way because we always, we can look, we can look back retrospectively and say, you know what? I wish I had a plan. I wish I did things differently. But. We only live our own version of our stories, so it just doesn't matter, if it's, if, if, if, if if what you've done wasn't always necessarily right, because somehow it feels to me like the society has got this obsession about heading in the right direction, heading there as fast as possible, as bold as possible. Like it's all about winning, selling, converting, all of that stuff. And I think sometimes we've lost. That key of, actually enjoying what we're doing because you and I you started off festival pretty much before the internet was a proper thing. internet was a thing in 2001. And for, for that reason, for example, I moved to the UK in year 2000 because I wanted to be closer to record labels and nightclubs and musicians and all of that stuff, which I was admiring from my native home in Czech Republic. And, that year was the 2000, 2001. You look at it and you're thinking, it's okay to fail quietly. It's okay to fail on my own. It's okay to, to do things that are not necessarily in a plain view. And it feels that now the failure is so amplified. It's so brought up into our attention that we almost scared to get things wrong because as as you said earlier in the conversation. Things fuck up. There's challenges. In fact, if there wasn't a challenge, why would you go back again? Why would you do that? it's, it's, it almost feels like the growth is in, in struggle. The growth is in things that don't necessarily just make it easy for us. So yeah, I, I love the fact that you said that you wouldn't change anything. You would just carry on and be yeah, cause, yeah, cause we can look back and say. I wish things were different, things, but, what, actually, we need to embrace the story and we need to embrace who we are, what we do, which is fascinating. with the theme of the festival for Barcelona this year, is there any particular overarching theme that you, that you're working towards? because you mentioned your books and you mentioned you're, you're, you're being in the book quite a lot. what is the theme for 2024?

Hector:

There's no specific theme. It's just, Trying to, put things, new things outside. we always try to find something, at least different that people is gonna come and they're gonna, they're gonna feel the festival exactly the same. but With new things and new inputs and new ideas and, newer scenarios and things happening. And like I said before, we have a new room for next year, which we are trying to find out what we're going to do with it. I took a decision that no one knows yet, but, probably we're not going to have a book, which we're going to do is some kind of newspaper that we're going to publish every day, so people is going to go to the festival and they're going to get some kind of off newspaper every day, like trying to find new ideas and putting those ideas in motion, so you can surprise people when they come to the festival every year.

Radim:

That is fascinating. I was reminded of an exclusive every time I've spoken so far on this podcast has given me an exclusive. thank you for that one. And I think it's a genius idea just to do something which is immediate and I found Through publishing if you actually help people to be part of the story part of the narrative That, that makes them so much more involved and, I've got two young children if I, I'll try to get them to cook as much possible because they will eat it because that's, that's where you see that's, that's inclusive, it's what you want, to be. And I feel, I feel sometimes the industry. Especially with the hangover of the past when we used to have like big name designers, feeling a little bit inaccessible. I think we have of been making things a lot more, open and more collaborative and closer. And, yeah, I love the quote from, from Paula Sher. I think, I think it may have been actually Picasso who said it first, who, it was once asked to sell a napkin to someone in a cafe because he drew on a napkin and he said. Can I get it? And someone said, no, it costs you 10 million. They said, why, why, why wouldn't the napkin cost 10 million? Because it took me 60 years to learn how to draw it and on a napkin. yeah, no, I was, I was lucky. I met Paula Shear just the last week ago, last week in Toronto and she walked away from, from the meeting with my book in her handbag going to dinner, which was fantastic. but, just. Lastly, I think I would love to know, what do you look for in a speaker? Because you mentioned you get pitches. Obviously you look, you look for your own speakers and obviously a designer crowd that are just only happy to put their hand up and say, can I speak? What can I do? And, what is it, what is your sort of filter? Because if you let everyone speak, it would not be as exciting as it could be.

Hector:

I was going to say if I have to say yes to everyone, probably we will have to do four offs every year. In Barcelona, just in Barcelona. Yeah, how I filter, it's just. I don't know, it's just, I think it's just intuition, and that's something that I truly believe in, and obviously there's always a risk, that something might not work, but I, I decided to just follow my intuition with everything and at the same time try to find the balance and not, carry myself for names, for just for big names that think, okay, if I have this person or this speaker, I'm sure that the festival is going to be successful because it's not always like that. And that will be like the easy solution. And I don't like easy solutions. I like to put trouble in my work and I like tricky things and I like to make it difficult. So, um, just that's basically the filter, It's just intuition, things that just. surprise you and or inspire you somehow. And, and then when you, as I said before, when you put it all together, then you know that everything makes sense and it's for talent and you have all kind of things and you have things that might surprise people because they're not expecting it. I do make bets also somehow, find people that no one knows, and you find them and then you don't know if they're going to work and they're going to do it well, or if you're going to like it or not, but if you don't put it there. You will never know. And that's really exciting. And that, that happens a lot. And then happy accidents, like I met an amazing guy that probably, he also has a podcast and he's going to publish a book right now. And we met and then we, grew up conversation together. And then he came up with an amazing idea because he had. Sat Meister in his podcast. And then I wanted to set Meister come back to work, but I wanted to find a way of doing it different like. I don't want the Stefan Sagmeisters that everyone is suspecting for, I want a different Sagmeisters. then Ben came to me and said, What about if we put us both together in the stage and we have a conversation in the stage? And that will make it different. Because it won't be like, Stefan talking or just me talking, it will be both. Having a conversation. So this happy accident that comes to you, those, those are the kind of things that I like, I like to put together.

Radim:

Yeah, it's fantastic. I saw Stefan's latest talk, and actually it was, I think, one of the most engaging ones I've seen in a long time. Because it's sometimes you have a bit of a sort of speak of fatigue, because sometimes you see speakers and quite, there's, there's a, there's a name for speakers in the industry. there's there are pet speakers. They come across like a pet speakers because they often show up, around the festivals and other events over and over again. But I guess sometimes as an organizer, You can't, we can't really put off on without a big name speaker because it almost like the big name speaker actually gives it a sort of bit of a theme or kind of an anchor. But I remember Hector, we did an interview for my blog in 2015 called Color Spaces. And I asked you, who is the one speaker that you wish you had, on, on, on, in, in the festival? I remember that answer is, would you remember who that speaker is, or who that person is, or has it changed since?

Hector:

Mm hmm. It was, Harmony Corinne.

Radim:

Very much Yes. I still remember

Hector:

Yeah, right? Yeah, it's still in my, in my mind, in my head. I don't know. I couldn't.

Radim:

You can't get it. is it, do you, do you, do you sometimes get like literally obsessive that you want a particular person to come and speak, but it seems, it seems a challenge because I think you've, you've achieved quite impossible task. You had, one Oliver, you had, some incredible names at your festival, but is it, is it actually Hermione Cunningham is impossible to get, but do you ever, do you ever go in and get obsessive about someone and literally, Yeah. Repeat of the, the, the, the trajectory or the repeated direction of, of energy. Like when people get obsessive about you trying to get you to book them, do you ever do it in reverse and actually don't give up on speakers as it happened?

Hector:

it goes with waves, sometimes I get obsessed and I really wanted to have Harmony Green on the festival, whatever it takes, just because, first of all, because I'm a huge fan, of course. And second of all, because I felt that, it will be, like a, an amazing addition to the festival, it will be crazy just to have that guy, talking to our audience, but that it goes with waves, now I have all the names in my head and if I have to choose someone that I, it's never been enough, it would be a different name right now, probably.

Radim:

It all changes, doesn't it? It all changes as we grow. Hector, thank you so much for your time. I feel like I know a little bit more about you and your festival and everything that goes behind it. I worked, I worked with an actor called Jacob Anderson on various projects. He goes under the name of Riley Ritchie. He was in Game of Thrones. And he once said, About a concept of his album, he wanted to call it Swan, because the swans are serene on the surface of the water, but underneath they are paddling furiously just to stay afloat, and I just feel like when I, when I see, what you do on social, it just, it just feels like you're serenely floating on the top of the water. And, and, and behind the scenes, it's just it's just this incredible sort of, ball of energy and action that you put into all of this. So I'm, I'm very personally, I'm very thankful that you've introduced me to lots of new friends and, and people and, and people of work that I wouldn't have otherwise known because of a festival. The festival is like a key and, and making lifelong friends so far. And yeah, I hope you've got lots of, left in a tank to, to keep it going for another 25 years, as long as we live and breathe to, to keep coming together in Barcelona and having great time. So thank you. Thank you for what you're doing and, yeah, long you may stay because I think it's very integral part for, for the sort of creative community and for the industry itself. So thanks very much. Thanks for coming on the show.

Hector:

Yeah. Thank you. It was, amazing fun and I hope to see you soon,

Radim:

Likewise. Thank you. Cheers.

Hector:

Okay. Cheers.

Radim Malinic:

Thank you for listening to this episode of Creativity for Sale podcast. The show was produced and presented by me, Radek Malanich. Editing and audio production was masterfully done by Niall Neil mackay, from 7 million Bikes Podcasts, Theme music was written and produced by Robert Summerfield. If you enjoyed this episode and would like to support the podcast, please subscribe and leave a rating or review. To get your own action plan on how to start and grow a life changing creative business. You can get a copy of the Creativity for Sale book via the links in show notes. burning, and until next time, I'm Radim Malinich, your guide through this exploration of passion, creativity, innovation, and the boundless potential within us all.

  

Radim Malinic

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