(click for larger view) I attended only two sessions of the HOW conference. One was about how to use handmade stuff in your design, which I found inspiring... found paper, ink blots, imperfection... Things we already do, but it was nice just to see examples. And the other was about designing a kick ass website, which made me want to redesign my site from the ground up. But that requires so much time, so I think I'll chip away at it slowly whenever my workload slows down.
BUT! the week before the conference i did redesign my portfolio for easier viewing (I'm so ON IT! hee). That change came when I asked a trustworthy and objective (when it comes to art) friend to please go through my portfolio with me and rip to to shreds. Tell me what pieces were working for her and which ones were falling short. I had 200 illos in my portfolio and just basically put up EVERYTHING i was doing. And I knew that was not really the best way to go about it, but it's so hard to see your own work clearly. You are much too close to it. So she was brutal in the nicest way possible and also talked to me about flow. (Hello! Why had I not thought about that before!?) and I slapped myself for being such a dolt and thanked her for raking me over the coals. And I think I have a much stronger portfolio because of it. Only 60-some pieces now.
And the best surprise from doing that was now I feel like I have a clearer vision of what my work should look like and what standards they should live up to. It's made me try harder... And that's a really good thing.
(So if you are wishy-washy or concerned with your work, I really recommend you ask a friend to critique and give you some fresh eyes.)
Back to the conference: one of the art directors at Cartoon Network took me on a tour of their facilities (thanks Ty!), which was way cool (even though I'm not big into cartoons)... those guys are so talented I could barf, but won't because they are also very nice. And I think it's cool that people can do that sort of work... amazingly different from what I do and still in the same genre... It was nice to see the space design especially. Felt fun and creative for creative sake, which I'm always a big fan of.
I also met a bazillion designers while working the booth with my rep. We handed out postcards and fun booklets that I designed and they seemed to go over well. And I left with a weird mixed feeling of overwhelm and inspiration... just another person in a sea of people and yet the ability for just one to put something beautiful out into the world. Like a gigantic messy collage of efforts all building on each other.