Behind the Scenes: Meet the HOW Design Conference Team

I have a confession to make: For several years, I was secretly jealous of my friends and colleagues who attended HOW Design Live. They were often reliving their favorite conference moments and speaker sessions over team lunches, while the editors (myself included) sulked in silence with little to draw upon.

Every year of the HOW Design Conference meant designers returned to the office with rejuvenation and a renewed spirit for design. I wanted a creative shot-in-the-arm, too, and to be inspired by world-class speakers.

HOW Design Conference; HOW Design Live

Sam Harrison rocks the opening keynote to HOW Design Live 2012

That said, you can imagine my excitement when I got word that I’d  been officially offered a position on the HOW editorial team. And it was then that I experienced a bit of a role-reversal.

My designer colleagues and friends were in awe (and so was I). Not only did they want to know how they could get discounts on HOW Design Live “Big Ticket” passes, but they were curious about how the staff puts on such a world-class event. So I made promises to allow each of them to live vicariously through my experience.

After settling in and attending my first HOW Design Live in 2013, I feel more informed on how we put together such an epic event.

Now, with this behind the scenes look at HOW Design Live, it only seems appropriate to go straight to some the key planning players themselves – to hear their insights and contributions…

Behind the Scenes with the HOW Design Conference Team

In light of all of the intrigue and wonder surrounding the creation of the conference–how do we pull off such an amazing event?–I caught up with 5 members of the all-star conference team to ask: How DO you do it? What’s your role? And how does it keep getting better??  

What’s it like working on HOW Design Live?

As the copywriter, I work with the editorial and marketing teams to craft a message that convinces designers they need to be at HOW Design Live. Luckily, there’s such a genuine sense of excitement on the part of everyone involved in planning this event that it’s easy to convey that to readers. Meg Cannon, Copywriter 

In all my years in the event business I’ve never been associated with an event as magical as HOW Design Live – an event that has the power to shape someone’s life both personally and professionally. It is my favorite time of year. –Gary Lynch, Publisher

Being the Art Director and lead designer for the marketing and branding is challenging, but also so rewarding once you get to see it all in action. Andrea McLearen, Lead Designer/ Art Director 

What are you most looking forward to in Boston? 

This will be my first time attending HOW Design Live in the flesh, so I am beyond excited to soak up the creative inspiration and meet speakers and other attendees. Even though my job involves writing (and not design), there are a lot of sessions—on working with clients, coming up with innovative solutions, managing other creatives, and all of the HOW Leadership sessions—that are very applicable to what I do. I’ve been reading the interview with Stefan Sagmeister for Print Magazine, and his “Design and Happiness” session looks fascinating. -Meg Cannon 

Boston is rich in history. It also just so happens that HOW Design Live is 1 block away from Newberry Street – which is known for it’s unique shopping and eateries. -Heather Griffin, Event Manager

I just like working the event, wherever it is. But Boston has great food, especially Italian! -Lyn Menke, Customer Service Coordinator

How about collaborating with these great speakers?

It’s incredible. Not only are they great designers, but they are also great people – warm, inviting and generous with their time. I have made some very good friendships over the past few years through the HOW Conference. Gary Lynch

I’ve worked with speakers for over 10 years and loved it. I can honestly say that I am very good friends with quite a few of them. It’s great working with people who are so creative, intelligent and willing to share their failures and successes. -Heather Griffin

A favorite aspect of working on HOW Design Live? 

My favorite part of working for events – and especially this event – is the brainstorming sessions we have when trying to come up with new and creative themes for the next year. It really gets us excited for the conference and working on the marketing for that year. Andrea McLearen 

I really enjoy working with our attendees and giving them the best experience possible.  I like meeting the attendees I’ve corresponded with prior to an event. Sometimes they have been attending as long as or even longer than I’ve been working the registration for HOW events.  I look forward to seeing familiar faces each year. A number of them have become friends.  Lyn Menke

Spending over a year working on an event, then arriving there and seeing it executed beautifully!  -Heather Griffin 

Can you describe an especially memorable moment from past events?

There have been several, but the most memorable moments are always when I meet an attendee who tells me they have waited years to attend the HOW Conference and finally made it. You’d be surprised how often I hear that. That’s why it is so important for us to create the very best event and event experience imaginable. People wait years and invest thousands of dollars to attend. We can’t disappoint. We have to inspire and motivate at all times. Not too much pressure… –Gary Lynch

I think my favorite moment every year is right before the doors open to the Opening Keynote. All is calm and quiet until we cue the doors and the masses of designers enter. It’s such a high for me! –Heather Griffin

Take my advice: Don’t wait to attend HOW Design Live. This is your year – we’ll see you among the other inspired faces…

HOW Design Conference