Four Lessons on Wonder and Inspiration from Creative South

This spring our designers headed down to Columbus, Georgia for Creative South, a creative conference known for good ole southern friendliness and keynote speakers who are at the top of their industries. Following the theme “The Year of Wonder,” we kicked off the conference with a carnival, which made us “wonder” if we would survive on a few of the rides. With such a unique start to our creative conference, we also wondered what was in store for us. What would inspire our work and ourselves?

Unsurprisingly, we were inspired at every turn. But I felt challenged to wonder by the four following things.

1. Huggin’ Necks and Breakin’ Bread
As said by the founder of Creative South, Mike Jones, this can phrase can have a few different meanings. But to me, it meant bonding with my three other team members. We laughed, we cried, we told stories, and we broke bread with wine. And during all of the fun, I remembered that we have a pretty amazing team of designers at Brown Bag who constantly challenge and inspire me. Plus, getting time together to bond and be inspired is especially awesome.

2. Fatty Fades Are In
One of my favorite talks was by the logo genius, Bill Gardner. He is the founder of LogoLounge, a website that comes out with a logo trend report each year that documents what will be on trend this year and where design is heading. A few trends we saw this year are fatty gradient fades, punctuation, gold, and the resurrection of the serifs. But most importantly, Gardner reminded us of one thing—don’t just copy what is on trend. Create a new way and BE the trendsetter. Knowing what was done years ago is crucial (because it will probably come back), but it is our jobs as designers to create something new from the old.

3. F the Hustle
My favorite quote of the conference was said by illustrator Liz Mac: “F the Hustle”. Liz started her talk by explaining her journey. She always wanted to be an illustrator but was told she wasn’t good enough in a portfolio review for college. So she stopped drawing and went on a crazy journey of being a pastry chef, circus performer, model and more. But all those jobs lead her back to her true calling—illustration. Now as an illustrator, she’s learned that doing what you love is amazing and fulfilling. But you also need to make time to take care of yourself. We all know how easy it is to get lost in our work, forgetting to eat, sleep and just be happy. And F that! We all have to remember not to get too distracted by our art. There is a work/life balance, and it is crucial.

4. Disadvantages are Advantages
Father/daughter team Lenny & Bella Terenzi delivered one of the most impactful talks of the conference. Bella, a soon-to-be high school graduate, has a passion for photography. She has expectations from her job but the reality will unfold once she gets into practical life. She found her calling and always has the perfect angle in every shot. How? Ever since birth, Bella has had severe scoliosis, tackling each day from her wheelchair. And it’s this perspective, unique to only Bella, that provides the beauty in each of her shots. This talk especially touched and inspired me because my sister has also been in a wheelchair all her life. Both Bella and my sister take their handicaps and turn them into advantages. Bella reminded me that you don’t always have to compare your life to everyone else. We all have our own stories. And you can always turn a disadvantage into an advantage.

Our creative team is continually inspired by the stories, like these, in our industry. What stories inspire you? Share them with us or tell us your story!