HOW Design Conference is to Designers as Christmas morning is to 5 year olds.
Last week I was fortunate enough to attend my 4th HOW Design Conference in Boston. I swear its like my Christmas. I started a countdown chain using the star found in my HOW magazine…thats how excited I was to go! And when I got back, I had so many more presents! Tell me, how is that not like Christmas??
This year I was able to connect with so many people that I had been following on Twitter. One of those people was Crystal Reynolds, who made the Creative’s Cupboard – inspired by HOW 2011. I was so excited I was able to get her last iNotebook! She is such an amazing person. Gotta love those Canadians! I didn’t get it until late in the conference, but when I got back home, I filled it with all my other notes and Twitter posts. It was like relieving the conference all over again. I complied all the little golden nuggets of info into one place and couldn’t be happier.
I even got to meet other creative’s that used Crystal’s iNote and had a blast! Why I didn’t meet up with this amazing group of designers before is beyond me. They were so welcoming and fun to talk to. Beca from Rack Room Shoes was in that group and reviewed my portfolio earlier in the day. She gave me so many amazing ideas! I can’t thank her enough. I was so excited to hang with her and all the others at the Neenah Paper Revolutionary party!
I feel way more connected to the creatives I follow on Twitter now that I can put a face to the name! Each HOW I go to just gets better and better. It’s amazing what can happen if you put yourself out there and ‘collect matchsticks.’ I love being surrounded by people that share my same love for design. I’m a shy person and I’ll admit, walking up to a stranger and saying hi is a little intimidating. But doing that at HOW is so easy because everyone there is SO nice! And it makes the weekend that much more special.
The way I see it is, if you walk into the HOW Conference knowing you’re not a know-it-all and soak up all the info you can by the people that know more, open yourself to possibilities, talk to vendors, and say hi to everyone you can…you will have the time of your life and come back with so much more confidence than when you left.
So, now on to the session reviews…
Coltrane, Concord, Cool Kids and Other Creative Choices
Sam Harrison – @zingzone
- I saw Sam speak last year and loved it! He has so much energy and passion for design!
- If you feel like you’re losing, you need to look at what you’re choosing
- A wealth of information creates a lack of attention – just too much to see and do!
- Determination fuels inspiration
- Change the rules in exchange for something better
- We make choices and then our choices make us
- Creativity is a choice – everyone has the ability to be creative
Rules are meant to be broken. If you can break them for something better, do it. One thing we did this year that we did last year was write something on a piece of paper that we’ve always wanted to get done. Then we took that paper, ripped it into tiny pieces, and threw it away. NO MORE EXCUSES! If you want to do something, do it…life is too short not to!
I’m inspired to: play and have fun
Under the Covers with Chip Kidd
Chip Kidd – @chipkidd
- I loved this session! He showed us his book covers – both the successes and fails. He also showed us a little of his Batman book and I felt like I was in story time as a child. He was such an animated presenter!
- I’m a graphic designer, not a fine artist – when you give me a blank canvas and tell me to fill it, I cry
- All it takes is one d-bag to kill an idea
- Even when you’re not at the office, you’re still designing. You never stop designing.
I’m inspired to: create fun!
Becoming a Design Leader
- Design leaders make awesome sh*t happen
- Function daily as a behavioral psychologist – give the person space and be an empathetic listener
- The only failure is the absence of feedback
- SIT AND LISTEN! You do not have to respond right away
- When executing too much, you’re setting yourself up for failure – delegate and let things happen
- A brief should be just that…brief
- Be a mentor…not a minute by minute manager
- And a quote that I thought was quite awesome:
- “When we have a concept and people smile, we take the next step. When there are questions, we go back and try harder.” – CEO of Frog
- Form follows emotion
- Dont swoop and poop! Take time to listen to the ‘why’
- Work hard, play harder, sleep hardest.
This was such a great session and so different from ones I would have gone to in the past. I normally would avoid any kind of managing session only because at the time, I wasn’t ready for that. But this year, I want to learn more about becoming a manager and directing. I want to know more about managing my projects and having the option to manage others.
This session was awesome. It helped me not only gain ideas about becoming a better leader, but how to approach projects and how to make some awesome sh*t happen. One of the biggest things: you don’t have to make undue sacrifices to make awesome sh*t. I hate when people have to stay late or work over the weekend because their boss “swooped and pooped” on their ideas. Work together and listen to the ‘why’ of the project to come up with a great idea. Don’t make people sacrifice their weekends!
I’m inspired to: become a leader in my job
What is Good Design?
Christopher Simmons – @thisiscchs
- Good design doesn’t need to be in print or on the web – it simply needs to engage
- Good design pays attention to what people are actually doing/want
- We are in the business to create good design – we are also in the business to celebrate that – celebrate your successes
- 80-20 rule: 80% of the time have an answer as to why you did what you did…the other 20% is ‘just because.’ That 20% is what makes the design special
- Good design is participatory – it is me inviting you into a good experience
- Over step the boundaries – think of the problem in its largest context
- This is a quote that was written out using only pennies on a sidewalk. All of the pennies totaled thousands, yet no one touched it because it was such an amazing piece of art:
- “Obsessions make my life worse and my work better”
I’m inspired to: over step boundaries, break rules, and celebrate!
Going at it Alone
Glenn John Arnowitz
- Be the expert that you are – back up your designs with conviction!
- Make your office space like an agency – make it fun and yours
- Top 3 perks and downsides to flying solo: autonomy, variety, and recognition
- Use branding guidelines to back up your work and for your reason why it is the way it is
- We’re plugged in 24/7, take time to recharge – you NEED breaks!
- Have good bedside manner
- Make your clients create a design brief so no focus is lost
- Show only the top 3 designs that you’re happy with
- Multitasking is a way of life – make it look easy and manage your work like a pro!
This session was so great! Being a solo designer is hard sometimes because its just me coming up with the ideas and executing them. I loved his ideas of being a mini agency. I also appreciated him telling everyone to take vacation! I haven’t been away from the office for more than 2 days and sometimes just doing that can give me anxiety. One of my goals is to be able to take a whole week without checking any emails and working during my vacation days.
I’m inspired to: become my own agency, take more breaks, and have more conviction!
Overcoming Idea Killers to Create Killer Ideas
Tom Fishburne – @tomfishburne
- “Advertising is a tax we pay for unremarkable thinking”
- Don’t forget about the “why” when bringing ideas to life
- Always try the crazy ideas!
- If you try to appeal to everyone, you’re forgotten…lost in the shuffle.
- “The smartest person on a brand team is the person that just started”
- Push through marketing clutter with fresh eyes
- Having design at the core of a company is key
- Templates are made to be broken if it makes it more powerful
- People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do
This was so great! He went through the top ways to kill ideas and told how to avoid those. Basically, try the crazy ideas, leave the brainstorming at the brainstorm, and leave the marketing to the marketers. Once you have an idea, make a plan and stick to that. You don’t want to keep brainstorming after the idea has already been settled on. Get crazy and just go for it!
I’m inspired to: get crazy yet have a plan
Creative Storytelling for Designers and Unicorns
Chris Chapman – @chapmancatalyst
- Design thinking solves problems! We’re not just graphic designers, we’re designers of everything we do
- Get lost in the idea…get lost in the story
- Always have rules and boundaries to your story
- We have an internal desire to get lost
- Connect with the audience – show you care by paying attention to the fine details
- For every laugh, there should be a tear
- Design thinking is applicable to EVERYTHING
- Story is at the heart of everything Disney makes
I was able to hear Chris speak last year and couldn’t be more excited to hear him this past year! He works for Disney, aka: my dream job. When I was little I wanted to fill in the color on the cartoon stills. Seriously, I love how Disney works and what they create.
He showed us slides of different Disney attractions and all the details they put into making you feel like you are actually in a haunted mansion or actually in Africa or at Mt. Everest. It was fascinating and made me want to hop on a plane to Disneyworld! The amount of care and detail they put into everything is phenomenal.
I’m inspired to: get lost in a story and pay attention to the fine details that make the design stronger.
Cranking the Creative Trebuchet
Kody Chamberlain – @kodychamberlain
- Sketching is part of the process – bad drawings can create great ideas!
- Happy accident – the Bob Ross rule: create something great from your mistake
- Sketching = tip of the idea iceberg
- The best style is no style
- “Inspiration is for ammeters” – Chuck Close
Keep drawing and something will happen. Waiting around for inspiration is a waste…create your own inspiration!
I’m inspired to: draw and create more sketches…even if they’re not so great.
How to Survive your Soul Crushing Day Job
Mel Morris Ivone – @operationNICE
- Yes, I did attend this because I believe everyone, at some point in time, dislikes their job. Plus I love her blog and wanted to hear her speak
- Rules to survive:
- Think positive! No one wants negativity spread around
- Don’t be a “business” version of yourself. Let your true colors come out…don’t hide who you are just because you’re in an office
- Join a gang. Surround yourself with other designers
- Get passionate. Try passion projects…and its ok to quit them and try others.
- Get busy. Collect matchsticks, go out and try new things. Don’t sit on your couch doing nothing…you’re never going to meet new people and experience new things doing that.
- Let your freak flag fly!
- Don’t stop believing! Keep your eye on a goal – it will motivate you to get there
- Have a deflective field of joy: passion projects that protect against all the boring work
- Find someone with a complimentary background and work together – i.e.: a designer and a developer to create an iPhone app
This was probably one of my favorite sessions! She inspired me to find a passion project and go for what I wanted. While my day job isn’t horrible…its not what I want to do for forever. I want to eventually be an Art Director someday. This session made me realize how many opportunities there are open to me to make that happen.
I’m inspired to: find my passion project and find what I want.
Matters of Wonder
Justin Ahrens – @justinahrens
- “Think and wonder, wonder and think” – Dr. Suess
- “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.” – Einstein. LOVE THIS QUOTE! Couldn’t be more true!
- Why do we stop believing?
- Be a part of creative that changes the way people see things
- Authenticity cultivates wonder
- It matters how you show up
- Choose to explore everyday and be your best self
- Are you brave enough to be the REAL you?
- Create space for wonder in your everyday
- Stop thinking you know everything and just go!
- Do you really know there aren’t monsters in the closet? Why don’t you check instead of just saying so?
- Elevate the beauty in the everyday
- Go for the totally unexpected and find it!
- It is a privilege to be a creative – we have the ability to see the world differently
I cannot tell you how much I loved this session! It was all about seeing the wonder in the world and allowing yourself to create space for it. It goes back to my post about Staring at Clouds, when was the last time you sat and wondered? See things differently. Find the beauty. Take time to stretch your imagination.
I’m inspired to: think differently, see wonder, explore and be authentic!
Release Your Brilliance
Simon T. Bailey – @simontbailey
- Brilliance is released in an environment where you are celebrated, not tolerated. Be a vitamin, not an aspirin.
- It’s not who you are thats holding you back, its who you think you aren’t.
- Don’t be a boss with an agenda, be a leader with a vision
- Effective people are always asking questions
- Be intentional
- How you start the day determines the day
- Life is too sweet to work with people that don’t get you
- Failure is not final – it is simply feedback
- Stop apologizing! You are BRILLIANT and everyone should know!
- Change is brilliant – if you can’t change the game, be changed by the game
- Find what is RIGHT about you
Oh my goodness. This session was such a great way to end the conference! Talk about a self esteem builder! I walked away from this session feeling great about myself. Feeling confident in my abilities and having the confidence to change the game. Simon was such an energetic presenter it would have been hard to not enjoy his session! There are so many good tweets from his talk, I HIGHLY suggest you check them out.
I’m inspired to: be intentional, release my brilliance and stop apologizing for it, and figure out what I want and whats right about me.
My time in Boston went WAY too fast but I am so excited I was able to go! To the people that I met at HOW: thank you. Thank you for your words of wisdom and kindness. To everyone involved in making this conference happen: THANK YOU! You have no idea how much I appreciate everything you do.
If you are in the design business, seriously, get yourself to #HOWLive someday soon. Hope to see everyone in San Francisco next year!
My 15 Minutes of Fame