HOW Design Live 2015: Top 7 Takeaways

HOW Design Live 2015 Review
Highlights and recap from HOW Design Live 2015

HOW Design Live was a week-long whirlwind of learning and creativity. After every session I would think, “That was the best talk.” And then I’d go to the next session and think the same exact thing. I scribbled quotes in my notebook and frantically snapped photos of the GORGEOUS presentations (not to brag, but designers make the best presentations) because I didn’t want to forget a single thing. I also wanted to share some of my learnings with you! So here are my Top 7 Takeaways from HOW Design Live.


Top 7 Takeaways from HOW Design Live

1. “Pay attention to what you do when nobody is paying you.” — Jessica Walsh
Oh man, this was music to my ears. When I started this blog I wasn’t sure what would happen with it. Would I have any readers? What would I write about? I’m four months in and I finally feel like I’ve let go of the questions because I realized one thing: this blog is my little corner of the internet where I can just make. Meaning I can bake anything, design anything, and generate content that I love.

2. “Say yes maybe a little more than you say no.”  — Aaron Draplin
Whether I’m freelancing or blogging, I always have a little voice in the back of my head that keeps me questioning the unknown. Draplin emphasized the idea that there are no small jobs and you never know where saying “yes” could lead. I was reminded that I need to be open to new possibilities.
Side note: Aaron Draplin signed my poster (in the background of the picture above) and then I got to HUG HIM! 

3. “Act valuable and be valuable.” —Jason Fried
I loved this statement because it felt like a much better version of “fake it ’til you make it.” The idea of being valuable implies that you need a level of focus and hard work that is a rarity these days. Whether you’re pursuing a passion project or working at your day job, remind yourself to act valuable and be valuable. A little elbow grease goes a long way.

4. “Screw research. It works if it looks right.”  —Matteo Bologna
I am the queen of process. I have a process for everything from folding laundry to designing. Often times I get lost in the weeds of process and I forget to take a step back and re-evaluate. Gaining perspective allows you to appreciate your work. I can’t even count how many times I got tunnel vision and then realized I had the right design 4 hours earlier. If you’re anything like me, take a page out of Bologna’s book and trust your gut.

5. “We are the right brain of a left brain company.” —Clinton Inselmann
Admittedly, this statement was made about in-house designers but I think it still applies to creatives in general. Whether we like it or not, creatives always have to deal with things like contracts and accounting. This statement reminded me that, as a creative, I have a unique perspective that can help in many situations and I can’t undercut my value.

6. “Good things take time.” —Jessica Walsh
Basically, be patient. I was so incredibly inspired by all the people and work at HOW Design Live, but there was this small part of me that kept saying, “Holy shit, I am not doing enough.” The temptation to compare yourself to others is very real. But here’s the thing: you have to focus on what drives you. If you patiently work on projects that bring you joy, you’ll end up with something good. What more could you possibly want?

7. “Creativity is the world’s greatest weapon, it always wins.” — Mimi Valdés
Wow, right? Valdés was part of the team that worked on Pharell’s Happy video, so she clearly knows what she’s talking about. Sometimes I forget just how powerful creativity is. It can feel overwhelming to pitch your two cents about anything in this day and age—but be brave! Your creative voice is unique to you and it’s worth hearing.

*Jessica Walsh appears twice on this list because she’s just so fucking awesome.


While you mull over these quotes, watch this amazing video of a child and and a designer writing the alphabet. If this doesn’t remind you to have fun with your work, I don’t know what will.