CLEVELAND, Ohio – In true creative fashion, Weapons of Mass Creation (WMC) is a festival that never stops evolving. Launched by Cleveland’s Go Media in 2010, the conference with a heavy focus on design has hosted artists, entrepreneurs and innovators from around the country.
For its first six years, the festival was held in different locations throughout Gordon Square, followed by 2016’s event in Playhouse Square. For its eighth iteration, WMC moves to Lakewood bowling alley and event venue Mahall’s, 13200 Madison Ave. It takes place Aug. 18-20. Tickets range from $30 to $110. The complete lineup can be seen at wmcfest.com.
“This year’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest is going to be a very special one,” says Heather Sakai, WMC event director. “It has the grassroots, DIY vibe of past festivals, and fresh, new elements that are sure to excite our attendees.”
North Carolina’s Lenny Terenzi, designer and illustrator of Hey! Monkey Design, will emcee the weekend filled with more than a dozen speakers, two panels, vendors, live music and everything from a dance party to virtual reality.
The speakers and panels
National speakers this year include Irwan Awalludin, a Singaporean immigrant and Cleveland ex-pat who has provided art direction and design for artists like Ludacris and Wiz Khalifa, and Dustin Lee, one of the first designers on Creative Market.
Clevelanders may recognize local names such as Jamal Collins, an artist making national waves for his work with youth, Cleveland Bazaar founder Shannon Okey, “Faces of Cleveland” photographer Laura Wimbels, painter of dazzling hyper-realistic art Frank Oriti, muralist Lisa Lorek, artist Erin Guido and the designer duo behind screen print shop Snakes + Aceys. Ken Schneck, an author and storyteller who hosts the award-winning “This Show is So Gay” podcast, will lead a panel on “How to Practice Understanding.”
“More than anything, I’m excited to showcase the incredible amount of talent we have in Cleveland this year,” Sakai says. “I’m constantly inspired by the number of brilliant designers, artists and makers we have here, and wanted to highlight that. I’m excited for Cleveland to come out and support their own.”
Activities and fun
Festivities kick off Friday. Studio tours of Cleveland creative agencies and studios will be hosted from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. while workshops on creativity take place at Mahall’s. The venue opens its doors to the public at 7:45 p.m. for a party featuring local hip-hop act Muamin Collective and their popular eight-person live illustration battle, Ink Wars.
A vendor village will feature 14 vendors from around the country selling their wares. Technology will mingle with art in the “Rebellion Room,” an immersive space that allows attendees to experiment with augmented and virtual reality, including the Google Tilt Brush. The crew from CLEVR, a Cleveland-based data tech company, will be on hand to assist.
Saturday night will close out with a ’90s dance party featuring bands performing live music inspired by the decade. Of course, being at Mahall’s, you can battle it out in bowling all weekend. In addition to the venue’s menu – which includes fried chicken, burgers and tacos – food trucks will be on site.
Music was a major component of WMC during its formative years, and 2017’s festival will feature performances by regional acts throughout the weekend. In addition to Muamin Collective’s appearance during the mixer, folk act Miss Macy and the Low Pay Daddys will play 12:45 p.m to 1:45 p.m. on Saturday and indie band Punch Drunk Tagalongs will perform 12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. on Saturday.
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