Because we’re not done talking about it yet.
I think we can all agree that one of the best parts of Phoenix Design Week is the freaking awesome design community in Arizona. As our Design Intern, Nate, said, “My favorite part of Phoenix Design Week was being able to reunite with people that I haven’t seen in a couple months. The sense of community was great and it’s always good to be around a bunch of people with similar interests and goals. It was refreshing to hear such a variety of speakers and learn about where their journeys began. The design community is so diverse and it’s nice to see what other people are doing outside of Phoenix.”
We also asked Mike (our Managing Partner), “What was your favorite thing about Phoenix Design Week?” He told us, “I find so much of PHXDW awesome every year—hearing new and interesting perspectives from designers, meeting and reconnecting with local creatives, and contributing back our local design community. It’s really hard for me to pick just one thing!”
As our Marketing Specialist Kayla said, “My favorite thing about the conference is the same every year. I love being in a room full of fiercely creative people. I love building new relationships and being inspired by the struggles, ideas, and authenticity of the design community.”
Our Art Director, Stephanie, added, “I always get to have a few moments where I shake someone’s hand and say, “We’ve only known each other over Twitter, but I’m so glad we’re finally meeting!” Getting to know people in my industry is really fun, and I always look forward to making new friends because of PHXDW.”
The breakout sessions really resonated with our team. Douglas, our Web Developer, told us, “I really enjoyed the breakout sessions. They were informative and were a great opportunity for group discussions. I learned a lot about how people perceive user experience and the challenges people face daily.” He continued, “To me, the creative panel breakout was the most informative/inspirational aspect of the conference. The more intimate rooms led to some great discussion.”
He wasn’t the only one who liked the creative panel. Nate said, “I found the creative panel (Joshua Rhodes, Kelsey Dake, Jeremie Lederman and Melissa Balkon) breakout session really insightful. It was interesting to watch a group of freelancers talk about their methods and how they deal with the stress of working for yourself. Everyone came from different backgrounds and it was nice to see how each became successful in their own way. They really opened my eyes to the benefits of working for yourself and choosing the kinds of things that you work on. Everyone has a different way of going about design work, and it was refreshing to get a small peek into other people’s worlds.”
Of course, Stephanie gets the freelance world. “As a former freelancer this wasn’t all completely new to me. This panel allowed me to hear about freelance life from some different perspectives. Some people were structured while others were spontaneous, some were married or had kids while others were single or childless. Even freelancers in the audience offered their own perspectives on why they take some projects over others. Overall it was a fairly general look at how different people function as freelancers and what processes they use to manage their work. Things got a little heated when a question about taking “crappy” work came up, with the panel responding that in general there are projects you have to take to pay the bills, but that you have to weigh all the variables and decide if it’s worth it for you to do it. For example, if you like having nice furniture and going on trips (or if you have children/family), you might want to take that ‘crappy’ or ‘boring’ project but find a way to make it a little more interesting (maybe by incorporating a new skill or technique). However, if you don’t care about such things, you can use your time to pursue projects that excite you.”
Kelsey Dake, one of the freelancers on the creative panel, had her own session called, Get a Life.
Stephanie said, “Kelsey’s talk started out with a brief look at her career and how she functions as a freelancer in her day-to-day life. She talked about the need to balance work with play—especially those ‘non-design’ activities that freelancers tend to feel guilty about: cooking, visiting museums, and hanging out with friends and family. It was interesting to hear how freelance life works with her personality as a spontaneous individual, as well as her ‘Say yes’ motto/creed. As a very structured individual I have a hard time personally relating to that, but I can appreciate it. The talk then transitioned into an informal Q&A forum with Kelsey. She talked about not being different just for the sake of being different (because no one likes that), and that if you make a project good enough no one will care that you didn’t quite follow the rules.”
Stephanie also attended Jeremie Lederman’s, Drawing is Easy Because It’s Not Art. She told us, “I was intrigued to listen to Jeremie’s talk because I generally feel like I “suck” at drawing. He spent the first half showing us how drawing is an inherently human thing. Kids just start drawing without anyone telling them or showing them how to do it. They also draw without judgment and with an open mind that whatever they make is what they say it is. Jeremie’s talk was incredibly freeing for me because I have always seen drawing as one of my weaknesses. Jeremie explained how to approach drawing as an exercise that you need to make into a habit. Many people who want to draw often start by investing in the nicest pens and moleskin notebooks and feel pressured to live up to some high expectations of what “drawing” is. Jeremie mentioned that it’s important to take the pressure off of yourself by just stapling some pages together, scrawling the word “Sketchbook” on the front, and drawing whatever you see in front of you. The important thing to him was showing that drawing is inherent in all of us, and that it has big impacts for your brain—increased memory, connectivity, and attention, as well as reductions in stress. Drawing benefits us all!”
Overall, we think Nate’s closing thoughts about sum up the week, “There were a bunch of things that I took away from Phoenix Design Week. The biggest concept that resonated with me is just to constantly create things. Sometimes I won’t start projects because I know that I don’t have the skills to do it perfectly. I’m working on getting out of that mindset and to just start making things and enjoy the process. The only way to get better is to keep trying and I need to stop getting caught up in the final product. I have a ton of little side projects that I have been wanting to do and I plan to get around to them in the near future. Phoenix design week was exactly the little nudge I needed to get back into my creative passions.”
Cheers to all your creative individuals out there! We’ll see you next year.