Walking through the gates of Manhattan’s Hammerstein Ballroom is enough to get the inspiration flowing. Guns N’ Roses played here. Iron Maiden played here. And if that doesn’t impress you, David Bowie chose the Hammerstein for his last ever public performance. Now, also on the list is Dribbble’s Hang Time NYC.
Dribbble describes Hang Time as a “one-day inspiration fest,” and they’re not exaggerating. Sporting a lineup of prominent contemporary designers like Matt D. Smith (mds), the Hood sisters, Joshua Davis, and the legendary David Carson, Hang Time NYC more than lived up to the hype. A key feature of the conference was that it allowed attendees to design their own experience. With events and talks simultaneously taking place in four different spaces within the Hammerstein, attendees were encouraged to move in and out of the rooms throughout the conference to catch the talks that they most wanted to hear.
The talks themselves were varied from fireside chats to more technical presentations about software, to live art-making which really accounted for the breadth of interests graphic designers share. As I walked through and sat in on different talks, I saw themes emerge in the experience that I was designing for myself in the conference. One of these topics for me was that of health and wellbeing. Among these, Danielle Evans’ talk titled The Bleue Period truly stood out. Evans spoke candidly about growing as a designer, even in the face of tragedies such as her divorce, loss of her grandparents and even through a near brush with death at the hands of a flash flood during a hiking trip.
Another fantastic talk was Dan Mall’s How To Be Good At Work. Pulling from the modern psychology of boundaries, Dan Mall spoke of the importance of psychological safety and the cultivation of good boundaries that are the cornerstones of a sustainable and productive work environment and team. According to Mall, empathy is an extremely important skill we need to cultivate as designers and the best path to successful collaboration is to ask: What can I do for you today?
In Doodle Therapy, illustrators Ryan Putnam and Alice Lee, while live doodling, spoke courageously not only about their struggles with mental health and creative blocks, but also about Putnam’s diagnosis of MS (Multiple Sclerosis). As a designer living with chronic illness, it was especially rewarding for me to hear this subject also represented on the stage of Hang Time NYC.
Hang Time NYC’s motto this year was ‘Bring Good Vibes,’ and nothing brings better vibes than creatives getting together to bravely and openly discuss issues like health and wellbeing to offer each other support through our work and our stories, creating a culture of empathy towards ourselves and our creative community. Many, many thanks to The Design Kids for my free ticket and for the opportunity to come away as a more thoughtful, empathetic designer.