Well I’m back from my trip and more confused than ever. That sounds negative, but it’s not meant to be. This year’s set of session’s and speakers seemed very unique to me and well planned. Last year’s sessions/speakers were much more about the environment designer’s work in and practical tips for day-to-day designing. This year’s were more about the designer themselves; the kind of person they are outside of being a graphic designer and how that in turn helps them be better at their jobs. Sessions ranged from looking at all the stuff we keep on our homes and desks (toys, pencils, pens, posters, books, etc) to what inspires us. I think it made several people stop and think: Wow, there is a person behind all this work we all produce daily. Often I think designers feel like human computers that components are put into and out we spit a marketing piece or a website. We can start to feel very “unspecial” and that can affect us deeply.
For me these sessions made me start thinking of so many things and made me really question who I am independently of graphic design and then who I am with my work and how they interlock. It was amazing how so many graphic designers were baffled when asked what we draw inspiration from. It was clear that many people, including myself, hadn’t had time or even thought to ask ourselves what inspires us to come up with that new great idea. We all get so focused on the job/project/pitch/new idea that we had forgotten about ourselves.
So this is what I take away:
1. I am unique and to do my job it takes a little bit of nurturing and understanding of myself.
2. Don’t dismiss the little things: You never know when a red kick ball can change the world.
3. There usually is another person in a worse work situation than you, so keep that in mind.
4. Find a mentor if you don’t already have one. They will change your life.
5. Be a collector of inspiration. It never goes out of style.
6. Network. Even if it feels weird, you can only get better at it.
7. Be open about who you are. You’re not alone.
So my confusion comes only from looking in at myself, being intrigued, and trying to figure out who I am and what truly inspires me.
Most likely my company won’t pay to send me again next year, but based on this year’s experience, you can bet I’m already saving for next year.