WMC is short for Weapons of Mass Creation. It’s an independent art, design, and music event in Cleveland, OH with a thread of DIY and entrepreneurship behind it all. It features 20 speakers, 20 designers, and 30+ bands over three days. Four years ago, after years of going to shows and various fests in the DIY punk scene, I wanted to start my own music festival and sprinkle in my other interests in art, design, and film. The goal was to create my ideal fest that I would want see right in my own backyard. It started as a side project but it had great synergy with what we were doing at Go Media and we decided to combine our efforts. We wanted to showcase those who inspired us creatively and to share that inspiration with the community.
This is festival’s 4th year, how has it grown and what is different now from previous years?
The first year, it could have been called Jeff’s Fest, because it was largely based on my own taste in music and art and who I knew. I had to try to convince artists and bands to come to a fest that had no track record and I had to prove to people that this thing was real. After adding Jesse Sloan as music director in 2011 and Joseph Hughes as speaker director in 2012, our lineups have grown to include a more diverse collection of styles and genres we are sure will inspire our fans.
We probably had about 200-300 attendees our first year and spent more money and time throwing it than we gained back. Last year we had around 1,300 attendees and it forced us to find a venue that could handle more capacity. We’ll be taking over the entire Cleveland Public Theatre building and using all their stages. Now for the first time, we’ll have ONE single venue instead of multiple buildings spread out along the street. We feel this will create a more cohesive and intimate experience and allow attendees to bounce back and forth between speakers and bands at their leisure. Something that was harder to do in years past.
Weapons of Mass Creation 2011 Video – Check It Out!
This will give them a taste of what WMC is all about. First time attendees can expect to be inspired and energized by everything. Lots of people express feelings of friendship and camaraderie that they can’t get at other conferences. It’s like summer camp for the alternative/creative crowd.
What things, if any, should attendees be made aware of before showing up?
Just having a ticket does not guarantee you access to a particular speaker. It’s a first come first serve, so if you want to see a speaker, make sure you show up to their session ahead of time to get a seat. We should be able to seat 300 people at the main stage, but we’re expecting 1,500+ people over the weekend. And secondly, bring some spending money because artists and bands will be selling their merch and if they don’t make money, they can’t keep coming back to WMC Fest. We need to support our creative community as much as possible.
What do first time attendees need to bring?
If they bought a ticket online in advance, they should print and bring their e-ticket to the door. Bring some extra spending cash to support the bands and artists selling merch. Bring a notebook to draw or jot down ideas. Bring a laptop if you want, there will be free wi-fi (but it might be slow with so many people accessing it, so don’t expect amazing internet access). Bring a positive attitude. No jerks allowed. 🙂
What are the highlights from previous years?
Aaron Draplin’s talk from 2011 (WMC2) was the first epic win for WMC Fest. He brought the house down. No footage is available from his talk, but he did this interview outside the festival. That same year, Jessi Arrington led an impromptu rainbow parade in honor of my 29th birthday and is something I’ll never forget. Last year Kate Bingaman Burt made people cry with her incredibly inspiring talk. Also the power went out during Blueprint’s set on our main music stage. All lights and sound were killed. It was a terrifying moment, but we were able to reroute the power in under 15 minutes to lots of cheers from the crowd. Blueprint picked up without missing a beat. And finally, at the end of the night, my music director went streaking down Detroit Avenue and it was amazing.
What are you personally looking forward to at this years festival?
Besides my inspirations and my favorite and soon-to-be-favorite bands, I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of familiar faces and meeting a lot of fresh ones too. The epic breakdance battle that will take place is always a site to see. I’m looking to see our organizing team make this the most simplified and straightforward WMC Fest yet. I am hoping we can actually be profitable so we can afford to keep doing this every year. So far things are looking good.
Any secrets you can let us in on for the festival this year?
One thing I’m really excited about is the Adventures in Design podcast will be doing a live taping at WMC Fest and fans can watch and participate. Host Mark Brickey of Hero Design has also agreed to take center stage as our MC on the speaker stage. He’ll be keeping people entertained between speakers! If you haven’t listened to the AID podcast, you’re missing out. It’s my favorite design podcast. After our own of course.
Check out some photos from past events!
For more info: visit this years Weapons of Mass Creation Festival here: WMC Kickstarter page.