HOW Design 2011 in review: Part two

Saturday, June 25, 2011

This is a continuation of HOW Design 2011 in review: Part one.

HOW Design Conference 2011 I am attending the HOW Design Conference 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Below are my notes from the sessions I attended on Saturday.

9:00 am-10:15 am – 3. Galumphing, Goats on Roofs and Other Revelations to Spark InspirationSam Harrison
You come to the HOW Design Conference looking for inspiration. Jumpstart your first full day with this idea-igniting session hosted by industry veteran Sam Harrison. He’ll show you how to get up out of your chair and chase down inspiration, moving past the ordinary to discover the extraordinary. You’ll head back to the office with renewed powers of passion and play, all so you can fill your work with life—which is much more inspiring than filling your life with work.

  • Session hashtag: #howgoats.
  • Proficient → efficient → sufficient (at any skill)
  • Galumphing (a Lewis Carroll word): proud play, to be silly, to be playful
  • Nothing intelligent gets done with silliness
  • Need permission to be lighthearted
  • “The lightness of a beginner frees up creativity.” – Steve Jobs
  • Paraphrase: “A mind stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  • Fail earlier to succeed sooner
  • Does what I’m doing inspire me or tire me? Am I just doing it out of habit?
  • Creativity is the encounter of the intensively conscious person with the world
  • Go out there and gawk
  • What we focus on is what we’re going to see
  • Does your environment/mind have an “atmosphere of generosity”? (giving/receiving ideas freely)
  • Related: Have a creative network
  • Book: The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
    • Chicago World’s Fair and serial killer in Chicago
    • Ragtime, zipper, Walt Disney’s father
  • What really inspires you?
  • Money is a threshold motivator – not a strong force once your needs are met
  • “Passion is not the quantity of emotion; it’s the quality of commitment.”
  • “You are the greatest asset you will ever own.”

10:45 am-12:00 pm – 8. Creative Stuff: The Comprehensive Bulleted ListChris Elkerton
Join Chris Elkerton as he divulges a wealth of secrets and ideas for staying creative when the daily grind is getting you down—amazingly, they’re all tips he gathered from friends, family, colleagues, design industry pros and everyday creative people.

You’ll see that it doesn’t take a lot of time and effort to get the creative juices flowing and you’ll leave ready to tackle your next great project with excitement and enthusiasm. Come prepared—this session will feature hands-on interaction from the audience.

  • Follow Chris on Twitter: @opieshuffle. Session hashtag: #howbullets.
  • Founded 3 Dogz Creative Inc.
  • Get inspired
    • Theo Jansen – Kinetic Sculptor – walking on sand dunes in Holland
    • “I never lost the kid in me. I still look at design with the same eyes as when I was 10.” – Dominic Ayre
    • Homeless World Cup
    • Obituaries in the paper
  • Start simple
    • “Fuck Photoshop” pencil – James Victore (2011) – “It’s a class about thinking. How the fuck do you do that in front of computer?”
    • Meridian acupuncture point energy diagram
    • Margo Chase: Keep it Fresh –
    • Line Drawing Madness exercise
  • Get hands on
    • Taking photos of letters of the alphabet in the everyday
    • Refinished pinball machine
    • World maps made of type and letterpressed – Nancy McCabe
    • You have to take the time to work on your projects
  • Keep a healthy mindset
    • Stay positive in order to achieve any good work in the design industry
    • You need to change your perspective sometimes – approach visuals from a different
    • Alex McClain: aerial photography to create patterns
    • Brand New website – Armin Vit (so much negativity related to design/web comments)
    • John Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory
    • Cow diagram: Design → Public Relations → Marketing → Advertising → Branding
    • “HELLO my name is” sticker: 2nd most important design piece in history – according to Art
  • Bring it all together
    • “Mad Men” signs
    • Force yourself to push the design
    • Collaborate!
    • “Playing for Change” video – “Gimee Shelter” cover –
    • “If you hit this sign, you will hit that bridge.”
    • “Master your instrument … master your … forget all that bullshit and just play.”

2:00 pm-3:15 pm – 13. Get Out of Your Rut!Cami Travis-Groves
Clearly picture your rut: using the same colors, patterns and fonts, falling into the same kinds of situations, doing the same kinds of projects…over and over. Are they just old habits or are you afraid of change?

Cami Travis-Groves will help you get—and stay—out of your rut by identifying what’s keeping you there in the first place. You’ll learn ways to let go of your fears and coax creativity from deep within you. You’ll even get the chance to share your pearls of wisdom with the rest of the audience.

  • Follow Cami on Twitter: @imaccami. Session hashtag: #howrut.
  • Stories of quantum physics, caterpillars and cilantro to help you get—and stay—out of your rut!
  • Sometimes you just need to take a step.
  • Giraffes are kept in by a psychological moat. Because they are afraid of falling (from birth when they fall six feet?). Be aware of your psychological moats so can get past them.
  • There’s only one flavor of you that can do what you do how you do it.
  • Underpromise and overdeliver.
  • Stay humble.
  • Monkeys in a cage with bananas story. Try a new approach.
  • Your personal economy is what you can afford to give – and very little of that has to do with money.
  • Quantum designing – Aaron O’Connell, quantum physicist – the golden time between sleep and awake – in a quantum world, multiple universes are possible and probable – so, the answer is always out there and it will come to you if you look for it. Our surroundings dictate who we are – the nature of our interactions with you and other people will shape who you are. Future book: “Whatever flips your Twinkie.” Don’t hang out with people and places that don’t inspire you.
  • Diffuse the emotion, restate back what the problem is, and then step out of the equation.
  • You are not your designs. You are not your creations. You are not your illustrations.
  • Geeking out:
  • Never, never be afraid to single yourself out. It may pay off.
  • Ask questions. Especially of kids.
  • STOP – Share This (yourself) with Other People.
  • Download the “Get Out of Your Rut” handout.

3:45 pm-5:00 pm – 18. Turning Your Creative Obsessions into OpportunitiesArmin Vit
Whether it’s collecting, drawing, imagining or writing, we all have creative obsessions that we tend to neglect for fear that they’re a waste of time—or because they’re not billable. But there are designers out there who’ve been able to turn these obsessions into profitable and well known projects through books, websites or even just an expanded client base.

UnderConsideration’s Armin Vit will take a look at the paths some of these designers took, exploring the obsessions that led to these projects and the results they generated. You’ll learn different ways to channel your own creative pursuits, along with tips for making sure they get noticed.

  • Session hashtag: #howopps.
  • What is creative obsession? It’s the unnecessary expense of time, energy and thought put into any given subject or object that manifests in a tangible way.
  • It can last a week. It can last years.
  • What is opportunity? A situation that may provide a return on investment in the form of money, exposure, or validation. Or all.
  • Examples: From creative obsession to publication, Internet fame and/or business.
  • To Publications:
  • To Internet Fame:
    • Good Taste: Tina Roth Eisenberg –
    • Color & Outfits: Jessi Arrington –
    • Type & Humor: Jessica Hische – – The Daily Drop Cap
    • Data Visualization: Nicholas Felton –
    • Mashups: Olly Moss –
    • Lessons from this model: Find a niche. And explore that. And if all else fails…
      • Double Rainbows – Paul “Bear” Vasquez
    • Stupid can work.
  • To Business:
  • Lessons: You can’t anticipate. You can react. Look for the opening. Have money in the bank.
  • 2. The Secret Ingredient: Stupidity.
  • Cites “The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity.” Third Basic Law: Stupid people create a loss for themselves and for others. Four quadrants: Intelligent people – Bandits/Douchebags – Helpless – Stupid.
  • Stupidity can lead to creativity. Creativity can lead to your obsessions. You obsessions can lead to opportunity.
  • Examples of stupidity:
    • Idiocracy
    • Matt Stevens in Charlotte, North Carolina: Dunkin Donuts rebrandVarsity Donuts
    • Type Sandwiches by David – everyday
    • Comic Sans – Brad Gilbert, Cleveland Cavaliers: using Comic Sans in the context of his LeBron James letter was like Strawberry Shortcake saying, “Fuck off.”
    • Netflix Prize – Dyslexflix: recommending wrong since 2008
  • Stupidity beats inhibition. (And inhibition is what stops us from doing things we’re afraid of doing.) Lack of inhibition prevents obsessions. Stupidity leads to creativity. Creativity leads to opportunities.
  • Do something for yourself. Put it out there. Expect the pot of the gold at the end of the rainbow. Do expect the best, but prepare for the worst.
  • If opportunity knocks, just open the damn door.

Continue to HOW Design 2011 in review: Part three »

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