Look at that dumb-face.
I know that design conferences are all the rage these days and that a plethora of designers jump at the chance to fawn over 'celebrity' speakers — even going so far as to pay $$$$ to attend — but honestly I have never really seen the point. If you want to get better at design, do design until you get better. The 'pay-to-network' structure like AIGA, STA and many other subscription based associations always rubbed me the wrong way. Somehow sitting in a room, checking watching someone talk about design and perusing your Facebook timeline doesn't seem like it's going to do too much for your design skills. So when my good buddy Gabe Couch and the fine folks at Few invited me to be to take part in the Made By Few — luckily not to speak but to judge Designed By Few — lets just say I had my reservations.
When I decided to head down to Little Rock I was mostly looking forward to catching up with my filipino brother Shane Ermitano (whom was also judging DxF), some southern fried food and, oh yeah, to see what the deal was with this conference shit.
Now, even with my slightly skeptical outlook heading into it, I am happy to report that my conference needle has moved more than a little. I must give a round of applause to the team at Few for more than exceeding my expectations. Every detail was accounted for, from important things like bringing in some top-notch speakers and putting together an entertaining itinerary to fun freebie giveaways and fantastic barbecue foods (extra brownie points from this guy!). I am happy to say that I had a blast, met some amazing people and may have actually even come back (dare I say it) inspired. IN-FUCKING-SPIRED!?!! I know, hard for me to believe too. ;)
I am not doing a full conference wrap-up — Few is going to have to fork over some greenbacks for that :) — but there are two people specifically that stood out to me. First being the third judge for the DxF competition, Jeremy Teff. This guy is flat out insane. I had a blast hanging out with him and after looking into his work there is no question he is one hell of a talent. He helped design the 2014 conference look and feel, loves hand-drawn lettering and will show you adorable videos of his kids hurting themselves. I am happy to call him a brother from a southern mother.
Lastly, but certainly not leastly (not a word), I'd like to shout-out Mr. Marc Hemeon. Hands down the best speaker of the conference. His charisma, confidence and playfulness on and off the stage was well worth the price of admission. He may have been the highest profile person there — having worked for Google/Youtube, been the design director for Oakley, had multiple companies 'acquired' and a slew of other ventures — but you would never have known. He is one of the most down to earth, goofy and intelligent people I have ever met. A combination you don't often find. His ability to share his stories while just being honest and open, showed me first hand what the entire design conference experience is all about: not networking but forming friendships.
*UPDATE* Here is another conference recap set to jammin' ass music.