The Best Art and Design Conferences of 2020

Image: The London Illustration Fair

We've brought together the best conferences and events for designers across digital, UX, branding, graphics, advertising and more from around the UK – and a few major festivals from overseas you might want to consider booking a trip to. But which are still running as coronavirus spreads?

Events featured here will inspire you, conferences which help build your skills and facilitate meeting like-minded people to build a support network around yourself.

These are events that are mighty in size and local to the UK or worth travelling far and beyond to, plus we've also included some regular events you can attend without having to break the bank.

Look out soon for more tips on this year's must-do design and creativity conferences and festivals. Also, keep checking back to see if events are still running - with the Coronavirus running rampant, cancellations and changes are snowballing, with the latest victims including May's Pictoplasma conference and the Adobe Summit.

The stalwart of Adobe MAX looks safe to go ahead as it's due near year's end, but Adobe have confirmed this week that the new European version of MAX is now cancelled, proving that conferences running this winter, spring and early summer are all at risk.

You can also check out our top art and design exhibitions to visit in the UK this 2020.

D&AD Festival (Cancelled)

May 19-21
London, England

The creative, advertising and design fest is no longer going ahead sadly, but you can always catch our interviews from 2019's fest with speakers Rob Janoff, Edel Rodriguez, Camila Garay and Alex Norris, plus Pencil Winner Travis Louie.

Find out more.

Adobe MAX Europe (Cancelled)

June 15-16
Lisbon, Portugal

Don't confuse this with the original Adobe MAX, held annually every autumn in the States, nor the Japanese MAX held in Tokyo, for this Portuguese event is a new version of the creative conference that Adobe fans love to attend.

Lisbon was to be the base of Adobe's first ever European conference, inviting designers and illustrators to take to the big stage among an exploration of Adobe's latest software.

The big new releases will probably come out of the American MAX as per usual, but considering Adobe Fresco was released summer 2019, we wouldn't be surprised if something hits the app store during the dates which the festival was due to run. Our money's on a full release of Adobe Photoshop for Camera, with Illustrator for the iPad held back for the end of 2020 (catch our hands-on review of the forthcoming tablet app here.)

Adobe says: "As you know, we’ve been closely monitoring and evaluating the situation around COVID-19 to ensure we are taking the necessary measures to protect the health and well-being of

"As a result, after careful consideration, we have made the difficult but important decision to cancel our event in Europe."

Le't's hope it happens in 2021.

Find out more.

Loupe 2020

August 19-21
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Back for its third year, Loupe 2020 will focus on prototyping in all its forms.

Loupe attracts talent from all over the world, including Europe, USA, and APAC. Attendees represent companies both big and small, including brands like Google, Facebook, Deliveroo, Uber, Hulu, Nike, and more. 

This year’s lineup of speakers features a diverse list of industry talent, such as Sarah Brin, creative producer and program designer, and Adekunle Oduye of Mailchimp.

Find out more.

Pictoplasma Berlin Festival (rescheduled)

August TBA
Berlin, Germany

Last year at Pictoplasma we ended up in a taxi cab with Julian Glander and Jeron Braxton talking about prosthetics, probed puppets with Felicie Haymoz, and hung out in a morgue with digital ghosts.

We can't tell you what will happen this time around, but announced speakers already include queen of our hearts Genie Espinosa (pictured) and Joseph Melhuish, who recently made a cracking Adult Swim short featuring the voice of PC Music lassie GTOFY.

The character conference has been moved from its initial May date to an as-yet unannounced time in August due to COVID-19; ironic considering its theme this year was masks.

Find out more.

OFFSET Dublin (postponed)

Dublin, Republic of Ireland

With over 2,500 attendees each year, Offset has attracted such creative icons as Massimo Vignelli, Sir Peter Blake, Paula Scher, David Carson, Milton Glaser, Kyle Cooper, Stefan Sagmeister, Micheal Bierut, Shepard Fairey, Tomi Ungerer, JR, Lance Wyman, George Lois and Louise Fili.

OFFFSET Dublin was due to take place in the Bord Gáis Energy Theater, but has been postponed until sometime later in 2020 due to virus concerns. 

Find out more here.

OFFF Barcelona (rescheduled)

September 24-26
Barcelona, Spain

OFFF takes place in the heart of Barcelona annually while it tours the world as OFFF on Tour for the rest of the year.

The 2020 edition will feature a talk from none other than Canadian eye-popper Beeple (pictured) during its September staging. It was originally due to run April, but the pesky coronavirus has put paid to that.

Find out more.

Regular events

If you don't fancy breaking the bank but still want to network with fellow creatives on a regular basis, then keep an eye on the Glug site to see what they're holding e.g. Doodle Socials in London and VR 'wonders' in Dublin. Find out more here on events held in the UK and worldwide.

Also worth attending is Yo Illo, a monthly pub meetup that's been running since 2011.

There's no charge, no pressure and no agenda – just the opportunity to talk to like-minded creatives about illustration, sharing opportunities and advice (and sometimes to blow off a little steam). Find out more.

Animator meanwhile should attend bi-monthly event See No Evil or the more informal Later Animator as held by Cat Finnie.

Read next: Here are over 80 female creators in art and design who could speak at your next event

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