This past May I took a trip to the HOW Design Live Conference located in Atlanta Georgia. The HOW conference is a week long conference filled with presentations, workshops, speakers, and networking among creatives.
Before heading to the conference I was stuck in a mentality where I always thought I would be doing the things I wanted in the future just by happenstance and without taking actual steps to getting there right now. When I got to the conference I heard so many successful designers speak about their life before success and how hard they worked to get to where they wanted to be. This was truly inspiring and motivating to me because I do have big dreams in terms of my career. During and after the conference my mindset shifted from just waiting for things to happen to actually working on projects that I thought would push me towards success.
Specific events that occurred that made my mindset shift so drastically were three different keynote speakers that I heard while at the conference. First, I heard Aaron Draplin speak about his road to freelance design. It was all about making connections with cool people in the industry and letting them know how good his work was. Eventually they were funneling work to him personally and he was able to make freelance design a career. I don’t think I could ever work in an office behind a desk for the rest of my life and had been thinking about freelance, but Aaron’s talk gave me a much better understanding of what I would need to do to make that happen.
Second, I heard a talk from Lynn Carol, founder of Creative Reaction Lab. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri and is most popular for using her design as a reaction to the shooting in Ferguson. I also have a deep interest in social justice and using design for good and she was such a great example for how that could be done. Lynn made me realize that I can combine my two interests into one!
Finally, I saw founder of Design Army, Pum Lefeber, speak about her work on magazine design. Looking at her work was absolutely amazing. She design directs and photographs a lot of her own photoshoots which sounded like so much fun. I also have always wanted to work on a magazine, but it is kind of a dying art so I never really pursued it. However, Pum made me realize that this project could be something I do on the side. Not everything I do needs to be for professional development.
I left this conference so much more inspired than I had felt in forever. When you’re constantly going to school and work sometimes you can lose a bit of your creativity and just feel totally bogged down, which I absolutely did. But being among so many creatives with tons of ideas helped get my creative juices flowing again! The transformation that I felt from this conference is important because it helped me to start realizing my professional goals. This conference made me more proactive in my life instead of waiting around for things to happen.