AIGA Y Conference in San Diego. I didn't go because I'm an artist (which, as anyone who has seen me play Draw Something can affirm, I most certainly am not). I didn't even go because I know an artist. I went because I think it's important to try something different on for size, and I was curious to see what I'd learn.
"Art is the only subject you see from the moment you wake up til you go to sleep." - Nancy Rouemy
The verdict was favorable: If you have the opportunity to check one out, I would. Y Conference, in its 17th year, involves inspiring talks from the most interesting group of people - a mix of artists, designers, and entrepreneurs who each bring something different to the conversation. You run the risk of developing delusions that you, too, could put hundreds of hours into artwork and produce something palatable. You will leave overflowing with ideas and inspiration, no matter your field.
Personally, I went in to Y Conference not recognizing a single name on the roster (this is incomprehensible to my artistic friends, but hey, I never asked you to name our Supreme Court justices). Although I had walked in a blank slate, I left with a notebook full of ideas, quotes, and impressions. When I got in my car for the final time, I was converted into a huge admirer of Karim Rachid's work and philosophies, and a fan of both Andrea Dezsö's artistic range and sense of humor. I was in awe of Eben Bayer's ability to remind us that the most complex technology, the kind we don't even think could exist, was created by Mother Nature long ago (check out cuttlefish, then check out his company Ecovative Design). And impressed by both Andrew Byrom and Nancy Rouemy's abilities to bring the challenges of their artistic endeavors to a level that the common village idiot (here: me) could understand, among many others.
"Art is time made visible." - Andrea Dezsö
Attend one of these conferences and you'll leave with a better understanding of the intense work artists and designers put into the world around you. It draws your attention, for 48 steady hours, to the thoughtful way people around us approach not just artwork but product design, products you put your hands on every day without thinking twice, so that you won't think twice. It really is astounding. Let me go ahead and make a sweeping statement here: it changed the way I see everything.
"Everything you look at has art -- or lack of art -- in it." -- from Nancy Rouemy's talk
The theme of the conference was What Drives You?
To start with: my sister's Toyota. At 7 in the morning. That's what drove me there, anyhow. But as each speaker got on stage to discuss what drove them, I began to wonder what drives me in life, as opposed to up the 5N. So here's the list, or what I think is the list, Dr. Freud:
Affection. Wanting people around me to be happy. Wanting to show love. Wanting to share all this love in me with other people.
The Written Word. The sound, rules, and playfulness of language.
Understanding. Understanding concepts, understanding people. Feeling understood.
Happiness. As physically expressed. I will do almost anything for a smile.
Optimism. Sometimes relentless. Sometimes misplaced. But always there.
Approval. Appreciation. Sometimes separately, sometimes together. Just being honest.
Collaboration and connection.
Growth. Not physical, gave up on that a long time ago! Here I mean growth as in learning something new, accomplishing something different. Rather than just poking around for exploration's sake. I'm not curious for curiosity's sake enough (other than up and going to a professional conference I have no business being at). Adventure.
But what if, like most of the speakers, I just limited it to one? That's the tough part.
Which one is really in the driver's seat?
What drives you?
"The more you look, the more you can use what you see." - Nancy Rouemy