This past Friday, I had the amazing opportunity of attending the Design Thinkers conference at the Sony Center in Toronto. Design Thinkers is Canada’s largest conference for visual communicators and is a must attend event for creative thinkers. Speakers dive into the various trends in the design industry including user experience, branding, advertising, social media and entrepreneurship.
Friday was a long day. I left Kingston at 3:00 in the morning on Friday after being awake since 7:00 pm the night before, only to arrive in Toronto around 6:30 am Friday, for the all day conference. Also making the trip back to Kingston in the same day to make it for work the next morning. Nevertheless, I was as excited as ever and couldn’t wait to get motivated and listen in on as many speakers as I could. I only regret not leaving a day earlier to catch the first day of the conference, and to not be awake for nearly 25 hours straight.
A couple designers from Day 1 of the conference that I wish I got the chance to see were Paula Scher, from Pentagram, and Aaron Draplin. Though, the big name I wanted to see the most was Jessica Walsh, from Sagmeister & Walsh, a NYC based firm. She was the very last speaker on the second day and I was very glad I caught her presentation before my bus back to Kingston.
Other names I got the chance to see were Richard Turley, Steve Vranakis, Philippe Apeloig, Andy Epstein, Charles Adler, Willy Wong, Javier Mariscal, and Erik Spiekermann. They were all fantastic speakers (they had to of been since I managed to stay awake the whole day!). A couple more serious than others but overall a hilarious, inspiring and motivating experience.
Philippe Apeloig had a really cool presentation about his process when incorporating typography into his designs. He shared his process, from (nearly) start to finish of how he created the design for An American in Paris, which was super neat to see.
Charles Adler (co-founder of Kickstarter), Andy Epstein and Willy Wong together discussed ‘How to Create In-House Envy’ or to put it simply, what it’s like to work in-house and how to position yourself around the rest of the team.
Javier Mariscal was also one of my favourites. He presented a speech about colours and the sort of purpose they serve, and he did this in a very interesting, unusual, funny, but totally inspiring way. Javier used visual poetry to tell the story of the world through the colours of the rainbow. Many times, you could see Javier getting up on a ladder to add his own pieces to his video, he would be making sound effects to go along with his story as well.
Erik Spierkmann was hilarious. He titled his speech ‘Keeping the A**hole Factor Down’ and he spoke about recruiting great talent, keeping clients happy, and making profits. He says, “How to find good people: Don’t work for arseholes, don’t work with arseholes.”
Last but not least, Jessica Walsh and her presentation on Creative Play. She explains how designers who play outside of work, ultimately become more productive inside of work. Jessica continued to speak about herself, and the type of work she and Stefan Sagmeister have put out in the past. One piece of advice that she left was that, if you want to get noticed, get naked. And I’m not quite sure if I’m ready to do that…maybe one day. One of my favourite pieces from Sagmeister & Walsh is their ‘Quotes on Shit’ series (yes, that is what it’s called), which is exactly what it says it is. Quotes. On. Shit.
Overall, Design Thinkers was such an amazing experience and I look forward to attending more of these conferences in the future. Definitely something all creatives must attend at some point in their careers. It provides many, many inspiring speeches and tons of opportunities to connect and meet with businesses.