Creative South 2013: Applying the Inspiration

April 30, 2013

Last weekend I headed down to the deep south with fellow NMC designer, Lenny, to the Creative South 2013 conference. The conference was a fantastic meet up of designers, illustrators, and artists, and boasted some big names in the design world for its speakers, including Aaron Draplin, James White of Signalnoise, Rogie King, Sean McCabe, and more.

The talks given were primarily from independent designers who stressed that we should be creating work we are passionate about, even if that means leaving your full-time day job. I was so inspired by the work the speakers were creating and what they were saying, that I was constantly trying to respin the talks into something that I could take back to my team at NMC. It wasn’t until the end of the conference that I realized the message can be applied to anyone, whether you are a freelance designer, or working for an agency.

So without further ado, here’s my takeaway on Creative South and how it can be applied to the design work you are creating for your company:

Fight Trends

This is a tip I heard in my first talk of the weekend, and it has stuck with me the most. It’s easy to just recreate what’s popular now, especially in web design when a client often sends along a site they really like and says “I want that!”. However, this ultimately ends in work that blends in with other design firms’ and work you’re not really excited about as a designer. As designers we need to make sure we are constantly pushing the boundaries a little more, rather than just slapping Proxima Nova into a logo or website. This will ensure our clients get work that’s original, and we end up with work we can be truly proud of.

Be Selective

This is probably the hardest thing to apply to working at a company, since you can’t exactly turn away a client. Designers can however be more vocal about the projects they would like to take on. Want to work on an illustration heavy project? An app for your new running hobby? Talking with your project managers or other coworkers about the projects you’d like to do is the only way to ensure you’ll actually get those type of clients and work that you will be passionate about doing.

Be Fearless

It’s far too easy to fall into a rut of designing a site that a client will simply approve or making changes to a design that you don’t agree with, especially during a busy week or on a project you do not feel extremely passionate about. As designers, we need to take risks and create the work we want to make, whether that means presenting an alternate design to the client that they wouldn’t have normally envisioned, or educating them on why you don’t agree with the feedback they’ve given you. By squashing the fear that you don’t have time to do something for a client, or they won’t want to see your ideas or hear your expertise, you will only leave room for work that you are happy about creating.

I hope these tips can provide even a sliver of inspiration that I gained from my weekend at Creative South. Here’s to creating better work for our clients, and more work we can be passionate about in 2013!


Lenny Terenzi's avatar
Lenny Terenzi
Great post Ashley! Already excited for our trip next year!

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