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Why Designers Should Attend Conferences

I believe that every designer should attend at least one or two conferences per year. Iíve had the amazing opportunity to attend HOWís annual design conference two years in a row. Four days of non-stop education, trends, and networking can make a huge impact on oneís life. 

It is a well-known fact that a good majority of amazing designers are workaholics. They live, breath, and eat design. They strive for perfection and want their clients to be happy with what they produce. This workaholic syndrome can sometimes lead to burnout.  Burnout, in turn, makes one think, ìWhy on Godís green earth, did I want to become a designer??î

This is why conferences are so incredibly important!  They get you out of your current rut and youíll see why youíve become a designer in the first place!! Good conferences educate you on new trends. Great conferences motivate you to learn more, to reinvent yourself, to create award-winning designs, and to be the best you can be. 

As you know, there are zillions of conferences designed specifically for web and print designers. How do you know which to attend? I personally feel great conferences should have three key factors. First, they should not only educate participants on the latest design trends, they should also focus on all aspects of the field, including but not limited to expanding your creativity, learning how to run your own business, engaging in different aspects of the field, discovering the newest technology and software and the developing the most efficient methods in production. Workshops should be set up to engage participants. Hands-on activity is extremely important to visual learners. 

Second, great conferences should have motivational speakers in addition to award winning art directors, illustrators, web designers, and creative directors. Award winning designers inspire you to want to be like them. Motivational speakers, who may or may not be in the creative field, influence you in different ways. They make you see beyond the technical aspects of design and show you how you can make a difference in others lives.

Last but not least, the best conferences should have a good amount of time for a question and answer sessions. Iíve attended many conferences where speakers run out of time for Q&A sessions. Theyíve talked too much about how amazing they themselves are and failed to turn it over to the audience. Great conferences have Q&A discussions built into sessions. I agree with Patrick Burgoyne, who said, ìStill, the most rewarding conferences are those that succeed in promoting interaction and debate.î

And of course, one of the best aspects of attending conferences is to network with other designers!! You may even meet your new best friend! Networking helps your connect with others who may be skilled in something you arenít familiar with. You learn new aspects of design just by talking to fellow designers in between sessions or over coffee breaks.

So!  In conclusion, all designers must take a break, step away from their computers, and enjoy a few days to learn, network, and be inspired to think outside of the box.  Like Mileís Burke said, ìYouíll learn more from attending one conference than all the books and blog posts you can read in one monthî. Youíll come back to work refreshed, motivated and inspired to utilize your talents to your utmost abilities and to share what youíve learned with everyone else!

Mar 27, 2009
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