Last month, I attended my very first HOW Design Conference in Chicago. It seems crazy that I waited so long, seeing as I started my design business over ten years ago. But since it was in my hometown, I made the time and effort. Now, being seven months pregnant at the time, it was a bit of a challenge and I did have to make some concessions (going home early, no cocktails) but it was well worth it.
In addition to catching up with friends and colleagues and making new connections, I walked away with a wealth of knowledge—and a new outlook on my business.
Lessons learned at the HOW Design Conference
- Go to more design conferences: it wasn’t long before I realized the benefits of being around like-minded creatives and how that could inspire my own work.
- Read more books: many of the speakers mentioned useful books—and the onsite HOW Bookstore was a great source of inspiration. I walked away with books on photography (Photo Idea Index) and web design (Above the Fold)—and recently picked up a copy of a book I had been eyeing at the conference (Made to Stick).
- Incorporate what I love into my business: Peleg Top‘s session, The Creative Side of Running a Business, made me realize how personal interests can be used to enrich your business. Actually, several of the speakers mentioned this concept which really resonated with me. (see #4 and #5 below)
- Focus on a creative obsession: Armit Vit‘s session Turning Your Creative Obsessions into Opportunities was one of the most inspiring. As someone who always has several “creative obsessions,” I realized how focusing on one (or at least just a few) can lead to business opportunities.
One of my current creative obsession: photographing automatic sprinklers in my neighborhood. See the flickr set in-progress here.
- Incorporate personal interests into my work: Stephen Doyle‘s session, Where Ideas Come from and Where They Go, was a great example of this. He has successfully integrated both his remarkable paper sculptures and other personal interests into client and professional projects.
- Ask for advice: after taking a fantastic workshop on making and selling products by Heather Lins of Heather Lins Home, I realized the importance of asking for advice. Having your questions answered by someone who has been through it successfully can boost your confidence and encourage new ways of thinking.
- Tell a story: whether it’s for a client or your own business, it’s important to tell a story and be authentic.