Yeah, I Really Do Think

We all know Alanis Morissette didn’t know jack about irony. It’s a tired, well-documented joke at this point.

So I hesitate to call it irony that just a handful of days after our town is hit with the honor of being near the top of the list of the unhealthiest cities in America and a place people don’t feel safe walking at night, the city hosted one of the most creative, energizing and exciting meeting of the minds that may have ever sprung outta here.

I’m talking about the Creative South conference, which was a bit more than two weeks ago.

And if mental health is taken into account in the Gallup studies giving us the black eye, I think we probably just dropped far down the list.

In one sense, Jenn and I didn’t even belong at a regional conference on graphic design. I’m a writer who dabbles with art and sometimes works with designers at my job (and, it’s true, I did once create a font). Jenn’s an environmental scientist. But hell, pay attention to the fourth word of our mission statement:


… and you’ll understand why we wanted to go.

More than a few times I’ve had people ask me how we have enough time to do everything that we do. I don’t really know how to answer, except to say, “I’m getting old, and there’s a lot of stuff I want to do.” I’ve got a coworker friend who can’t stand to hear about my weekends and the list of stuff I tackled. “Your weekends are my nightmares,” she says. And truth be told, often there’s not time to do everything on that list. Sometimes we don’t blog for two weeks straight, when we want to post something every day.

We’re proponents of simple living, yes. But we’re also proponent of doing. Doing whatever. Doing stuff.

And that’s what was exciting about Creative South, for us. It gave us that lightning bolt jump-start for some things. It reminded us of how many cool things there are out there to explore that have never even crossed our minds before. (Vintage letter-press concert posters from Nashville’s Hatch Show PrintI’m talking about you.)

And this ain’t just home-cooking here. The specialness of Creative South was noticed not just by attendees from throughout the Southeast, but also by keynote speakers, like Allan Peters, a  senior art director with the Target chain. (His sell? “So basically, Creative South is like the How conference but instead of being 1500 bucks or so, it’s 80 bucks.”)

In no special order, here are some of the takeaways. Apologies in advance for any bastardized advice. But this is how I took it away, at least:

  • Drawing something every day will help you. Even if you suck at drawing. It forces creativity and it improves your skillz. (I haven’t hit this mark every day, but I’ve hit it a lot. And I’ve been posting some of the results in the Instagram, so as to put a little pressure on myself to not suck so much.)
  • Watching two designers race to create their version of the same letter — Z in this case — is more fun than it ought to be. (More typefights!)
  • Read the book “Zing” by Sam Harrison. If you’re broke, it can be had for next to nothing on and it’s full of great ideas, in short, digestible bursts.
  • Blank Fields Notes pages are not intimidating. They’re beckoning.
  • Sit near the front, if you hear the folks from Hatch talk. It’s the only shot you may have at being part of the bum-rush for a few giveaway posters — including one, in this case, for a show at Columbus’s Liberty Theater that I didn’t even get a chance to look at.
  • The Dude abides, even atop crayons.

Talk to you soon.

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