Well my brain’s about to explode and it’s only after day one!
Session 1: An InDesign Deep Dive presented by Adobe certified trainer and author Claudia McCue of practicalia.net.
Her session was as informative as it was hilarious. Even though there were a few technical snafus and she was pressed for time at the end, we all got a serious crash course in the ins and outs of most of the new cool features of InDesign CS3. It was especially reassuring to get all this instruction from a printing professional whose main concern with all the effects and gizmos is “oh yeah, but will it print?” So learning about the drop shadows, layer effects, feathers, transparency effects, text wrap controls, image multi-place techniques, placing InDesign files within InDesign files, and controlling Photoshop layers from within InDesign was mind-blowing enough, but finding out that they all RIP like champs… dats wikkid smaht!
It was a shame she had to rush through the last part dealing with creating interactive pdfs with embedded Quicktime movies, sounds and rollovers, but what she did show us whet our appetite and she was generous with her contact info and resources so we could read up on it when we leave here.
This was inspirational because the guy who lead this session was so disarmingly humble. He shared stories of how he completely blew it networking-wise at previous HOW conferences and then how he managed to force himself to break out and recover. It made me think about my own shyness and general distaste for networking events and that this was the best chance for me to shake that off. I mean, here I was with 3999 other people who love design; immediate point of commonality. Plus they’re all here to meet other designers… how much easier can it get? So far I’ve met great people from Vermont, Atlanta, New Orleans, Idaho, Michigan, D.C., Columbia and Egypt… imagine if I was actually trying to meet people. Anyway, the speaker’s main point was that the real key to networking is the post-conference maintenance. Like anything organic, relationships, even professional ones, need deliberate attention and work to grow. So the challenge for me is beyond taking the leap and initiating contact with people, but in making sure I keep in contact with them once the excitement’s faded.
The businesses ranged from smaller operations like Seltzer Design, Visual Dialog and topic 101, (the latter two run their firms out of the ground floor of their town house), to mid-sized firms like Silverscape to larger firms like Sametz Blackstone and the 700 person+ behemoth Arnold. It’s inspiring, somehow, to see where other designers work. For better or worse, you can’t help but compare them to your own workspace, but it’s kinda like visiting someone’s house; seeing the place they spend most of their days in gives you a peek into their lives and in a way builds that sense of community we were all here for.
Definitely a common theme throughout the day was “Stripping the subjectivity out of design.” Whether it’s by research, as Susan from topic101 succinctly and eloquently put it in her mini-session, or through systematizing your design/ creative process as pointed out by Rochelle Seltzer and illustrated by Jeremy Gutscheour, our way-too-young-looking-to-be-that-experienced keynote speaker, the emphasis seemed to be on justifying your business worth as a designer and by extension the work you do for your clients. That’s a constant struggle for us at Paragon so its great to get some validation.
Unlocking Cool was the title of the keynote speech which dealt with Jeremy’s process for using Trendhunting as a springboard for brainstorming and innovation. I was skeptical at first, but after we went through the exercise of creating a brand new idea for a themed resort I was convinced that:
1) Research is vital for innovation
2) There is some weird @#$% out there that people are paying lots of money for
3) I need to reset my assumptions about what’s cool and
4) I need to embrace failure more often
4) 30 is not old, 20 somethings are just weirder than they used to be
Anyway, after the pandemonium of the Resource center opening (see: free swag and booze), I ended the day by losing my camera, riding the subway back and forth twice looking for it only to find it in one of my 14 swag bags wrapped in 1 of the 18 T-shirts I had thrown at me… must’ve been the wine and the 200 flights of stairs I climbed during the studio tours. (note: there can be no fat people in Boston with all the walking they do here… no fat designers at least). Then for some authentic-ish Chinese food at 11pm in the 3rd largest Chinatown in the country. Never a dull moment.