Redesign Your Career at HOW Design Live Conference

HOW Design Conference LogoDESIGNERS.  Some of the session descriptions for the 2011 HOW Design Conference in Chicago reinforce my belief that creative professionals in all fields are experiencing similar concerns. We want to support ourselves doing more of the work we love. We want to know how emerging media technologies will change our work. We want to keep learning new skills so we can be more productive and efficient. And we want our thought processes, talents, and contributions to commerce and culture to be recognized and valued. 

Below are some of the session descriptions that caught my eye:


Developing Addictive Experiences for the iPad and Other Interactive Tablets
The iPad and other interactive tablets have created new opportunities for designers to develop compelling and personal interactive experiences. But designing for the new medium requires you to mix both your print and interactive design skills. David Link, a co-founder and creative director of The Wonderfactory, will use some of the firm’s newest iPad projects to illustrate the creative process from concept to finished product.

Creating the Martha Stewart Living iPad Digital Magazine App for the iPad
We’re entering a whole new media era—and this is your chance to see how one magazine is taking full advantage. Gael Towey will show how the creative directors and editors at Martha Stewart Living are using the newest tools and technologies to create deeper experiences for their readers. She’ll outline stories that were shot intentionally to take advantage of the new interactive features from Adobe, and show you how the team transitioned from still pages to cinematic imagery, design, and storytelling. See how your own opportunities will be expanded as a result of new features and current technologies.

The Creative Team of the Future
As quickly as technology evolves, so too do the responsibilities of creative professionals. Now more than ever, you’re being asked to develop multi-faceted, fully integrated campaigns that require close collaboration both within and outside your department. Donna Farrugla of The Creative Group look at these and other challenges designers face in the workplace right now—and what challenges will face the changing creative team of the future. You’ll learn specific actions you can take to improve your marketability and prepare for future career success.

Business DevelopmentThe Creative Side of Growing a Design Business
If you think creativity only comes into play when you’re actually designing, think again. Marketing expert Peleg Top will show you how to use your creative energy—as well as your creative process—to grow your own design business, attract the clients you want, and make the kind of money your work deserves.

Turning Your Creative Obsessions into Opportunities
Whether it’s collecting, drawing, imagining or writing, we all have creative obsessions that we tend to neglect for fear that they’re a waste of time—or because they’re not billable. But some designers have been able to turn their obsessions into profitable, well-known projects through books, websites, or even just an expanded client base. Armin Vit, of UnderConsideration, will show you different ways to channel your own creative pursuits and provide tips for making sure they get noticed.

Lead Generation 101: How to Make Your Website into a Business-Generating Machine.
Would you like to have more work from better clients who pay you reasonable fees to do work you’re exceptionally proud of? Who wouldn’t? Unfortunately, a lot of designers don’t get the volume and quality of work they want because they’re missing the boat on self-promotion. In this session, Mark O’Brien, will take you through the steps you need to turn your website into a resource that will attract the right clients, get them excited about your work, and compel them to get in touch with you.

Make and Sell Your Own Products
Since you already have the skills and aptitude for product design, why not start your own line? Using examples from her own and other designers’ experiences, Heather Lins will offer tips on developing your own product line from start to finish. You’ll look at self-producing vs. outsourcing, pick up tips on pricing and even get a crash course in DIY public relations.

Career Development

How the New Kids on the Block Do It
Designer Mig Reyes will expose the habits of successful young creatives, showing how to use their example to find your own success. He will suggest that you:

  • Keep making stuff: The more you create, the more you’ll discover what works and what doesn’t.
  • Pursue self-initiated projects: Your heart is in the projects that you want to do, and your work is always better when your heart is in it.
  • Ship and publish, publish and ship: Whether it’s drawing a monster every day, or writing a thoughtful blog post once a week, the creative who consistently puts work out there ends up winning.

Influence in Business through Design Thinking
Learn how to elevate your work beyond the bounds of what’s cool, and establish yourself as a strategic thought partner. Method’s Matthew Lloyd will show you how to use the tools you already possess to tell compelling business stories and become a true business partner.

Critiques: Power Tool or Power Trip?
Nurturing talent is fundamental to growth. But the human tendency is to focus on what’s wrong or missing in a design—leading to adversarial critiques that crush the creative spirit and leave the designer with little direction. The critique approach developed by Jaime Pescia and Tip Quilter incites curiosity and encourages a fun, collaborative atmosphere. They’ll share tips on blending compassion with confrontation and balancing technical consideration with human dynamics. See how to remove ego from the process (yours and the designer’s) in service of the project’s goals and objectives.

About the Conference

The HOW Design Conference, June 24-27,  is one of four conferences that will be held during the HOW Design Live event that will run from June 22-27 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago. HOW Design Live is sponsored by HOW magazine, the creative and business resource for graphic designers. The other three conferences are the:

  • InHOWse Managers Conference (June 24-27) for in-house team managers;
  • Creative Freelancers Conference (June 23-24) for solopreneurs, including writers, photographers, illustrators, and other creative professionals.
  • Dieline Package Design Conference (June 22-24) for package designers.

 For full details about all of the educational sessions and networking events at HOW Design Live, visit


HOW Design Live

HOW Magazine

Creative Careers Are Converging

By Eileen Fritsch

The reason this blog covers four creative professions is because it’s no longer enough to simply be a writer, photographer, designer or artist. Creative pros today must have at least some proficiency in some overlapping disciplines. It’s important that we understand what resources exist for updating and expanding some of these complementary skills.

Let me explain how I saw this convergence of creative professions come about.

When I started editing digital-printing trade magazines in the mid-1990s, our publishing company routinely hired freelance photographers, illustrators, writers, and graphic designers. Working on these collaborative teams of creative professionals was stimulating and exciting. The ideas and energy flowed.

Still, we each had a distinct role to play in the tightly scripted workflow that dictated our deadlines. Our workloads were fairly consistent and predictable from one issue to the next.

Changes started to occur in the early 2000s when the advertisers in our trade publications started redirecting some of their marketing funds toward website development and online media. As our magazine production budgets tightened up, everyone on the staff was asked to do more with less support from outsiders. So we started using more stock photography and free articles from consultants and PR agencies. Thus, the freelance writers and photographers we previously hired had to look elsewhere for assignments.

Some freelancers coped by diversifying their range of services and developing new skills.  For example, one of my most talented freelance writers taught himself HTML, Flash, Dreamweaver, and other software programs and started offering website development services.

Over the past 15 years, most creative professionals have faced similar challenges and recognized the need to cultivate a wider range of production and self-promotion skills.

Some of the most in-demand creative pros I have met have learned how to blog and write news releases, shoot and edit photographs, create slideshows and videos, present seminars, and design books, posters, and other materials. They are constantly learning, networking, and refining their services to adapt to the changing demands of the marketplace.

What I admire most about these successful pros is that they never lose sight of what really matters. Despite all the time and effort required to continually network and market themselves, the most in-demand creative pros steadfastly refuse to allow the quality of their art to slip. As much as they enjoy learning new skills, ultimately, they understand that their art is a core part of who they are, and is what will distinguish them in the marketplace.