Category Archives: Technology

Reflections of the 2013 AIGA Design Conference

I have never been to a design-only conference. Before this AIGA 2013 Design Conference I’ve always had a good excuse. Not enough time. Not enough money. It’s too far. After attending the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) in Minneapolis, hand on heart, I will never make those excuses again.

More than 1,800 professionals and students came from all across the country to the Minneapolis Convention Center, one of the largest in their 100-year history. Being surrounded by a lot of talented people reminds me why being a designer is the best job on the planet.

Designers were here

How can you tell you’re in a room with designers? Many empty coffee cups. And this was at 4pm.

Before I arrived, I set out some goals for myself before attending more than 16 sessions and listening to 50 different speakers. First and foremost, to recharge.

Being a designer requires a lot of self-care and nurturing. Reading blogs, thumbing through industry and design magazines and even walking to work provide a tremendous amount of stimulation. But nothing compares to being in a room with 1,800 designers. I tell you, it’s a great way to focus.

Parts of this year’s sessions were specifically designed for educators. And although I am not a teacher, my second goal was to boost my abilities as a mentor, one of the most components of being an Associate Creative Director. I wanted to be a better mentor not only to fellow designers but also my peers.

Finally, a design conference isn’t complete without some speeches from true legends. Their words of wisdom and their presentation style have always helped me be a well-rounded designer and leader. And I was blown away: Eric Baker, George Lois, Kurt Andersen, Danny Yount and Aaron Draplin to name but a few. These legends are key individuals from diverse worlds: corporate, design, motion graphics, and sustainability.

In honor of the conference theme I have nugget from each of the 50 speakers I heard from and placed them into the three words representing this year’s theme.

Excited beyond belief

HAND

Suzanne Powney of Mississippi State University and Roselynn Newton of Texas State University have incorporated letterpresses in their coursework. Because so many people are visual learners, the interactivity helps the content sink in. This really got me thinking about the role of computers in our work. I am an avid sketcher and for it I feel more connected to my product. As we move more toward digital, I am reminded not to forget my roots. (It also reminds me to start saving money for a letterpress.)

My very first letterpress

I made this myself! (Just added that magenta 0, really.)

HEAD

Jennifer Kinon and Bobby Martin Jr of Original Champions of Design (OCD) based in New York also reinforced something we do every day at the CBD: “Strategy and design are inseparable.” At OCD, there are no dedicated account managers, strategists or production managers. They do it all are from start to finish. I find that it’s a wonderful way to stay engaged. Using the two halves of the brain give you effective communications that really do make a difference.

OCD

HEART

Eve Claxton of StoryCorps presented “Stories and the Art of Persuasion”. A writer presenting to designers? Absolutely. Designers are storytellers and gave me some great insight into telling a good story. She showed us this scene from Mad Men,

then dissected it into these five tips:

  1. Make it personal
  2. Keep it short
  3. Tell the story in a sequence
  4. Include rich details, but avoid jargon and clichés
  5. Stay focused

If you couldn’t be there, take a look at my key takeaways in this SlideShare presentation:

Coolest thing from the NRA 2013 Show

Definitely not the gun show, but the National Restaurant Association’s annual show at McCormick place. This is an add-on you can install on a cooler that plays video directly on top of the glass. It’s VERY neat and really grabs your eye.

From a consumer perspective, this could be totally distracting. But from a marketing perspective, it will definitely draw your eye. I imagine a QT or 7-11 iwth a whole bank of these in a row. Wow.

Race to X number of fans

There seems to be a huge race among many companies to get a certain number of fans and followers. This press release from Porsche must be the most admirable expression of  love: the names of 27,000 Facebook fans on a one-of-a-kind Porsche hybrid. Check out the story for yourself. My goodness.

Image: Porsche

Take better cameraphone shots

One of the reasons I chose Nokia is their incredible camera optics — at least for a phone. My N900 has a 5-megapixel shooter and I find that a majority of my memory-capturing is viewed online. In fact, I may have printed a half-dozen photos of the many thousand I’ve shot. So it’s no wonder I shoot more with my phone than with my cam.

As such, Lifehacker posted some tips for like-minded folks out there.

Image: Lifehacker

Nixie tubes

I have seen these and probably fell in love with long after they were cool. These are the precursor to what we take for granted now: the LED display. You have it on your clock radios, stoves and microwave ovens. But before that, they were the display units. Fantastically simple.

Image: Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories

Nokia recommends uses for your cameraphone

A million years ago I got my first cameraphone, the Motorola 720. Paid a pretty penny for it and literally lost it at the Clark/Lake station on the Blue Line. Then it was the Moto E815, my real first cameraphone. It’s “real-er” because that’s the one that got me hooked on snapping what’s around me. Now I sport a nice 5-megapixel with many trimmings (not shown above).

Nokia, a company I respect for not only their product but their marketing, wrote an article on the 101 uses for your camera phone and sent it out every once in a while (this one is #92 in the series).

I am fascinated by a marketer’s recommendation. As a marketer it seems painfully obvious how to use the equipment or service I help my clients sell. These products and services promote ONE task and do it very well. And that makes it easy. But, it also makes it more challenging because there are 4 other companies who make the same claim.

Nokia and even Apple have the right idea: let the device sell itself by the many things it does. Show it in action. Yesterday I sat it on a media call and the folks at the magazine say that when you include a video on the product in use you can expect a 10-fold increase in attention. That’s not bad for what seems to be a no-brainer.

Image: Lets Go Mobile