HOW Design Live: Recaps

We’ve been seeing so many blog posts and recaps from creative pros who want to share their experiences and takeaways from HOW Design Live. Here’s a digest of a few recent ones; stay tuned here for more.

Bay Area illustrator Troy Doolittle of TopDog Illustration recently posted on his TopDog blog about his experience as a first-time HOW attendee, calling it “the smartest business decision I’ve ever made.” Here are a few of Troy’s comments; read his full post about HOW Design Live.

Designers are great businesspeople
The last 10 years has not been kind to illustrators. While demand for editorial work continues to slide, most illustrators have a tough time saying no to low paying jobs and poor contracts. … Designers, on the other hand, tend to be more business savvy when it comes to paperwork and negotiating. Hearing them speak gave me assurance that it is okay to turn down work that doesn’t meet my criteria.

Advice from other principals is priceless
These are the people who are doing something right. They have small to medium design firms and take on projects that have a large impact on the companies for which they work. Putting myself in the audience and listening to what they have to say is an incredible value. Where else am I going to get this advice?

I finally found a good use for Twitter!
Attending a conference where you don’t know anyone can be a little intimidating. So, before or after each session I made it a point to say hello to whomever I sat next to. In doing so I happen to meet two ladies who were using Twitter to form a group of conference new comers who were traveling solo. (#HOWlive #Newbies)

Tad Dobbs of Creative Squall in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, also posted a lengthy recap on his blog, The Squall Line, headlined “Too Much of a Good Thing Isn’t Enough.” Dobbs wrote about the importance of interacting with other creatives attending any conference—even if that interaction makes you squeamish (he cited several sessions where people obviously were uncomfortable with that). He also shared a late-night experience:

A big group of old and new HOW friends decided to get pancakes after the Neenah Paper party, and I was fortunate enought to be invited. I could have easily said, “No, I need to go back to my room and salvage the little sleep that I can get before the final morning panels,” but that’s not what the conference is about. The biggest inspiration of the HOW Conference is meeting and connecting with a passionate group of creatives that have the same drive, frustrations and sense of humor. Von Glitschka told me, “This is what the conference is really about.”

Designer Cole Mitchell of MLT Creative in Clarkston, GA, posted on his firm’s B2B Ideas@Work blog about his first HOW Design Conference. Here are a few of Mitchell’s comments; read his full article here.

Everyone has a different creative process.
Ideas are not like math equations — there is no one formula to get the answer. Each person has their own process and, to become a consistent and effective designer, it is important to find out what that process is.

Create things.
This was particularly interesting to me. As a young designer I find myself getting caught up on one project and obsessing over how it turns out. Sometimes it’s best to just make lots of things.

This one was pretty self-explanatory, but the best creatives become the best by practicing. Whether it’s print, web, illustration, lettering or photography — the more you do it, the better you’ll be.

And Carolyn Porter, principal of Porterfolio, shared her Top 10 Quotes from HOW and the Creative Freelancer Conference (in No Particular Order).