How Live 2014 / Designing & Dancing With Fear

23 Jun How Live 2014 / Designing & Dancing With Fear

Day 2 / Intense. Inspirational. Creativity. Birds. Squirrels. Dance. Anxiety. Show up. Web Design. Introversion. Relationships. Inspiration. Exploration. Passion. Compassion. Head. Heart. Hand. Generous. 


All of these words were found in my day at How Design Live. Yet, these are only a sampling of the beauty, creativity, inspiration and design found in the day.

My morning started with a coffee and breakfast sammy and two darling little birds. Bold birds. Pushy birds that got so close, that they gently nibbled on my fingers. I giggled in our shared moment. It was a beautiful moment with two little birds that I started to observe. The designer in me started to analyze the experience. And relish in their beauty. The intricate detail that was found in every feather. The way they moved. Then I paused to question why were they there and it was because obviously they have found it easy to get their food by their cuteness. I then wondered if we’ve damaged nature this way. This all happened before my first session. The deeper meaning is a question of what we can do and how we can all coexist in nature without damaging nature as it is. So I wondered if there is a way that cities can set up more natural habitats through design for birds…to pull them away from our food frenzy of feeding them. Just a thought. 


The first morning session was Debbie Millman interviewing Seth Godin. It was a lively and engaging conversation. It was a topic that I struggle with and one that I had to challenge myself with later in the day. We need to fly in the face of things we worry about and that we need to dance with fear. When fear approaches us, we should say welcome. He is so right. As designers, we need to get to the part of our mind that is cynical because once we do, we can do work that matters. We are not squirrels that are selfish always trying to hide acorns. Yet, they are selfish and a lot of times as designers we are faced with our own internal anxiety. He said we set ourselves up because anxiety is experiencing failure in advance. If we can let go of this and dance with our fears, we can truly design and know that we are confident and doing the best that we can. The thing that I loved was the thought of not asking for an opportunity but to give instead. Just showing up isn’t enough…push boundaries, say no and ne confident.


My second session was with Brian Wood on Responsive Design in WordPress. I was lucky to attend a session of his at Adobe in San Francisco just a few weeks ago on Edge Reflow. This was a short, speedy but highly educational introduction to designing in responsive format in WordPress. It was tough to follow but then towards the end…it all sunk in. See, I was accustomed to doing everything in a theme on the site. Not downloading and setting it all up on a local host and digging into the PHP. But, thanks to Seth, I danced with the PHP fear and walked away with a lot of knowledge!


Next on the design schedule du jour was Stanley Hainsworth. All I have to say is…holy shit that is one talented guy. I wanted him to keep talking and showing us his work. It was so fucking creative. And genius. And playful. And witty. And I wanted to face my fear and be a better designer. Stanley makes me want to be a better designer. Go here to see his company Tether. You must watch this. I mean it. Do it. Now. Tether Evolves Gatorade. You’re welcome. Okay, now you are getting sucked in so watch this commercial for a brand he is part of Awake Caffeinated Chocolate


Then moved on to a session with Jason Bender and How Extreme Deadlines Can Drive Digital Innovation. It was key in understanding that time matters in design. Uncomfortable deadlines can generate design greatness. If we have 8 weeks on a project, we will lollygag until the end. It is that surge that invokes creativity.


Phew. That was only halfway through the day. Whoa. There was so much to hear, learn, see, and to be inspired by that these mere words can do them no justice. 


The next session was with Moira Cullen. She was amazing. She is a graphic design icon. She branded such iconic brands such as Hallmark, Coca Cola, Hershey’s and Pepsi. If you look at any of those products right now. No really…look at them right now if you have one in your house. She did that. Yeah, she did that. Just sayin’. I mean she had a team but she was the visionary leader behind it all. He’s talked about how important it is to merge design and business. That business needs design. That you can inspire, direct, and transform design with the use of passion and compassion. Good design in brands and products makes emotional connections and tells a story. She told us that as designers, we have a choice to make design better for consumers and that we can have an impact. Simple isn’t easy. In addition, we have to focus on strategy as designers…not just style.


Okay, at this point my mind was completely blown. The creative energy flowing all around me was overwhelming and invigorating. 


Then it was time to face one of my fears. Networking time. With a game. It was a brilliant game but I am really shy and nervous and afraid of rejection. So I only filled in 4 lines out of 9. I failed. I didn’t dance with the fear. This is something I need to push myself on over the next few days. That…I can approach a stranger and dance with fear. The fear of rejection is a big challenge for me. I learned a lot today on how to work on it. If I can cross the line over the next few day, I think I can take away a lot more than I set out to accomplish and learn. I hope that by Friday…that maybe that is the magical moment. We’ll see.


The last session today was with Maria Popova of Brain Pickings. She was so eloquent and elegant in her design thoughts and talk that my written words can do no justice to what she said. It was fantastic! We have to look outside of our field for true inspiration and her site will show us the way. Check it out.


So the day was just about over…it was time for the first party and opening of the Exhibition Hall. I go a whole lotta loot from this but it was a total frenzy. I’ve never been rundown by so many designers in my life. There was no fear in the room at that moment. Haha. I look forward to exploring and meeting the vendors tomorrow.


This is typed from memory. It may not flow well but I am drafting from experience. As an attendee. If you take away one cool thing from this, then my post was successful. I took a lot from How and feel lucky to be here. If you liked one thing here, then I am happy to have shared.

I ended the night with a Gimlet. My grandfathers favorite drink. Since he and my grandmother are the makers of my creative genes, I raised a glass in their memory tonight.

Happy designing.

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