2018 Hallmark CLS Notes

On May 10th I attended my third Hallmark Creative Leadership Symposium. I look forward to this event all year, and somehow it seems to keep getting better and better each year! I'm excited to share a few notes I took from the amazing lineup of speakers, it really was an emotional and inspiring day. Thank you, Hallmark!

Letters Are Lovely | 2018 Hallmark CLS Notes


Actress and Author

  • Grew up in the Cayman Islands with parents who were hearing impaired.
  • She knew from a young age that how she expressed herself creatively was not accepted, until drama class. When she booked Empire it helped to present the possibilities for others. 
  • Her children's book, I Am Enough, answers the question "what is one thing you wish you could tell your eight year old self?" 
  • When we are presented with new opportunities to create we discredit ourselves. That doesn't serve us.
  • Love is the biggest weapon against bullying. 
  • There has never been a you before. 
  • The ultimate fulfillment of an artist is when others experience the power and majesty of your art. 
  • What you create matters because you matter. Here is where we make and we believe. 
Whenever we show up authentically with our thoughts and actions it perpetuates creativity. 
— Grace Byers


Letters Are Lovely | 2018 Hallmark CLS Notes

Sr. Director of Experience, Design

  • Warby Parker is leading the way as a socially conscious, consumer-focused company. 
  • Glasses are an extension of your identity. Why do they cost so much?
  • One company owns all the main eyeglass brands.
  • Set out to build a brand to sell directly to the consumer, not charge a premium, and do good in the world .
  • Warby Parker is 100% carbon neutral. (Amazing!)
  • Over a billion people who need eyeglasses don't have proper care to get them.
  • First: Transformative Lifestyle Brand, Second: Offering Value and Service, Third: With a Social Mission
  • Design helps to elevate the brand, and they share lots of information with consumers. 
  • There is a focus on creating a great customer experience. 
  • Website Design intended to reduce friction
  • Warby Parker thinks of its stores as branding opportunities and tailors the space to the place. 
  • They do all this so that they can sell more glasses and do more good. 
  • Vision impairment is the leading disability for children in the US.


Director, Disney Moana

  • Ron was first an animator, has worked at Disney for 44 years!
  • Moana was a life-changing experience. 
  • You can't do enough research.
  • When starting to research they knew they needed to work directly with the people from the islands.
  • Watch: Wade Davis "Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World"
  • There has been a loss of cultural identity in the Pacific Islands, this was a movement to recapture it.
  • "We've been swallowed by your culture, for once can you be swallowed by ours?"
  • Many of the languages are dying in the South Pacific, Disney made an effort to make versions of the film with these languages as a learning tool. 



  • Event Curation that Fuses Art with Technology
  • They like to merge different artists that wouldn't normally work together. 
  • Always trying to take it to the next step, once a show seems comfortable it is time to move on.
  • You can see part of their Hallmark CLS performance in the video above!



Writer, Host and Speaker

  • Throughout her life she has realized that to change the world would require so much more than me. 
  • We accept the idea of individual power above all power. This is not true, lots of people help along the way. 
  • Around the world no one person has the power to change the world without other people. 
  • In my American dream my mother's work would have been compensated the same way as mine. 
  • I have family at my side who needs me. Class transition will show you nobody does it on their own. 
  • Changing the world will not start or end with you. 
  • You can be angry. You can be sad. You cannot cut off your connections to other human beings. 
  • Freedom does not exist. In America we have the idea that freedom is not having to care about anybody else. The problem is that if you are not free then I am not free. Isolation is just another kind of cage. 
  • You can argue about who has it worse in this country, but you have to want to know and actually take the time to look at the statistics. 
  • Freedom for me means freedom for you too.
  • We don't need a savior, we need each other. Right now. 
  • Today I'm asking you to change the world with me. Let's try what works, together. 
I am a part of you and you are a part of me. We are all connected.
— Ashley Ford



Lettering Artist and Author

  • Jessica's talk was entitled "Finding Yourself, Over and Over Again"
  • You don't need any excuse to make things.
  • I really do believe in people, that people are good. 
  • Who Am I? Aries, ENFJ
  • When she lived in NYC she was working all the time and in the "graphic design for graphic designers" mindset and learned it sometimes isn't all that great to hide in your work. 
  • In NYC people asked "what are you working on," and in CA they started asking "how are you?"
  • She then had to figure herself out outside of being an artist. 
  • Lettering is a flooded industry and after kids she had to reevaluate what she wanted to work on. 
  • She finds fulfillment in making every day, and thinks it is important to ask yourself "what are my strengths?"
  • This led her to think about the ways that lettering will always be needed — logos!
  • Changing the world is a ripple out process, little acts ripple through people's lives. 
  • The idea that you can create something that is a part of people's lives is so huge. 
  • In terms of your portfolio website: you need to rework how you present yourself, sometimes it pays off to show a more curated version of your work. 
A little bit of knowledge is contagious.
— Jessica Hische


Screenwriter and Author

  • I've always wanted to reflect feeling different. 
  • As human beings we all fundamentally experience the same things. 
  • Taking a year off of film school allowed him to fully prepare for this school and career. 
  • Believes in a "glass half full kind of universe," and that you need to create from a place of not trying to achieve something.
  • Waves happen throughout history — need to think about where this wave is going to end. 
  • You have to try really hard to be ignorant in 2018 or to hide things from the public view. 
  • Stories are going to get a lot more interesting. 
  • If you get good at Plan B it becomes the plan. 
  • In film school he experienced common sacrifice from his classmates to help each other succeed. 
  • Making work that has meaning always has to be at the forefront. 
  • Had I tried to control it, it would have been a disaster. You need to lean into the situation at hand. 


Photographer and Philanthropist

  • Views his work as a "microphone in the form of a photograph."
  • Love conquers all.
  • Why don't we document our wisdom?
  • What voices have closed off your sense of wonder?
  • You can do anything you want to do.  
You have to speak your dreams into existence.
— Jeremy Cowart

Jessica Hische in KC!

I have long admired Jessica Hische's beautiful lettering, and the moment AIGA KC announced she would be speaking I immediately bought a ticket. Here are a few quick takeaways from her talk, I can't wait to read her new book In Progress, which I was lucky enough to get signed! Thanks, AIGA, for bringing such a wonderful speaker to KC. 

Jessica Hische in KC! | Letters Are Lovely
  • Jessica talked about how she was most motivated when she could picture someone using/enjoying the end result of the project. 
  • She has found that it's best to do the heavy lifting of a project through sketching (more work in analog=less work in vector).
  • Her process order includes researching, brainstorming, thumbnail sketches, real sketches, and vector drawing, and she has found that a consistent process matters a lot. 
  • She recommended visiting the Letterform Archive in SF
  • Something I found really relatable was when she talked about how it is necessary to start to vary the skeleton of your letterforms in order to create more unique lettering. I have seen in my own work that I have often changed the "dress" of the lettering, rather that starting with a different and unique skeleton. This is something I hope to continue to develop in my future lettering work. 
  • In her final remarks she listed some practical (life) tips, which included a remark about how designers are like indoor cats. Of course I couldn't resist including that in my notes. But seriously, I truly appreciated her humor and willingness to be open about how she works and also how she interacts with clients. Thanks again, Jessica and AIGA KC!

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