All the Creative Live Streams that'll save 2020

The very best online design and art happenings and virtual conferences taking place during this hellish year.

Recently Digital Arts partnered with arts platform Playgrounds for online festival Blend, a one-night only extravaganza that featured everyone from Jon Burgerman to Beatrice Blue.

Hosted on Twitch via two simultaneous live streams, Blend's virtual iteration was a very slick operation that anyone could access with ease: no tickets, no online queues, and no log-in required.

The success of the Playgrounds event showed that the current wave of the pandemic doesn't have to necessarily be the end of creative events; nor does it have to mean sketchy live streams and a forced, airless sense of festivity. 

As such, we present the best creative happenings and conferences you can catch this year from the comfort of your own home, divided into three sections.

You can find free and special one-time events below (think conferences and Q&As with top talent), ongoing fixtures here, both free and paid-for, and even one-off streams that require payment to enjoy.

2020's best one-time events: FREE online streams in art, design and more

June 30th: Tea & Coffee with Ruby Gloom


We recently interviewed Hong Kong's Chan Kayu aka Ruby Gloom, who you may know from her recent Grimes collaboration. Catch the cyberpunk avatar-artist 2pm BST talking to Kamilla Rose as part of Nexus Talks, streaming this Tuesday live @NexusCreativeHQ

June-August: D&AD Awards 2020

While hosting a 2020 ceremony is not possible due to coronavirus, D&AD will be celebrating its award winners in a social campaign designed by Studio Dumbar, with Shortlists and Pencils to be announced via the D&AD website and social channels. Key Shortlist dates include 21 May, 28 May and 4 June. Pencils will be announced on 2 June, 9 June and 16 June.

To accommodate in-person judging, Book Design, Graphic Design, Magazine & Newspaper Design, and Packaging Design Shortlists will be announced on 8 July and Pencils on 13 July. The Black Pencils meanwhile, the highest accolade in the creative industry, Collaborative Pencils and Rankings will be announced on 16 July.

Head over to the Adobe UK YouTube for insight sessions, Q&As and interviews with D&AD Awards 2020 Judges and Pencil winners.

July 6-10: D&AD New Blood Digital Festival 2020

The D&AD New Blood Digital Festival will entail five days of digital talks and workshops, an exhibition of student work, and a support programme ensuring the next generation of creative talent has access to the people and resources they need to thrive.

This year, New Blood also announces a partnership with The Dots for a virtual exhibition of student work, alongside a collaboration with YCC to help provide job opportunities and placements for recent graduates. Participating universities will gain access to 1:1 industry portfolio reviews for their students, as well as access to D&AD’s network of industry professionals.

Industry leaders will contribute to these conversations, including the following speakers: Sir John Hegarty, Ben Hughes & Sandra Nam (VP Brand Design & Creative Production Director, Squarespace), Lydia Pang (Creative Director), Eva & Marta Yarza (Founders & Creative Directors, Yaza Twins), Craig Oldham (Founder & Creative Director, The Office of Craig Oldham), Nate Agbetu, Ayo Fagbemi & Jojo Sonubi (Play Nice), Aurelia Durand (illustrator), Naresh Ramchandani (Partner, Pentagram), Simon Richings, Dan Noller & Sara Pouri (Analog Folk), Tyrone James Drake (Art Center College of Design), Stefanie Sword-Williams (F*ck being Humble), Fail Better Talks and Richard Brim (adam&eveDDB).

September 18th -19th 2020: Pictoplasma in Isolation

This year’s first-ever, fully digital ‘Pictoplasma in Isolation’ festival awaits all character pioneers, creatives and enthusiasts for a special celebration of contemporary character design and art.

Coming September, Pictoplasma will be live-broadcasting two full days' worth of character inspiration, with more than 30 artist talks, fresh animation screenings, a special symposium, spreading visual greatness and inspiration into the safe space of your own four walls, no matter where you are, all online, all for free.


Yukai Du speaking at Playgrounds, image courtesy of Niels Hoebers

On the line-up so far are Dan Woodger, Genie Espinosa, Jing Wei, Cristina Daura, Haein Kim, Joseph Melhuish, Hattie Stewart and more. At last year's real-world Pictoplasma we got to interview talented folk like Julian Glander and Yukai Du (above).

October 19-21: Adobe MAX 2020

Adobe made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person MAX event and make MAX 2020 a digital experience. And it'll be free.

The agenda and registration will be coming soon: Sign up for the MAX mailing list to be notified.


Best and regular virtual creative events in 2020

House of Illustration

Talks, masterclasses, courses, resources and more that you can enjoy from home, courtesy of London's House of Illustration gallery.

Book classes here.

THU presents Kanpai! Live


One of our favourite creative conferences, Trojan Horse was a Unicorn, goes virtual with a series of online shows under the banner of Kanpai! Live. Hosted by Shuzo John Shiota, president & CEO of Polygon Pictures, it remains to be seen if it follows the wonderfully bizarre format of THU's Konbanwa! shows at the conference which saw Shuzo asking some a mixture of career and personal questions while dressed as a game show host.

What we do know is that alongside interviews with leading creatives there will live music, and art battle and an even a cookery segment.

There will be a total of four free shows, taking place at 5pm BST on July 7, 21, and 28. They are a part of THU’s digital plan, featuring many initiatives created to help the creative community during these times.  The first guests are director Tim Miller (Deadpool, Love, Death & Robots) and Jaime Maestro (co-director of animation Animal Crackers), plus music from Ron Artis II, who performed at THU 2019 in Valetta, Malta.

Watch the shows on THU's Facebook page or On24. 

Achieve Online 2020

Animated Women UK​, the organisation supporting women in the UK’s VFX and animation industries, has announced that it is running four online workshops in June, aimed at helping members achieve their career goals. 

The workshops, which are open to AWUK members at all levels of experience, are supported by ScreenSkills Animation Skills Fund with contributions from UK animation productions. These stand-alone workshops will all be delivered via Zoom; more info at https://www.animatedwomenuk.com/animated-women-achieve-online/ 

AWUK members can apply for any or all of the workshops that are relevant to them via Eventbrite. Each workshop runs from 4pm to 5:30pm BST and costs just £25, thanks to the support of ScreenSkills Animation Skills Fund. 

Lisa Hassell's Portfolio Crits

This one-on-one portfolio review is open to emerging, practising illustrators, recent graduates and those who are looking to move into a new market. Whether you're feeling stuck, have lost your confidence or just need some valuable insight on what art directors want - this is for you!

Portfolio reviews will be conducted by founder and director of InkygoodnessLisa Hassell. Each session is conducted via Zoom and will last for 30-40 minutes max.

Book yourself a spot here. Student discounts and hardship discounts are available on request. Please get in touch with Lisa for more details.

Design Museum's Digital Design Calendar

There is no reason why self-isolating should mean missing out on the many inspirations design can offer and how it can make a difference in our lives. Brush up with London's Design Museum then on your design history, plus virtually visit the studios of leading designers and even join learning sessions for all ages.

Stay tuned here for free upcoming events with fashion designer Rejina Pyo, learn how to create sustainable natural dyes at home and enjoy some Hey Duggee family activities. 

Adobe Live

Adobe last week announced Adobe Live, its series of live creative shows, will extend to the UK as a series of daily interactive livestreams, providing people with a regular dose of creative inspiration and keeping them connected and learning during these uncertain times.

Running on Behance, Adobe Live features some of the world’s leading creative minds sharing their tips, tricks and techniques on how to best use Adobe tools; including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro and more. In these free and interactive sessions, livestream viewers are encouraged to share their unique challenges and questions for Adobe’s visionary speakers to solve in real time.

Enjoy at https://www.adobe.com/uk/creativecloud/adobelive.html

VFX Festival Virtual Series

For the first time in its history the VFX Festival, hosted by Escape Studios, is being divided into a virtual series, free to attend from May, to support emerging talent from across the world. The expert-led sessions will feature industry professionals who will share their insight on award-winning productions and encourage collaboration among the international participants. 

The VFX Festival Virtual Series will commence from May and will run until The VFX Festival next year, scheduled to take place in early February 2021 in London. 

Our hot pick: The evolution and expectations of an Animated Feature, hosted by Manuel Reyes, CG Supervisor at Jellyfish Pictures, on July 14th 2020.

Nicer Tuesdays

On the last Tuesday of every month, Oval Space in London was taken over to host an evening of creative talks called Nicer Tuesdays. 

Until the pandemic subsides, Nicer Tuesdays events will be online only; there will be five tiers of tickets available for all events including the next one in June, ranging from £1 to £10. 

A Drink with See No Evil

London animation meet-up See No Evil is now doing free live streams every Tuesday for their virtual A Drink With... series.

Their most recent session was with legendary veterans Shynola, and you can catch that and all the other recorded sessions to date free on YouTube.


Paid One-time events for 2020

June 22-27: Primer 2020

The Primer conference will span six days sharing diverse perspectives and practices, imagining alternative paths, and challenging all types of designers to enable more equitable futures through the further democratisation of the tools for building them.

Buy tickets here.

Keep tabs on this page as we continuously update it with the virtual festivals that are coming thick and fast as creatives adapt to the 2020 crisis; we're expecting Playgrounds for one to announce more virtual dates soon.

Related: How to nail a virtual festival slot, with Lucas Zanotto, Golden Wolf and Serial Cut

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