Q&A with Cami Travis-Groves

I had a great online conversation via Twitter today with first-time HOW Design Conference speaker Cami Travis-Groves. Find out more about Cami’s session, Get Out of Your Rut. We talked about Gordon MacKenzie, quantum physics, juju and other good stuff. If you missed it, here’s a recap:

For starters, tell the folks about you: where you live, what you do, how long you’ve been a designer.
I’m a native CA girl, degree from MO, 10 yrs in Dallas, now I finally call Kansas City call home—love it here. I’ve been a graphic designer for a little over (*ahem*) 20 years.

Have you always wanted to be a designer?
I only wanted to be a designer after I figured out that stewardesses are flying waitresses. Glamorous flying waitresses.

So, you stumbled upon design when you had elective credits to burn in high school, right?
Yes, in high school. Graphic design sounded fun. It turned out to be really fun. Still is.

So, I hear you’re a geek for quantum physics … what about that fascinates you?
Quantum physics is SO counter-intuitive to what we know about the world. At a quantum level things behave weirdly. (i.e., aluminum stops being aluminum and starts exploding. Weird!) Funny, I can’t remember what started it. But as a good place to start, watch “What the Bleep Do We Know?

Is it important, do you think, for creative people to cultivate interests outside of their profession?
I think people should do what satisfies them, whether that’s outside their profession or inside. Do what you burn for.

Your HOW Design Conference session is about getting out of a rut. Why do creatives seem to get stuck in the same ol’ same ol’?
People get stuck because the RUT is proven ground. To get out of a rut, you need to explore new territory—scary! But to get out of the hole you’re in, you first have to be brave, and STOP DIGGING!

I like the digging metaphor, because it implies both the depths where we can find ourselves, and also the control we have over it.
Absolutely! And some people think you’ve got to dig yourself out of the hole. You can’t! First you must stop digging!

How do YOU stay out of a rut? What do you to keep the creative juices flowing?
Hearing what you are passionate about—what flips your twinkie? Genuine enthusiasm about anything is SO contagious! There’s an amazing good juju feedback loop that happens when you’re jazzed about stuff. LOVE IT!!

If you could have dinner with 3 graphic designers, who would they be, and why?
Tough question! I think it will be 3 new HOWie friends I have yet to meet at this year’s conference.

How many HOW events have you attended? Can you share some of your best experiences?
Let’s see: 1994, ’05, ’07, ’09, ’10, so this will be my 6th HOW. The best times? When the lightbulb goes on over my head. Every year it’s something new.

Best moments:

  • Steve Gordon’s talk on how to/why network
  • Kevin Carroll’s talk—discovering we share the same “katalyst.”
  • Gordon MacKenzie, the one who first lit the fire. I could go on and on …

Think back to 1994 when you first attended the HOW Conference. How did you go about networking? Scary, eh?
You said it! In 1994 I thought networking was a 4-letter word and for people who wore suits—not for me. Now I get it.

Can you share how you made a pitch to speak at the conference? It’s a great example for others who want to do the same.
My idea was to create a session that I would enjoy hearing. Then I practiced my talk & applied at howconference.com. I asked for feedback—Stefan Mumaw gave me some great tips, etc.—and that helped me think it through.