Early in October, five faculty and staff from the School of Advertising Art were in attendance at the fourth annual Creative Works Conference in Memphis, Tennessee (Matt Flick, Brent Presley, Tony Wartinger, Brian Petro, and Sara Farr). More impressively, SAA had a dozen alumni in attendance: Holly Underwood (Donor Drive), Emily Myers (CareSource), Emily Webb (Fusian), Amy Gregory (Global Cloud), Jake Rhinehart (Boom Crate), Aryn Landes (Magnetic Mobile), Hunter Rupp (Boom Crate), Gabbi Hardin (Magnetic Mobile), Kelli Hunt (Magnetic Mobile), Trace Palmatier (Magnetic Mobile), Chris Jones (Marxent), and Cesar Escobar (Marxent). 

SAA was a sponsor of the conference, which featured talks by Andy J. MillerOdin E. ClackJenna BlazevichNaz HamidGail AndersonJessi ArringtonAntionette D. CarrollJesse BryanKen BarberNikkolas SmithErik MarinovichAustin Dunbar, and more. These speakers shared details about their craft, their process, and their lives—it was a time to draw strength from those in attendance and learn from different people’s perspectives on design, art, and politics. Workshops also provided inspiration; Emily Myers and Sara Farr collaborated with Memphis College of Art instructor Jeannine LaBate on a community building project in a seminar entitled “Dialogue & Action,” while Matt Flick learned “How to Build a Brand with Conviction” with members of The Belief Agency, and Brian Petro worked with a group led by Amy Pastre and Courtney Rowson called “The Brand Laboratory: How to Dissect, Study & Assemble a Brand.” We also got to spend time with the dynamic duo of Nick Sambrato (Mama’s Sauce) and Brian French (French Paper Co.), who were set up in the Market and also presented “Why Print Matters” as a panel discussion.  It’s nearly impossible to overestimate the amount of talent and inspiration found at conference; so many people stopped by the SAA booth to ask about our graduates’ work and introduce themselves.

Thanks to introductions provided by Creative Works founder Josh Horton, SAA’s Department of Career Services was fortunate enough to meet with creative directors and owners from Memphis agencies such as Y&RArcher MalmoHarvest CreativeCreative InfernoSimple Focus, and Paradigm. We also met creatives from Farmhouse and Tactical Magic, as well as in-house agencies at Autozone, FedEx, and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and many, many more. We are hopeful that the connections we made will lead to Externship opportunities for this year’s second-year students, as well as future opportunities to partner.

All of these people came together at night with Creative Works-sponsored after-parties, where we got a chance to talk to designers from the Memphis community as well as from San Diego, New York, and all points in between. We had conversations with Ryan Roche, who was with the Marxent team, as well as educators such as Heidi Walter, an artist in Memphis who works with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients; illustrator Josh Emrich, who spoke at SAA earlier this year; and illustrator Josh J. Lewis, the creative behind the children’s book “Tony Spumoni” and work in “Highlights” magazine.

As you might have gathered from reading about SAA’s great time at Creative Works, conferences can be a place to network and rejuvenate your creative spirit. We wanted to give you a list of upcoming events that you might consider attending if time and funds allow—and don’t forget to ask your employers whether they provide funds for continuing education or professional development! After all, you’re coming back to them with new ideas and a renewed sense of purpose.

SXSW: The granddaddy of creative conferences, SXSW began in 1987 as a way to celebrate the independent music scene. It’s now a celebration of film, music, design, tech, and everything in between. Held in Austin, the trendiest city in Texas, SXSW runs from March 9-18, 2018. You can track several different ways at the conference, including design, branding, film, music, experiential storytelling, startups, and much, much more. If you can only go to one conference in 2018, SXSW would definitely be one to consider seriously. For more information, click here

HOW DESIGN LIVE: A four-day extravaganza in print and web design, package design, thought leadership, creative team management, and small business management features innovative thinkers who stress community and discuss the future of design. A great conference for freelancers as well as in-house and agency creatives, HOW Design Live features more than 100 educational sessions that run from April 30-May 3, 2018, in Boston. For more information, click here.

TASTE OF IT 2017: Sponsored by Technology First, an IT trade organization serving the Dayton area, “Taste of IT” features 300-plus attendees, more than 45 exhibitors, and industry knowledgeable speakers for more than 20 educational sessions. This year’s keynote presentation will be delivered by Barry Besecker, the CTO and co-founder of Kettering-based Marxent Labs, a recognized leader in VR/AR tech and home to several SAA grads. Other speakers include professionals and leaders from companies such as Teradata, Quest Software, CISO, Lighthouse Technologies, DataYard, Aileron, Smart Data Systems, and Cohesion. Taste of IT will be held November 15, 2017, at Sinclair Community College. For more information, click here.