Hike Con, Chicago, IL

above: the view from morningstar’s patio & chuck anderson

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending Chicago’s sold out Hike Conference. I met so many incredible designers, developers, and overall amazing people at this event, and I can’t recommend it enough.

The speakers included well-known Chicago designers who provided some inspiring and practical advice to young designers and design students. So many of the talks I attended had so much soul and passion that it felt like I had been punched in the gut. Of those, Alison Yard Medland from IDEO really spoke from the heart in such a raw and powerful way that it let many of us through a range of emotions from laughing hysterically to nearly tearing up. Her talk was just one of many that made me feel so lucky to be part of such a great community of designers.

Speaking of the great community, I met so many fun and talented designers and developers that it nearly makes my head spin!

Rather than continue to babble on about how wonderful it was, I’d like to provide some of the key take-aways from my experience (based on the lovely notes from beloved Moleskin and phone):

  1. “Give yourself permission to change your path.” This was a great snippet from Laura Winn that I think every designer needs to be reminded of from time to time. Things are constantly changing in the field of design, so if you find yourself wanting to make a big change, be brave and just go for it.
  2. Don’t assume other designers have had it easy—we all work hard. This type of thinking breeds unhealthy competition instead of collaboration. The design community is an incredible one to be a part of, so don’t let this mentality sour your perception. That being said, you will find some people just have better luck (which really translates to having better connections & timing). Make your own luck and find support in your peers.
  3. Let your work shine, not your ego. Designers (myself included) often find themselves shifting between feeling very confident in their designs skills to feeling like imposters who will be found out any minute. When you find yourself feeling confident, that’s good, but don’t forget to let your work be the focus of everyone’s attention. That being said…
  4. If your work makes you proud and excited, put it under a microscope and find out what about it makes it so refreshing. This piece of advice from Alison Yard Medland seems painfully obvious, but it’s something many of us don’t do often or well enough. Really take a critical eye to the work you’ve done to master the formula needed to consistently produce work you love.
  5. Worrying is not preparation. This last take-away actually came out of a conversation with Good Fucking Design Advice founder, Jason Bacher at the conference after party at Honky Tonk BBQ. This is definitely something I needed to hear (let’s be real, I needed to hear this back when I was in college). This is definitely something that I’ve found myself adopting as I’ve grown as  a designer and as a human being, but I didn’t have the words to articulate it so precisely. Thanks Jason for those words wisdom!

This was such an incredible conference, and I met so many inspiring designers (and hopefully future collaborators)! Many many thanks to the lovely Laura Winn and Jason Schwartz (who has a great last name—ha!). You two did a fantastic job putting this conference together and I can’t wait to see what other tricks you have up your collective sleeves!