This week I attended my second Creative Leadership Symposium! Last year I left inspired and was beyond excited when Hallmark announced that the entire creative community would again be invited to the 2017 event. The lineup of speakers this year was incredible, I even got the chance to attend a demo from Gemma O'Brien the day before the symposium. Here are a few of my notes from the main speakers – I hope these tidbits offer you some inspiration, I know they will help me to remember this magical event. Enjoy!
GRACE BONNEY – Design*Sponge
Online Influencer, New York Times Best-Selling Author
When the lineup of speakers was announced I knew I would love Grace's presentation. Not only is Design*Sponge one of my favorite blogs, her new book In The Company of Women offers endless inspiration. She talked to us about six ways creatives can stay happy and give back. Before diving into these six points she also talked about how in order to live a creative life she needed to live creatively, and how as Design*Sponge evolved she knew she wanted to focus on the people and things behind the "stuff."
Six Ways Creatives Can Stay Happy and Give Back
- Ask For Help
- Find A Support System (No one creates in a vacuum.)
- Turn Fear into Motivation / Let What Scares You Lead You / Be Relentless / Throw Yourself in the Deep End/ Acknowledge the Fear and Lean on your Support System
- Use Your Skills To Give / Because Good Work Can Do Good / This can help you gain a new perspective and understanding of your community
- Trust Yourself, Trust Your Gut / No one knows your skills and talents better than you do / Embrace Pivot Points / Make sure the people you spend time with are diverse / Life is so very long, you can have several creative careers
- Always Be Learning / Everything is constantly changing, so we need to as well. / Create without limits, rules or judgement / Hobbies keep your creative juices going.
KWAME ALEXANDER – The Crossover
Newbery Award-Winning Author and Educator
- Language has the power to make things real.
- Yes forced on me allowed me to say yes to what's possible.
- Yes is fruitless if you don't put in the work.
- The word yes is the most powerful prayer you can make.
- To say yes to yourself sometimes means you say no to someone else.
- Surround yourself with say-yes people. No's are a hard life. To say yes to embracing the joy and passion of life you must embrace the no's.
- Visit Kwame's Website Here
JEREMY COLLINS – Drawn
Award-Winning Filmmaker and Illustrator
Over our lunch hour we were all able to watch Jeremy's film, Drawn. I loved its focus on friendship, adventure, and really embracing life. I was even more excited to learn during his talk that he is a KC local. He is an artist and an activist, and I know I will continue to follow his work.
- His work often features parallel lines, inspired by these lines in the mountains and in nature.
- His way of engaging is responding with art (Like his Power of the Peaceful artwork.)
- It's a dangerous thing to think you've found your voice.
ALLISON SCHROEDER – Hidden Figures
Academy Award-Nominated Screenwriter of "Hidden Figures"
Allison was interviewed about her experience writing the screenplay for "Hidden Figures." Luckily I saw the movie a few weeks ago so it made her talk that much more enjoyable, it's a beautiful, uplifting film.
- Resist the stereotypes.
- She has gotten used to the first draft not being perfect.
- When people keep asking you back it's a huge thing.
- She loves happy endings and positive stories that aren't always a part of Hollywood.
- She just kept writing what she wanted people to hire her for.
- Even after her success, she is still constantly told no.
DENA BLEVINS – Starbucks
Starbucks Creative Director of Global Promotions and Brand
Dena was introduced my Marisol Bowman, Hallmark artist and former Starbucks artist, who said that Dena excels at making hundreds of ideas feel like one brand. Her talk focused on how collaboration builds a strong brand, talking about how she makes this work at Starbucks.
- For each project we ask will this make our partners proud?
- Our success (as a company) is interdependent.
- Our vision is a long term one, but our tactics can be short term.
- She addressed the holiday red cup controversy (and the free publicity that ensued), as well as the unicorn frappuccino.
- You need to have a clear vision of who you are as a brand.
- Design by committee works at Starbucks, they are a hive of interdependency.
EEMS – Ukulele Looping
Acclaimed Singer, Songwriter and Instrumentalis
EEMS, another KC local, performed several songs and talked about his musical journey.
World-Renowned Artist and Illustrator
Lisa was another speaker I especially excited to hear, I have followed her work for several years. I loved the opportunity to hear her talk about her career path in person. Here are my favorite notes:
- Side projects feed the work that she does professionally.
- She has become comfortable sharing a lot of her work publicly.
- A few of her book recommendations included: Wired to Create, The Spark and the Grind, Broad Strokes, Big Magic
- Her personal interests inform her professional life (such as her book about swimming.)
- Intuition is something that creative people are in tune with.
- Personal curiosities, such as her many collections, push her to keep learning.
- This Mary Oliver poem inspires Lisa:
- How do we remain creative at work? We don't view our creative work as precious, and this allows us to make. (Loved this concept in Big Magic!)
- Hard work. Discipline. Pushing through the creation of mediocre stuff. Forget about passion, find joy in exploration. Embrace the beauty of the mundane. Slow Art.
- Lisa's Mantra: It's always worth it.
CHRIS TEIG – PATAGONIA
Patagonia Director of Graphics and Illustration
- Chris talked about his path to graphic design and creative direction, despite no formal training.
- He emphasized Patagonia's commitment towards pushing the industry to cleaner manufacturing and how they donate 100% of their Black Friday sales to environmental groups.
- Throughout his career he has been able to see the awe and horror of manufacturing, and the feeling of seeing something you created produced on a mass scale.
- I loved seeing how this corporation uses their power to take bold stands for the protection of the environment. After Chris' talk I discovered Patagonia has a series of videos, like the one above, focused on protecting different environment spaces.
Globally Influential Lettering Artist
Like I mentioned, I had the chance to attend a demo from Gemma the day before CLS. Seeing her sketches in person was very inspiring, and it was amazing to be able to hear her talk about her story in a small group setting, as well as at the actual event. Her murals are intricate, and she is one my favorite people to follow on Instagram. A few takeaways from her talk:
- When talking about lettering and typography: When you lose something it becomes more valuable.
- She loves the human element of creating letterforms.
- After dropping out of law school, she discovered her love for typography after hand-setting type.
- Trends (like chalk lettering) began to influence her career, which made it feel like her work was driven by external forces. This led her to create work that she really enjoyed that was not trend-focused.
- Her work marries lettering and illustration, and allows her to get away from working on the computer all the time. (Though she loves drawing on her iPad as well.)