This past week I went to Circles Conference - and can’t tell you how inspired I left. I intentionally didn’t do too much research on the speakers that I didn’t know much about, so that I could be surprised. A little delayed gratification I guess :). Here is a bit of what I took away from this inspired conference. I didn’t cover all of the speakers, but this is what spoke to me the most:
Kathleen Shannon, co-founder of Braid Creative, spoke about putting fear on the shelf. This was probably the only talk specifically geared toward creative entrepreneurs. The main application / take away I gained was to be specific about what my ideal day looks like - which maybe I will share at a later blog post! After brainstorming about waking up in a light-filled room, working out on the daily and creating some inspiring art, we are challenged to see what aspects of our “ideal day” that we can incorporate into our current life. Shouldn’t be too hard, eh?
It’s not all about design
This conference seemed be bent toward non-profits and the Christian community. This was a surprise to most of us attending, but a pleasant one for me! I loved hearing these speakers, with such recognized and outstanding design work, speak openly and authentically about their faith and what role that plays in their design career. The idea that our life is not all about building a great portfolio, was refreshing to me when attending a design conference. It seems common in the design world to focus on your career and design, and it was great to hear these designers emphasizing how important that our legacy is not our awesome portfolio, but rather one of a great mother / wife / father / husband / etc.
Lee Steffen and Matt Lehman spoke more directly about saying no to self-absorption, and the importance of kindness to others. Setting boundaries for clients, being intentional about serving others and loving extravagantly are far more important than designing your life away. I felt that my heart was already prepared for this talk, as my husband and I have been trying to be more intentional about reaching out to others. I love that I received this encouragement at a design conference, from two outstanding and well-respected designers!
Be innovative in your inspiration
The gents at The Heads of State spoke on using heritage as innovation. Whether it is through a new branding project, a personal side project, or self-promotion piece, searching through history is a great way to find something new to derive inspiration from. If you are inspired by a certain designer, find out what historical graphic designers they are referencing for their work. Search through history for a new source of inspiration. The duo launched Pilot and Captain, which is focused on creating t-shirts, posters, and products inspired by vintage travel ephemera. When given a new project, they tend to reference the past (rather than dribbble, behance, etc) for inspiration.
Jay Argaet, the Communications Director at Hillsong Church, spoke about creating meaning throughout your work. His talk was probably my favorite! I really enjoyed hearing his process, and was blown away by his belief that there is nothing impossible with design when he said “If they say there is nothing new under the sun, then I say let’s go to the moon.” Profound! He has incorporated several forms of media in his work, and believes that photoshop should never be the first step in the process - even if it is the easiest / most obvious answer. I love his commitment to this philosophy, and takes inspiration to another level. He spoke on thinking of concept and meaning before going into design. From there, he incorporates various forms of media to achieve this concept - from sidewalk chalk, airplane writing in the sky, and any other innovative technique. Truly inspired by this designer and the clarity he has in his process in design.
Challenge yourself through side projects
Another trend I found from these successful designers was the importance of side projects. Many of the speakers have “made it” because their side projects brought on other clients who liked their work. Which is great - because it attracts the type of work you want to do! A great example of this is Danielle Evans, who spoke on the panel, and I got to speak with afterwards. I can’t wait to hear her talk at next year’s Circles! She started her unique side project, and attracted other clients. If not to gain additional clients, do side projects for your own as a creative exploration. The Heads of State said it best: “Designers don’t want to be pigeon-holed, they want to move forward and be challenged.” Through doing side projects, you can take on a different medium, or design style, and become challenged and no longer stuck in the same type of work.
What has been inspiring you lately? If you made it to Circles, or not, I would love to hear!