If you're like nine out of ten people I talk to, your first question when I mention the Hopscotch Design Festival will be, "What's that?" When I reply that it's a daytime tech and design festival that's been running in the leadup to the Hopscotch Music Festival since 2014, you'll stare blankly, as if the words don't quite track.
Though spread through multiple venues and branded like the music festival, Hopscotch Design is ticketed separately. It draws a few hundred people each year, compared to the music festival's twenty-thousand-plus. This year, it runs Sep. 7 and 8 and costs $225, an astonishing price to me, but not, presumably, to people drawn to speakers like Google design manager Jonathan Lee.
It's no head-scratcher that an elite design conference has a limited audience and is hard to assimilate into the music festival's populist, punky brand. But meanwhile, a much smaller component of Hopscotch has grown immensely.
Since year one, the Hopscotch Music Festival has had a component for the display and sale of band posters known as Posterscotch. (Disclosure: current and former INDY staffers, including Christopher Williams, Steve Oliva, and Skillet Gilmore, are participants.) For years it focused on the wares of local artists, but it expanded last year to include national ones, too, by melding with Flatstock, an international series of the American Poster Institute that also appears at places like the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago and SXSW in Austin.
The shift lends an imprimatur of authority to a grassroots local effort, but Flatstock remains free to everyone in the lobby of the Raleigh Convention Center, regardless of whether they have Hopscotch tickets. Its growth tracks with the music festival's, from local ambition to national standby. Now that's good design.