The HOW Design Conference Experience

I was lucky enough to have my organization send me to a design conference this year. I say this because conferences are ridiculously expensive these days and after paying so much for my attendance, I certainly hoped I would get something great out of going.

I chose the 2019 HOW Design Conference in Chicago. At first, I was a little concerned about the lack of way finding. A design conference should have great design for their signage, right? I was also disappointed to find that they were not providing meals and really scaled back on perks. But once the programming began, my impressions changed.

By the time I was on a plane back home, I really felt inspired! I knew that going to this conference was worth it! I felt changed. It’s been almost a month now, and I am still thinking about the sessions and their topics, the energy I received, and the new convictions I have because of it. You are reading this blog today because I went to this conference. Was it worth it? YES

The conference is broken up into several tracks catering to:
• Creative Freelancer
• Creative Leadership
• Design + Creativity
• The Dieline Conference
• Digital
• In-House
• Tools + Resources

I was able to attend 32 sessions and touched on all of these tracks except for Dieline. I was blown away by some of the presentations! I’m not going to go over every detail, but here are my highlights.

Terri Trespicio talked about how to discover, capture, and communicate your best ideas. My biggest takeaways were her comments, “Figure out why you are great, not how to become great,” and “When we change how we see our work we change how we see our future.” I’ve since started following Terri and continue to learn how to change how I see my work and myself for the better.

Gaemer Gutierrez had a couple of sessions on leadership and creating better departmental communication. I am working with my team to implement some of these principles and create better bridges between departments. His detailed sessions really helped to be able to bring back actionable ideas.

Andrew LaMonica also had personal strategies for creative leadership and I felt connected to his principles. I also follow Andrew and continue to learn new strategies or be reminded of the fundamentals that everyone should know. I want to note that Andrew is also very attentive and responds to comments, showing he really cares about the people he connects with.

Stephen Gates presented on how the future is creative, also the theme for the conference, and he really got the creative juices going. I could tell that everyone was capturing his every word. He talked about how important a personal brand is, and how this isn’t something that you do the next time you are looking for a job. It’s something you curate as an ongoing project that never ends. It should follow you and even proceed you. A personal brand should be “consistent, credible, creative, and memorable.”

Last, but most riveting, Elizabeth Gilbert gave a talk about how she became a writer. The story is captured beautifully by Terri. In short, Elizabeth had an artist neighbor that she secretly admired. When she spoke to her about how she wished she could live a life like her and have all the time in the world to make art, the woman asked her, “What are you willing to give up to obtain the life you are pretending that you want?” She pointed out that people say they don’t have time, but they have time to watch TV, or spend time with friends, or fill their time with lots of various other activities. Ultimately we all have control over this and choose where to spend time. This was an eye opener for me and something that changed me. I have started new projects and I feel I owe it to Elizabeth’s inspirational story.

So here I go! This blog was created because I went to the HOW Design conference. Would I recommend someone else to go? Absolutely!