HOW Design Live: What’s New in 2018?

Heading into its 28th year, HOW Design Live 2018 (featuring The Dieline Conference and with HOW Marketing Live) won’t be the same conference that it’s been in the past.

That’s because the intersection of speakers, ideas and attendees has never happened before. And it’ll never happen again. (Which is precisely why you can’t miss it.)

But so much of what makes HOW Design Live, well, HOW Design Live, remains in the event’s DNA.

We recently asked HOW Events group show director Gary Lynch about what’s new on the program for 2018—and what will remain comfortingly, appropriately familiar.

HOW Design Live

What has changed—and what hasn’t—in the years you’ve been involved with HOW Design Live?

My first HOW Conference was 2009 in Austin, and a great deal has changed since then. In 2010, we consolidated all three HOW Events at the time (In-House Managers Conference, Creative Freelancers Conference and the HOW Design Conference) into one super conference and renamed it HOW Design Live. We launched the Dieline Conference in 2011, we launched the HOW Interactive Conference in 2012 and in 2014 we reimagined the HOW Design Live program to incorporate more high-level keynotes including thought leaders like Malcolm Gladwell, Brené Brown, Simon Sinek, Seth Godin, Amy Cuddy and many others. We also introduced a new program track on creative leadership. This year, we introduced a new event, REACH: Accelerating Creative Leadership. And in 2018 we are introducing HOW Marketing Live.

Needless to say, we don’t stand still. Because the industry doesn’t stand still.

What’s stayed the same is the focus on providing high-quality education and a memorable experience, the passion and commitment of everyone involved—staff, speakers, attendees and sponsors—and the sense of community that extends beyond the conference.

What’s new that attendees should look forward to in 2018? 

There are three significant new initiatives: One will help attendees expand their skills and the other two will help lower the cost of attending.

We are launching HOW Marketing Live, which will run alongside HOW Design Live at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. We’ve partnered with the American Marketing Association to build a two-day program focused on the intersection of design and marketing. We know that designers are looking to become more proficient in marketing and want to collaborate more effectively with their marketing colleagues, so we’re developing this program to help designers develop new skills and bridge the gap between design and marketing.

Another big change is that we have adjusted the program so the event runs for four days, rather than five. We will still provide the same amount of programming (perhaps even more), but by eliminating the fifth day we help lower the cost of attending and reduce the number of days out of the office. We’ve also lowered the price of our Big Ticket. Even though it is our most popular registration option, we want to make it accessible to as many people as possible. We understand that every dollar spent needs to be justified, so if we can lower the cost of attending, but provide more value to the attendee, everyone wins.

What are the key topics that you’re focusing the sessions on? 

The primary session topics will focus on career advancement, in-house management, packaging design and design & creativity. Of course, we will also have our usual powerhouse lineup of keynote speakers from many creative disciplines.

In the past couple of years, HOW Design Live has had a knack for bringing keynote speakers that designers may not know about—and these speakers really make a huge impression. Why is it important for attendees to hear from these fresh voices, including those from outside the industry? 

Inspiration can come from anywhere, and one of our responsibilities as a conference organizer is to expose our attendees to innovative thinkers from all walks of life. Brené Brown talking about vulnerability and Amy Cuddy talking about power poses is inspiring on a personal level; Simon Sinek talking about leadership and Tom Peters talking about communication is inspiring on a professional level. And then speakers like Malcolm Gladwell help us see the world from different angles. Each one has the potential to shape who we are as people and who we are as professionals.

Thinking about your experience at HDL—not as the guy in charge, but as one of the crowd—what’s been your favorite “HOW moment”?

My favorite HOW moment was when Brené spoke in 2015. I had just discovered her TED talk on vulnerability and was really taken with her message. I had the privilege of meeting her and introducing her. I am now forever a Brené Brown supporter. That was certainly a “HOW moment,” but there are dozens upon dozens of “micro HOW moments” every year, when an attendee tells me that HOW Design Live has changed their career or, in some cases, influenced them on a personal level. It is very gratifying to hear that all the work we put into producing this conference can have such a powerful impact on people. Last year I found an attendee who had tears running down their face, and when I asked what was wrong, they said they were tears of joy because they were so happy to finally be at HOW. That validated in my mind that the work we do is important and has a purpose. Everyone on the team believes that as well and feels the same sense of purpose as I do.

At HOW Design Live, you’ll be moved to action, to new thinking, to greater career heights—and maybe even to tears. The creative intersection that is HOW Design Live doesn’t happen if you’re not there. We need you in the mix.

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