Original Interview: June 2016

TDC ’16

It’s been amazing to see this creative conference develop over the last few years (from Analogue/Digital to The Design Conference) – Anna Elizabeth gives us a run down on what happened this year in Brisbane.

This was my first time going to a design conference so I was excited and eager and super nervous at the same time. If you were anyone or wanted to be anyone you needed to be there! I was unfamiliar with all of the keynote speakers for this year which made it all the more exciting as I had no idea what I was in for. Matt Haynes, the design legend, came on stage and pushed through his hate for public speaking to begin the first session of two speakers.

Jessica Hische vastly became and remained my favourite speaker throughout the two days. She was so down to earth and I felt she really knew what was going on in my mind. She talked about how it is important to ‘love the day to day, not just the end result’, which seemed to be a crowd favourite. She spoke about her process and how it’s important for her to show it. She touched on the difference between ego and confidence and how she often takes criticism too personally but she’s aware of it and working on that. Absolute legend of a chick.

The Design Conference - The Design Kids
Jessica Hische

Branden Harvey then took the stage and from the get go he was all about the pivot. He began with ‘the more I change what I do, the more I like what I do’ which I thought was killer because who doesn’t want to love what they do! That’s the dream right there.

He told us the 3 tools to pivoting.
1. Copy lots of people to be able to find your own thing
2. Make a love/hate list and say no to what you hate forever.
3. Choose your own legacy (Legend!)

After the hussle and bussle of lunch and lunch time beers, the power trio were up. 3 fantastic and amazing girls all with completely different experiences and stories to tell.

Emily Woollett, creative director, started it off for the ladies and used her top ten pieces of advice for her entire speech. After number one was ‘Dare to Begin’, I knew I would love the next 45 minutes. She touched on the importance of making friends with fear, phoning home and focusing on your strengths. She spoke of understanding your process, which meant travelling often (woo!) and how important it is to ‘Make the work you love even if it’s on the side.’ Finally she left us with ‘Enjoy the Adventure’ and I don’t know about anyone else but I was ready to go climb a mountain.

The Design Conference - The Design Kids
Paper Stone Scissors – Emily Woollett

Kitiya Palaskas was next and she was definitely a crowd favourite! Other than being an absolute hilarious and awesome chick, she was a super talented craft maker. I mean she used to be in a rap trio called Silk! Badass. She touched on how you need to listen to your heart and also how mistakes are great. One thing that really hit home for me was when she was talking about ‘Knowing your worth’. Personally this is one I struggle with every day so for someone else to get up on stage and talk about it herself was pretty damn inspiring. She also spoke about ‘Getting outside your comfort zone’ and how you should ‘Make friends not contacts’.

The Design Conference - The Design Kids
Kitiya Palaskas

Lisa King was fascinating. Her artworks were so expressive and it was so motivating to see her process from where it all began to being an amazing artists painting murals (my deadset dream). She lives by the mojo of ‘Art is life’ and explained that even though it’s cliché as hell, it’s the only way she chooses to live. At the end she left us with ‘Just do you’ and may has well dropped the mic on her way out. The ladies were intense but then it was time for more beer.

The Design Conference - The Design Kids
Lisa King

After the break the legend and all round cool guy, Timba Smits, came onto stage. He spoke about his struggles with his first magazine and how his personal issues that stopped him from getting it truly off the ground. After 1.5 years of chillin in London, which sounds pretty fab, he finally got his groove back and started creating awesome illustrations. He was super inspiring and was open about his life struggles but it was good to see that people go through hard times but they are able to get themselves out of it and slay.

The Design Conference - The Design Kids
Timba Smits

The last speaker for the night was Jonathan Calugi who I was super skeptical about at first when I saw his opening slides. But boy was I wrong. He was hilarious, making all the jokes and he wasn’t even trying. He was continuously leaving the crowd in stitches talking about how much of an alcoholic he is and how much he loves his cat. But his work was amazing! He talked about how his process started from one dot and two lines. Now he makes patterns for Nike! What. Legend.

The Design Conference - The Design KidsJonathan Calugi

The after party was another chance to get up and personal with not only other local designers but also the speakers themselves in a more comfortable environment. The next day, after everyone smashed down some red bulls, the second session began. The first to start the day was ‘For the People‘ who decided to give their speech in a slightly different way. It was basically performance review by Jo targeted at Andy. She wanted to put it in a compliment sandwhich so she started off with the good, threw some not so good and ended on the great. She spoke about how she was ‘looking for something big to attach herself to’. She explained that how at their agency there is no actual design roles. She is just a designer. That works well to keep them all even but not so well when big decisions needed to be made. It was inspiring to hear her work is what gets her up in the morning, which is something I think every designers strives to achieve. Andy got up and explained a little more as to who he is and what their company is about. He also seems to love ‘weird shit’ a fair bit as some strange slides kept appearing.

Erin Smith was next, the girl from Ipswich. She started off her killer speech with ‘keep on keeping on’ and I lost it. Probably my favourite quote from the whole conference. Her process was really interesting and she had the audience in stitches with various jokes along the way. One of the main things I took from her was ‘Don’t set goals that excite you, set goals that scare you’ and that I will.

After lunch Paul Garbett, graphic designer, came on stage and his work surprised me. Not only was it more of a structured design style, it somehow also possessed many artistic elements. It was abstract but you can also portray deeper meanings. He left us with ‘It starts with an idea’.

The Design Conference - The Design KidsPaul Garbett

Nicole Philips was up next and I was fan girling hard. Her entire speech was like she was talking straight into my soul. She spoke about her health issues and how hard it was for her to get up on stage which is so inspiring. I think a lot of the time I certainly look at specific designers and artists and just think they are royalty. But they’re all human and struggle through the same things that every other designer and artist has. I didn’t take too many notes as I was just sitting on my edge of the chair the whole time she was speaking but she touched on the importance of having a work life balance. She spoke about taking risks and breaking rules helped her get out of her creative slumps. One thing I agree with whole heartedly is that there is ‘beauty to be found in the imperfections’. After her speech I worked up the courage to speak to her (after only chatting to her through previously through Instagram) and that was my fan girl moment.

Although I missed this final two sessions, word on the street is, Sons & Co. killed the show and left with the Peoples Choice Award! Matt Haynes informs me that Todd Francis was also super funny and closed the event on some comedic relief which kept the audience in stitches giving everyone something to talk about on the way to the after party. Overall the entire two days was filled with great chats, cold beers and life long inspiration that makes me believe that I honestly can do anything!

Quotes from the day:
“Love the day to day, not just the end result.” Jessica Hische
“My process brings all the boys to the yard.” Jessica Hische
“Say yes but…”Branden Harvey
“Work it out by doing!”Emily Woollett
“Know your worth.”Kitiya Palaskas
“Just do you!” Lisa King
“Use technology as a creative tool” – Jo, For the People
“Keep on keeping on, even through the rejection.” Erin Smith
“Be curious, everyone you meet is worth learning from”Erin Smith
“Core Philosophy, make it better.” Paul Garbett
“Creatives are their own worst critic.”Nicole Philips
“Stay curious.”Nicole Philips
“Build a habit of creative play.”Nicole Philips

Website: thedesignconference.com.au