Why This Will Change Your Life: An Insider’s Guide to Weapons of Mass Creation Fest

The Countdown is On

With this year’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest only 14 days away, we here at Go Media are gearing up to bring you the premier art, design and music festival in the Midwest.  An event growing in size and strength, this year’s WMC Fest will overtake the Cleveland Public Theatre from August 16 through 18.  Early-bird tickets have already sold-out and remaining tickets are going fast. (Psst! Stay tuned to the end of this post to see how you can become a WMC VIP!)


Attendees of this year’s fest will be treated to over 70 performances, including speeches from 20 of the industry’s best, a gallery with 20 designer’s work and intimate shows from over 40 bands.  New, special events will include a live recording of the famous Adventures in Design podcast, workshops, and an artists battle called Ink Wars sponsored by Adobe.

The coordination of all of these performances, special events and locations, as well as gathering sponsorsvendorsvolunteers, has been an exciting albeit exhausting undertaking.

Let’s take a look inside the Fest through the eyes of the hard-working team who is making this all possible.

WMC Fest founder with Jessi Arrington
WMC Fest founder with Jessi Arrington

Inside the Fest with Jeff Finley, founder

Go Media designer, partner and founder of WMC Fest, Jeff Finley started the Fest back in 2010 when he was compelled to start an event in his own hometown dedicated to his three passions: music, art and entrepreneurship.   Each year has been special and has presented its own unique challenges, and WMC Fest 2013 is no different.

“With our goals to simplify the experience for the attendee, it’s created more complexities on our end,” states Finley, “So our collective stress level is higher and it makes it tougher on our personal friendships and families. We hope we can continue to simplify the process of throwing the event while making it better every year for attendees.”

As the minutes tick by, Finley’s time has been spent wrapping up the nitty gritty, prepping vendor and gallery layouts, designing WMC Fest posters and flyers, touching base with sponsors and planning last minute logistics.  Pumping up his fellow staffers and the WMC community, he is confident that this fest will be the best yet.

“WMC is going to change your life,” Finley states with passion. “I used to think that was a brave statement, but my experience throwing three festivals so far has shown me that attendees walk away with a newfound outlook on their life and their career. The cost of the festival is extremely undervalued and makes traveling from out of state totally worth the cost. That’s why so many of our attendees are not from Ohio. The fact that we are under one roof makes it so easy to go from a eye-opening talk to an exhilarating musical performance. All the while navigating a funhouse of inspiration. Your mind will explode with what to do next!”

Event Director has the help of volunteers like Simone Rene'e Dugay
Event Director  Todd Gauman has the help of volunteers like Simone Rene’e Dugay

Inside the Fest with Todd Gauman, Event Director

Event director Todd Gauman is thrilled to announce that, for the first time, the over 1,200 in attendance will experience the event under one roof, at one time experiencing all that WMC has to offer: art, design, music, inspiration, collaboration and celebration without the worry of traveling to multiple buildings.

“There are many components to the event that in previous years due to venue logistics we were just not able to achieve. Now in the historic and majestic space that Cleveland Public Theatre is, we’re able to fully integrate all three event components under one roof. Having the design gallery, the speakers, and the bands in one complex, attendees will be able to take even more in without missing that special speaker or band they wanted to see. Just exploring this historic venue that was built in 1912 will be an experience unto itself, as it is a sprawling complex made up with many “nooks” that span almost two city blocks and two stories. On site we are going to have a cafe that will feature food from neighboring restaurants including Gypsy Beans and Baking Co., Happy Dog, and XYZ Tavern, as well as the return of the outdoor beer garden!”

His second year with the Fest, Gauman is excited to turn things up a notch.  He exclaims, “We are really trying to raise the bar in terms of creating a unique, creative, fun and inspirational environment that will not only provide someone with a positive experience, but make them want to go out and become a Weapon of Mass Creation themselves!”

Simply put, per Gauman, “The attendee experience is going to be amazing!”

Joseph Hughes has been tasked with assuring this year's speakers are as amazing as last year's!
Joseph Hughes has been tasked with assuring this year’s speakers are as amazing as last year’s!  This year’s speakers will give their talks at the Cleveland Public Theatre, assuring more space!

Inside the Fest with Joseph Hughes, Speaker Organizer

Joseph Hughes has been hard at work, lining up this year’s 20 stellar speakers.  As the days wind down, the bulk of his planning comes with making sure all of the final details are handled, including hotel bookings, technical questions about the presentations and solidifying the workshop schedule.

“We’ve got a very exciting, very well-rounded group of speakers coming,” Hughes notes. “Illustrators like Jon Contino, Jacqui Oakley, and Lisa Congdon who are at the top of their game. Entrepreneurs like Christen Carter and Rena Tom who are blazing a trail for so many creative people. Go-getters like Ann Friedman and Nick Disabato who are showing us all how to remake a working life by charting their own course.

Like Finley, Hughes is confident that attendees will be more than pleased with this year’s lineup, stating, “From top to bottom, this is a speaker slate that’s not to be missed. No matter how you’re approaching WMC Fest, we’ve got something for you on that stage. Trust me, even if I weren’t working for the fest, I’d be right there with you, in the front row, nodding and note-taking with every speech.”


Inside the Fest with Jesse Sloan, Band Organizer

This year’s WMC Fest music roster divulges deeper in creative weaponry and is more distinctly diverse than any other year before, reports music organizer Jesse Sloan, who makes it his goal to “keep an ear to what’s relevant in up-and-coming and underground music while avoiding cheap frills.”  Involved with WMC since the beginning, it’s Sloan’s love for music that drives him to volunteer every year, taking on such a hefty position as to construct a 40+ band line-up.

Making it his goal to create a line-up that caters to all age groups and genres, Sloan’s wish is that WMC Fest audiences also “get a taste of something out of their comfort zone and challenge their roots and musical palate at the same time.”

Sloan is thrilled for WMC’s new home, reporting, “I’m really excited for the gorgeous aesthetics and acoustical engineering to be experienced in our new venue home, the Cleveland Public Theatre. The Artists in Residence at Cleveland Public Theatre’s Gordon Square Theater has held its ground for about 100 years and is used very scarcely as a “music only” venue, adding to the uniqueness of our event this year. Every band has something unique to offer, and we are a bit pretentious in who we select so the level of sheer musical genius and inspiration has a high bottom shelf.”

Assisting Sloan is Melissa Olson, whose experience with booking, too, has been a positive one. “Bands have been really enthusiastic this year about participating,” says Olson, “We’ve gotten emails and requests to be considered from regional and national bands. I am really excited to see the music portion of the festival grow and create such a buzz.”

Continuing, Olson reports, “This year Jesse and I are very proud to be hosting Braid and Appleseed Cast. Both of us grew up listening to these bands, and we are personally looking forward to those performances. They’re the kinds of groups that other bands reference as inspiration. Some bands we have playing this year could even say that, and they’re actually sharing the stage with those they’ve been inspired by. That really seems amazing to me and really plays up the whole idea behind the festival.”

Braid will be hitting WMC Fest's intimate stages.
Braid will be hitting WMC Fest’s intimate stages.

Sister act ShiSho will hit WMC Fest stages, who are according to Olson, “a teenage duo that will sing you songs about evil clowns, a man who hides in a ceiling fan and the U.S. House of Representatives.” Quirky and fun, they always leave Olson feeling better about the future of the music industry. “If there are kids out there making music like this,” she says, “I’m less worried about the future only producing auto-tuned pop songs.”

Sloan is more than proud of this year’s bands, stating, “We’ve put together a line-up of “headlining” bands that have a legacy to their name and are well-established, but we’re also showcasing a lot of newer faces that have pushed to the front of the line in music headlines because what they create is pretty friggin’ special, including William Tyler, Tristen, F.Stokes, Astronautalis, Whirr, and Outer Spaces. I could go on about every band though, really. We are showcasing a lot of new faces locally (Filmstrip, Extra Medium Pony) as well as keeping true to some of the staples in the WMC community (Signals Midwest, Annabel, Ohio Sky) and we are working with new labels (Mayfly, Flannel Gurl) and making new friends every year!”

Lastly, Sloan gushes, about series new to the fest this year, called “Disarmed”, featuring intimate unplugged sessions and short interviews with the bands, noting, “We’ll also open up the Parish Hall, which will be an absolutely free stage with some of the brightest bands playing as well as the B-Boy battle on Saturday. I’ve been antsy for August for quite some time now, come hang out and get inspired with me! Let’s do this!”

Want In?

Weapons of Mass Creation Fest is two weeks away, and the only way to guarantee your way inside is by purchasing your ticket before the event.  To make the deal even sweeter, we’d like to give away a VIP ticket to one lucky WMC attendee, guaranteeing you special access inside the event. All you have to do is purchase a ticket  to the event, then leave a comment below telling us why you are coming to the best fest in the Midwest! On Monday, August 12, we’ll choose one lucky winner and upgrade their pass to VIP status granting them:

  • Admittance to our invite-only Friday night happy hour
  • Invitation to our VIP only breakfast on Saturday, August 17
  • Front-row, VIP seating to the WMC speakers
  • WMC swag

Best of luck everyone!

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