Tuesday, July 21, 2009
HOW Design Conference 2009: Events
Everyone seems to anticipate the opening keynote at conference and the craze for swag when the doors to the resource center open. You pretty much need to pack an extra suitcase in order to haul all of that swag back home unless you decide to ship it home instead (which is probably the smarter way to go considering most airlines make you pay for your luggage to ride the plane now, too.) But I have to say that compared to the last two years of attending the conference, it felt like there were fewer vendors and they weren’t as generous with swag as years before. But honestly, I really wasn’t interested in bringing home every piece of swag that I could possibly get. In fact, I was a bit more choosy this year as to which vendors I wanted to stop at. Yes, I did come home with buttons, posters, stickers, notebooks, pens and cool paper shutter shades. But I think that the highlight swag item for me was “Full-Bleed” from Veer. (I have wanted her since before Christmas. And so, when they were handing her out with “Megapixel”, I was only focused on getting her. It was the highlight of my night at the Resource Center!) There was a photo booth set up by Shutterstock but I completely missed out on it! I don’t know how or why I did, but I did. But hopefully they’ll have it back next year!
A new event for HOW this year was the Designer’s Market Place. A friend and I decided to go in together and share a table to sell our goods. I took in greeting cards and calling card sets while my friend and roommate, Kelly Parke, had her Con Survival Kit. I was really surprised by the mob of people that gathered and came to shop the Market Place. I felt that I did well and learned a lot from the experience. I have a better idea of what to expect for next year- what seemed to be most popular as far as my work goes, ideas for table displays, quantity of items, new ideas for other products to offer… Oh and a very big lesson- make sure I have plenty of change on hand!!! I did get a chance to venture off and look at a few other tables. I could have easily spent all the money that I made that night! My purchases? Some buttons and bookmarks from Melissa Ivone-Morris of Operation Nice, two beautifully illustrated cards by , and a numbered, limited-edition tee from Steve Gordon. But I definitely could have spent a lot more! (There were some awesome booths that offered Letterpress- so yummy….I was so very very tempted!!! I did get contact info from a few so they might be hearing from me in the future!) Overall, I was really happy with the turnout- it seemed to have been a great success!
I was also tapped this year to be a reviewer at the Portfolio Review. I was very honored to have been selected- it was only a couple of years ago that I, myself, was showing my work at the portfolio review…nervous about how my work would stand up to others, what sort of comments I would receive, etc. I actually learned a great deal from that experience. I won’t lie, you can’t go into it with thin skin. And if you do, you have to learn quickly to “cowboy up”. But at the same time, it isn’t the reviewer’s job to only see and point out flaws. It tears down self-confidence, makes a person question their abilities and ultimately, leaves them feeling like crap. A good reviewer is one who will take the time to look at a portfolio and notice the strengths the person has, the good qualities of the work being shown, how it is presented, and also making suggestions and ideas to possibly help show the work from a different perspective and show a path for improvement. Last year, when I attended the portfolio review, I was just finishing up my degree and was working on a portfolio class. I had literally torn it apart and was trying to decide on how to recreate it so that it had a polished, professional look to it yet also reflect my own personal touch. Well, while at the portfolio review in Boston, I noticed a sea of black portfolios. But among those black portfolios, there were some individuals who had done something different and I noticed that those were the tables that seemed to gain the most attention. Not discounting the work that was put into all the others that were out there. I am sure there were diamonds among them. However, it was obvious that those who did something different really did stand out. This year, in Austin, I am not sure if the number of people participating in the review was down because attendance was down. Perhaps it was a bigger, more spacious room. I’m not really sure- but I didn’t notice so much of the “black sea” of portfolios this year. They were there but it just didn’t seem as obvious, I guess. In any case, I went in with my little reviewer badge that sported my name on it and met up with some very talented designers on the floor. I hope that those that I spoke with were able to gain value from what I discussed with them, to go on to bigger and better things. Perhaps one day we’ll see their name in lights and I’ll be able to say, “I remember meeting them way back when…” You never know! I know that I learned a lot from the experience and for that, I am grateful.
And how can I forget to mention the Closing Party?! This year’s theme was “Keep Austin Weird”, which coincidentally, is also Austin’s slogan as well! I had the pleasure of walking to the party with the Hoops & Yoyo gang: Bev Carlson, Bob Holt and Mike Adair. And let me just tell you, these guys are off the hook, crazy party animals! Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating for entertainment purposes... But they really are a bunch of fun people to talk to and hang out with. It was nice connecting with them on a personal level because it made me realize that these people who are the creators of animated little characters that so many people idolize…even they have chaotic normal lives like me. Well, when I say normal, I mean well….chaotic....But, anyhow….I think you know what I mean! I had a lot of fun checking out everyone’s costumes at the party. I must say that there were quite a few very creative ones out there. Me? Well, maybe not so creative…I wore a funky patterned sundress and put my hair in cute little ponytails. I looked very “country”. The only thing missing were some cowboy boots and a chicken. We'll just leave it at that!
I always enjoy the closing parties at the conference. It gives you a chance to meet up with people you met while there, cut loose a little bit and just have a great time! I think everyone anticipates what the theme will be in order to come up with cool costume ideas. I am wondering what the theme will be for Denver? hmmmmm........