:: The Better Late Than Never Edition ::
Emma and Adobe recently co-presented AIGA's Think Tank Conference in Nashville. This conference may have been just a one-day event, but boy, did it a pack a punch. With 4 main sessions, the speakers included the dynamic duo, Jennifer and Ken Visocky O' Grady, Dave Werner, Ian Dapot, and the lovely Paula Scher, who closed the day out.
Here at the Emma office, we were especially floored about this event, as it was the first design conference that our entire design team has been able to attend. Everyone on our team had such inspired and varying feedback, that it seemed only appropriate to share the love:
Lauren Johnston: The part that particularly stuck out to me was emphasis on process work, brainstorming, and research to initially organize design ideas. Usually, I mess around with my design on the computer until I get something I like. A lot of the speakers chatted about the importance of sketching and mindmapping to really hone in on a particular thought. Then, taking your process work to the client helps to communicate the design direction more clearly.
Researching seemed to be a key part of the process as well. Paula spoke about researching particular environments and spaces before designing it. Ken and Jenn chatted about the importance of researching the clients company and style to have a more successful outcome. I really enjoyed the conference overall. It really inspired me to get moving on some projects and to revisit my portfolio.
Daniel Brown: There was a lot that really stood out but I think one of the main things for me was the IDEO guy [Ian Dapot] saying that he only likes 1 thing out of 10 that he does. So, DO a lot. I can be inclined to not do something if I don't think it will turn out well but that's a bad way to look at it. You never know when something will take a turn for the awesome, so the more you do, the better your chances are of making something great.
Jennifer Crigger Kasdorf:
As designers, we generally take criticism about our work more than the average person. Use the criticism as a way to grow and to see your designs in a new light. – Jenn & Ken Visocky O'Grady
Problem-solve in creative ways. Sometimes we do need breaks, so take them! You might be surprised with the results. – Jenn & Ken Visocky O'Grady
+ "The Harder I work, the luckier I get." – Thomas Jefferson (Dave Werner)
+ Self-promote. Be honest. Be yourself! – Dave Werner
+ Be inspired by your work. – Ian Dapot
+ Sometimes you have to design through the problem to see the solution. – Ian Dapot
+ Find new ways to create, new ways to be passionate about your work. -Paula Scher
+ Create for you. – Paula Scher
+ Surprise yourself. – Paula Scher
Jessica Saling: I really liked Paula Scher when she discussed creating a distinct style. At one point, her brand identity for the Public Theatre was ultra-successful. People liked it so much they actually starting mocking the style all around the city. While this was a compliment to Paula, it destroyed the brand. After the style caught on to many designs around town, the Public Theatre lost its presence.
This really spoke to me to always think about the context your work is displayed. Design can change its effect with the time or place. Designers need to always see the whole picture and not just the design. Also, while design can be effective at one time, it can quickly lose its effect if we don't pay attention to what changes around us.
Elizabeth Williams: I was really impressed with the varied perspectives of each speaker. They each brought something different and thoughtful to the table without too much overlap.
I feel that the motivation to take risks is what I really took away from the conference. A couple of quotes I enjoyed: one from Ian Dapot who encouraged us to start, "exploring what you don't know, NOT exploiting what you have", and one from Albert Einstein via Jen and Ken reminding us that, "Imagination is more important than knowledge". It's easy to fall into the same routines and tricks that you feel comfortable with, but it takes much more courage and gumption to build upon the ideas stored in the "probably absurd zone" of your brain. So, three cheers for risk taking motivation!!!
Kelly McClain: During the Q&A discussion, someone asked all the speakers to share a piece of advice that's stuck with them, and one of the panelists said how one of his instructors once told him that "everyone has the same 24 hours." It's a nice reminder that if you manage your time properly, you can complete even the most daunting projects that as long as it's humanly possible, you have the same amount of time within each day that any other human capable of completing the task would have.
Taylor Schena: I liked with Ken and Jenn's speech where they talk about how what you contribute is more than just the final piece and with OkayDave's, where he talked about doing interesting things that aren't related to your portfolio/body of work. Also, I enjoyed Paula Scher where she talked about how she did work to pay the bills and the work she loved on the side. I think it helps to keep a designer fresh and not burn out.
Jimmy Thorn: I think the thing that sticks out the most was Paula telling me to work the jobs to make money to afford the luxury of doing the projects you really feel strongly about, and to never let a project that you feel passionately about go by the wayside. She said that she would design 135 record covers a year, and be truly happy with five, but those five were her passion projects. I like that.
As for me, one topic that seemed to come up in one form or another, is the fact that a good designer usually spends the least amount of their time on the actual design. I was reminded how many other variables are so important to the design process and when one covers all these other bases, the design usually just flows right out. I believe it was Jenn & Ken who mentioned the phrase, "Design the system, not just the product." I look forward to focusing more energy on this way of design thinking.
We hope you all enjoy our moments of inspiration and if you're able to attend Think Tank: 2010, I highly encourage it.