AIGA Design Conference 2015

Revival, this year’s AIGA Design Conference, was held in New Orleans. After the conference concluded, I felt inspired, energized, and excited to get back to work. I overheard this same sentiment on numerous occasions and it got me thinking: Why this sudden burst of energy after the conference? Aren’t we all in the “creative industry” daily?

I read a book some years back titled After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path by Jack Kornfield. This book talks about re-entering real life, a.k.a. the laundry, after experiencing an enlightenment, the ecstasy, that is common in religious practices. I think post-conference euphoria is also an enlightenment. Here is a paragraph that perfectly sums up the experience:

We live in disordered times, complicated, distracted, and demanding, yet to sustain a spiritual practice demands our steady attention. The first task, then, in almost any spiritual voyage, is to quiet ourselves enough to listen to the voices of our hearts, to listen to that which is beyond our daily affairs. Whether in prayer or meditation, in visualization, fasting, or song, we need to step out of our usual roles, out of the busy days on automatic pilot. We need to find a way to become receptive and open.[emphasis mine]

Making Differences

My goal is to make differences. I don’t mean in the adopt-a-pet sort of way, although that’s good too, but for me, the energy and inspiration arrived out of change. A conference atmosphere is different than a work atmosphere. There are new people with whom to share ideas and many other people are actively sharing their own ideas such as presenters and panel members. Even the physical surroundings are different. The conference was held at the lovely Hyatt Regency New Orleans which just exudes confidence. I want to capture all of that in a jar and keep it at work.

I am going to make small changes on a weekly basis, whether it be something simple as re-arranging my workspace, or something more substantial as my morning or lunchtime routine. But whatever it is, I firmly believe that, for me at least, I need to keep things new and fresh.

Other Takeaways

Take chances. Seriously. Be fucking bold and if it doesn’t work, I’ll get another chance. I also attended An Event Apart Chicago earlier this year, and during one presentation, a slide was shown that had screenshots of approximately 20 top design agency’s home pages. They all looked identical. That doesn’t say much about the collective creativity of our “creative” leaders.

I have a huge responsibility as a designer. People are going to be using and interacting with my designs. This may seem like an obvious statement but the gravity of that power gets lost while I’m on autopilot. People are spending time with something I’ve built and it is my duty to make that experience as amazing as I can while keeping in mind that sometimes a great experience simply means “works as expected.”

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