If you are in need of a creative refresher, serious southern hospitality and some of the best BBQ (outside of NC that is), you should check out Creative South in Columbus, GA. I first heard about the 3-day conference from my design sidekick Adé Hogue. Since the conference falls not too long after our birthdays, we thought it would be a nice gift to ourselves. Just when I was about to buy my ticket, CS posted a contest to their Facebook page for a pair of tickets. I joked to Ade’ that if I won I would take him. All I had to do was comment, “Like” and/or share there post. I made my post and went about my day until…
I was so excited (see comment response above)! Since the conference was in GA I decide to drive down to visit my dad in Atlanta and meet up with Adé in Columbus. The timing of the conference was great – Southern Springs are just right.
Once we arrived we turned to Yelp to find some good eats. So many options that offered that homemade, down home taste the south is known for. After a great meal at a spot called Ezell’s, complete with a plate of fried goodness and consuming what I’m sure was a gallon of sweet tea, we headed downtown to explore and check out the opening party. Great music, food trucks and most importantly good people. Unlike some of the other design conferences I have attended in the past, Creative South has a family-like vibe. I don’t know if it is the southern air or the huggable host Mike Jones but something about it made the conference feel like I was getting more than creative inspiration. The speakers are accessible and easy to talk to. They shared more than their work, but stories about their families, backgrounds and even their faith. I left with new friends and a refreshing idea of where creative inspiration can come from. Design has been a good balance of personal and professional influence – this conference made me go to a new place. Not only does this create a deeper connection to my work, it helps to inspire new, self initiated projects that keep me on my toes creatively.
I met so many great people over the 3 days I was there! Seth and Holly from Savannah, Emily from Texas, Veronica from Toronto – this just gives you an idea of all the different places people came from to attend this conference. And of course there were great speakers who shared their creative process and more importantly what inspires their designs. One that really spoke to me was Allan Peters. As the creative director at Target and a fan of his badge designs his name on the speaker list was what really got me interested in attending. Before he shared his work he shared things outside of design that were really important to him – his faith, family and how a moment of tragedy made him appreciate a good work-life balance. In the design world you don’t see that often – at least I have not. I think the presenters willingness to share personal stories and challenges is what really made the conference feel so intimate. The co-founder, Mike Jones has said he would like to keep it this way – smaller. Not only will it keep the conference affordable, it will allow it to maintain its “down-home” personality that fits so well in Columbus, Georgia. My favorite talk was with the “Heavy Hitters Panel”. The top sports designers on one stage = pure awesome! Todd Radom, Joe Bosack, Skye Dillon, T.J. Harley and Fraser Davidson shared some great stories and projects. I had just started my research for my thesis, which revolves around sports branding and identity, so I took plenty of notes. I even got a chance to go on stage during a sports trivia contest! Great group of guys!
As far as the highlights, I have narrowed them down to 10 things:
- Winning tickets! This saved me money and allowed me to buy more great stuff from the vendors at the conference.
- Reconnecting with my design homie Adé: We worked together at UNCC and he move to Chicago after graduation. So reconnecting at a creative conference was perfect!
- The Food: Mike posts a lot of great food pics on Instagram. He suggested a few BBQ places before we came down. When the top spot he suggested was out of BBQ, Mike went out and picked up some BBQ from another spot and ate with us! In the midst of running a conference he did all that. True Southern hospitality! Don’t get me started on the sweet tea – so good!
- Meeting so many collectively and individually creative people – Seth, Holly, Veronica, Emily and so many others!
- Listening to and meeting Allan Peters. We met him on the first night. He was just hanging out at a table with his wife. I was too nervous to go over, but Ade, aka “Hype Man” went right over to introduce us. He was so kind and willing to share. We even took pictures and he mentioned us on his blog!
- Meeting Jim Sherraden, the man that keeps Hatch Show Print running. He was very charming:-)
- Watching the Typefight! Adé won in his letting category and placed 3rd overall!
- Winning the “Heavy Hitters” panel logo trivia contest! The panel all signed a Warstic Bat which was produced by another presenter – Ben Jenkins. Best of all I had a chance to share my work with Fraser and Todd, whose work I have been following for a while. I had to contain my fangirling while on stage.
- Picking up some amazing schwag and designs from the talented vendors and presenters.
- Leaving with a greater sense of what is really important in my creative and personal life
Check out all the great recaps by other attendees and be sure to mark your calendar for CS 2015! Pics below