HOWLive: the whole damn cupcake.

This weekend I had the great fortune to attend the HOW Design Live conference. It’s a gathering of thousands of creative professions, all in Chicago for four days of inspiration and craft tips. Oh, and parties. Killer parties. (Or so I’m told.*)

I feel like I’ve won some sort of student lottery through CPS. I’ve been able to attend various AIGA events, and now, HOW Live? Could it get better? (Answer: Yes.**) I’ll admit, I do get priority because I’m one of the student bloggers, but I’d be hopping up and volunteering regardless. These opportunities have been great — and timing is perfect. HOWLive actually happened to be in Chicago while I’m in school. I’d love to go next year, but it’s in Boston… I’d have to get a decent job to afford that!

Anyway. HOWLive was awesome. I didn’t network as much as I would have liked with other designers, but I did talk to a lot of the vendors/sponsors. Networking tip for students: It’s okay to tell them you’re a student! For one, it save both you and them from repeating their sales pitch. Secondly, you might just get some sweet deals from this… I may or may not have gotten offers for paper samples to print some of my portfolio pieces on, or even maybe free printing for some of my package design comps. On shiny metallic paper. Yeah. That happened.

But HOWLive isn’t about the swag. (Though there was A LOT of it. Seriously, probably pinched a nerve with the amount of stuff I was carrying.) There were a lot of great speakers at HOW. There was also a handful of meh ones, but that happens. Some speakers don’t reach every person. I sat in on sessions about web type, designing interactive for tablets, what makes good portfolios, package design, what the young designers are doing, and where ideas come from — just to name the ones I could think of. There were a lot that overlapped, so I missed some amazing speakers.

If there was one over arching theme that everyone talked about: Make stuff. Then make more stuff. Also: don’t keep your ideas secret, share them and collaborate with others. Talk, brainstorm, and have fun.

I’m still at a point where I want to do and make so much. I just want to create. I’m at the ledge of the cliff looking down, afraid to jump. I need to just take that leap and start creating stuff. It could be crap, I just need to make stuff. I need to stop being afraid to make terrible things. It’s only by getting through all the terrible stuff, that I can begin truly designing. Designers never say “practice makes perfect” — they just say make more. And I love that, we’re not striving for perfect, we’re strive to just do and be more. Eventually I’ll stop hesitating, and I’ll just put marker to paper and go.

“Passion is not the frosting. Passion is the whole damn cupcake.” – Sally Hogshead, closing keynote.

all photos (except the one of my tote bag) are by Jennie Li — my classmate & friend who attended the conference with me.

*I was lame. I didn’t go to a single party/after party. There was just so much design awesomeness that I just ended up going home every night to relax with the kitties. Part of me is bummed that I missed it, but my mind and body are happy I rested.
**During the last day of the conference, I received an email saying I’ll be attending/volunteering at cusp conference this fall.