This past week I took a trip to Toronto to attend Design Thinkers, an annual design conference that features speakers from all over the world. "It is Canada's largest conference for visual communicators...now in its 15th year" (designthinkers.com). This is my 7th year attending, making me a Design Thinkers Master. The presentations vary from portfolio presentations to inspirational themes. The speakers cover everything from trends, inspiration, and strategy to new technologies and upcoming projects. Some notable speakers this year include; Paula Scher - Partner at Pentagram, Charles Adler - Cofounder of Kickstarter, Erik Spiekermann - Creative Director for Edenspiekermann and Jessica Walsh - Partner at Sagmeister & Walsh.
I always look forward to this event, because it's always a nice break to step out of your normal routine and get away from the grind. Some time to focus solely on being creative is a great way to recharge your batteries. The conference is a great opportunity to reconnect with old friends, make new ones, and hob nob with some of the biggest names in deisgn. For instance this year I met a designer from Brazil who had traveled 15 hours by plane, one way, to attend the event. It's also a great way to see and experience what's trending now in the creative world. Often we get so wrapped up in our day-to-day projects that we don't see what is out there. I think the concurrent sessions are great for this, espcially if there is something you are particularly interested in. For example, I don't do a lot with infographics, and generally don't know much on the subject, so I took advantage of Wesley Grubbs' (Founder, Pitch Interactive) presentation about statistics and data visualizations. What he does with statistics is thinking out of the box, creating beautiful works of art that also double as informative. "Visual metaphor - getting away from the pie chart"
It's also great to visit the different booths, print shops, stock image sites and the like. It's a great place to network and make connections. I'm not going to lie, it's also a great opportunity to pick up some free swag; like paper samples, design magazines, and other fun things. Swipe is also on site, with a good selection of books. If you're an RGD member, student, or otherwise, you get a 10% discount which is a total bonus. They carry a good variety of books, including some authored by the speakers, giving you the opportunity to get those books signed. I lucked out this year, when I purchased the last copy of How to think like a great Graphic Designer by Debbie Millman (President, Design Division, Sterling Brands). It just happened to be signed.
Leaving the conference, I always feel so inspired and enthusiastic to put what I've learned into practice. It's a great feeling to get back to work and tackle projects with refreshed eyes. I definitely recommend attending atleast 1 conference in your career, as a student designer or as someone that has been in the business for a while. It's a great opportunity to stay on top of the changing industry.
It's always fun to visit Toronto as well. I always try to take advantage of the trip and visit exhibits that are going on or visit museums while I am there. For instance, this year I was able to attend the Stanley Kubrick Exhibit at the TIFF Light Box, which was amazing. It consists of storyboard drawings, handwritten script notes, film costumes and props. I found the portion on The Shining very interesting. It's one of my favorite Kubrick films, so to see props and scripts from the film was a very cool moment for me. I really loved the correspondence between Saul Bass and Kubrick. Saul Bass designed the poster image for the film and it was really interesting to see the back-and-forth between them. There were a few different compositions that Saul Bass had put forward, but Kubrick did not like them at all. It's very interesting to see the evolution of the poster art.
Overall, this trip has been fantastic, and I am a little sorry that it is over. Till next year...