80 Brilliant Quotes and Takeaways from HOW Design Live 2016


Welcome home everyone! We finally had time to sit down and look over our favorite quotes and takeaways from this year’s HOW Design Live conference! The Atlanta weather was perfect, the crowd energetic and the speakers incredible! We wouldn’t have changed a thing! (Except maybe those long bathroom lines…)

After hours of sifting through social media and notebooks galore, we’ve compiled a near comprehensive list of quotes to inspire, ignite and invoke. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for HOW Design Live 2017 May 2-6 back in the exciting city of Chicago!

Thank you to everyone who used #HOWlive to share their favorite moments! And don’t forget to check out the 2016 photo gallery!

Key Quotes and Takeaways: HOW Design Live 2016

“Stop saying IMO. Your opinion can’t validate your designs.” –Joel Beukelman

“As soon as we can predict something, it’s over.” –Chris Converse

“Happiness is a by-product of living, not a pursuit.” –Jonathan Fields



“It’s only failure when you accept the defeat.” –Debbie Millman

“Always ask one more question. And when you’ve run out of questions, as the 10 worst questions.” –Sam Harrison

“Be uncompromising when it matters. Compromise like crazy when it doesn’t.” –David Lesue

“Be the amplifier, not the soundtrack.” –Ian Fitzpatrick

“You have the opportunity to design our future. The future does not happen to us passively; it happens in the present.” –Amy Webb

“Questions loosen the ligaments of cramped minds.” –Sam Harrison

“The opposite of courage is not fear, it’s indifference.” –Blake Howard

“You have to give the client what they want. Or at least have to make the client feel like you gave them what they want.” –Sagi Haviv

“You want exponential growth and success? Start aggressively investing in the lives of other people.” –Kristian Andersen

“We’re out of an institutional era and into a more human one.” –Su Mathews

“The artist must not scoff at technology. The artist must use the tools of industry to uplift humankind.” –Leland Maschmeyer

“Take cues from the past to create experimental design work.” –James Sommerville

“We are so obsessed with finding the right filter because we are so devoid of awe in our daily lives.” –Jonathan Fields

“Unify. Simplify. Amplify.” –Ken Carbone

“Lawyers are not wizards, and contracts are not magical unicorns.” –Katie Lane

“Change is a process, not an event.” –Maurice Cherry

“Change begins with honesty.” –Sean Adams

“Building empathy is often the first step to change.” –Brian Singer

“You might be surprised by what you can produce with a lot of imagination and a little bit of space.” –Tim Belonax

“The job of graphic designers is to make the obvious more obvious-er. We make beer look more like beer!.” –James VIctore

“Life is a great design project. It’s complex, there are many constraints, and many opposing wants and needs.” –Ayse Birshel

“All good stories have three very simply things: a beginning, a middle and an end.” –Oliver Jeffers

“Asking questions stops yourself from making assumptions and allows collaboration to happen.” –Katie Lane

“Never be above doing work.” –Aaron Draplin

A gentle reminder from @debbiemillman at today’s @howbrand conference. #howlive

A photo posted by Captain Doodle ⚓️ (@captaindoodleltd) on

“Ignorance isn’t bliss. It’s just irresponsible.” –Joel Beukelman

“Break down your audience, know the channels and metrics, write content that can be packaged for social outlets.” –Clemson Tigers

“Real success is finding your work in the things you love.” –Hank Richardson

“If you slow your eye down, you can see more. If you share with another person, you can learn more.” –Shelley Gruendler

“Think like an entrepreneur, not a freelancer.” –Terri Trespicio

“The most important thing about technology is to remember that it has an off switch.” –Tiffany Shlain

“Every choice matters. There are no neutral visual decisions.” –Scott McCloud

“Animation is like cursing. If you use it too much, it loses its impact.” –James Pannafino

“Make a space for yourself where you are completely unavailable.” –Elle Luna

A quick #lettering #design of a quote from a session this morning at #howlive

A photo posted by Jessie Hockett (@goaligrltildeath) on

“Instead of making ‘to-do’ lists maybe we should start making ‘to-stop’ lists.” –Sam Harrison

“With a great brand you’re not just worth keeping, you’re indispensible!” –Terri Trespicio

“Obsessions make my life worse but my work better.” –Stefan Sagmeister

“The knowledge of getting in front of the market is vital, or the market will define your brand.” –Ken Carbone

“Constraints are some of the best things for creativity.” –Tiffany Shlain

“Figure out the most important thing and go solve it.” –Shalin Amin

From the pages of words I have from HOW Design Live, these words stand out to me. #epicshit #howlive

A video posted by L🎈n d s a y (@lindsay_courtney) on

“The standard that you walk past is the standard you accept.” –Maurice Cherry

“There’s no secret to this thing; you’ve got to put the work in.” –Aaron Draplin

“Not saying something is often a lot more powerful than saying it.” –Oliver Jeffers

“Focus on the small moments, as these are the ones that determine our relationship with a brand.” –Su Mathews

“Stay scrappy: consider how much you can get done with zero budget.” –Tim Belonax

“Build services, not websites.” –Ian Fitzpatrick

“Trends are signposts that can be tracked as they move from the fringe to the mainstream.” –Amy Webb

“Do, don’t tell.” –Douglas Powell

“You can’t do it all yourself. Even if you want to.” –Gail Anderson

Some doodle notes from one of my favorites! “Seek, Hustle, and Create” – Von Glitschka #HOWlive #design #Atlanta

A photo posted by Jonathan Palmisano (@jonathanpalmisano) on

“The computer will not help you connect with your creative impulses. A pencil will.” –Sagi Haviv

“Want to have a meaningful conversation? Try to learn more about the other person than they learn about you.” –Sam Harrison

“Stop behaving and use your force for good.” –Nancy Lyons

“Photos are always more important than the clothes I’m wearing, I’ve found.” –Jim Kraus

“Consistency builds trust.” –Josh Higgins

“Diverse teams make a better product.” –Husani Oakley

“The love sandwich: When you give constructive feedback, snuggle it with love.” –Tiffany Shlain

“It’s okay to have bias but get it from experience, not ignorance.” –Joel Beukelman

“Sometimes in a marriage you need to be a little deaf.” –Sam Harrison


Food for thought from the #HOWLive session with @elleluna!! #FollowYourPassion #CrossRoads #ChooseMust #MakeYourMark #CougarPaper

A photo posted by Blueline by Domtar (@domtarblueline) on