In early April, my coworker and fellow Brunet-García Art Director Bianca Borghi and I set off for Creative South—a design conference of “creative thinking, collaboration, and exploration.”
As a newbie with a little more than two years in the design industry, the idea of attending my first creative conference filled me with a sense of adventure to network, learn, and bring home new ideas. As I would come to learn, Creative South is an amazing event with a ton of Southern charm!
The conference was held in Columbus’ Springer Opera House, a beautiful post-Civil War building with winding hallways and delicate details. Thursday night kicked off with a party held on a bridge over the Chattahoochee River. We watched designers and illustrators battle in an “Ink Wars” competition in which each participant based a drawing based on a secret theme provided only moments before the one-hour timer was set. Afterward, a spectacular fireworks display lit up the night and set the tone for the entire conference.
The next two days were filled with informational, entertaining, and inspiring speeches from industry leaders like Charles Anderson, creator of Charles S. Anderson Design Co., known for his work with French Paper Co.; Dominique Falla, an incredible textile typographer; Bob Ewing, hand-lettering extraordinaire; Mark Brickey, creator and host of the Adventures in Design podcast; and many more. Scattered among the remarkable talks was an abundance of Southern food—chicken and waffles for the win! We met many new friends in the field and doodled on a Bentley.
We met former Brunet-García intern Shauna Panczyszyn, who is now a freelance hand-lettering artist and illustrator based in Orlando, Florida. She told us how Brunet-García helped launch her career, and we were pleased to see how far she has come since her internship.
One of my biggest takeaways from the conference was a renewed inspiration and desire to create. While I am constantly creating at my job, I’ve been searching for a way to expand my personal design skills. Listening to the ways the speakers invested in themselves and designed without the boundaries of clients, encouraged me to set aside an hour or two each day after work to challenge myself creatively. The results have been incredibly positive: I have more motivation at work and in my personal design.
I also learned a lesson about trusting your gut and not being afraid to pursue an idea or concept. While it’s always important to respect a client’s desires and boundaries, you have to respect yourself as a creative. If you have an idea you think will work well for a client, try it. If they love it, you’ve created something wonderful; but if not, you can always go back to the drawing board. There’s no room for hesitancy in design; a designer’s job is to push boundaries and get the client’s message across, which requires fresh ideas and methods.
The hospitality and friendliness of Mike Jones and the Creative South crew was incredible—exactly what you would expect from a small Southern family gathering. The quality of the conference was impeccable. I left with a new perspective on the industry that I love and an even greater bond with my colleague Bianca. I can’t wait to see what Creative South 2018 has in store!