Last week, I had the privilege of flying down to Texas and attending Circles Conference in Grapevine. I knew it would be a worthwhile conference, but I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. To be honest, the content and speakers absolutely blew me away!
Circles was all about creativity, from social media to graphic design, communications and beyond. The caliber of speakers was absolutely phenomenal. Hearing them talk about everything from how to say no to projects that will burn you out, giving everyone a voice to make us stronger together, and using the gifts we've been given as creatives was such an inspiration. It's impossible to write down every one of my notes from this conference - I'm still sorting through them all - but here are some of the highlights.
The Heads of State are an incredible graphic design team that have done campaigns for everyone from Nike to Starbucks, Subaru, and more. They showed their process of design, giving formulas for their inspiration for a dozen different clients. It was incredible to see their thought process, and made me think a little deeper about how I creatively get from point A to point B. I only wish we could have seen more examples!
Jay Argaet may have been my favorite! As the Art & Communication Director at Hillsong Church, he has a huge job that he doesn't take lightly. He spoke of believing in the impossible until you KNOW it can't be done - at one point, his team saw 27 billboards in Times Square lit up with the words "No Other Name: Jesus" for their album cover, on an extremely limited budget. My favorite quote: "If everyone's aiming at the sun, let's go to the moon."
Lee Steffen spoke about rest and finding true joy in creativity. He talked about using the gifts you've been given to fill a void that people already have, and not trying to force yourself to be good at things that don't come naturally to you.
Josh Brewer gave some of the most practical advice of the whole conference. As the former principal designer at Twitter during its years of insane growth, he detailed how to build and lead a team, something which I constantly feel like I need direction on. I also got to speak to him for a few minutes afterwards about my specific team, and he offered some great insight.
Josh Higgins absolutely rocked it with his presentation. Not only is he a designer at Facebook, he was a lead designer for Obama's 2012 campaign. That had to be one of the most fascinating things to see. I remember thinking as I listened to the talk, 'No wonder they won.' Seeing his creativity was an inspiration and a challenge to just BE better.
Some more highlights, since I can't possibly recap all the speakers:
I got to talk to Doug Bowman in person. And ask him advice. So, so helpful.
The Circles venue was amazing, and so was their team, swag, and everything about the conference. Really top notch.
Splatter Day, an optional time of paintball after the conference ended, was fantastic. I have the bruises and welts to prove I had a great time.
The FOOD. Steel City Pops changed my life. Hard Eight BBQ blew me away. That was some GOOD meat!
Overall, I left feeling inspired to be authentic to myself and my own creativity. I left with real tools to figure out how to do this in my own life. And I left knowing it's ok to rest and take a break - in fact, it's absolutely necessary to keep my creativity going. I'm still processing everything I took away from the conference, but I am absolutely planning on going back next year. If you're a creative of any type, from graphic design to communications to photography, I PROMISE that Circles Conference 2015 will absolutely encourage and inspire you in exactly the ways you need it!