Since its inception in 2009, Build has gained a reputation as a great event where web industry folk can meet, share ideas and offer inspiration to others. The week-long festival has grown to encompass a conference and workshops, along with live events, meet-ups, film screenings and parties. With all that in mind, it was therefore surprising to hear that 2013 will draw a line on Build, with the teaser website simply stating "one more time".
We spoke to Build organiser (and publisher of The Manual) Andy McMillan about what we can expect from the last ever Build, and why he felt it was time to retire the festival.
.net: What can people expect from Build in 2013? Will it be much like previous efforts, or are you going for something different?
McMillan: Each year of Build has been different from the year before. Over time, the event has evolved from a single day of talks to a full blown festival, adding music, film screenings, hands-on craft workshops, a pop-up cafe and shop, evening lectures, a beer festival, a pub quiz, exhibitions, meet-ups, parties and more, to a schedule that now spans an entire week.
Every year, new ideas have been added and old ideas that didn't work as well have been removed. 2013 will be a culmination of lessons learnt about what's made previous years great, all wrapped around the fundamentals that have led Build to become so well respected—talks from the best and brightest design thinkers, surrounded by a full week of extraordinary events—all combined to create what I guarantee will be an absolutely unmissable conclusion to five years of Build.
.net: On that 'conclusion' theme, why is this the last Build?
McMillan: Build, like any good story, was always intended to have an ending. Forming a cohesive narrative throughout the conference in order to tell a complete story is an important part of piecing together the speakers and talks at Build, and it's always been important for the overall project to share that goal too. Limiting the amount of time you have to tell a story assures quality, consistency and conciseness, which is precisely what I'm trying to encourage by giving Build a beginning and end.
Everyone expects me to say the real reason is that I've grown tired of working on it, which couldn't be further from the truth. Build has been my full-time job for almost three years, and over that time it's become an extension of who I am. It's going to be incredibly strange not having it in my life any more. However, I feel it's time to embrace some fresh challenges, and to find something unfamiliar and terrifying to work on again.
.net: What would you say have been the rewards for you regarding Build? Would you recommend others set up their own conferences?
McMillan: Easily the most rewarding part of organising Build has been the people I've met through organising it. It's put me in the same room as a lot of very smart and talented people, been the catalyst for a lot of important friendships, and it's the reason I know Jez Burrows, Carolyn Wood, Kyle Meyer and Andy Baio and got to be working on The Manual and XOXO. It's completely changed my life.
When I got the Build logo tattooed on my wrist last year, I think a lot of people thought it was a bit of a gimmick. Really, it was to remind me of how much Build has shaped who I am over these past few years, and how incredibly lucky I am to do this as a job.
If you're considering starting your own large event in order to migrate from client work or to make serious bank, you're in for a shock. It's much more work than anyone expects, and it costs a hell of a lot more than anyone thinks. But if you're interested in contributing to the community, in bringing people together or sharing ideas or stories you don't think are being told elsewhere, you might be on to something.
Remember, big things have small beginnings. Start or get involved with events with your local design community, and see where that leads you. At the end of the day it should be about bringing people together in a meaningful way, not the scale at which you do it.