Last Friday I went to the Create Upstate conference at the State Theatre in Ithaca.
Working from home as a freelancer can feel pretty isolating at times (even for introverts like me!), so I know it's always good to attend events like this when possible. I especially like this conference because I know a few people that go, including my good friend Ilana from Sugar & Type. It's a nice way to catch up and have real life conversations that aren't through texting or email :). Although, nothing wrong with those forms of communication at all. They happen to be my favorite, being an introvert :) I just know I have to balance those with in person chats once in awhile.
The speakers at the conference were pretty inspiring too. My favorite talk was by Tad Carpenter of Carpenter Collective. He's a designer, illustrator and author, and his work has an awesome mid-century style. He emphasized being yourself with what you create and allowing your life, your history, and location influence your art. At first, the "be yourself" stuff can seem very cliché, but it is actually super hard to do and remember at times. I think especially now it can be difficult because we are surrounded by other artists and designers on social media every day, and I don't know about you, but I find it extremely hard not to compare myself. That struggle extends to all parts of my life, which can be a story for another time, but it happens a lot with my work. I really have to force myself to put on blinders and create what makes me happy and what feels natural to me, and forget about what seems trendy or popular with other people. So it was refreshing to hear someone very successful reinforce the idea and share his story of how he figured out how to be true to himself. At all of these conferences, I always end up leaving feeling so grateful to have a creative job, and so eager to go home and make stuff.
There are a few more conferences I'm interested in visiting in the next few years, one being Weapons of Mass Creation in Ohio, and the other is the ICON Illustration Conference, which is in a different city every other year. I've followed both on social media for a few years, and they look amazing. I bet they both would make for an inspiring experience and a fun road trip!