The Hashrocket design team recently returned from Creative South, a creative conference in Columbus, GA. We'd heard a lot of good things about this conference in the past and had wanted to check it out, so this year we finally made the five–hour road trip (past lots of trees, farms, and tiny towns we'd never heard of — Ty Ty, anyone?).
Kicking Things Off
The party started on a pedestrian bridge overlooking the Chattahoochee River, with food, drinks, music, and an array of 8–foot–tall canvases for artists who would later compete in Ink Wars. This hourlong competition pitted six artists against each other, armed only with permanent markers, to illustrate a certain theme (this year it was "moonshine"). The final artwork ranged from cute to scary, incorporating typography, cats, divers, and werewolves, to be voted on by the audience at large later during that weekend (and eventually won by defending champ Dan Christofferson). The night ended with a massive display of fireworks over the rapids of the Chattahoochee.
With a variety of talks ranging from business to process to work–life balance, a live Typefight event (where designers went head–to–head to design a single letter in an hour), and afterparties galore, what impressed me most about Creative South was that the conference motto, "come as friends, leave as family," really rang true. Night after night we met a number of other creatives who walked right up and introduced themselves. The atmosphere was open and welcoming — you may not have known anyone when you got there, but darn if you didn't by the time you left. We bumped into fellow designers from Jacksonville and Orlando, as well as creatives from Colorado, Oregon, Wisconsin, Texas, California, New York, Georgia, and North Carolina. It was truly a gathering of community, regardless of whether or not we'd met each other before.
As a team, we drew inspiration from the wide variety of disciplines represented at Creative South. Our primary focus at Hashrocket is UI design, so it was refreshing to rediscover print, lettering, and illustration, which motivated us to try new things in our line of work. The work from Typefight, Ink Wars, products by vendors, and even on talk slides was impressive (and, I'll admit, made me kind of jealous). But the conference wasn't about competition. Multiple speakers drove home the point that your worth isn't found in your work — it's not about what you do, but who you are, because you're a person first and job title second. Speaker Octavius Newman of B3ar Fruit Design posed the question: what do you believe, and how do your beliefs fuel who you are and what you do?
Whether you're a designer, illustrator, lettering artist, developer, photographer, or fill–in–the–blank–here, it's practically impossible not to find inspiration and encouragement at Creative South. Thanks to the Creative South team for assembling such a great group of people and organizing a conference that is truly inspiring.